As an Athletic Director, I have the unique responsibility of coaching coaches. I am lucky that I have many wonderful coaches working for me, and I feel that we run a very good athletic department. I have learned that the success of coaches hinges on more than their number of wins and losses; being a successful coach is dependent on being a good communicator. Coaches that are great communicators are the coaches that are successful at all levels.
There is an old saying in the coach business; “there are two types of coaches, a coach that has been fired, and a coach that will be fired.” This statement rings true in many ways, especially in high pressure situations such as the college or professional level. However, I believe that in the high school ranks this does not have to be the case.
The following are some key points that athletic directors and administrators expect from their coaches in order to run a successful athletic department.
Supervision– Coaches often get themselves in trouble because they place too much trust in their players; even great kids can make mistakes in the wrong environment. It is important that coaches always create a positive and safe environment, where the players are aware of their expectations and consequences. Coaches of older kids often make the mistake of thinking they are old enough to make the right decisions. This thought often gets coaches in trouble. If you are in charge of a situation, make sure that you have your eyes on your players, and they are always aware of what is expected of them.
Communication– If a kids misses a practice or a team event, is it always their fault? I do not believe so. The large majority of our players are not in control of their transportation, it is the coach’s responsibility to make sure the player has enough notice in order to make plans to be at any practice or event. For my team, there is never an excuse to miss, because I remind them of the schedule weekly through email. I also tell my players if they give me 30 minutes notice I will always make sure they have a ride. Communication with parents about player and parent expectations is also beneficial. I encourage all of our coaches to give hard copies of team rules to the parents as well as the consequences that can be expected. If a coach follows his rules then they can always expect to be supported by their administration.
Organization– Coaching is so much more than just blowing a whistle, it is also about being able to organize paper work, equipment, a budget, and people. Many coaches are responsible to have up to date physicals on hand, have a plan to organize this type of paper work instead of letting in pile up on your desk. Equipment should always be accounted for, organized, and taken care of. There is nothing that will make an administrator more angry than having to replace broken equipment that was misused or not stored away properly.
Handling Emotions– I believe that passion is an important aspect of coaching, without passion and emotion coaches and players often just go through the motions. I want my coaches to care as much as, if not more than their players. However, getting thrown out of games, arguing with parents, or losing your cool with the players is a good way to find yourself looking for a job. Remember that a bad call is not why you want to be looking for a job.
The coaching profession is so much more than meets the eye. Always be sure to remember that you are a role model and an educator more than anything else. Leading your team with high standards and integrity will lead to success.