One of the areas we specialise in is working with tennis facilities to help them to develop their teams of coaches. You may be familiar with one of many famous lines to come from David Brent, star of the British comedy The Office, who famously said that “there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’, but there is a ‘me’ if you look hard enough!” It’s a great quote and summarises a large part of what we do. You see, most tennis facilities have more than one coach. Some have many coaches working at the same facility. But that doesn’t make them a team! Definitions of the word ‘team’ include phrases such as ‘togetherness’, ‘shared vision or aims’, ‘pulling in the same direction’ and ‘communication’. Let me give you two quick examples I have witnessed recently of a great team effort:
At the 2018 Grand Slam Coaches Conference in Melbourne (yes, I was lucky enough to present there this year!), the weather in Melbourne was mixed, to say the least. Over 300 coaches had to be looked after. One afternoon the heavens opened, and 300 coaches were seamlessly moved to an indoor sports hall belonging to Collingwood Australian Rules Football Club. Seating, TV monitors and sound equipment were set up by the time we had made the short transfer from the Conference venue. Great team effort, Tennis Australia!
At a recent visit to a small club in the Midlands, I saw a young coach on court working with a group of kids. I went over to have a look and I chatted to him after the lesson. I told him what a good job he had done with the kids (I wanted to say for someone so young, but that might have been a bit condescending!). He said “Oh, this isn’t my group; I’m just covering for the coach. It turned out the young assistant had been fully briefed, given a lesson plan and register for the group, and knew exactly what to do. That’s teamwork!
Do you have a group of coaches, or do you have a team? I’ve quickly put together a little self-assessment (below) which you can use to evaluate your team. And by the way….the reason I’m going to Finland is to share and help implement a new programme of annual plans which I have written for the under 10 programme team of coaches.
Top 10 list of what great teams of coaches do:
- They are in uniform. They look like a team, have a common brand and look together
Example: at a glance, can customers tell who the team members are? Does the team look united?
- They have regular team meetings. Regular meetings to share ideas, discuss and evaluate progress, and to update and inform are essential.
Example: meet once a week to discuss, update and to share news and information. Include it in the coaches agreement if possible.
- They work together on court. Successful teams of coaches share ideas and work together on court as well as off court.
Example: meet once a week or once a month to share ideas. Let individual team members lead, share and present
- They know where they are going. You cannot be a team without a shared vision and understanding of where you are going and what you are trying to achieve. Many coaching teams are very poor on this one!
Example: Do you have a shared vision? Is it written down? Does everyone know it and does everyone live by it?
- They know what they are doing. Top teams have plans. Each member of the team has a plan and understands how their individual plan contributes to the shared vision.
Example: does the team have annual plans, schemes of work and lesson plans. Does everyone have access to them, follow them and abide by them?
- They work together and play together. It’s often said that you don’t have to like the people you work with. That may be true, but it certainly helps. Many successful teams share time together away from work too.
Example: Organise social events for the team once a quarter, maybe away from tennis and away from the club. Get to know each other as people and not just as colleagues.
- Great teams communicate. Each member of the team needs to know what is going on. How do you share information? It could be the meetings I mentioned above, but a team WhatsApp group also helps.
Example: Share communication to make everyone feel included
- Great teams cover each other. Team members help each other out. They cover each other’s lessons when necessary, they support each other, they share information, ideas and experience. It’s give and take.
Example: encourage team members to cover each other, not just in emergencies but also as a way of rotating the team. It’s a great way to understand how other areas of the programme work
- They share success and failure. This one is a real test. We all love to bask in success but is it ‘my player’ or ‘our player’? Who celebrates the victory, and more to the point, who takes responsibility for the failures? Have individual goals for each team member, and make sure everyone is accountable
Example: discuss goals and targets in meetings, and evaluate good and bad result. Understand why they happened and what you can all learn from them
- Top teams are honest. Disagreement and event conflict is inevitable when enough people work together for long enough. It can be healthy as long as the outcome is clear, fair and shared. Be comfortable with disagreement, but understand that being a member of a team could mean not agreeing with everything.
Example: what happens when someone doesn’t agree with something? Do they still try their best or does it show that they don’t agree? Worse still, are team members able to do things differently if they don’t agree?
Tennis(24/7) on building and managing constructive teams in tennis:
- Coaches on the Couch: Rich’s Tips for Being a Great Coaching Team Leader https://tennis247.co.uk/coaches-on-the-couch-richs-tips-for-being-a-great-coaching-team-leader/
- Coaches on the Couch: The When, Why and How of Recruiting to Grow Your Tennis Business (video) https://tennis247.co.uk/coc-recruiting-to-grow-tennis-business/