In 2020, GO! surveyed youth sports organizations about the issues and concerns that lead to separating from their Director of Coaching (DoCs). This included forced resignations and termination.
One of the major issues identified was the lack of understanding of the DoC job description as well as the scope of a DoC’s work.
Where Does the Director of Coaching Fit in Your Organization?
Youth sports organizations often lack people that can make staff within their organization better. Finding people capable of multiplying the efforts of another staff member is incredibly valuable among grassroots organizations. These rare hires are able to balance:
- Athlete-first coaching and coach support
- Governance and leadership that provides direction to club programs and staff
- Operations that get the best out of staff + volunteers to support athletes + coaches
The Director of Coaching is brought in specifically to nail that first bullet point. Unfortunately, there’s no universal definition or job description for a DoC. With no common standard to set expectations from, it can quickly become a trap hire that serves as a costly mistake and detractor within your organization.
What Should a Director of Coaching Be Doing?
One way to figure out what you need and want in your Director of Coaching is to detail how you want to see your athletes improve as a result of better coaching.
After developing this vision, sort tasks that will move the needle using categories:
- On-field tasks
- Off-field tasks (admin work)
- What can be delegated
- What cannot be delegated
This will give you a better idea of how to manage your DoC’s time. You want to narrow their focus and give them as much time with coaches as possible so that your organization can develop consistent systems that improve your athletes, reduce coaching turnover, and create environments for your athletes to excel in. The next step is figuring out how much time that work will require and if the job description is realistic. Collaborate with your DoC early on to get a feel for what tasks should be prioritized.
Should Your Director of Coaching Also Be A Coach?
This is a common question, and the short answer is yes. Unfortunately, the typical answer often comes from the budget realities of funding the salary of a DoC. The programmatic advantage of a DoC coaching a team is that it gives the DoC an understanding of what it is like to coach a team in the club from an operational perspective.
There are some disadvantages you should be mindful of though. Coaching a team takes time away from other admin work. It makes it more difficult to schedule time to work with club coaches at team training and competitions. You also may see higher odds that conflict will arise if the DoC coaches a team on which a Board member’s child competes. Stay aware and manage these issues before making a rash decision.
Typical DoC Responsibilities
There are six common roles of a DoC that we find fitting for an organization that has the budget:
- Managing the budget and hiring agreements for coaches (including team assignment)
- Supervising coaches, setting expectations, and conducting performance reviews
- Developing and implementing athlete development and training curriculum
- Managing coaching education and mentoring programs to help coaches improve
- Helping coaches with team formation, tryouts, and identifying appropriate competition levels for leagues and tournaments
- Working collaboratively to manage the organization with the board of directors/club owners and staff
The survey by GO! found that the most common reason DoCs were fired was the lack of understanding about the DoC role, job description, and scope of work. Take the time to examine what you want your DoC to do for your club in their role.
Ruth Nicholson is an internationally certified professional facilitator, mediator, and organizational alchemist helping sports organizations better support players and coaches. She is the founder of GO! offering proven governance, leadership, and administrative tools.
In 2020, Ruth was inducted into the International Association of Facilitators Hall of Fame. She was a co-creator of the international 2019 Think Tank to Improve Youth Sports which engaged over 60 speakers from two dozen sports. In 2018, Ruth was a finalist for the Hudl Innovator of the Year award for youth soccer. Her work has engaged sports enthusiasts in North America, Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America.