Success can be measured in many ways: championships, college scholarships, positive feedback from parents and athletes, greater numbers at tryouts, or for some, simply finishing the fiscal year in the black. Regardless of your measure of success, there is always a constant factor that can impact the outcome: Your Coaching Staff. Coaches are the lifeline of your club. They are the method by which you deliver your club’s philosophy and your club’s service. In order to find success, it is vital that you enhance the quality of coaches you employ, and invest in ways for them to learn and grow as teachers of the sport.
Here are ways to foster an environment for continued learning in your club.
1. Host Virtual or In-Person Clinics
Schedule a half day, full day or a weekend clinic that includes college coaches, veteran club coaches, former professional or national team players, and/or sports psychologists. An experienced and successful coach and/or former athlete can bring in new ideas, and offer new concepts and ways to develop your coaches.
2. Assign Program Leads/Lead Coaches
Don’t overlook the young coaches who have just finished their playing career, coaches who are returning after taking some time off, or even parents whose kids have grown up playing volleyball and they are passionate to coach a game that has brought their family so much joy. Assign a program lead who oversees an age group or particular program you offer at your club. This person is responsible for mentoring the new coaches or younger coaches in your club, and modeling your club’s culture, coaching cues and club philosophy. The program lead acts as a mentor, and someone your coaches can go to for questions and feedback.
3. Explore Club to Club Mentorship and Training
There are established clubs who have been training athletes for over two decades, and there are clubs who have seen great success with championships and/or growing their programs in a short period of time. Reach out to a Club Director outside of your area and find out if you can arrange a time to come watch their teams train and potentially meet with them or have a call to learn how they’ve found success. You’d be surprised by how many Club Directors are willing to share ideas in order to help other clubs be successful as well. You can also arrange a weekend when your teams will travel to each other’s gym to train and scrimmage together. This offers the opportunity for your coaches, as well as your athletes to learn and grow from experiencing another club’s culture, philosophy and technique.
4. Develop a Library of Education and Resources
There is endless information online for coaches to grab ideas for practice. At the same time it can be overwhelming, so it helps to have a place where your coaches can access a library of drills that are explained with progressions and coaching cues. Create a youtube channel with playlists of drills for each skill or focus. These drills can be created by your club, or just added from drills already on YouTube. Engage your coaches weekly or bi-weekly by sending a newsletter with inspiring articles, a new drill and information they can apply to their coaching game.
Utilize Google Drive for shared documents among your lead coaches and club coaches. You can place your practice plans and coaching cues there for coaches to reference. Schedules can become very hectic during season, so make sure to send reminders to your coaches, direct messages and emails, and forward the information directly to them to make it easier for everyone to stay in the know and on the same page.
5. Encourage Certifications and Professional Development
Make sure your coaches are aware of ways to advance their coaching careers and gain experience outside of your club. Offer incentives for them to receive professional development opportunities such as the AVCA Convention, leadership workshops and education seminars in exchange for their dedication and commitment to your club. It reflects well on your club when your coaching staff has a broad array of qualifications and certifications that enhance your club operations and training.
Club Directors have the unique role to be able to foster an environment for continued learning for your coaching staff and help your coaches build a sense of community by sharing ideas, giving and receiving communication on a consistent basis, and learning from other coaches or professionals.
This clip taken from a Round Table Discussion hosted by the JVA and Beach Nation shows how long time elite coaches are taking notes, sharing their experience, and learning from each other. As educators we are teachers, but we will be better at our craft if we continue to learn and evolve as coaches.