Examining the Responsibilities of Being a Great Coach

By Chris Stankovich, Ph.D.

Being an interscholastic sports coach can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience, but with the privilege of being a coach also comes a lot of responsibility. As youth sports continue to evolve, coaches are often faced with new and sometimes complex issues to address. How coaches resolve the issues they experience has a direct impact on the kids they coach, for better or worse.

To read more click on Examining the Responsibilites of Being a Great Coach

Remember the Forgotten Priorities

With fall sports starting this week and the beginning of the school year right around the corner, athletic directors and coaches (and their families) will return to the life of working late and working often.

The article below is a reminder to all athletic directors and coaches that we must not forget to make time for our family, spouse, and and our health.

Remember the Forgotten Priorities  – by Marc Jensen

Why Require Coaches to be Certified?

Below is a recent article by Tim Flannery on the NFHS recommendation that all school districts require that interscholastic coaches become certified as an Accredited Interscholastic Coach.

Tim is former A.D. at North Olmsted and is a past president of the OIAAA.  He is being inducted into the NIAAA “Hall of Fame” in December at the national conference in Anaheim.

tim flannery
Tim Flannery


Why Require Coaches to be Certified?

Why should the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) recommend that all school districts require that interscholastic coaches become certified as an Accredited Interscholastic Coach (AIC)? That question is being asked across the United states by school administrators, coaches and parents. AIC certification is earned when an individual completes four online courses, pays a $10 application fee and fills out a short profile form at www.nfhslearn.com

The answer to this question involves the health and safety of the students who participate, the legal responsibilities of the school district and coaches, and the elevation of interscholastic coaching to a profession through ongoing professional development.

Let’s consider each of these important reasons:

For the Health and Safety of the students who participate

A coach’s primary role is to make sure the students who participate are safe from potential harm and are cared for properly in the event of an injury. In addition, coaches are supposed to model the positive behaviors that will teach young people valuable lessons that can be used later in life.

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear on local television, in newspapers, or on the internet about a school coach who has acted inappropriately. Here are few headlines to make the point. These are the kind of headlines that can turn your school district upside down.

“High School Football coach charged in inappropriate relationship with a student” “Hockey coach charged in hazing ritual involving his team”
“Coach accused of using demeaning behavior and foul language by players”
“Local school coach charged with sexting with several members of the spirit squad”

Most states now require all new coaches to complete the NFHS Fundamentals of Coaching course, which is designed to educate coaches on all aspects of coaching at the interscholastic level. To address abuse concerns, the NFHS developed a free online course “Creating a Safe and Respectful Environment” to educate coaches regarding their role and responsibilites in dealing with inappropriate student behavior, modeling respectful words and actions, hazing and bullying and other abusive scenarios.

For the school district

Schools are judged by the quality of their academic, athletic and fine/performing arts programs. A school’s reputation can hang in the balance if any one of these programs is called into question. Is your team(s) an example of a program that wins with dignity and loses with class? Ask any opposing player, coach or parent which teams in your league model positive and respectful behavior and they will tell you in an instant. Is your team or program one that they would name?


School administrators and coaches must fulfill a number of legal duties to ensure that students participate in a healthy and respectful environment. One of the important legal responsibilities for school administrators is to select and train coaches and prepare them for their role as a teacher-coach in an educational institution. The training must relate to coaching in a school setting, which is vastly different than coaching a club team or community program. We sometimes refer to athletic programs as the “front porch of the school,” meaning that sport programs are the first thing the community sees. That perception may well determine the level of support the school district receives from voters when considering funding to operate a quality program.

Preserve education-based athletics in our schools

Athletics has been a part of our schools since the mid-1800’s. The United States is only major country that offers interscholastic sports as an extracurricular activity to over 7.5 million students who participate annually. One of the main reasons we offer these programs is the educational benefits students can derive from their participation.

Athletic programs face many challenges that some day may threaten their existence. Among these threats to school-based sports programs are the following: pay-to-play, financial cutbacks in athletic programs, the conflicts with club sports that force students to choose, parental pressure on coaches, state legislatures, and the influence of professional sports in our society. However, no challenge is greater than untrained coaches who often times put winning ahead of their primary role as a teacher- coach, which uses the sport experience to promote learning. When coaches put winning ahead of the educational outcomes (healthy lifestyles, good citizenship, sportsmanship, etc.) it “contaminates” the experience for the students who participate. This can result in negative effect on the students we serve.

