‘It just gets real confusing when one coach says one thing, and the next minute the other coach says the total opposite. It makes you second guess yourself when you go into a match.” (17 year old boy)
If there is one way to derail a campaign, it’s when the coaches and management showcase disagreements in front of players. This undermines the mana of respective coaches and can lead to fractions within the wider squad. Now, just like any marriage or work environment, disagreement and debate is healthy, although the key is to not play it out in front of ‘the kids.’
Photo 2013 Getty Images
As we are all passionate about our respective sports, it is only natural for us to have strong opinions on the way the game should be played or what are accepted standards within the team environment. And these opinions should be put on the table to debate and discuss. The outstanding Chiefs coaching crew of 2012/13, included some of the great coaching minds (Rennie, Smith, Conventry, Strawbridge), and were well-renowned for healthy debates behind closed doors, which is great for pursuing constant improvement and finding clarity. However, once they hit the training pitch, there was full alignment and consistent messaging. There needs to be this alignment in any team, or else there may be undermined coaching colleagues, confusion and fractions within the squad.
Establishing role clarity is vital, although doing this well is often overlooked. We are excited to get things moving in a hurry, as we ‘don’t have enough time.’ However, take the time to do this thoroughly. Who is leading what? Who is supporting? And then consider some systems to create on-going discussions, such as pre-season planning, weekly planning sessions, end of training debriefs...
Factoring in the opportunity for all coaching colleagues to join in the discussion will build engagement and clarity. The time taken off the pitch will save time and headaches down the track and avoid any potential issues spilling out ‘in front of the kids.’