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Building a successful sports program

Building a successful sports program
February 03, 2022 | Andre Harakas | 8 min read

When you take over as head coach, whether you inherit a great program or a club that has seen better days, it’s critical to think about how to lay a solid foundation.

I took over a pretty successful program some years ago. I, on the other hand, wanted to take the squad to the next level. As a result, I uncovered five major building pieces that have served as the cornerstone for our successful program. They aren’t the only things that go into making a winner, but I’ve found that if the following five elements are handled from the first day on campus, a program is off to a strong start.

  • Good assistant coaches and managers should be hired.
  • Obtain the administration’s and school’s backing.
  • Encourage your athletes to participate in your program.
  • Encourage parents to participate in the program.
  • Create a program vision and purpose statement.

Remember that success isn’t just determined by victories and losses. Success is determined by how much you progress as a team and as a coach each day. Not every team will win a state region or even a county championship, but every team may grow while having a good time. You have the potential to make a long-term difference in the lives of athletes. It all begins with the five foundational elements of a successful program.

Managers and helpers who are effective

The people you hang out with shape who you are and help define you as a coach. Yes, as the head coach, you are the decision-maker for the squad, but you will need at least one other person to assist you in making those choices by expressing their own views and perspectives. A “yes” man or woman will not suffice. Find someone who has their own ideas, is aware of your program’s objectives, and can provide you with a fresh viewpoint when dealing with players or problems.

Your assistants must be aware about the obligations and function of an assistant coach and willing to embrace them. Let them know you’re in control, but that their suggestions are always welcome. Make sure your helpers have a defined position on your team as well. Too frequently, assistants are unfamiliar with the details of their work, and they grow irritated when the coach calls them out for failing to complete assignments.

The greatest assistant coaches are those that desire to improve as coaches, whether or not they aspire to be head coaches.

Everyone is entitled to be respected.

Maintain a respectful attitude with your helpers. If you want your helpers to scout the opponent, make sure you pay attention to their report. Sure, there are occasions when choices must be taken fast and all of the assistants’ labor may not be used, but don’t continually overlook your employees’ efforts.

Make certain that your athletes and everyone else in the program respect the assistants. Assistants are in charge of a lot of the day-to-day responsibilities of operating a team, which have a direct impact on the players. The whole team suffers as a result of the assistant’s lack of appreciation for his or her job.

Administration and assistance for the school

In order to get the support of your school and administration, you must communicate effectively. It’s part of your responsibility to keep the student body informed about what’s going on with your squad. This is accomplished via morning and afternoon announcements, as well as special events. The more you speak about your program, the more people will be interested in it and will be more inclined to come to your games.

Your players are working hard on the court to improve, so you owe it to them to show them off off the court as well. Encourage students, staff, and administrators to come out and support your athletes by being proud of them.

It’s also crucial to keep the administration informed about what you’re doing with the team. Inform the upper management that you’re keeping your players in line on the court and in the classroom, and that you’re leading your team in a way that makes the whole school proud. Administrators should be invited to game banquets and other special events. T-shirts and other spirit clothing will let them know you’re thinking about them.

Getting players to participate

Of course, your staff is your most powerful marketing tool. Students must be informed about what is going on with the team by the players. They also need to concentrate on increasing the number of people that attend games.

A fantastic method to achieve this is to have your players volunteer at some of the middle school activities. This demonstrates that your athletes are active in the educational system, which usually leads to an increase in the number of individuals interested in attending games.

Players putting accountability into the game

Players must communicate their ideas and visions for the team; else, your team will fail. By presenting your program’s vision, you may persuade people to join it.

Assign players the obligation of keeping an eye on one another. The only way to get your players to believe in what you’re doing is for them to assume responsibility for everyone in the organization and for their own actions. Players must realize that whatever they do sets a precedent for future classes to follow.

Allow players to have a say in your program as well. Allow them to contribute new rules and procedures to the ones you develop, but don’t let them determine the rules and policies. Players take delight in establishing and adhering to regulations. It also demonstrates that you care about your players and want them to be a part of the team.

This clarifies everyone’s position and what they need to do to function at their best. Define the role of each player on the squad. If a player demonstrates that he or she can manage that function, give that player additional responsibilities within the team structure.

Parents are investing in their children.

For most coaches, dealing with parents is a difficult task. If you allow the parents in too much, they’ll become insufferable, but if you keep them out entirely, you’ll be robbing them of a chance to be active in their child’s life. In addition, if you don’t have the resources for multiple assistants, parents might play an important part on your team. Parents are fantastic at wrapping up loose ends, volunteering at events, and assisting you with event planning.

Take advantage of the parents’ desire to be involved in their children’s life (in a positive manner). Assign them the task of planning events such as the banquet, senior night, spaghetti parties, and so on, and watch them grow in pride and ownership of the program.

Allowing parents to see practices is also a wonderful idea. Of course, this only works if ground rules are established from the beginning. Allow parents to discreetly watch rather than interrupt or interact with their children during practice.

Have a purpose and a vision for your program.

When a coach takes over a program, the first thing they should do is create a vision for where they want the program to go in a specified time frame. This vision must include all areas of the program’s operation. Winning a particular amount of games or titles is not included. Every team wants to win, but they may not be able to do so.

Your goal should be to put your team in a position to win while being realistic and honest with yourself and your teammates. It is not a healthy thing to have a false feeling of hope.

Next, consider what it will take to get your program to where you want it to go. Develop a strategy with the help of assistant coaches and administrators. Make use of all of the resources at your disposal to ensure that your vision has a lot of input.

Asking yourself what you want athletes to achieve throughout their four years in your program is a terrific place to start for your vision. What do you want your players to say about their experiences playing for you and your institution after they graduate?

Set up a value system for your program as well. Consider your fundamental values before forming the team’s core values. It’s acceptable if both sets of values are different. The goal is to engage with athletes to give them a voice in how they act on and off the court. The way players conduct on the court has a direct impact on how they perform off the court.

The third factor to consider is that each coach is in a unique scenario. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to running a program, but if you use these five building blocks, you’ll be well on your way to shaping your team into what you want it to be.

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