Every Club Director will agree that coach acquisition, training and retention is a challenge year after year. However, it is one of the most important investments you can make aside from a facility and equipment. A coach is your club’s direct line of communication with and influence on your consumers. A seven year old entering your club is a potential 10 year member, so starting with the first beginner program you offer, it’s imperative to have the coaching staff that will represent your club as best as possible, from the quality of training, to the culture, to the verbal and nonverbal communication.
Here are 6 Ways to Train and Develop Your New Coaches this Season:
Establish a Coach Orientation Program
Some coaches are coming from another club, and some have never coached before. Either way, it’s important to have a consistent process for introducing your new coaching staff to the club leadership, explaining your club’s mission and reviewing how your club operates. A Coach Orientation is ideally an in-person meeting since it not only reviews the club’s policies, and introduces the key people involved in the club, it also can take care of important paperwork and tasks such as payroll, background screenings, certifications, contract signing, apparel distribution, etc.
Utilize a Coaches Resource Page on Your Website
Limit the emails and texts from coaches with common questions and consider creating a password protected place on your club’s website to direct them to find the answer. The Coaches Page can include club policies, training plans, important dates, coach directory, facility schedule, tournament schedule, travel guidelines, and important reminders.
Introduce New Coaches Through Fall Programs
A great way to acclimate a new coach to your club culture and environment is to get them in the gym prior to the club season. Schedule new coaches to coach Fall clinics, leagues and academies. Many athletes that participate in the Fall Programs will be attending tryouts, so it’s a great way to introduce the new coaches to them. At the same time, it’s helpful to observe the new coaches, and provide feedback with ways that they can improve in order to meet the club’s expectations. Utilize the Fall Programs as a training opportunity for newer coaches to learn drills, training techniques, and even skills as simple as entering a ball.
By observing the coaches early on, you can identify which age group they appear more comfortable with, and how well they are able to teach the game and explain a concept. This will be important when deciding coach placement for the season.
Provide a Coaches’ Book or Manual
Submitting a line-up, creating a practice plan, and communication with athletes and parents is not something that new coaches are comfortable with. Provide your coaches with a book or document that includes line-up variations, serve receive formations, sample drills with diagrams, and sample email templates to parents and athletes. This can be an electronic file that is stored in your club’s server or a shared google drive.
Once you identify which coaches will coach each age group, provide them with the Club Training Curriculum that acts as a guide for coaches to reference to train the skills and concepts for their age division. This way your club has a consistent and cohesive map to progress each age group forward.
Emphasize Your Club’s Internal Communication
Over-communicate when it comes to your expectations of your coaches. Identify which method works best for communicating with your coaches, whether is weekly coach newsletters, GroupMe, and/or Zoom meetings. After on-boarding the new coaches, get them immediately synched with your regular communication. Make sure they feel like a part of your club right away. The more they feel informed and welcome, the more invested your coaches will be in your club and in turn, they will recruit more athletes and families to your programs.
Empower Master Coaches through Lateral Leadership
It’s difficult for a Club Director to be everywhere all of the time, especially if you are also coaching a team, or in some cases two teams. Hopefully you have a few coaches who have been with your club for some time, or who have leadership experience, and therefore, they can take on more coaching responsibility with your club as a Master Coach. Assign a Master Coach for an age group or a set of age groups. Meet with the Master Coaches or Lead Coaches during the Fall to set specific expectations for mentoring and guiding the head coaches in their group. The Master Coach can be the first contact for questions or concerns that the new coach may have. In turn, the Master Coaches can also be the ones to communicate important information, updates and feedback with the coaches in their group. Master Coaches can also create the training plans for their age group(s), which is a great way to make sure practices are efficient and effective. Not only does it train the newer coaches, it also trains the athletes on your club’s training philosophy and important drills. Empowering your experienced coaches helps to build camaraderie among your coaching staff while managing a Club Director’s workload.
An influx of young athletes is a sign of a thriving club. Your coaching staff is the most important face representing your club, and can easily impact the club’s brand, reputation, and impression on your consumers. An effective training process to develop your new coaches saves a Director hours of trying to find and train new coaches. It will also help ensure that the seven year old that walked in the door for her first volleyball class is still walking in as a seventeen year old that is now competing on the elite travel team, and coaching the Volley Tots on Monday afternoons.
This article is written by Briana Schunzel, JVA Director or Marketing, Education and Partner Development, in collaboration with several JVA Club Directors across the country.