Tag Archive for program management

Team policies – why you need them

Dan Mickle at The Coaches Mind wrote a while back about the need for clear, defined team policies. It is the core idea in a piece which begins with a discussion of “parents today” or “players today” and all the things we coaches are prone to complain about. Dan’s main argument is that we coaches – or program administrators – should have policies in place and, equally importantly, stick to them.

I’ll leave you to read the post for a broader discussion. The specific areas of focus Dan mentions for having written and communicated team polices, though, are:

Key areas for team policies
  • Playing time
  • Team Philosophy
  • Communication Rules
  • Practice Policy
  • Rules
  • Grievance Policy
  • Repercussions

Some of the above team policies will naturally come down from above. If you coach in a school, it or the athletic department dictates certain things. If you coach for a club, there are policies which come down from the club director or board.

team policies held reduce stressYour own team policies have to get in there as well. These, at least in part, should be based on your coaching philosophy. If nothing else, you don’t want there to be a conflict between your personal philosophy and the policies. Should there be one, it’s bound to cause a problem at some point. If you have a philosophical conflict with the policies coming down from the school or club then you probably shouldn’t be coaching there in the first place.

But back to the broader point.

The main motivation for having clear team policies that are communicated is to minimize both the frequency of issues with players and parents. Further, they reduce the amount of trouble they create if problems do arise. If you don’t have them, you should very seriously consider developing some – and Dan’s post is a good starting point for doing so.

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.


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.