Properly evaluating the head coach to make sure they're right for your club is critical for success

Evaluation of a Coach

Thursday, May 17, 2012

By Peter Schwab

In my experience, even at the elite level of AFL, sometimes there isnít always an evaluation process for coaches or if there is, it often hasnít been made clear to the coach, particular one in the final year of his contract. In essence officially telling him or putting in writing exactly what he needs to do to earn another contract?

Sometimes the evaluation criteria is unrealistic or unachievable within the confines of time, collective player ability, player injuries or resources. The measure of setting a goal is whether it is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.  The same approach needs to apply when it comes to the evaluation of a coach and the goal he is set.

What also needs to be taken into account is how long the coach has had to perform or achieve previously set goals in his tenure. If the contract is for three years then goals should be set for each year and the overall performance of the coach for the three years.

So how do you provide direction for a coachís evaluation? How does a Board or its selection committee go about the process of coach evaluation? Measuring a coachís performance against how many wins in the season isnít always going to provide you with the answers you need, so there needs to be a broader evaluation process.

I have arrived at eight key performance areas that a Club could base their evaluation of their head coach upon.

  1. Vision: Does the coach have a vision for the Club and can they put people, values, objectives and strategies in place to achieve the vision?
  2. Leadership: Does the coach have an underlying coaching philosophy, management and leadership style which can unite all sections of the Club in their belief and commitment. In essence can he get people to follow his lead?
  3. Technical Ability: Can the coach implement a specific and credible game plan which players believe in and will adhere to; knowing it will ultimately bring success.
  4. Passion: Does the coach have the drive and energy to do the job and can he create the same energy and drive amongst the players and staff.
  5. High Performance: Does the coach have the capacity to create a high performance mindset throughout the Club, encouraging a best standards approach from everyone.
  6. Communication: Can the coach communicate messages to players in all situations to achieve the outcomes planned for? Can the coach also communicate effectively with all Club personnel, sponsors, members and the media?
  7. Teaching Ability: Can the coach educate, train and prepare the players and staff for maximum effect in every game? Can they develop players and people? Can they teach?
  8. Identify & Recruit Talent: Can the coach identify, recruit and develop people as well as get the right people on board?

As a club you are entitled to weight the above eight factors in any way you wish. Of course a coach without the technical ability will struggle, understanding the game and teaching it is a key to being a coach. But a technically good coach without passion, vision or communication skills will ultimately fail.

In addition no coach will tick every box. They will have deficiencies, but if the coach has enough to convince you they will be a very good long term coach, then you need to invest in them to improve or develop the areas they are deficient in. You can also bolster their support staff with people who have the strengths they may lack.

There is such a huge investment in a coach at AFL level that a bad choice can set the Club back. So it is even more critical to make the right decision in the initial selection stage. So for me, you need to use the same evaluation process for selection as you do for on-going coach evaluation.

It allows for a consistent approach and the coach is well aware of what they are being measured against.

In the end a Club can determine how long it will wait for on-field success, but they need to make sure and they need to know why and who is responsible if success does not occur. Believe it or not it might not be the coach.

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