Many people, including some of our coaches, have lost sight of the mission and purpose of interscholastic sport by placing an undue emphasis on winning at the expense of the educational mission. Sports are not automatically educational; however, if used appropriately sport can be a powerful learning tool. “Done right,” participants can learn important life lessons that cannot be learned in the classroom. What the coach chooses to teach and model determines to a large degree what students will learn from the experience.

The good news is that the skills a coach needs to make the sport experience educational can be learned. Schools must provide coaches the training and tools necessary to educate them in how to fulfill their role as a teacher first and a coach second. The NFHS Coach Education/Certification has over 34 courses schools can use to train and educate coaches. This information translates directly into real-life coaching situations.

Stay current in the ever changing profession of interscholastic coaching

Whether it is education, law, medicine or any profession, isn’t it important to stay current with best practices, new policies, and dealing with new issues? If coaching is ever going to rise to the level of a profession, coaches need to be current in teaching methods, minimizing risks, communicating and


motivating, administering their team or program and teaching students to be the best they can be in sports and in life.

Coaches who have not been educated on how to deal appropriately with such issues as concussion, hydration, non-abusive environment, sexual harassment and other topics have cast a dark shadow on some school teams and programs. Parents whose children participate in interscholastic sports assume the coach is knowledgeable in all areas of coaching. This expectation is real and warranted, and parents will hold coaches and school districts responsible if these issues are not dealt with appropriately.

The NFHS Board of Directors approved a coach education position statement in 2013 that recommends that school provide both initial training and ongoing professional development throughout the coach’s career.

If every school district in the United States followed the recommended coach education position statement, it would go a long way in providing the students we serve a positive learning experience, a safe environment, protection for the school district in a legal action, and help to preserve the institution of education-based sports for future generations.

Along with the goal of making coaching a profession is the value of building credibility with students, parents, school administration and the community. Credibility is not automatically given;-, it must be earned. This may be bothersome to those coaches who may have grown up in a time and place where respect was given without questions being asked. Things have changed; we live in a time where everything is questioned. For coaches to earn respect, they must understand how to play the role of the coach in an education-based setting. Every coach should strive to build credibility in several key ways.

Key #1 Coaches must demonstrate professionalism in their actions

  •   Prepare for practices and games. Make sure these practice plans are in writing.
  •   Submit required reports to the athletic department on time: before, during, and after theseason.
  •   Communicate effectively with students and parents. Develop an enforceable parent/coach communication policy.
  •   Conduct a preseason meeting with students and parents to communicate philosophy, parent/coach communication policy, teamsrules and expectations of students and parents.
  •   Model the behavior you want your students to exhibit, including but not limited to dress, language, sportsmanship, healthy lifestyle, and respect.

Key #2 Consistently communicate and enforce all rules and policies to students and parents including:
 Team rules including codes of conduct.

  •   Athletic department polices including transportation, physical forms, use and care of equipment and uniforms and warning of the risk of participation.
  •   School rules including attendance, eligibility, grade point average etc.
  •   League rules.
  •   State association regulations.
  •   Playing rules of the sport.

Key #3 Demonstrate expertise in your sport

  •   Strive to be the most knowledgeable coach in your sport in your school, district and league.
  •   Teach the most up-to-date tactics and techniques of your sport.
  •   Join your local, state, and national coaching organizations. Volunteer to serve on committees or other leadership positions in the organization.
  •   Become an Accredited Interscholastic Coach (AIC) by completing the NFHS Fundamentals of Coaching, First Aid Health and Safety for Coaching, Fundamentals of Coaching (your sport) and Concussion in Sport-What You Need to Know courses.
  •   Commit to being a better coach by attending clinics, taking additional course work or becoming an Accredited or Certified Interscholastic Coach. Be a lifelong learner.

Key # 4 Support the school and athletic department philosophy and be a team member in the athletic department

  •   Actions must match your words.
  •   Keep a “student first and athlete second” mindset when making decisions.
  •   Treat your students as good parents would.
  •   Handle disagreements with students, parents, other coaches or the athletic department in private.
  •   Share facilities with other coaches in the building.
  •   Share athletes with other sports and discourage specialization.
  •   Share expertise with less experienced coaches. Be a mentor to others.

 Work at developing positive relationships with other coaches and teachers even if you are not a teacher in the building.

