Mark Lebedew posted to his blog a piece on the question of whether coaches should be involved in building their team. By that he means making decisions who is on the roster. For readers of a certain age who follow the NFL, you may recall comments from Bill Parcels along the lines of, “If you expect me to cook the meal, you should let me buy the groceries.” By that Parcels meant he wanted a say in the composition of the squad. That’s normally the role of the General Manager in most American pro sports. In other parts of the world it is the Sports Director, or someone with a similar title.

Basically, Mark makes the case that coaches probably shouldn’t handle the player signing process. He offers five reasons, which I leave you to read for yourself if you wish.

Now, Mark clearly comes from the perspective of a professional coach with all the considerations inherent there. My own perspective is mainly from US college volleyball, which is a very different animal. In that arena the idea that coaches shouldn’t identify and sign their own players is entirely laughable. Largely, that’s because there’s no one else to do it. Yes, often the main work of recruiting falls to an assistant – or the assistants collectively – but at the end of the day the head coach has final say. As a result, the ability to recruit is often a key evaluation factor for college coaches.

These are two very different views on the matter, ones heavily influenced by the structures in which the coaches operate.

My point in all this is that perspective matters in coaching exchanges and conversations. College and professional coaches look at things differently, just as high school and Juniors coaches do. Men’s coaches look at things differently than women’s coaches. Not everything, obviously. Arguably, not even most things. There’s enough difference, though, that can lead to confusion, and potentially conflict.

So the next time you get into a debate – even better, before you start one – try to see things from the other side’s perspective.

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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.

    2 replies to "Perspective matters"

    • markleb

      The general thrust of my point is still valid. The coach does not have time to be a good coach and a good recruiter. At college level coaches delegate at least parts of at least one of those responsibilities.
      But as you say some other parts of my point are not really valid for some different levels than professional volleyball.

    • John Forman

      Interestingly, you comment brings up an immediate question of the definition of “good coach”. Your comment implies a volleyball-only type of definition, but I think I can make a good case that in the context of college coaches it would encapsulate things beyond that (e.g. recruiting). Just one more example of perspective differences. 🙂

Please share your own ideas and opinions.