In the fall of 2015, I attended my region’s mandatory club directors’ meeting. I typically try to sit with different club directors each year in an effort to get to know more directors and get a sense of what’s happening in other areas of my region. This year I made a change. I sat with two club directors I knew.
During a break, one director next to me asked, “How do I find good volleyball coaches? What criteria do I use when interviewing?” He went on to explain that one of his coaches was actually using his volleyball facility to interview coaches for a “new” club the guy was setting up while he was being paid to run a summer program for the director. Naturally, my first response was to question why he was letting the coach get away with it. He shared that he was having trouble hiring quality coaches for the upcoming season. I responded with some suggestions…
Finding Quality Coaches
Many clubs have an on-going struggle to find quality volleyball coaches. Some seasons, believe it or not, I haven’t had to hire any new coaches. I would say I was pretty lucky during those times. Other seasons I’ve had to drop a team or two because the coaching staff just wasn’t available to fill the open teams.
Based on my experience over the past 14 years, here are some ways to find good coaches for your club:
- Utilize your region’s website and post for openings. This will attract coaches who are knowledgeable enough to know about USA Volleyball and the fact that this governing body exists. It also means this individual is actively seeking a junior volleyball coaching position, so that is a good start.
- Announce the coaching openings on your club website.
- Send an email to existing coaches regarding openings, which is usually very productive. Having a referral from your staff and someone who can attest to the character of the applicant can be very beneficial.
- Communicate with former players who are living in the area to see if they might want to begin a club coaching career. It helps that you already know the player’s history, playing resume, and work ethic.
- Tap into your own parent network. Many of our parents are coaching at the grade school and high school levels themselves and have been doing so for many years.
Hiring Good Coaches
Now that you’ve found the coaches, how do you hire them? All of the coaching types I’ve mentioned above require a different set of interview questions. Naturally, you’d like for your coaches to have some level of experience whether as a former player or as a coach at the grade school, high school or college level. If an applicant is lacking the experience you require, you can offer him/her an assistant position with the hope that in 2-3 years (maybe more), he/she would be ready to take on a team as a head coach.
But let’s face it, no matter how good an applicant’s resume is and how the references appear on paper, you can never really know if a coach will work with your program until they are hired and working with your club. There have been occasions where I have had to release a coach from a contract after a few shorts weeks or a month or two into the season. But this doesn’t happen often.
Retaining Good Coaches
Key indicators that a Coach Is a Great Fit For Your Club:
- The coach works well within the club and appreciates and practices your club philosophies.
- The coach is committed, on time and sets the perfect example for his/her players.
- The coach has success developing the players’ skill level.
- The coach represents the club in the best possible light.
- The coach receives great feedback from players and parents at the end of every season.
If I find a coach who has the above qualities, I do whatever I can to retain him/her. Below are some examples:
- I offer my coaches a seasonal wage increase. This can be higher or lower depending on the previous season’s performance, but there is always a pay increase.
- I always pay for my coaches to attend coaching clinics, as well as receive certifications, and I offer a more significant wage increase with a guarantee of a returning club season after a higher level of coaching certification is earned.
- Coach meetings are always in a setting that offers a meal and beverages to all in attendance.
- Meals are provided during tryouts.
- I give my coaches extra coaching attire and pay for screening/embroidery on any attire they purchase for themselves.
- I make it a point not to micromanage the coaches at my club. I think this is a big one! Coaches pick their own teams at tryouts and choose their own tournaments (although sometimes I will suggest changes). I find ways to evaluate my coaching staff during the season. I will attend practices at random times and show up unannounced at tournaments to evaluate team performance, rapport between players and the coaches, and to sit with parents to chat a bit about their season. I’ll also join the coaches on the team’s bench to listen to the coaching communication with their players. I typically offer suggestions after watching a match or two or I’ll let them know how pleased I am with what I see.
I have been fortunate over the past 14 years as director of Next Level Volleyball Club to work with many individuals at various coaching levels – many of whom have stayed with the club through their retirement. I’ve made many good friends along the way, and a handful of enemies too. Sure, some have gone on to coach at other clubs, some have moved away for a new job or relocate when starting a new family, some move up to coach at the college level, and some have decided that the stress of coaching was more than they wanted to handle. I certainly wouldn’t be telling the truth if I didn’t admit that a few were “released from employment” as well.
At the end of day, if anyone finds the perfect, foolproof method of finding, hiring and keeping good coaches, please let me know. It is an on-going part of a club director’s life.
For more education to junior volleyball club director’s click here.
About the Author
Sharon L. Galonski is the Club Director of Next Level Volleyball Club in Franklin, Wisconsin and a former high school varsity volleyball coach. Next Level VBC is proud to be sponsored by the JVA and participates in JVA events across the country