Tips For New Coaches

I recently worked with a new coach that is coaching a novice team. I asked her what she found to be the most challenging issues. I was surprised to hear the following as I thought the discussion was going to be about skill development. This is what this new coach had to say:

  • Athletes don’t seem to trust my ability to get them competition ready
  • Athletes have ideas about what the team should be doing
  • I feel my team decisions are questioned 
  • I am asked unrelated questions that exhaust me

I have found that the “business” of coaching can be just as trying as coaching the stroke. The not so sexy solution of creating a “guide” or what I call a Season Plan that outlines processes, policies and procedures can help in the following ways:
Athletes don’t seem to trust my ability to get them competition ready
Coach plans are created with the intention for that team to meet it’s goals. There is validation when paddlers see that coaches are held accountable to their roles and duties of creating on and off season programs to help athletes reach those goals. Having this in place shows athletes that coaches don’t just fly by the seat of their pants but that they actually have methods and processes to get them ready for competing!
Athletes have ideas about what the team should be doing
People have all kinds of ideas they think will benefit the team. And they do! Lots of really great ideas can come from our athletes. But without a formal process of how they get implemented us coaches can end up being the person to whom relating this information can become tiresome. Having a process for how athletes get their ideas to the board or executive helps direct suggestions and inquiries.
I feel my team decisions are questioned 
Competing can be stressful. Having a selection process in place helps paddlers understand how coaches make decisions and how these decisions is part of delivering the mandate. Knowing in advance how teams are fielded for competition, based on their level, helps alleviate athlete and coach stress at race time.
I am asked unrelated questions that exhaust me
The key to having this written document is using it on a continual basis as the paddler “go to”. Should there be a question from a paddler where the answer is NOT in your season plan, revise, update a distribute the new one to all members. For example; I recently coached an older group of ladies that struggled to use an app to sign in to practice. I spent a ton of time trying to get this issue solved. Finally I wrote out a step by step written process (with photos) that was then implemented into the season plan!


By providing paddlers with a written Q and A document we can direct inquiries and provide clear direction of the following:

  • Team Mandate and guiding principles
  • Team leadership roles and responsibilities
  • Athlete accountabilities throughout the season
  • Team level descriptions for participation
  • Training and program information 
  • Team participation expectation for club programs
  • Selection process for team try outs
  • Mentorship program for athlete evolution
  • Process of how athletes evolve within the club
  • Team fees and refund policies
  • Festival dates and sign up process
  • Code of conduct for team participation
  • Health risks and safety procedures
  • Glossary of terminology for dragon boating
  • Selection processes for race day
  • Athlete inquiry process
  • Complaint process

Having a season plan clearly outlines how coaches intend to lead that particular group of people according to the mandate and guiding principles. The team goals and intentions are how coaches are held accountable to the training process and athletes for implementing them. When this is in place athletes trust coach decisions are not based on opinion but rather, in accordance to their job description.
When athletes see how a season outlines their roles it puts the decision for participation on that team in their hands.  If you want athletes who are accountable to their own success we have to give them all the information they need to make it happen.

The template of a season plan is included in MODULE 1 of the course:  Build Team Cultures Of Healthy Competition 

Share this post

Hosted on Panda Cloud