Director of Coaching: The Desired Skill Set

A lot of coaches make the leap to the role of Director of Coaching (DOC) without fully knowing what the job entails. This article highlights the key skills required to be a success in this role.

Nov 12th 2021

Written by The Coaching Manual

Coaches who make this leap to DOC will possess the skills required to be a high-quality coach - excellent man-management ability, superb attention to detail, innovative tactical thinking - but may lack the administrative skills required to lead a team of coaches.

Having a long term vision of where you want the club or organisation to go is essential when working as a DOC, considering everything from club culture and sporting philosophy to budget management and staff development.

Here are some of the key skills required to be a successful DOC:

Leadership

At a large academy or club, a DOC will be responsible for managing hundreds - or even - thousands of coaches. Naturally, this requires them to be a strong leader with the ability to inspire and motivate their team.

They should set an example to their coaches in terms of work ethic and sporting philosophy and should be the embodiment of the club’s natural values.

Eye for detail

As well as looking at the bigger picture, it’s about knowing where and when to make a more granular approach. A keen eye for detail helps a DOC identify coaches with the specific skill sets required to move the club forward, even if those talents have been underused in the past. 

Once the coaches with the necessary skills have been found, it’s essential that they are being utilised effectively by pairing them up with the correct age group or team that best suits their abilities.

Technical Expertise

Just because a DOC no longer has contact with the players directly, doesn’t mean that they should lack knowledge of the technical aspects of the game.

DOCs should strive to remain at the forefront of the coaching industry; How else would they challenge individual coaches on their strategic decisions, or establish whether a sporting philosophy is being brought to life on the training field?

Having input on how coaches can plan out their season and what type of sessions can be delivered throughout the course of a campaign can be useful practice as a DOC.

Check out our unique Season Planning tool where you can plan a full season's curriculum in a matter of minutes.

Exemplary Communication Skills 

The DOC needs to be a fantastic communicator to ensure that their sporting and cultural visions for the club are implemented, rather than remaining as nice ideas with little practical impact.

They understand that different people learn in different ways. Some prefer to take in information visually, whereas others would rather acquire knowledge practically - learning on the job, as it's often termed.

To be a successful DOC, you'll need to be able to get your message across clearly and efficiently to a wide range of stakeholders with different learning preferences.

Eagerness to learn

Your personal career development doesn't stop the moment you get promoted. The best DOCs continue to learn in the role by acquiring new qualifications, attending courses, sharing knowledge with their peers, and keeping an open mind about ideas presented by their own coaches.

Check out these educational guides and articles to help further your knowledge in coaching.

Visionary

Much as a DOC needs to have confidence in their decision-making ability, they should possess a clear vision about what they want to achieve at the club. 

This should encompass everything from developing a playing philosophy and implementing a new tactical approach, to promoting a preferred coaching methodology and establishing a recruitment strategy. 

Long-term focus

Sport is ultimately a results business but it’s also important for a DOC to focus on different types of success in the long run. 

New methods and tactics can't simply be implemented overnight. Coaches need to understand that they won't have to justify their actions or fight for their job after a run of poor performances.

Managing staff development and growth

Ambitious coaches will only naturally want to progress to more senior roles, take on more responsibility, and develop broader skill sets.

DOCs should be responsible for helping staff to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and creating a roadmap for achieving their career objectives.

Allowing time off to attend seminars or acquiring new coaching qualifications - and holding regular performance reviews to ensure that they're on track are all essential in helping with their development.

Failing to pay enough attention to staff development brings the risk of losing the most talented coaches to rival clubs.

The ability to create a welcoming and productive club culture

A supportive, inclusive and productive culture helps to attract and retain quality coaches and gives players something to rally around.

The job of formulating, introducing and maintaining a positive culture is down to the DOC. Without proper direction, it can be all too easy for a negative - or even toxic - culture to develop, centred around a small group of coaches or players, and leaving others feeling alienated.

Check out our other guide to creating and maintaining a positive club culture here.

Responsibility for handling coaching budgets

Whether it's improving the changing rooms, upgrading the playing surface or hiring more coaches, every DOC has a shopping list for their club.

Likewise, the coaching staff will have their own ideas about how money should be invested. As a DOC will have the final say, they need a clear grasp of the club's finances, an understanding of how much money is available and when it can be spent.

Most importantly, they will need to assess where that spending should be focused in order to achieve the maximum possible impact and to justify their decisions to the board.

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