As we so often do at Coaching Conversations, we discuss and bring to the surface very difficult and tough sports realities. Today is no different. Youth-competitive, amateur, and professional coaches are constantly in the hot seat – You can absolutely put your money on the fact that if a coach does not perform their duties to the standards/expectations of the club or academy, then they will be out the door and replaced quicker than you can say “You’re fired”. The somewhat decent thing about this (if we can pull any positive from being fired) is that 99% of the time, a coach who is about to be sacked, let go, or fired will have an indication leading up to the actual firing. This lead-up and indication will be noticeable months, weeks, and days in advance. Where we see many coaches go wrong is that they fail to take advantage of the opportunistic time period in which they know that things are going south. This is where coaches need to make a genuine effort to save their position. In this article, we will discuss what to do should your coaching position ever be in jeopardy. Here we go.
The first thing that needs to be addressed is that nobody is ever safe. I don’t care how good of a coach you are, how much sports knowledge you have, how well you can relate to the players – If you do not produce results, you’re done. Sports, for the most part, is a results-driven business. If a team isn’t generating wins, improving, or advancing the club in a way that is progressive and forward-looking, then the coach will be replaced – plain and simple. Obviously, in professional sports, the stakes are much higher than the amateur or youth-competitive level, but there is still the prospect that a coach could be let go if they aren’t producing what the club wants. Don’t ever think that this can’t happen to you – The most interesting things in life happen when we least expect them to (for better and for worse).
Step #1 if your coaching position is in jeopardy -> STAY CALM!
- Relax, breathe, and settle yourself down. It’s not the end of the world. Remember, you can see this coming, so you still have time to fix things and make them better.
Step #2 if your coaching position is in jeopardy -> STAFF MEETING!
- Get your coaching staff together and have a sit-down with them. This is where you will bring up how you are feeling, what you think is on the line, and what you think needs to be done. After this, open up a discussion for the rest of your staff – you need their opinions and advice in order to save your position.
Step #3 if your coaching position is in jeopardy -> TEAM MEETING!
- Gather your team and your coaching staff and have a fruitful conversation about what the players think needs to be changed in the team. It might not even be something that you’re doing as a coach that needs changing, so it’s important to hear the players’ side of things.
Step #4 if your coaching position is in jeopardy -> DIG DEEP INTO YOUR COACHING RESOURCES!
- It’s likely that if your team is not producing results & underperforming that something needs to change and change quickly. If you have been repeating the same patterns as a coach and not giving the players enough variety, this would be as good of a time as any to dig deep into your coaching resources. You may need to restructure your warm up, you may need to adapt your tactics, you may need to tweak your coaching philosophies, you may need to shift your ideologies, and you may need to make some roster adjustments. Assess, evaluate, and get the ball rolling.
Step #5 if your coaching position is in jeopardy -> CONSULT WITH A THIRD PARTY!
- At this point, you would have spoken to your staff and your players. Now, you may want to get someone else involved to help you – Maybe someone who has mentored you, someone who you used to coach with, someone who has coached you, someone that you used to play with, or maybe just someone who is willing to listen & help you. If none of the previous 4 steps have helped much, you need to start reaching out to people to figure out how you can salvage your position before it’s too late.
Step #6 if your coaching position is in jeopardy -> LAST RESORT -> PETITION!
– You have now exercised all of your logical steps to save your coaching position. If you are still in the same spot as you were before step #1, or if you have moved even further back, then you have no choice but to exercise this last resort. Draw up a petition for the players, coaches, parents/guardians, fans, and people in the sports community to sign on. This petition would be one where a vote of confidence would be cast for you to remain as coach. IMPORTANT NOTES -> You should get one of your assistants to administer the petition for people to sign – People may feel awkward if you are the one administering the petition. In saying that, it’s totally your choice. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable going around doing this, but if you do, then all the power to you. In addition, whoever is administering the petition cannot force people into signing it – make sure it is consensual and that the people know what it is that they are signing off on. If someone doesn’t want to sign the petition, then don’t ask them a second time – move on and don’t burn bridges.
Step #7 if your coaching position is in jeopardy -> LET FATE DO IT’S THING!
- After exercising all of your steps, you must be willing to let the chips fall where they may. Whatever happens, happens. If you are meant to remain as coach of the team, then you will. If you are not meant to remain as coach of the team, then you won’t. Either way that it turns out, the good thing is that you won’t be out of a position forever. If you are passionate about coaching and have/continue to give a genuine effort, then you won’t be stagnant for too long. Accept whatever decision is made and move on.
Our hope as coaches is that we always move our teams forward season-after-season. If we are doing our very best work, then that is all we can ask of ourselves. It’s when we allow mediocrity to slide its way in that we become at risk of losing our position. Continue to put forth your best effort and good things will come to you. Best wishes, coaches!