How to manage your coaches most effectively

Internet is filled with stories how to be a better coach, where to find new drills, how to motivate your athletes and how to improve your coaching in general. It’s brilliant how this new information has recently started to gain traction and exposure as a testament to sports coaching moving to a new level. When previously coaches relied on their own experience and training courses to improve their skills, it is now entirely possible for active coaches to reach new heights with great tips and stories online.

When you’re reading this, you are one of the active coaches, always looking to improve. Brilliant! In most clubs though, there are more coaches than one and as they say, the success of the team depends on its weakest link. So if you’re a head coach, manager of the youth system or just the leader of your coaching group, how can you effectively raise the bar with other coaches?

1. Offer coaches chances to attend coaching courses
Every motivated coach wants and needs to develop his or her skills further. It is good for the intrinsic motivation of the coach and obvously for your players’ development as well. Finding new opportunities to grow and if your club’s finances allow it, also paying for these courses will go a long way to help your whole club.

Your first stop is probably the coaching courses offered by the federation, but there are plenty of other great lecturers around, so don’t keep yourself confined to the box and always be on the lookout for new opportunities. Other coaches will appreciate if you keep offering them chances to grow as a coach and as a person. So in short:

– Find new coaching courses/lectures
– Encourage coaches to attend them
– Pay for them, if your club can afford it
– Get feedback, discuss and spread new ideas around the club

2. Create unity among coaches with joint events
A lot of good team-building manuals recommend taking workers out of the job environment to perhaps do sports together. This can be the same for coaches – why not organize yourself as a basketball team and play against your own athletes or other clubs? Or if you feel like a change of scenery is necessary, there are plenty of other activities where you can bond as a group of coaches such as having dinner together or going camping. The same things you would do with your athletes can be done with other coaches as well.

Why is it important? Well, for your club to function in the best possible way, having a great synergy among coaches is essential. Whether it’s helping out if another coach can’t make it to a workout session or just sharing the best coaching ideas and tips within the club, intra-club relationships will help your coaches and your club’s development.

Legendary Phil Jackson has said: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” It works with your athletes and your coaches the same way.

3. Allow open communication and value everyone’s ideas
We’ve seen that sometimes, coaches can be somewhat secretive of how they go about doing their things. It usually happens more at the professional level where the competition is the stiffest, but unfortunately can happen at youth level as well.

History has shown that progress has only come when people exchange their ideas. Whether it’s reading about something that sparks a new brilliant way of doing things or just seeing how another coach has approached the same problem, it should be your priority to support it.

For example, hold regular (weekly, monthly) coach meetings to discuss new ideas, new drills or find solutions to any problems that a coach might face. Be prepared for those meetings and offer real value to coaches to get them excited and eager to improve.

4. Create complimentary relationships among coaches
We’ve discussed the value of relationships among coaches, but coming down to a more personal level, it would be useful for the head coach to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each coach and manage them accordingly.

For example, if one of your teams needs two coaches, maybe it would be beneficial for everyone to combine one coach who’s very good at athlete motivation energizing the team with another coach who is better at tactics or administration? Complimentary relationships among coaches can bring out the best in everyone. We all have strong suits and if you can fulfill everyone’s potential, you’ve done a great job!

5. Create a library of coaching books in your club
This is a great idea I came across from my previous work in a football club, where the head of youth system – motivated to improve every coach in the club – started a club library of coaching books. Coaches could come and just take the book for a few weeks to gather new ideas and educate themselves in a quick and cheap way. A few books is all you need to get it going!
If the library takes off with a few coaches, who in turn start to recommend reading materials to others, it acts as an extra motivation for all coaches. If everyone’s improving their skills, why shouldn’t I, am I right?

Creating a learning environment within your club allows ideas to grow and the club to keep moving forward. As sports people, we of all people should know the importance of always being on the move.

About the author
Erki Tarro is a blogger at a sports tech company Sportlyzer – a software platform for sports team administration and training management. For more stories about club development and coaching, visit Sportlyzer Blog.

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