There are many things interscholastic coaches should know and be able to do before they have contact with students and throughout their coaching career. NFHS Certification is a major step toward:

  •   ensuring that the health and safety our students is first and foremost in the minds of our coaches.
  •   allowing our school districts to say with certainty in a court of law that the coach was provided the proper initial and ongoing training necessary to perform the duties expected of an interscholastic coach.
  •   preserving interscholastic sport in our schools as an extension of the classroom where student participants learn important lessons of living a positive, healthy and productive life.
  •   Providing the coach a credential that signifies completion of content covering critical aspects that coaches should know.

Impact of Social Media in Recruiting

Former UCLA Softball Coach and 11 time national champion Sue Enquist discusses the growth of social media and how coaches use it to evaluate recruits. A great video to show student athletes on how important it is for them to build a positive “personal brand.”


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Social media pose risks for recruits

Adam Gorney
Recruiting Analysis

Joe Mixon‘s recruitment is getting busy. That means, in today’s world of social media, the messages on Facebook and Twitter are coming in fast and furious, too.

Most are from college coaches, friends, reporters, people he knows or has met and trusts, or people he goes to high school with at Oakley (Calif.) Freedom. It’s innocent.

But there are others. Mixon said messages come from strangers, from fans, maybe even from girls, and the 2014 four-star running back who is approaching 20 offers said it can get overwhelming. His junior year of high school isn’t over. He’s hardly on the radar.

Eddie Vanderdoes has slowed his activity on Twitter as signing day approaches.

The temptation, because he’s friendly and nice, is to talk to people. Stories of late, though, especially the Manti Te’o saga, cause him to keep some distance.

“I pretty much don’t talk to everybody,” Mixon said. “I’ll favorite a tweet or retweet something, but it’s mainly people I know.

“I get a lot of messages. I look at them, but I don’t say anything or talk to everybody. It’s nothing like that.”

For Te’o, it was something like that — a story so complex and confusing that the details are still being gleaned. An online relationship turned hoax all because of Facebook. It led to an embarrassing admission by Te’o that he was fooled by a man pretending to be a woman. Dr. Phil is involved now.

And for high-profile high school football players, it’s not only the risk of having their hearts broken, their lives turned upside down by getting “catfished.”

Numerous prospects have talked about harassment on social media sites, especially Twitter, and the recruiting process becoming a hassle and a negative memory because of vicious and nasty fans. The access is unprecedented in a time when notoriety is unprecedented.

Five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has significantly slowed down messaging on Twitter after basically issuing a media blackout in recent weeks and deciding not to do interviews leading up to signing day. There are numerous messages from what appear to be strangers on his Twitter page.

On his recent official visit to USC, four-star linebacker Michael Hutchings tweeted a blow-by-blow account of what the recruits were doing, their schedule and what he thought about his trip. He has close to 2,500 followers.

That number is child’s play in comparison to others.

Michigan quarterback commit Shane Morris has more than 21,000 followers and has sent out north of 15,000 tweets.

Quarterback Shane Morris has more than 21,000 Twitter followers.

Someone named Jason Whittington predicted on Laquon Treadwell‘s Twitter page that after his career at Ole Miss a street on campus would be named after the wide receiver. There are other messages from women telling Treadwell they love him and he’s awesome. This is all within the last 24 hours. The nation’s top-rated receiver has more than 13,000 followers and has nearly 25,000 tweets.

On Jan. 12, Tony Hooten from @aggiewebinsider wished USC commitTorrodney Prevot a happy birthday on his Twitter page and wrote: “whoTexas A&M fans hope will [be] one of the last additions to this great 2013 Aggie recruiting class! #GIGEM”

Across the country, high-profile prospects take to social media, many of them talking to strangers. There are too many examples to count. Probably most of it is innocent banter. But it could be more dangerous than these teenagers could imagine.

Ask Te’o. Or ask Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, whose department hired two outside consulting firms to monitor the online activities of Michigan’s athletes, basically “catfishing” the school’s players in an exercise Brandon called “risk assessment.”

From a CBS Sports report citing the Toledo Blade: “One of the two consulting groups — neither of whom Brandon identified — utilized a young, attractive woman to go online and contact student-athletes.

“Did anyone take the bait? Some of them did, and they established contact online with her. The unnamed woman turned over to athletic department officials posts and comments that were made to her and the names of student-athletes. During a presentation to Michigan’s student-athletes regarding social media awareness, the athletic department introduced the woman to the student-athletes.”

