Club directors have a valuable opportunity to create a culture of learning among your staff. By educating your coaches you are investing in your club’s culture and coaching staff, while also increasing your club’s value. Offering coaching education to your coaches shows them that you are committed to their success, and in turn can be a great asset for retaining quality coaches.
Attending live clinics needs to be near the top of our “to do” list. Learning from the clinicians gives coaches a new perspective but equally valuable is the ability to exchange ideas with other attendees.
Husky Volleyball Club has tried to support our coaches in attending clinics to whatever extent possible. We tried several different methods to make it easy and to incentivize our coaches to attend coaching clinics (for clinics you host you may find “pizza” as a strong incentive!)
Here are some ideas (listed in order of “least expensive” first):
- Have your own coaches give a clinic to the rest of our staff. All coaches don’t have the same strengths, having them share what has/hasn’t worked for them in the past will make them all better coaches. You can run an in house coaching clinic with 4-5 presenters in as short as 90 minutes.
- Bring in a college coach to present a coaching clinic. We’ve held these periodically and have invited local high school coaches to attend in addition to our club coaches. The college coaches enjoy sharing their knowledge and networking with the local volleyball community. We’ve held clinics featuring several college coaches with each presenting a topic along with one or two of our own coaches. This way we can enhance our own coaches’ skill sets while giving us a chance to get our club name in front of the local high school coaching community. We’ve typically done this clinic in the summer (prior to or at the beginning of the high school season and the collegiate preseason).
- Host outside coaching clinics in our own gym. The past several years we’ve hosted a Gold Medal Squared coaching clinic in our gym at the beginning of the club season. Out of sheer convenience this has been the most popular option for our staff. It requires no overnight stays and we also open the clinic to coaches outside of our club to help us meet minimums required by the clinicians. We don’t ask our coaches to attend every year but try to get all new coaches to attend and get returning coaches to return every 2-3 years (but they are welcome to attend every year). We’ve hosted this clinic usually in December or November so our coaches have some fresh knowledge for the club season.
- Send coaches to the AVCA Convention, USAV CAP or HP Coaches clinics. One issue that we occasionally face is when a coach attends these events at our club’s expense (tuition, room and board) and leaves the program shortly afterwards. Ideally we’d like to have these coaches in the program for 2-3 years after providing this opportunity.
Before selecting coaches for this opportunity we consider things like: how long has the coach been in the program, do we expect them to be with us for the immediate future, has the coach shown a willingness to share information with other coaches on the staff. We’ve also put a few conditions for those attending these programs at our expense. That way the club is a little more comfortable in making the outlay. Usually that involves reimbursing the coach 50% when they attend and reimbursing them the balance at the beginning of the next club season when they commit to return. You can get value for the entire club by asking your coach (or coaches) to present what they’ve learned to the rest of your staff when they return.
Our club is fairly large (50+ teams in our own 6 court volleyball center) but smaller clubs can make these options work with some modification. For example, provide a partial stipend to coaches for some of the more expensive options or paying coaches more annually for achieving certain levels of accreditation (if they pay for their own education). We’ve also had some coaches that are able to get some professional development money through their school (if they are high school coaches) that makes it more affordable for them. Coaching education gives your staff an opportunity to view the sport through a different lens, share ideas with other motivated coaches and is a great exercise for coaches to engage in critical thinking about the way they do things.
About the Author
Pat Ryan is the Director of the Husky Volleyball Club, a JVA member club in Windsor, Connecticut. He is also the New England Regional Volleyball Association (NERVA) Director of Compliance and Education. He’s USAV CAP 2 and VCAP certified and a current IMPACT Instructor. He’s been a boys high school coach since 1996 and club director since 1999.