Building a Culture of Excellence in High Performance Sport

An organization’s culture involves the values, attitudes and goals that are shared by a group of people. These values, attitudes and goals influence how the group interacts and operates as its members work toward a common goal.

Within and beyond sport, culture helps to determine a team’s focus, establishes norms of acceptable behaviour and directly influences a team’s functioning and performance. A team’s culture can dictate to team members how to behave, communicate, cooperate and deal with conflict. When clear norms are set, everyone on a team is more likely to follow them.

Own the Podium, Canada’s technical leader in high performance sport, alongside partners the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Canadian Olympic Committee, identified sport culture as an important performance factor for Canadian athletes to achieve podium success. In this article, we define sport culture and describe a “culture of excellence” in high performance sport. We also provide best practices for sport organizations to foster a culture of excellence that enhances the self-determination, safety, health and well-being of their athletes.


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