By: Dan Gould & Cliff Mallett
Originally Published in: Sport Coaches Handbook
Provided by: Human Kinetics
Managing a program effectively requires a coach to plan and direct both culture and practice in a specific setting. In high-performance contexts, coaches must not only manage the coaching process but also handle various administrative tasks. Examples include compliance reporting to various stakeholders, as well as working and interacting with athletes and a wide range of other people (e.g., sport science consultants, administrators, officials, members of the media, and other coaches). Coaches may also be required to manage other resources needed to carry out their plans, including funds, equipment, and facilities.
Managing these resources requires coaches to oversee a number of day-to-day activities within the internal or coaching environment. These activities include implementing anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies (including policies for accommodating pregnancy in sport), attending to risk management, selecting and recruiting athletes, and addressing issues such as performance enhancement and social drug use. Many organizations designate certain staff members to manage finances and resources, but it still falls to the program leader to ensure that resources are prioritized and maximized to meet the specific needs of their athletes and coaching staff, thereby enabling them to achieve intended outcomes.
Because of recent scandals associated with such issues as doping, date rape, and sexual abuse in sport, more and more organizations make it mandatory for employees (including coaches) to report any instances or potential instances. As a result, the days of coaches handling or even investigating such issues "internally" are over; in fact, coaches who do not report issues in these areas are highly likely to be fired. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that coaches understand the sponsoring organization's policies and procedures pertaining to mandatory reporting obligations.
At the amateur, college, and professional levels, many programs are limited in their finances, access to facilities and equipment, logistical capacity, and, of course, time. In many cases, coaches are provided with a financial budget for accessing services and supporting the technical and tactical development of their athletes. Resources are also needed for an athlete welfare system, including injury prevention and management, mental health services, and sport science services from specialized consultants (e.g., bio mechanist, strength and conditioning coach, performance psychologist, nutritionist).
In the performance context, coaches may also be required to report on the progress of on-field performance by squads and athletes, appraise the work carried out by coaching staff and consultants, and track expenditures against financial accounts and budgets. These review practices can work well if the planning process includes a costed operational plan with clear time frames and measurable markers of success.
In addition to managing resources and staffing, coaches in all contexts also manage relationships, which requires them to develop interpersonal knowledge and skills as a core component of their coaching practice. Many performance-oriented programs have established a governance and administration framework to support the coach in the role of program manager. Programs in participation contexts also engage stakeholders, and in some cases these relationships can become problematic if not managed effectively. For instance, some coaches take on the challenge of working with athletes of differing ages, abilities, and aspirations.
In children's sport, this challenge can be heightened by the actions of participants' parents, who exert considerable influence on their children's experience of sport - an effect that can be either positive or negative. For instance, inappropriate parental behavior - such as conditional regard, overcontrol, unrealistic expectations, and overemphasis on winning or punishment - can increase the pressure to perform and affect a child's personal development. These effects run counter to the aims of a coach who seeks to enhance a player's competence, confidence, character, and connection through sport participation. Therefore, it is well worth a coach's time to educate parents about their influence on their child's experience in order to create a supportive environment for all participants in the program.
To foster positive coach-parent relationships, coaches should clearly communicate the program philosophy and outline behavioral expectations for both participants and parents. In this vein, it is fully appropriate for coaches to provide clear guidelines for parental behavior during training and especially during competition. Many sporting organizations develop a code of conduct for parents and spectators in order to prevent inappropriate behavior, and coaches should establish a clear expectation for all stakeholders to abide by this code. Nevertheless, it is unclear how effective these strategies are in promoting adaptive adult behaviors.