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A fine art, coaches working together. (Coaching).

COACHING IS SUCH AN intensive and emotional endeavor that even the most organized staff can fall prey to personality conflicts and bickering.

Without proper management, the disagreement may destroy the cohesiveness of the staff and filter down to the athletes.

The challenge presented to the head coach is clear: To maintain the unity and efficiency of the staff, he must stay on top of his daily responsibilities.

The interpersonal relationship issues are hard to crack. Despite all of the coach's preparation and experience, there is always the unexpected to throw him off-balance. Unhappy assistants can also make practice an unpleasant experience and drain off the energy needed for coaching efficiency.

Every staff has at least one difficult personality: a "character" who will second-guess other members of the staff, interfere with their responsibilities, be overly quick to point out mistakes, and pout about the things that "are not being done right."

They may also mishandle their units and be negative and unprofessional in countless other ways.

Whether the situation is between the head coach and an assistant or between two assistants, the head coach must be prepared to confront it in a positive manner. Many of these problems will be awkward and confusing, leaving everyone nonplussed.

The head coach may be tempted to let the assistants take care of the difficulty themselves. But this can have disastrous consequences: little problems left to fester can often turn into large problems.

As head coaches, we must be prepared to demonstrate how to handle conflict and disagreement. If we choose to do this by exercising authority, bullying, or out-yelling our staff, we will be modeling a very poor technique.

Authority should be used as a last resort, not as a first option.

Suggestions on how to deal with difficult situations:

1. Listen. This is a time-worn strategy that still works wonders. You cannot become aware of problems unless you are perceptive about what is going on around you. If you want to know what people have on their mind, ask them to tell you--and listen to them when they do.

2. Be honest. Everyone around you will respect you for it. If they don't, they have no business being around you. Some of the most brilliant answers to the most difficult problems have been the "simple truth."

3. Everyone wants to feel that their ideas are important. Strive to create an atmosphere in which ideas, differences, and disagreements can be aired openly and non-threateningly--avoiding resentment and anger. Your staff will reflect your behavior.

4. Head coaches have to make a decision between trying to do the right thing and trying to please people. I have often heard head coaches complain about trying to please their assistant coaches and "making everybody happy." The bottom line has to be on doing the right thing. If your assistants have the right frame of reference, they will respect you for this.

5. Don't forget the high road. It's easy to get bogged down in the daily petty grievances and jealousies that can occur within coaching staffs. At some point, we must make a conscious decision to rise above all this.

This does not mean that we should avoid confronting issues that need confronting or allowing anything to take all the enjoyment out of our work. We are coaching because we enjoy it. If we cannot find some fun in it, something is wrong.

6. You don't have to be a coaching genius to love people and understand how far a little attention and love can go.

Believe us. It can work. Don't let the sour pusses spoil all your fun!
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Author:Clark, Jeff
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Dec 1, 2002
Previous Article:Take the time to win! (Basketball).
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