The best way for coaches to communicate with each other is through face to face meetings. Organization is a key element to success on the field on Friday nights. Staff meetings are extremely important to keep everyone informed on what is happening inside the program. They are also critical to planning ahead for workouts, practices, games, travel, equipment issue, etc. Here are 5 simple things that a head coach can do to make that staff meeting better for the coaches in his program.
1. Always Have a Starting time, a Stopping time, and an Agenda. It is important to start the meeting on time. Everyone's time is valuable and on most staffs there are one or two guys who seem to always be late. Don't wait on them. As the chairman of the meeting, you should have an idea of exactly how long the meeting will last. You will be responsible for moving it along. It is easy to get hung up on some trivial issue and run short of time. The agenda is important to deal with the subjects that need to be addressed. A written agenda is best, and when possible, have a copy for everyone. It keeps you from missing items and lets the staff know what is left to deal with before the meeting ends. If the meeting does run long, you may have to skip some less important items on the list for another day. If the meeting was suppose to last an hour, it should conclude in an hour. If a coach wants to continue discussion on a subject, set up a time where he can come meet you to finish that talk so that the meeting can end on time. Some meetings are just to give the staff information, while other gatherings are to strategize, suggest and discuss. Never meet just to meet.
2. As the Head Coach, Learn to Listen. Most head coaches have some good assistants on their staffs who have creative ideas and can come up with solutions to team problems. Encourage a meeting atmosphere where everyone can speak freely and feel free to ask questions. As the head coach, you may not have that answer right away, but you can let that coach know you will look into it and get back to him. One of the worst things the head man can do is immediately dismiss or criticize an assistant for a suggestion or comment. That most assuredly will lead to less input from your staff. No one wants to get criticized for an idea by the head coach in front of the rest of the staff. Listening is a skill that head coaches should master, whether it be with staff or players. If there are some subjects you really want some input on, let your coaches know that ahead of time and give them an opportunity to prepare. That generally leads to better discussion and more ideas.
3. Involve other Coaches in Your Meeting. If you would like to change up practice, put that subject on the agenda and allow your coordinators to talk about ways to accomplish this on offense and defense. They will prepare and may even involve position coaches in the discussion. The coach in charge of equipment may need to remind the others about how an equipment issue will be handled. Getting your staff fully involved in the meeting gives everyone more of a sense of ownership within the program. It also gives those coaches who say little, often younger, a role in the meeting rather than just sitting and listening. Asking questions of individual coaches is a great way to get the quieter guys to open up and give the staff their opinion on an issue.
4. Be Cautious About Meeting After Practice. After a long day at school and practice, the last thing your coaching staff needs is one more meeting. Some of them will have after practice duties as well. If there is something of an emergency nature that you feel like you need the whole staff present for, it should be a 5-10 minute conference and you should let them know that. Individual discussions between staff are okay, but again should be just a few minutes. The same thing goes for your coordinators wanting to meet with the position coaches or the position coaches wanting to meet with the players. It should be an exception and not a rule and that talk should be very short. when practice ends, Get your people home to their families as soon as possible.
5. Change Things Up Occasionally. A little variety is good for everyone. Change your meeting place to someone's nice cabin by the river or maybe a local restaurant. Food is always good whether you take them out, bring them to your home or bring cake and brownies into the office. Change the order of a weekly meeting or start with a story that will make everyone laugh. Another good way to start a meeting is complimenting individuals or the staff as a whole for their hard work or special accomplishment. Look for ways to compliment them and to thank them. Maybe you give them all a new shirt or a gift card to take their wife out to eat. Cutting a meeting short can be a nice touch. "Hey guys, let's don't come in for that film session in the morning. Watch the game at home and we can discuss it Sunday afternoon." Cancelling a meeting can be good as well. Encourage them to use the time to be with their families.
When setting a meeting and agenda, always keep your staff in mind. It is also important to remember that the head coach is responsible for the tone and attitude of the meeting. You want your staff to look forward to your getting together, not dreading the thought of having to attend.