Get others involved

I want to share one other bit of advice that came out of the “If I knew then…” seminar I talked about previously. It’s the need to get others involved in your team/club/program. I think this subject deserves its own space as it’s probably something many of us don’t do nearly as well as we could or should. I know I often fall short myself.

Delegation

The first part of involving others is the ability to delegate. In terms of a volleyball coach that generally means giving assistant coaches responsibility for certain facets of coaching and/or administration. If you look at a collegiate program in the States you’ll see that the various assistant coaches have different duties. There is often some coaching specialization – one may work with the setters, another on blocking, etc. One assistant may be the recruiting coordinator, while another may handle all the team travel. On match day one assistant may have stats duty while another pays attention only to the opposition side of the court.

Obviously, in a smaller club environment, or in a situation where one is short of staff, there’s less opportunity for pure specialization. The coaches must all wear multiple hats. One way to help spread the responsibility around in those situations is to delegate to the team captain(s). This can be a very good way to develop their leadership skills along with helping you get things done as efficiently as possible. I think you get the idea.

The key to delegating, of course, is matching skill sets to the necessary jobs. This goes for the fun stuff as well as those duties no one really wants to do. You may want to shuffle some drudge work off to an assistant. If you actually are the best for the job, though, then you’re actually not helping your cause at all. Focus on apply everyone’s strengths as best you can.

Enlisting External Help

The other part of involving others is bringing in support from those outside the coaching circle. Running a team or program involves any number of tasks. A coach must do some of them, but willing volunteers can do plenty of things. Generally, these are going to fall into the administrative category – fund raising, equipment purchases, travel arrangements, etc. Volunteers can even handle some on-court stuff, though. For example, if you go to a big Juniors club tournament in the States it’s not unusual to see fathers of the players on the court during warm-ups retrieving balls to keep things moving so the team can focus on getting in their reps.

Of course you do need to be cautious in who you bring in to help you out. You don’t want someone who is going to negatively impact the culture or chemistry of your team or the dynamics of your staff. Parents are often a very delicate thing. They can be quite willing to help out, but it comes in many cases with biases, so you generally need to give them very specific, very narrow responsibilities.

Inventory Time!

Take some time and list out all the various responsibilities associated with managing your team or program. Then list out all the resources you have available to you currently in terms of personnel who can help out, along with the strengths and weaknesses of each. Once you have both, match the strengths of your resources with the responsibilities.

Can you match them all up? Can you do it, but only if you stretch things a bit? Are there places where you have someone doing something when they would be better suited to do something else? That’s where you need to try to take a wider look at what’s available to you. Maybe you can use people connected to your team in new ways. Maybe you need to bring someone else into the fold.

What’s your experience?

I’d be interested to hear your own strategies for enlisting additional help, and any stories you have about doing so. Feel free to use the comment section below or start a conversation Facebook.

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John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women's team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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