Here’s an interesting question on coach development I found in an online group.

If you have someone interested in coaching but has zero experience and is more familiar with middle school basics, how do you help to grow that person in a short period of time? This person is volunteering, but I still want to do my best to help this person grow their coaching career. Do any of you have a way of evaluating or working to ensure we make the most of her time and help her grow the best we can? How do you help get someone more caught up with current strategies, techniques, rules, etc without overloading someone with a lot of reading.

So how do we teach more advanced strategies and tactics to someone whose only experience is teaching basic skills?

Watch, watch, watch

My first recommendation is to give the new coach a whole bunch of video. Obviously, I’m talking about stuff relevant to the level of play in question. It would be best if you can watch with them to answer questions and/or point things out. Even just watching it alone, though, will help familiarize someone with what they’re getting into.

Involve them in planning

While a newbie coach in this kind of scenario probably won’t be of a lot of help in actually planning practices (or scouting teams) include them in the discussion anyway, if possible. It will help them understand the process. They’ll see focal points, get a sense of how things link together, and all that. Doing a bit of explanation along the way to help their understanding is a good idea. It will move the development process along faster.

Talk them through sessions

To the extent that you can, talk the new coach through what’s happening in the practice sessions. If they are actively involved in things (e.g. feeding balls into a drill or playing in a scrimmage) you may have to do this during breaks. Or maybe it comes in the pre/post briefing. Either way, make sure they understand things. Not only will it help their development, it might keep them from doing/saying something that goes against what you want.

And realize that some folks will readily ask questions while others won’t. You may need to tease out lack of understanding – just like you do with players!

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.