One thing that can be hard for a new or existing club or high school program is trying to be everything to everyone. As much as we would like to be able to say yes to everything and be the solution to everyone’s problems or needs, this just isn’t realistic. At the end of the day, we have to realize that being good at everything is the same as being great at nothing. If you are constantly saying yes to everything, you are spreading yourself and your resources too thin to be able to be great at any anything.

This is an incredibly hard concept to understand and even harder to put into practice, especially since so many of us like to say yes and like to take on challenges. The biggest challenge is to figure out which program or opportunity you should not pursue.

During our club’s strategic planning, we came up with seven strategic goals to focus on for the next three years.
  • We would be hyper-focused on those seven goals, saying no to almost everything else that came up.
  • These strategic goals were created to help us move in a direction that would allow us to succeed as a club.
  • The goals allows us to focus on what do we do well, and apply the resources we have directly towards accomplishing those goals.
  • Focusing on our strategic goals also helps our club stay financially stable.
During our strategic planning we realized that we had to remove one of our programs.

One of the toughest things we chose to remove from our programming was our sand program. At that time, we had been running the program for three years and it was just mediocre.

  • We didn’t have incredible resources to pour into it.
  • It was barely breaking even.
  • We just weren’t passionate about the product we were putting out.

We decided to discontinue the program the following spring/summer and focus our efforts on other programs.

  • That summer we greatly increased our summer camp numbers and started a satellite camp program.
  • By focusing on our strategic plan, we applied all of our energy and resources to the summer camp program to take it from ‘good’ to ‘great’.
  • Some of our best coaches had been coaching in our sand program, and they were able to with our camp athletes instead.
  • Our marketing efforts focused on promoting our summer camps and new satellite camp program.

It turned out to be a win-win for us!

I would strongly encourage club directors and varsity coaches to take a hard look at your goals and your current offerings. Try to remove the emotional attachment from your programs when you do this. When we first discussed discontinuing our sand program some of our club staff were strongly against the idea. However, once we removed the emotion from the decision process, we realized that this program was not our strength. By removing it, we could be much stronger in other areas. At that point everyone was on board with the decision.

We also knew that none of these decisions had to be permanent.

Maybe once we reach our seven strategic goals, building a thriving sand program could be part of our next set of goals?!?!

As club directors, coaches and people who just love the sport, we are always presented with new opportunities. The past couple of years people have suggested that we start a podcast, write a blog, create a training video library, build indoor sand courts… and so much more! While I have no doubt that we could do any one of these things, we have continued to say no. We keep coming back to our seven strategic goals, remembering that while these new opportunities would be fun and have potential, they shouldn’t be our focus right now.

Related reading by Emily: Grow your programs by building your village.

Related reading for club directors.

5 Signs Your Club is Ready for a Change

About the Author

Emily is the Executive Director of The Academy Volleyball Club in Indianapolis, Indiana. Emily Hawthorne’s coaching career began in 1999 at Hoosier Heartland Volleyball Club and as a student manager for Indiana University. Since then, she has accumulated more than 100 high school victories, started many successful youth programs, and been named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s (AVCA) 30 Under Thirty list. She is now a serving member on the Junior Volleyball Association’s Board of Directors.