Wolverines coach Brady Hoke was involved in the experiment. He and Brandon said it was to expose the players to the dangers of their communications in what Hoke called “the cyber universe.”

Michigan coach Brady Hoke wants players to be aware of what can happen with social media.

But many high-profile recruits don’t enjoy the protection of aggressive athletic departments or forward-thinking coaches. They don’t have university PR machines for cover. Oftentimes, they have as much name recognition as any college football player but very little protection from scam artists on social media. Trouble can loom.

Would it be all that fanciful to believe what happened to Te’o could happen to a high school prospect? That it might be happening now? That, with the prevalence of social media, the unfettered access to these players through the computer, a plan is being hatched? That maybe some kid, somewhere, is thinking the girl he’s been talking to online isn’t a girl at all?

After the Te’o story, what seemed ridiculous and impossible only weeks ago seems plausible, even realistic.

Mixon seems to grasp the idea that there should be a line drawn, that he shouldn’t talk to every person who messages him. He’s also a 2014 prospect who hasn’t seen the full force of national exposure yet. That intoxication of celebrity hasn’t been fully realized by Mixon and other 2014 recruits.

Social media can be a great thing, reaching beyond locales to connect people. It fosters debate and discussion. It can also be a dangerous thing littered with people who have bad intentions.

“Twitter will obviously cause more harm than good for high school prospects,” Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said.

“We’ve seen players lose scholarship offers and interest from schools based on their Twitter timeline, and if I’m a high school coach looking out for the best interests of my player and I see him tweet something stupid just once, I’m doing him a disservice by not making him delete his account. The question needs to be asked — what good can come from it compared to what harm can it cause?”

That question deserves serious consideration. Te’o learned a hard lesson from his adventures in social media. Will anyone else?

How to Think Like a Leader

How to Think Like a Leader
Too often, people who are promoted to their first leadership position miss the point. And that failure probably trips up careers more than any other reason.Being a leader changes everything. Before you are a leader, success is all about you. It’s about your performance. Your contributions. It’s about raising your hand, getting called on, and delivering the right answer.When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. It’s about making the people who work for you smarter, bigger, and bolder. Nothing you do anymore as an individual matters except how you nurture and support your team and help its members increase their self-confidence. Yes, you will get your share of attention from up above—but only inasmuch as your team wins. Put another way: Your success as a leader will come not from what you do but from the reflected glory of your team.

Now, that’s a big transition—and no question, it’s hard. Being a leader basically requires a whole new mindset. You’re no longer constantly thinking “How can I stand out?” but “How can I help my people do their jobs better?” Sometimes that requires undoing a couple of decades of momentum. After all, you probably spent your entire life, starting in grade school and continuing through your last job, as a contributor who excels at “raising your hand.” But the good news is that you’ve been promoted because someone above you believes you have the stuff to make the leap from star player to successful coach.

What does that leap actually involve? First and foremost, you need to actively mentor your people. Exude positive energy about life and the work that you are doing together, show optimism about the future, and care. Care passionately about each person’s progress. Give your people feedback—not just at yearend and midyear performance reviews but after meetings, presentations, or visits to clients. Make every significant event a teaching moment. Discuss what you like about what they are doing and ways that they can improve. Your energy will energize those around you.

And there’s no need for sugarcoating. Use total candor, which happens, incidentally, to be one of the defining characteristics of effective leaders.

Through it all, never forget—you’re a leader now. It’s not about you anymore. It’s about them.

<image026.jpg>Jack Welch is Founder and Distinguished Professor at the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University. Through its executive education and Welch Way management training programs, the Jack Welch Management Institute provides students and organizations with the proven methodologies, immediately actionable practices, and respected credentials needed to win in the most demanding global business environments.

Suzy Welch is a best-selling author, popular television commentator, and noted business journalist. Her New York Times bestselling book, 10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea, presents a powerful decision-making strategy for success at work and in parenting, love and friendship. Together with her husband Jack Welch, Suzy is also co-author of the #1 international bestseller Winning, and its companion volume, Winning: The Answers. Since 2005, they have written business columns for several publications, including Business Week magazine, Thomson Reuters digital platforms, Fortune magazine, and the New York Times syndicate.
A version of this column originally appeared in BusinessWeek Magazine.