It’s not the Xs and the Os, it’s the Jimmies and the Joes. Most of the time when a coach uses this cliche, he will use it to stress what is important in a program. Your offensive or defensive system is important, but the people who are executing the game plan each week have more to do with the success of the team than the plays being called. You can also apply this to the coaches office. The people who are putting together the game plan and teaching the players every day have more to do with program success than the scheme being employed.
Football is a transient sport. In every field house, in every locker room, and in every coaches office, the people who are important to the success of program come and go year in and year out. Most of the players will be there for the tenure of their schooling before moving on to the next phase of their lives. Coaches are migratory people as well, moving from one program to the next as they look to climb the football career ladder and provide the best opportunity for their families. While we only have our players for four years, we may have coaches on staff for an even shorter period of time.
How can a head coach ensure the assistant who leaves his program is a better coach, person, father, and leader than when he arrived? How can a head coach build a staff that provides opportunity, yet desires to stay together? The same way we impart this lesson to our players, by establishing a culture of value.
The culture of the football program begins inside the coaches office. Everything your team represents, promotes, and values comes from what each coach represents, promotes, and values. The head coach establishes the culture he sets for the program by establishing the most important values to the football program. Once established, every assistant must embrace these values in order to spread the culture through to the players. In order for assistants to accept these ideas, they must feel valued and respected in return.
Create value within the office by providing opportunity to perform various responsibilities. These can vary based upon each coaches’ strengths, weaknesses, experience, and potential. Trust the coaches to complete each task and to do so to their best capabilities. The value of belief in someone instills confidence, loyalty, and emotional connection; all important aspects of culture in a football program and any organization.
Each assistant creates value by showing the maturity and ability to handle the responsibilities provided to them by the head coach. Your performance will lead to opportunities to add more and also to advance through the staff and profession.
One of the tasks all coaches must perform is spreading and teaching the desired culture to the athletes. If coaches don’t know or understand what the culture is, then the culture of the program is left to chance. You must communicate clearly to all who are involved. The beginning of each season and the first coaches meetings provide the perfect opportunity to go over the culture and expectations of the football program. Make sure you follow up and reinforce the message throughout the season and school year in meetings, texts, and activities that help create the desired environment.
Coaches consume information they feel will benefit their football program and profession. Use this to your program’s advantage by giving objectives to learn and share with the rest of the staff. Provide a book for all coaches to read, or ask them to read the book of their choice and have a discussion following completion or through various checkpoints at an ensuing staff meeting. You can accomplish the same with clinic presentations. By supporting the professional development of your staff, you help construct the culture you want in your program, and enable the coaches them to convey the culture to the athletes.
The presence of positive and constructive feedback to coaches engages them in the process of culture building. Let the staff know when they have done a good job, and also let them know where they can improve. Coaches look for rewards just as much as our players. Those rewards come in the form of recognition, respect, and upward mobility within the staff. When you have a culture that develops the best coaches, you no longer have to look outside your staff for the best coach available. The environment and culture of the office keeps coaches in the program.
Coaches are the disciples of the culture. You need them emotionally connected to the athletes and the program. The connection begins with how you address and engage your coaches in the office. If you want your staff to grow and stay together, then provide a positive culture of growth and support. Starting your culture in the coaches office creates successful programs.