Listen to part of a lecture in a sports management class.
So, I want to end today with a topic that many of you have questions about when you come to see me during my office hours.
A lot of you have told me you are specifically interested in careers as coaches.
Now, it doesn't matter what sport you are interested in coaching, volleyball, basketball, swimming... there are some considerations for all new coaches to think about as they plan their careers.
A recent study—a survey of high-school head coaches—helped identify some obstacles . . . some things that head coaches felt they were not prepared for as they began their careers.
They were surveyed to determine what things they would do differently if they were starting their careers over again.
Based on their responses, several themes emerged.
The largest number of responses was in the area of relationships. 79% of the coaches indicated that, if they had to do it all over again, they would do things differently in this area.
They said they'd deal differently with assistant coaches, parents, student-athletes, school administration, and, and pay more attention to those relationships.
The second most critical area for these coaches was organization and administration.
To them, this meant things like better managing their budgets and delegating responsibilities... making sure that even minor things were taken care of—like pre-game meals... those sort of things.
Excuse me, professor.[in good humor] I know good nutrition is important, but organizing pre-game meals isn't really something you consider when you are thinking about going into coaching as a career.
No, I guess not, Kenny. But it's more an example of paying attention to the details, being organized.
I do want to emphasize that the profession of coaching is about more than just wins and losses.
In fact, winning is probably stressed too much.
At its best, I'd say coaching—especially in high school and college—is about teaching life skills through game strategy.
Of course, coaching requires a specialized body of knowledge—if you coach tennis, you need to know the rules of tennis . . . if you are a football coach, you need to know all about football strategies—and those are the sorts of things that you'll get in your classes here at the university...
But if coaches spend too much of their time on game strategy, well…you see, maybe that's secondary to... to the knowledge and skills you'll need for the other roles you'll undertake as a coach—especially, as that survey emphasized, skills in dealing with people, and, and administration.
But, how do you... how do you improve in those areas? I mean, I'm gonna be an assistant coach at a high school, beginning next month, and ... [quick cut, no pause]
[without pause.][interrupting, genuinely] Really? Nice going, Kenny!
[also genuinely] Yes, that's wonderful!
Thanks. I'm excited.
Ok, well, to get better organized, one thing is take courses in business management and not just the sports management courses in the physical education department, other business and finance courses.
Oh, oh, but wait a minute. You said you are starting next month? [pause to take new direction] What sport will you be coaching?
Uh, gymnastics, mainly.
Okay, in my career, I've learned, well, as part of building and maintaining strong relationships, and working on administrative skills, you've got to consider the other needs of your team beyond the sport itself.
Remember the team members are athletes and students, and remember that if you are enthusiastic about what you are doing, well, enthusiasm is...is catching, right?
You want team members to enjoy participating.
Right, but what about setting rules for your team, and, is it better to be strict or not so strict?
Actually, I don't believe in having a lot of rules. And coaches often do have too many.
I think that can get in the way of leadership and box you in.
I think people sometimes set rules just to make things easier for themselves.
That way, maybe later they just can refer to the rule and avoid making a choice.
You know that kind of person I'm talking about, right?
But that's not to say the team shouldn't have any rules at all. Of course they need some.
So, early in a season, or when you first take a new job, establish a few basic ground rules for what is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior.
So, what are some good ones?
Well, a...a couple rules a coach should have are—insist... that players be on time, and insist that they practice hard and give their best effort.
And when you do establish a rule, stick to it.