Soccer Coach Support Groups

I just completed an article titled The Circle of Soccer Life and it occurs to me the necessity of having coaching resources never diminishes until you stop coaching.  I have previously mentioned participating in a couple of coaching email lists with colleagues from all over the world.  The groups are comprised of high school, college and professional coaches. They have been a huge benefit to me. We share ideas, discuss various topics and exchange information. When I need a sounding board or simply to vent about soccer related matters, these are the people I turn to. If I get things right, they pat me on the back and maybe help me understand how I could have done it even better.  If I get it wrong, they set me straight, do so quickly and in a very direct manner!

The culture of a program is a consistently constant topic of discussion within one of these groups. There has been some truly fascinating insight shared over the years.  I have implemented many of the ideas shared with the teams I coach.  Last night one of the members of this list asked a couple questions of another list member that really struck a chord with me. I want to share those questions and some of my own observations with you today.

First, I want to acknowledge I have not formally made members of this email group aware of the CBA Soccer Blog.  I know some members are aware of it. I am not sure all are. No particular reason behind this.  I write as much for myself as I do for our many faithful readers from around the globe. It is both a cathartic and educational experience for me.

The Question:

How much bearing do you think the success of your program has on how your players react to leadership?

Paraphrasing the Follow Up Question:

If the current coaching staff leaves and is replaced by inexperienced coaches, would the leadership lessons the players learned under the tutelage of the former staff continue for any decent amount of time after their departure or is such a culture tied to the success the former staff brought to the program?

My mind immediately went to the local high school program that my son participates in.  A long tenured coach resigned last fall and a new staff consisting of former players of his were hired.  One would think the successful and winning cultures would remain fairly entrenched with former players from the program taking over as the new coaches.  My observations suggest that has not been the case.

The previous coach had accumulated 330 wins when he retired. The program had peaked in the early 2000's, but had been in steady decline over the last handful of seasons.  One could truthfully proclaim the energy had gone from the program. The new staff most definitely returned some of the missing energy, but the slippage in culture has continued.

Under the leadership of the former coach success on the field continued even as energy obviously ebbed from the program. If that coaching staff had remained, I believe this years team may have won 10 games with the aid of continued tradition and mystique. The actual on-field results this season saw a meager 4 victories and the change in leadership has undoubtedly been responsible to some degree.

We are talking about leadership backed by a proven track record versus leadership with no track record.  Trust is a word that comes to mind. Even with growing discontent, the former staff had the trust of enough players. The new staff has made and continues to make significant changes to formation and systems of play instead of maintaining a link through continuity to the previous coaching regime.  By doing so, they also made a clean break with the culture the former staff had built into the program. 

The questions posed to the coaches of the email list last night are essentially about how change might impact a program.  The thing about change is some people are resistant to it while others will openly embrace change. In the end change is accepted or you get left behind in a manner of speaking. The real significance found in these questions and in using our local program as an illustration is the importance of how change is managed.

Thanks once and-again to the invaluable resource of our coaching email lists.  I wouldn't be near the coach I am without them.  And I would never ascend to the coach I will yet become without their continued guidance and support.

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