July 28, 2009
Managing to a Successful Season Part III
Working with Expectations continued…
Now that you have a destination in mind for your team, you need a road map. Develop a plan to get your team to where you envision them. This plan entails defining smaller more attainable goals. An example of a smaller more attainable goal may be to increase the number of times a player can juggle the ball by ten percent in two weeks. In this plan, you need to define the roles of those involved and how these groups will interact. In most cases, the key participants are: the coaching “staff” (many times just you), the players, and the parents. Unless your plan includes all of these groups working together to reach a common vision, you are in for a very long season. Defining the roles for each group may seem obvious. Players play, coaches teach, and parents support. However, unless you define what this looks like, some parents’ version of support may include the phrase, “Johnny, if
Working with Expectations continued…
Finally, now that you have communicated your vision and plan, and you have engaged the parents in a meaningful dialog, it’s time to gain their “buy-in”. Have the parents invest a bit of themselves into the vision. This can be done by giving them a specific part of the plan to own. For example, let the parents know that a common error that players make is calling for the ball while standing behind a defender. Inform them that in the following weeks your team will be working on showing between defenders to support the player with the ball. Over the course of the next few games, ask them to pay particular attention to moments when their child shows between defenders to support. Have them praise their player for stepping out from behind a defender. Giving the parents this piece of the plan serves several functions. First, it educates the parents. Now everyone can agree that success is having the player show between defenders. Both you and the parent have a common vision and expectation. Second, because the parent is actively investing themselves in the plan, he / she will tend be more supportive of the plan. Finally, assuming the parent is keying on the correct moments, the player is praised for properly supporting from both the parent and the coach. As a result, all three actors, player, coach and parent, will share a common vision of success.
0 and 12 – One of My Best Seasons
Managing parents’ expectations truly helps. One of my most successful seasons ended with a record of 0 and 12. After my first practice, it was very obvious that almost all of my players had “less than refined” skills. I decided to focus on developing the basic skills of each of my players. My mistake was that I kept this goal to myself. I was THE coach. I decided what was best for MY players and MY team. Our first game, we were handed an 8 to 0 beating. Needless to say, neither the parents nor the players were very happy. Oddly enough, one of my players did not return. Nonetheless, I stayed with MY plan. I knew that it would help MY players in the long run. Our second game ended with a 6 to 0 loss, and I lost 2 more players the following week. Even though my vision and plan was sound, it became excruciatingly obvious that my approach was not working. I communicated my goal and plan to both the players and the parents. After several rounds of talks, we all agreed that individual improvement was more important than the score. The improvement came. The players started to have more fun, and the parents started to smile. We lost every game that season. However, every player was proud of what they accomplished. The parents commented on how much the players improved. Once I started managing expectations, the season became a great success.
Many people have a vested interest in the success or failure of your team. Parents are among the most influential of these stakeholders. Their actions are largely driven by their expectations. One of the keys to a successful season is managing the parents’ expectations. An effective approach to managing their expectations includes: 1) defining your vision, 2) developing a plan to reach this future state, and 3) communicating this image and the plan to ensure a common understanding and buy-in. Additionally, the more that you engage the parents in two way communication, the greater the likelihood that you and the parents have matching expectations. By managing the parents’ expectations, even a 0 and 12 season can be hailed by all as a great success.
Check back next week for a new article that will help you with your coaching methods…