Coaches Corner Coach Panda by IGP Photo

Published on June 20th, 2013 | by DerbyLife

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Coach Panda by IGP Photo

How to Step Down Successfully as a Coach

By Coach Panda

So you have decided to step down as a coach for your league? Great! This means that you will finally have more time for your family, non-derby friends (if you still have them), and much neglected hobbies! However, before leaving your coaching role, consider setting up a plan for succession.

As a coach, typically our focus is on tackling our league’s goals and running an amazing training program. However, we rarely take time to step back and think about planning for when we will be stepping down from our coaching role. It’s unrealistic to think that a coach will last with a league forever and it’s critical to have a plan for succession. This article shares lessons learned from my journey of retiring from my 6 year career as the Head Coach for the Silicon Valley Roller Girls (SVRG) and bringing a new Head Coach up to speed.

Lesson One: Create a schedule and allow for overlap of coaches when possible
Taking on a coaching role can be very overwhelming and creating a transition schedule helps to make it manageable. When I announced my plans to retire from SVRG, I gave SVRG a 5 month schedule of what needed to be done before I retired. It’s usually not realistic to be able to give this much notice to the leadership in your league but consider at least a 3 month plan.

3 months out – announce to leadership your plan to step down and start organizing plans
2 months out – vote in new coach and begin training them and letting them shadow you
1 month out – have a feedback session with new coach and do goal planning
1 week out – wrap up all your loose ends and give final hand off of duties and tasks

Lesson Two: Take account of everything that you are in charge of and delegate
Sit down and do a brainstorm of everything that you are in charge of or have ownership of. It may take several sessions to remember everything that you are in charge of or accountable for. Doing a brainstorming sessions like this helps prevent small important details from slipping through the cracks. For example: who is in charge of washing helmet covers before each bout?

When you have compiled your list, avoid overwhelming the new coach and don’t throw it all on their shoulders at one time. Instead, share your list with the entire leadership of your league so everyone is aware of the roles and responsibilities that you hold. Then delegate the tasks to the person that has the time and abilities to successfully take on each task. This helps with transparency and accountability of these tasks when you have fully stepped down as coach.

Lesson Three: Let go and let it be a learning experience for everyone
Every coach has set expectations for the way they like things organized and carried out. From the time management of practices to the way feedback is carried out, there are many different style of coaching. When transitioning to a new coach, be mindful to be more flexible during this time since the new coach is getting up to speed. It is also an important time for skaters to get to know the new coach’s communication style and thought process. It’s essential to step back and allow the new coach to have learning experiences and your support while you are still available.

Lesson Four: Set up evolving coaching policies and producers
Throughout the history of a league, the needs and goals of the league are going to change. Every season I update and archive our skater expectations document, playtime criteria, and best practices for training. Evolving documents allow for leadership to see how the how things are developed over time and why they change. These documents also provide a benchmark for new coaches so they have a clear starting point for the expectations of skaters. As the new coach becomes an established member of leadership, it is then their turn to take ownership and help evolve these documents.

Lesson Five: Allow for a difference of opinion and room for growth
It’s to be expected that no two coaches are going to bring the same talents and expertise to your league’s training program. Therefore, it’s necessary to foster the acceptance of change when bringing a new coach into the league. A new coach comes in with a fresh set of eyes and it is understandable for them to start questioning the status quo. It is critical for skaters to understand that this questioning of status quo is healthy in evolving the league. However, the key to evolution is to first have an established process for changing set protocols and policies. Without this established process, there is no transparency across the league for how and why things change.

Lesson Six: Get over the feeling of being replaced
This is a fear common in derby no matter what role you play in your league. It’s normal for everyone to want to feel wanted and needed. However, these feelings should not get in the way of you setting a new coach up for success. It’s tough to get over the fact that the roles and responsibilities that you hold can be done by someone else. However, having someone step into your leadership role is important for the longevity of your league. Instead of feeling threatened by this person, view this transition as a time to be a mentor and for you to help grow the new coach’s skills and abilities. Don’t forget that you can continue to grow your own leadership skills by mentoring someone into a leadership role.

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