If you aren’t an organized coach, now is the time to learn. I won’t guarantee it will make your job less stressful, but these tips have certainly helped me along the way.
Start a Google Drive folder! Name it after your team. Use it for all important documents. Rosters, feedback, goals, surveys, schedules, training, and of course practice agendas.
When you write practice agendas…
Take the time to explain the drills rather than just jotting down the name of the drill. This way, if an emergency comes up and you need a fill in, you can provide your substitute with a solid agenda they will be able to decipher.
Save every agenda. I have a google document shared with both captains of the team I coach, so they can review past and current agendas at any time. I can also reference what drills I ran last week and make sure everything is consistent.
Copy and paste! The best thing about saving every agenda and having drills explained thoroughly is… I only need to write it ONCE. Afterwards I can just copy and paste into my newest agenda and the process of putting together a practice goes a lot faster.
When scheduling your life…
Keep a calendar. A google calendar, a written calendar, whatever. Something you can easily have on you and check to see if you will be busy that day. Being a skater and a coach means your schedule can get tight, and days can blur together…
Make a spreadsheet. I love spreadsheets. After our game schedules for the year are announced I compile and color code them. I print this out and give it to my parents (because they like to go to EVERY GAME POSSIBLE, it’s the best), and keep one for myself.
In case you want a reference or you are interested in stalking me.
I compiled this at the beginning of the season. I recently started running lines for Arbor Bruising Co. as well, so this schedule is no longer accurate. I am pretty much coaching every weekend until I die at this point. I can’t complain, hanging out and assisting so many humans in being their strongest selves gives me an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and pride.
Now that you are so super organized, what does your team expect of you? How do you manage that?
Let’s be honest here. I am a people pleaser. When I started coaching I was trying to incorporate everything for everyone to make sure they were getting what they wanted, even if it wasn’t what the team as a whole needed. I realized how impossible this was immediately.
Poll the team frequently. Ask them what they want to work on. Discuss if this is a goal that is for just that individual, for the team, or something that needs to be reevaluated in the future. Be realistic.
Make shit sandwiches. After every game I ask the team to make a shit sandwich. I want to know what they felt well, went poorly, and end on something else that went well. I compile the list to see what we need to work on. Especially if multiple people are saying the same “shit,” it’s a good indicator of what needs to be added to practice!
Be transparent. Answer questions about why you chose a drill, or why you think something may be above or below your team’s skill level. Do not leave the team wondering and assuming. They want to know you have the best of intentions, and I’m sure you do! Let them know that.
Establish your role. When I started coaching I had a lot of people bringing their feelings to me about things beyond my control. I do not mind being supportive and a sounding board, in fact I enjoy helping solve and soothe. Unfortunately, it becomes heavy very quickly. You are suddenly supporting 20ish humans growth and feelings. Redirect feelings to the appropriate resources. You do not need to shoulder the weight of everyone! Questions about the roster? Ask your captains. Usually your trainer has a minimal role in this. Feelings about other practices that you do not run? Talk to those trainers, or even the head of training.
Coach vs. Friend. I am close friends with some of the humans I coach. Sometimes it feels like walking a fine line. Know that it is perfectly possible to do both, but make sure you are explaining where your feelings are coming from. As a coach, you probably understand why a team decision was made. You may have even had a part in it. As a friend, you can still feel empathy for your friend if it upsets them. Leadership will often say, “taking off my _____ (captain, trainer, board member, teammate, WHATEVER HAVE YOU) hat off… this is how this makes me feel.” As leadership you will make decisions that your friends won’t always agree with. That’s normal! It’s okay! Hopefully you and your friends can be mature enough to look past it and realize that these roles are not mutually exclusive.
If you already knew all of these secrets, damn you and congrats! If not, I hope that I was able to provide some insight in my growth as a coach and a trainer.
Next up, I will talk getting to know your team because everyone is so very different. It’s cool AND challenging!