By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA
When one thinks about being a coach, teaching skills, conducting practice sessions and orchestrating games come to mind. These aspects are very visible and easily understood, but there are also a host of things associated with coaching that may not be readily apparent – they are below the tip of the iceberg if you will.
There are many responsibilities and tasks with coaching that go unnoticed and certainly are not glamorous, but they do have to be done. As a matter of fact, if these other aspects are not attended to, staying above water and maintaining your position could be jeopardized.
It is important that coaches are organized and take these responsibilities as seriously as they do with preparing for and conducting a practice session. Being late or making mistakes with these ancillary responsibilities will have a direct impact on their athletes and team.
Coaches have a part to play with the following elements involved with high school athletics.
- Submit the eligibility of your athletes. While the exact documents and procedures will vary from state to state and among districts, coaches do have to collect permission forms, Informed Consent Forms dealing with the risk of participation and anything else designated in their setting.
With these documents, the address and age of the athlete are gleaned and grades have to be checked in order to determine if each athlete has maintained the minimum academic standards. While the athletic administrator may have to verify the final eligibility form, the coach usually has to take care of the preliminary steps.
- Complete forms to enter and participate in the state and invitational tournaments. Very much like eligibility, the coach usually does the initial groundwork and the athletic director verifies, completes and sends the forms.
In Maryland, for example, a school is fined if a team’s form for the state playoffs is late. Obviously, it is extremely important, therefore, for coaches to enter the information correctly and submit the form on time. Athletic administrators don’t want to have to pay the fine and also don’t even want to be notified that their entry is late. This is not publicity that is positive or wanted.
- Issue uniforms and equipment at the beginning of the season. There is much more to this task than simple distribution. Coaches have to keep an accurate record of what exactly has been issued to each athlete. If the school doesn’t have a universal form or system for issuing uniforms, coaches have to create an efficient one.
In addition, everything has to be collected at the end of the season. Whether the athletes put their uniforms in trash bags in the locker room after the final contest or they bring their clean uniforms back on a scheduled day, this task must be completed. Missing uniforms and equipment represent a huge expense.
- Complete end-of-the-season forms. Typically these would include a list of athletes who have earned their varsity letter and have been honored with the various team awards. Often lists of athletes eligible for academic awards, scholarships and recognition are also due at the end of each season.
Recognition of deserving athletes is extremely important – to the athletes themselves, parents and administrators. Missing the deadlines or neglecting to complete these forms slights the achievement of the student-athletes, and this is unacceptable under any circumstance and in any setting.
- Submit injury and score reports after games. While the specifics for the reporting procedures will certainly vary according to each setting, a coach does have the responsibility to inform the athletic trainer or the school nurse about the nature of all injuries. In most cases, this would involve completing a form that provides all of the pertinent details. This should be done, in most cases, by the following day in order to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes.
In like manner, coaches may be responsible for calling or e-mailing the media with game scores and results. It is also possible that they may have to also complete score forms or season reports for the athletic administrator. While this task may seem cumbersome after a game, it is an essential ancillary part of coaching, and it is essential in terms of the public perception of the program.
While these examples are not meant to be all-inclusive, they do represent several actual and realistic tasks or responsibilities that are associated with coaching. It is easy to get caught up with the excitement and enthusiasm of being involved with high energy kids in practice sessions and in games. But there are many other things that are involved, and a coach has to satisfactorily handle them.
Good coaching doesn’t just involve interaction with student-athletes and other coaches, it involves much more. All those behind-the-scenes, unglamorous details and tasks also make the program a success. Putting the same conscientious effort into all phases of the position is necessary in order to be considered a quality coach.
About the Author: Dr. David Hoch recently retired as the athletic director at Loch Raven High School in Towson, Maryland (Baltimore County). He assumed this position in 2003 after nine years as director of athletics at Eastern Technological High School in Baltimore County. He has 24 years experience coaching basketball, including 14 years on the collegiate level. Hoch, who has a doctorate in sports management from Temple University, is past president of the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association, and he formerly was president of the Maryland State Coaches Association. He has had more than 350 articles published in professional magazines and journals, as well as two textbook chapters. Hoch is a member of the NFHS High School Today Publications Committee.