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Ways Athletic/Activity Directors Can Show Care for Coaches/Advisors

By Lisa Myran-Schutte, CAA on March 18, 2020 hst Print

Not only do coaches have to handle issues that teenagers are facing, but they have to deal with parents and all of their concerns. Coaches also have to deal with the pressure of winning and making a great experience while incorporating life lessons for student-athletes. On top of that, they have paperwork to complete and have to make sure media outlets have what they need.

Just as athletic directors tell coaches to build relationships with their athletes, athletic directors need to build relationships with coaches. Sometimes, there are sports or activities that may not be as exciting, but athletic directors should support coaches of all teams.

Sometimes, activities directors get busy and forget to be deliberate and intentional about encouraging coaches and advisors. Activities directors need to be aware of coaches’ needs and tune into what can be done to meet those needs.

Athletic directors need to let coaches know that they care about them. This does not need to be mushy thank-yous (although they are many times appreciated) but can be creative and fun. Other than meetings (one more thing for a coach to do), athletic directors should consider some intentional things for coaches during the season and during the off-season.

Ideas for Athletic Directors to Show Care for Coaches

  • Handwritten Gratitude notes (not an email) – Many people keep a file of notes that are encouraging for the really hard days.
  • Meet the coach/advisor when the bus arrives back at school from a game – Take the equipment and offer to stay until everyone is picked up. Let the coach go home.
  • Pack lunch for the coaches/advisors – A meal is the last thing coaches think about before traveling.
  • Write a note to the coach’s spouse or significant other, showing appreciation for the support he or she gives the coach/advisor.
  • Post It – Seriously. Leave random Post-it Notes on the clipboard, in the coaches office, on a basketball, on the gym door, on the middle of the stage floor, on his or her car window. State how much you appreciate the time and effort he or she puts in.
  • Meet for Saturday morning breakfast. Invite all coaches and advisors. Send an email letting them know you will be there at 7 a.m. and that it is just a time to socialize.
  • Meet for post-game or post-performance beverages. Invite all coaches and advisors. Send an email as to when you will be there. Sometimes, this is what a coach or advisor needs.
  • Plan outings during the summer. Meet families at a waterpark as a time to socialize. Plan a golf outing. Plan a bonfire with coaches and advisors and significant others. “Plan” impromptu get-togethers – send an email noting you will be at the concert in the park if anyone wants to join you.
  • Clothing incentives – check to make sure it is legal and within the realm of your means.
  • Offer a pass to all school events for the coach’s family. Many times, it may be the few moments during the day a coach or advisor gets to see his or her family.
  • Convert an extra storage room into a gender-neutral coaches room. Coaches can meet after practice or before a game to decompress. Put a mini-fridge in the room with sports drinks and water. Have granola bars, fruit snacks and oranges. Imagine if all the coaches during the specific sports season stopped in and socialized with each other – they would feel instantly supported.
  • Be aware of weeks when the coach/advisor has four events. Be there at the end of the event with a water and snack. Sometimes, being the last to leave as a coach is deflating. Seeing the athletic director there a little bit longer lets the coach know that he or she is supported.
  • Offer time to your coaches with their families. Open the gym for coaches’ or advisors’ families only. The coach or advisor can play with them, or finish up a few things as you supervise the gym. Either way, it is a win-win.
  • Send a weekly schedule to the coaches. If they feel you are organized and have a handle on everything, it is one less thing for them to worry about.
  • Playing music during a time-out gives the coach some breathing room when talking to his or her team (parents can’t listen).
  • Make sure you are around when preparing the gym for an event. Don’t put that on the coach.
  • Tweet about the programs, the coaches, the successes – follow them and retweet.
  • Create a surprise “Thank a Coach” campaign for after a game with snacks and a gratitude wall.
  • Touch base with your coaches at least weekly, if not daily, especially when parent issues are brewing.
  • Invite coaches/advisors to your house after events.
  • Check in with your coaches to ensure they can vent in a safe place.
  • Take the heat off your coaches if an issue arises that is out of their control (transportation, wrong times for a tournament play). Own it and apologize to them.
  • If a coach is burning out, just listen. A coach has to do what is best for him or her. Don’t have the attitude of “coaching at all costs.”
  • When you have a coaches meeting, be organized and do not waste their time. Have food and have a purpose for the meeting. Allow for camaraderie. Always acknowledge the time and work they do.

An activities director cannot do all of these suggested ideas because there are many tasks on his or her plate as well. Pick some that work for you and make them happen. Be deliberate, be intentional. Find a way to make coaches feel appreciated that is within your realm and means. If you don’t have an extra room for a gender-neutral coaches hangout, maybe you offer your classroom for them to come get a snack after practice. Be creative.

If coaches work in an environment that is encouraging, they will want to stay. Activities directors cannot control all of the issues (parents, teenagers), but can influence the support. Control what you can and be deliberate. Be aware of your coaches and their stress level. Tune into what may be weighing them down and build them up. The great thing about encouragement is that when you encourage someone else, you are also encouraged.