Making a Coaching Change During the Season

Few can imagine why a coaching change would be made during the season unless those in power felt compelled to do so. Regardless of the reasons, here are some points to consider by those involved-management initiating the change, and the coach coming on board.

  • Do your homework.

Have all avenues to correct the existing situation been explored? Communication is the key here. If all have been explored, it is time to pull the trigger on the change.

Have the players been playing to their ability and is the team framework allowing this

to happen? If not, then a change likely is necessary.

Does the new coach know what the goals of the organization are? He had better!

Has management addressed concerns to the new coach?

Have resources been made available to allow for success?

  • Watch the team play with an analytical eye.

Management should know the level the team and individual players are capable of.

The new coach should take the opportunity to watch his new team as an objective observer.

  • Plan for a smooth transition.

Be sure all the right people have been contacted in advance and there are no surprises after an official announcement has been made.

Have a plan to move the old coach along in an expedient and dignified way. This can be done in a professional and classy way, with planning.

  • Get up to speed quickly.

Know exactly what needs to be changed and immediately start making changes. Players will want to see things happening in a new and improved way.

  • Define roles.

Meet with each player and staff member as soon as possible and have all very clear

on their role with the team.

Don’t assume that people know what you want and expect from them. You need to

clearly communicate what you want to each person individually.

Expectations need to be established and shared throughout the team.

  • Build a new culture.

Start with respect for each other. Demand basic things like common courtesy to each other and saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. This might sound corny, but it works.

Lines of communication should always be clearly defined and free flow of information will follow. Lots of little meetings and informal chats work well.

I took over a team two weeks ago. There were 22 games left in a 68 game schedule. The team was not in a playoff spot and sliding in the opposite direction.

We have two wins and a tie in our first four games and we followed the plan laid out here. Hopefully it will continue to work.

A Communication Lesson From the NFL

The Globe and Mail newspaper ran an article from The Associated Press on October 4, 2008. There were some interesting coaching tips on player communication from two very successful NFL coaches.Here is most of the article.

RENTON, WASH. — There may be a secret to coaching success in today’s NFL, though it’s one Vince Lombardi would never stand for: empower your players.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin was 25-23 in New York with no playoff wins when he arrived for the 2007 training camp in Albany, N.Y., to begin a must-win season. The man renowned for inflexible discipline was concerned over players misunderstanding why he made certain decisions. So he established a leadership council of about a dozen players to deal with internal issues.

Mike Holmgren has had his own players’ committee of about half that size in each of his 10 years with the Seahawks. He also had one from 1992-98 while leading Green Bay. Holmgren won a Super Bowl and went to another with the Packers before moving to Seattle…

Coughlin’s Giants are undefeated and the Super Bowl defending champions.


Players on both teams say the committees enlighten them, unite them, strengthen their teams’ trust.

“It just gives us a chance for you to relate stuff better to your teammates than maybe a coach can,” said all-pro left tackle Walter Jones, a Seahawks committee member. “Not saying you don’t want to hear it from the coach, you are just more comfortable hearing it from a player.

“You build a bond in the locker room. It’s all about respect.”

Added quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, also a committee member: “It makes the players feel they have input.”

Coaches having veterans as their deputies isn’t new in the NFL – or even with the Giants. Bill Parcells used to rely on Harry Carson and George Martin to deliver his intentions and report back on the pulse of New York’s locker room.

But Holmgren and Coughlin have formalized the practice, setting committees and having philosophies on who it should include. Coughlin’s represents older and younger players. Holmgren’s is limited to the captains of the offence, defence and special teams, so it usually includes only established veterans…

Last season, the Giants were 0-2 after routs by Dallas and Green Bay. Fans screamed for Coughlin’s dismissal. Coughlin went to his leadership council and told it there was no other group that he would rather be coaching.

The council relayed the coach’s message. The Giants went on a six-game winning streak en route to shocking the undefeated New England Patriots, one of the biggest upsets in a Super Bowl.

“I think that I’ve communicated better than I have in the past,” Coughlin, 62 and a grandfather, said. “I think I’ve taken the time to do that, attach more significance to that, and been more keenly aware of trying to make everyone understand what’s being done, why it’s being done. And do so with enough advance notice so that there’s time for it to sink in.”

Manning said Coughlin went to his council during New York’s bye last week to inform it he wanted to suspend star receiver Plaxico Burress for that Sunday’s game for missing a team meeting. The quarterback appreciated knowing what was going on.

Coughlin said there was a “very good reaction. The players understood it, they understood why, and they went back to work.”

His last meeting with them was on Monday, apparently over Holmgren wanting to change the way the players review game and practice video.

The 60-year-old has a limit to the give-and-take with his committee.

“I don’t want them coming up to me saying, ‘We want grilled cheese sandwiches on the airplane,’ ” Holmgren said.”We’re talking about things more important