top of page

Building a Culture with Ken Lolla

Culture is a term used very often now in college athletics. Every college soccer program has their own 'culture'. Whether that way of doing things is 'bad' or 'good' is another question, but the mentality, standards, atmosphere, etc. (culture is the whole package) is always there for every team. It is up to the coach to paint a picture or vision of how he wants his team to look like, act like, think like, talk like, and what they represent. In my years of college soccer I'd say some of the master culture creators are Dave Brandt, Anson Dorrance, and Ken Lolla. These guys are pros at creating a specific, successful, and rewarding culture. They envision what they want their teams to look like and then they effectively communicate and help guide their boys to reaching that lofty goal. Here are my notes on a fabulous video by Ken Lolla who is the Head Coach for Men's Soccer at Louisville. My notes are a detailed summary of his lecture but I recommend watch this as well.

Ken Lolla Notes: 2013 Coaching Symposium: Creating a Culture of Excellence

-All coaches need to have a VISION at the forefront of their culture

o Second step is to communicate/describe this vision everyday to the players…example Christopher Columbus would describe everyday to his crew on the voyage over what the trees, animals, people, etc where like in America
o Third is have plan for how to get there, meaning how to actualize your vision
o Then as a coach you need to ‘encourage’ players
-Encouragement means giving them what they need instead of what they want… example if player wants to be a U20 National Team player, you have to give him very demanding fitness because that’s what he needs
· Empower your players! Give them enough freedom and opportunities to fail but make clear what the standards are to achieve…these standards give them the needed direction
o Do not ‘joystick’ your players!... that’s not empowering
· Critical part to a culture (which goes forgotten about often) is joy and passion for what you do. Having a spirit is simply a perspective. The circumstance shouldn’t change your spirit. Example…if you lose and sulk even though you grew from the experience then you are letting the circumstance change your spirit
· Maybe most important part of culture is embodiment. Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. So embody what you want your culture to be. Don’t fake it.
o If your unhappy with your team, there needs to be some self-reflection going on
o The more you grow as a coach, the more your team will grow too! and Read 15 minutes a day!
· How you act, dress, talk, etc. can give confidence to everyone on your team
o Always be positive in order to breed this confidence
· 5 values of Louisville Soccer:

1.Compete- (not always against opponent, but a lot of the team against yourself… how much can I grow)

2.Attitude- (positive about everything… expectations, energy)
3.Resposibility- (take pride in ownership)
4. Discipline- (number one reason why people fail is because they lose focus…do you have discipline to make strides every single day)
5.Selflessness- (make everyone around you better, its not about you…its about how can I help someone else)
· Have players make their own goals first, then help them re-shape them
· The payoff of the reaching a goal is not the achievement…It’s who you became!
o Goals are simply motivators and the reward is who you become trying to pursue that goal. By pursuing that goal you improve and are better prepared for future goals.


I am a youth and college soccer coach who is passionate about making coaching my career and helping assist players in their development. I am always trying to learn from the game and always willing to share with others the insights I have made from the game. If you have coaching tips or materials you would like to share, just contact me.

See social media links on the 'Contact' page.

bottom of page