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Suggested Topics to Cover in Mentoring of Coaches

By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA on November 13, 2019 hst Print

The process of mentoring new, inexperienced coaches is not a simple act of assigning an experienced individual to answer questions and provide occasional advice. To be most effective, there has be a planned program with specific topics of the aspects and elements of coaching that should be covered by the mentors. This effort should not be done in an off-the-cuff, laissez-faire manner. An athletic administrator must take a hands-on approach and provide the mentors with training and a curriculum.

What should be covered in your mentoring program? While many school settings are somewhat different and unique, there are a number of responsibilities, expectations and aspects of coaching that are fairly standard. These would include the daily, mundane tasks to the complex philosophical issues – all of which will help beginning coaches.

The following represent several universal aspects that mentors should cover with their mentees.

  • Importance of completing the associated paperwork. While this task is not exciting, it is an essential one which when not done on time may cause a major problem. Eligibility forms, tournament entry forms, inventory lists and budget requests represent a few of the items that should be covered.
  • Process of communicating with parents. This effort should include preparing for a preseason meeting in order to provide the necessary information. It is also critical to understand when and how to answer questions and concerns.
  • Conceptual and philosophical foundations. It is essential that new coaches understand the purpose and value of education-based athletics, sportsmanship and leadership.
  • State rules and regulations. Failure to abide by and comply with state mandates is a sure-fire way to cause a major problem, and ignorance is not a good or acceptable excuse.
  • Instructional and motivational techniques when working with athletes. As teachers working outside the classroom, coaches cannot use inappropriate language. Also, all interaction has to be done positively, professionally and never in a belittling manner.
  • Game management duties. When visiting teams and officials arrive, it is important to greet them and show them to their locker room. Responsibilities may also include setting up the bench or sideline area, cleaning up after the game and reporting the game score and statistics.
  • Supervision of the locker room, bus and practice areas. This responsibility is necessary in order to prevent hazing, bullying, vandalism and to maintain an injury-free environment.
  • Risk management responsibilities. The inspection of the facilities prior to every practice session and game, and checking the proper fit of protective equipment are important duties of a coach. It also involves being familiar with and following heat and lightning guidelines, and the emergency plan for a coach’s respective facility.
  • Spokesperson role. After a game, coaches need to either email or call the local media. This has to be done even after a loss and coaches should understand that they serve as the voice of their team and they also represent the school.
  • Time management. The effective use of time is directly related to sound preparation to play games, which includes planning practice sessions. To help in this effort, creating a seasonal plan is also a critical piece. Considering all the responsibilities involved in coaching and teaching, it is important, therefore, to learn how to budget and use time efficiently.
  • Sportsmanship expectations. While athletes and fans should exhibit acceptable and respectful behavior, the coach often sets an example for others to follow. Coaches must serve as positive role models.
  • Injury protocols. Often, coaches are responsible for immediate, on-the-scene first-aid treatment. However, injuries need to be properly reported to the athletic trainer, who treats, handles rehabilitation and makes the determination of when an athlete can return to play.
  • Practical hints. Inexperienced coaches can also benefit from suggestions and advice to deal with mundane issues. Ideas on selecting captains, inventorying uniforms and equipment, and how to effectively use assistant coaches can be extremely useful and appreciated.

These items are not meant to represent an all-inclusive list. For additional topics and ideas, a good resource is the National Standards for Sport Coaches, which was originally prepared in 1995 by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), which is now the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE).

In addition, you should also include aspects and elements that are unique to your setting. But it is essential to prepare a guideline of topics for your mentors to use with their inexperienced counterparts to help their efforts. The end result is to assist new coaches as they acclimate themselves to your program and to succeed.