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Checking In With Your Staff

During the offseason, most coaches spend time taking stock of their players—figuring the strengths and weaknesses of those who are coming back and trying to anticipate the same for those joining the program.

In a blog on, Rich Alercio, Head Football Coach at St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont, talked about the importance of taking a look at your coaching staff as well. He says he has two priorities in regards to his staff. The first is that they are happy in their roles, and the second is that they are productive in fulfilling them.

In the blog, he includes a detailed chart of how assignments and responsibilities are divvied up among the staff breaking them into five categories: Administrative, Coaching, Game Day, Practice, and Video. After the season, he meets with his coaches individually to review how they did with their assignments and discuss whether it was the best use of their talents. With the focus is on what is being done well and what can be done better, Alercio asks those questions from three different perspectives:

What are we as a team doing well, and what can we do better?

What are you as a coach doing well, and what can you do better?

What am I as a head coach doing well, and what can I do better?

“Perspectives matter:” he writes. “‘Where you sit determines what you see.’ The minor shifts in perspective posed by phrasing the same question in slightly different ways has the potential to open a much broader view of your coaches, your staff, and your team.”

The responses to these kinds of questions can offer insight in topics beyond on-field success. Knowing what you and you staff do well can help you stay focused on what works and give you a solid base to build from without starting from scratch each season. And asking what can be done be better is more effective trying to identify weaknesses, especially if followed by asking how it can be done better.

In addition to the assigned tasks and responsibilities, Alercio says he also takes time to look at his assistants’ intangible qualities, such as leadership and personal example. While recognizing that no one is perfect, he tries to set and convey expectations for character and personal behavior that will help both the athletes and the team. He says that is part helping them grow as leaders and benefits both the coaches and the program. “Assessing both tangible and intangible aspects of performance helps clarify and confirm expectations and understanding, ultimately guiding both staff members and our team to future success.”

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