One of many responsibilities of an athletics director — whether at the middle school, high school, or collegiate level — is to create a positive and productive environment among coaching staff. Ensuring each coach is following the same principles and key goals can make a great experience for athletes, teachers, parents and other administrators. It sets standards that can ultimately work to fulfill the school’s mission.
Below are four ways the athletics director can positively influence coaches:
- Emphasize community outreach.
Many athletics departments require community service of their athletes, but emphasizing the importance of coach involvement can positively impact the entire school and surrounding community.
Last year, for example, one coaching staff and their athletes at a high school in New Jersey embraced this by raising thousands of dollars for a local children’s hospital, as well as rallying together to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Another way coaches get involved in the community is hosting local clinics and camps for younger athletes in the sport.
- Encourage professional development.
Create a culture among your coaches that encourages them to seek relevant certifications in the areas that they’re passionate about — whether that is a certified coach through various national organizations, or even specializations in strength and conditioning or nutrition. And know, some coaches may be interested in leading an athletics department one day.
The William Woods Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Athletics/Activities Administration, for example, is one of the few programs to be recognized by the National Intercollegiate Athletics Administration Association as meeting the educational requirements toward becoming a Registered Athletic Administrator (RAA) or a Certified Athletic Administrator (CAA).
- Foster relationships.
In an article for the National Association of State High School Associations, Michael J. Kreuger and Michael J. Hughes write that to lead coaches means to develop “relationships with the people who work for you. Be committed to their development as professionals, encourage them, listen to them, inspire them, help them become everything they are capable of becoming. This is true leadership.”
- Prioritize how well your coaches know each other.
Often, coaches work as teachers in your school, getting to know one another and seeing each other in the halls on a daily basis. Other times, coaches work in other professional environments and coach part time, which one article in Athletic Business magazine marks as a rising trend. Either way, it’s important to emphasize team building among coaches, as building relationships can produce common goals of athletes in areas such as sportsmanship, hard work, and academic achievement.
According to one Mindtools article, “Good working relationships give us several other benefits: our work is more enjoyable when we have good relationships with those around us. Also, people are more likely to go along with changes that we want to implement, and we’re more innovative and creative.”
Good relationships are built on trust, mutual respect, mindfulness, diversity, and open communication.