Coach and Athletic Director
An AD's Annual Checkup
By Dr. David Hoch
As part of the approach to good health, we have long been advised to visit our dentist twice a year. As we reach our 50's, our primary physician continues to suggest an annual physical to make sure that everything is fine.
It all makes perfect sense and many of us follow his advice. So why don't we take the same approach with the other people in our sector? We're frequently changing our personnel, supervisors, facilities, and financial sources and constantly dealing with new requirements associated with our positions. These updated policies place added demands on our time.
Shouldn't we also consider an annual checkup for the AD position?
Even if you are the only person involved in this analysis, take stock of what has happened to you during the past year or invite a colleague to spend a typical day with you, look at your setting, and ultimately offer some observations for possible changes.
Regardless of what approach you choose, a self-analysis or an outside perspective might help with your annual checkup.
Consider the kind of questions you may use:
1. What has changed in the past year? You may have a new administrator or supervisor, coaches, grounds crew, or custodial staff. Your league may have added new members or was perhaps realigned.
Financial support, facility maintenance, vandalism of facilities, natural disasters, population shift and any number of other factors could have and may have changed in the past year.
As a matter of fact, very few things remain constant in life. This is not to infer that change is bad, but it is an ongoing phenomenon that requires our attention. In our annual checkup, we have to recognize what is different in our position.
2. What adjustments need to be made as a result of the changes that have occurred? Obviously, if your budget has been slashed, you will need to consider fund raising efforts or making cuts in your program. If your facilities have deteriorated, they will need upgrading.
Almost every change that has occurred will necessitate an adjustment. The key, therefore, is to analyze carefully, be honest and plan accordingly.
3. What problems did you encounter in the past year? Perhaps one of your teams had a problem with sportsmanship, hazing, drug or steroid abuse or any number of other issues.
Your program might also be affected by out of control parents or high maintenance coaches.
While no one likes problems associated with your program, once they have occurred they do need attention. Depending upon the nature of the problem, you may need to institute new policies and procedures that will help ensure the elimination of these problems.
4. What would you like to do to improve your program? It may be much easier to come up with items for your personal health such as losing weight or reducing stress than to determine goals within your program.
If needed, ask others - coaches, parents and administrators - for their vision of the future. Obviously, some suggestions will be totally outlandish and unattainable, but involving shareholders in your program is usually a good place to start. Too often we get caught up in the daily issues and fail to see the big picture.
5. Where can you find help with making adjustments or improvements that may be needed or desired? If you are fortunate to have a friend and colleague at another school, this can be a major asset. An outside, unbiased perspective can often be very useful, as he or she will not be affected by naysayers, tradition, or any other inherent obstacle within your program.
Also, don't forget that we have state and national professional associations that can be of immense help. They offer courses, workshops, professional publications, and networking opportunities to help with our problems or goals. Solutions, answers and new ideas abound with a little well-directed effort.
6. What may the future hold? Answering this question may be the most difficult of these checkup questions. But by observing similar situations in neighboring schools, being attuned to developments in your community and around the state, some changes can be predicted.
For example, impending staff retirements, facility maintenance requirements, and the financial climate should be fairly easy to ascertain. Also, new state or league regulations are usually discussed and publicized before their passage. With this knowledge, you can be proactive and start to plan. Being ahead of the curve is always advantageous.
7. What can you do to revive some energy, enthusiasm for your position? There is very little doubt that we are in a very stressful, fatiguing position in which we often face burn out. In keeping with our medical theme, it is during this annual checkup that we may decide we need a booster shot.
That's right, a shot of enthusiasm...and there are several good sources.
To revive yourself, attend your state athletic directors' conference and the NFHS Athletic Directors Conference in December.
Take NIAAA Leadership Training Courses and earn your CAA (Certified Athletic Administrator) and CMAA (Certified Master Athletic Administrator) designation! Every one of these opportunities is a great professional development activity that will help restore your focus, effort, and belief that athletics provides great educational opportunities for our young people.
After considering these questions, some of you may feel that you don't have time for this exercise. Of course, if you wait for a full-blown problem to appear you will ultimately spend much more time and energy.
It is no different than dealing with your health or car - a little proactive medicine can go a long way toward promoting a long problem free year. You can't afford postponing your own professional checkup.