Team Building for coaches

by Rick McCharles

“Team Building” normally refers to athletes.

But in this post I talk about building team spirit with the coaches in your gym or camp.

It evolved out of a Gymnastics Alberta retreat workshop with 40 gym coaches brain-storming these topics:

Coaching as FUN
Coaches as PEOPLE
Coaching COMMUNICATION
Coaching as WORK

build-a-bridge-and-get-over-it

Coaching as FUN:

  • goal is for coaches to feel “part of the team” (camaraderie)
  • say “thank-you” to coaches
  • acknowledge when a coach does a good job
  • club should provide in-gym uniform — but let coaches decide what that uniform will be
  • ideas: tank top throw-over in summer, fleece in winter
  • give promo t-shirts for coaches
  • encourage coaches to attend Adult Rec / Fitness class after coaching
  • team-building events for coaches: Christmas party, barbecue, regular coach socials, coffee meetings, etc.
  • memory wall – funny things that happened in the gym are posted by coaches (things kids said, thank-you notes to coaches from kids and parents, etc.)
  • theme days for kids and coaches: crazy hair day, etc.
  • choreographed club warm-up that can be led by any coach

Coaches as PEOPLE:

  • recognize coaches as “individuals” with different strengths and weaknesses
  • assign as much responsibility as possible
  • coach must find their own “sub” coach when away
  • gift from club to coaches are much appreciated: spa treatment, massage gift certificate, etc.
  • performance reviews with follow-up
  • check on coaches “pet peeves” – e.g. rotations, groupings, time on equipment. Answer those concerns.
  • supervisor meets regularly with individual coaches

Coaching COMMUNICATION:

  • formal & informal communication are both important
  • supervisor needs to be available to talk to coaches
  • coach needs to be available to talk to parents. Follow the kids out of the gym at the end of the class to be available to chat.
  • paid regular coaching meetings
  • email memos to coaches and post those memos for coaches who did not check email
  • up-to-date memo board (with prize for the coach who reads the memo first as an incentive to read the memos!)
  • clear procedure (chain of command) for parent complaints
  • social for coaches with parent Board of Directors
  • keep in touch with former coaches and older gymnasts – invite alumni back on a regular basis
  • up-to-date “sub phone list”. Note on the list which days the coach might be available for subbing.

Coaching as WORK:

  • contracts (full-time) and letters of agreement (part-time) are essential
  • supervisors must back their coaches in public. Any problems dealt with privately and confidentially.
  • clubs need budget for “professional development” for all coaches in-gym and outside the gym
  • fair treatment for employees. No special treatment for “friends” of the boss.
  • recognition and reward for long-term coaches
  • reasonable remuneration
  • reward good work
  • reward very good attendance by coaches
  • no “rules”, only expectations for coaches
  • coaches willing to “sub” should be rewarded better; e.g. point system for sub hours, small gift for sub, etc.
  • reward coaches who do little extras: clean-up gym, volunteer at events, etc.
  • pay at least 50% of cost of professional development events
  • wage increments for performance
  • wage increments for coaches willing to do more hours / week
  • recruit coaches from within the club as much as possible
  • CIT (coach in training) program is important

Coaches should reflect on the psychological atmosphere at the gym.

How can it be made a happier, more magical place for gymnasts and coaches?

Money in the budget helps a lot. But there are many things we can do to build coaching team spirit which does not cost a penny.

Gym Momentum Team Building
Gym Momentum Team Building

Published by

Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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