May 18, 2018
Teaming Up
Dr. David Hoch

As a high school coach, your number one objective is the growth and development of young people. You want players to learn values, and one you probably stress the most is teamwork. But how are you doing when it comes to your own teamwork?

Regardless of which sport you coach, there are several other teams in your school’s athletic program. It is important that the coaches of all these teams work with each other for the benefit of the student-athletes and the athletic program. Are you a good teammate with the other coaches in your school?

It is normal for coaches to be engrossed in teaching and guiding their own team. You need good focus and a singular approach. It is important, however, to look around and realize that there are other sports as well in your school’s athletic program, and they are equally important to their coaches, athletes, parents, and the community. While you should be an advocate for your sport and believe that it is important, you are only one of many.

What if your sport is one that generates revenue through its gate receipts or gets the majority of the space on the local sports page? These two factors do not make your sports more important than any other. Good athletic administrators understand this and treat all sports in the program fairly based on this premise, and it is important that coaches respect and support each other too, regardless of their sport.

Review the following ideas and see whether you are operating as a team player. Coaches who see themselves as part of their athletic department team do the following:

Share resources. Do you work to make sure every program has access to practice areas, equipment, and especially athletes? There is no such thing as “my field” or “my athletes.” The correct possessive pronoun is always “our” within an athletic program.

Assist when possible. Coaches who are good at teamwork reach out and try to help other coaches. This can be as simple as answering a question or sharing ideas. While skills may be different, most sports share some universal aspects and your insight may be helpful to another coach. If you make a regular practice of helping other coaches, you might even be considered a mentor. Mentors within an athletic department are a valuable asset.

Show up. Do you attend games and events for other sports when possible? Obviously, this may be easier in your off-season. Your attendance will not go unnoticed and will be appreciated, even if you can’t stay for the entire contest. As a side benefit, athletes and coaches may return the effort and stop by your games. This simple act can create a better appreciation of other coaches and their teams.

Problem solve carefully. When a difficulty arises between coaches, team players sit down, calmly discuss the issue, and look for reasonable solutions. It is important to remember that you are colleagues and you both have a common goal of doing what is best for young people. If you listen to the other coach’s point of view and maintain an open mind, an equitable outcome can usually be attained.

Show public support. Always speak positively about fellow coaches when talking with parents, players, and the community. If you disagree with another coach’s philosophy or actions, do so in private. Outwardly criticizing another coach within your athletic program is never acceptable and does not create good working relationship.

Do your part. Team-oriented coaches take an active part in all department activities and initiatives. This would include, for example, orientation programs at middle schools, fund raising efforts, and community service projects.

David Hoch retired in 2010 after a 41-year career as a high school athletic director and coach. In 2009, Dr. Hoch was honored as the Eastern District Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. He was also presented with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Distinguished Service Award, and in 2000 he was named the Maryland State Athletic Director Association's Athletic Director of the Year. Dr. Hoch has authored over 460 professional articles and made more than 70 presentations around the country. He welcomes comments and questions and can be reached at: [email protected].

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