First Year Coach

You’ve been offered and have accepted a coach’s spot on a club. Perhaps you’ve taken on the role as a last ditch effort by someone trying to cover the job at the eleventh hour or as a veteran coach that’s now moving up into the more competitive ranks.

In any event, you’ve got a learning curve ahead of you that’ll prove daunting at the least.

So, since this is the season when a lot of you will be joining the coaching ranks, in one or both of the situations that I mentioned above, perhaps the following might help.

Know who you’re deal with.[/b][/u]
Does the person who selected you also remain with the club, or does he/she go elsewhere or commit you to different things?
When you hear, “ there’s just no body to take this job,” think for a minute - why? Is the environment loaded with politics? Does a “control freak” really runs the show and you’re just a “gofor” (go for this - go for that)? Do you show up for a practice and find four other coaches doing exactly what you’re suppose to do?
Do you have some youngsters that have been sent to private coaching lessons and their parents question every little thing that you do?
Are you filling the shoes of someone else that didn’t exactly leave under reasonable circumstances? Are you filling the shoes of a legend? Does the head coach have his/her “click” of friends and you just don’t fit in?
Is the organization that your club is in more interested in raising money than playing ball?

> Your expertise and its best use.
If you’re a batting coach are you’re expected to handle the pitching end of things - is this really what you want? How will that impress your credibility? To what extent is your expertise responsible for any and all outcomes?

> Using personal transportation.
Do you have to transport players and coaches using your personal automobile? If so, how does that imprint on your personal auto insurance policy? Will you be sued by those involved in an accident who are in your car under any circumstance(s) ?

> Petty cash.
Are you expected to handle any petty cash for away games, umpires, field fees, toll roads, transportation for hire, forfeit fees, and fines. For cancellations, are you expected to call umpires and if you don’t, you’re responsible for the umpire fees personally.

The actual coaching process.

Those remarks covering this subject would go well beyond the space allotted here, so let’s just say that your experience in the sport and your speciality should be your guide with respect to the actual subject matter. On the other hand, the person-to-person interaction of using that expertise can be a bit challenging. So let me make some suggestions:
Not knowing the beforehand coaching and experience of those your in charge of should prompt you to observe the following:
- how a player performs and what are your assumptions based on observations alone.
- adjust your assumptions over and over again based on more observations.
- pay particular attention to the strength and endurance levels as the player performs.
- take note of fatigue - when, where and why.
- don’t approach any player right out of the gate during the first few sessions - you
haven’t the time invested in observations to make any claims one way or the other.
- in private, write down your observations and why, be as detailed as possible, even
take some pictures or video to support your conclusions.
- don’t try a huddle approach to your coaching - instead a one-on-one is superior and
gets the best results.
- don’t let any player bring up other coaches and what they do - you’re not there to
take a survey of your profession - YOU’RE THE COACH NOW, ACT LIKE IT.

> Coming up short.
Sooner or latter, the performance by those in your charge will come up short on the playing field, so bring this fact of life up front - NOW. Say it like it is. Let the failing aspect of this sport be part of the coaching routine. Failure in itself is not all that bad,. it’s not all that good either, but, if you can learn and coach by taking lessons from the experience - do so. Just don’t sit the guys down in the dug out and talk without end for a few hours. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

> Working on basics - a few steps at a time.
There will be some players that will require a step by step approach with the basics of their position. It’s a fact that you’re going to have to deal with so plan for it. And while your at it,
tell everyone, especially the one(s) who you’re coaching, that he/she/they have other things to address later on, so don’t try and overload the process. Don’t be working on one part of the body and then be sidetracked by somebody bringing up …”they should be doing this too coach…” Set the ground rules for your responsibilities up front right off the bat.

Coach B.