Let me preface this post by saying that I have never been a fan of the phrase, or concept of, having to “pay your dues”… I think too often it is a convenient way of putting a young, often successful coach, “in their place”.
- “That LB (or DB or RB or OL) coach isn’t ready to be a Coordinator yet…. he hasn’t really “paid his dues.””
- “That Offensive (or Defensive) Coordinator isn’t ready to be a Head Coach yet… he hasn’t really “paid his dues.””
- “That 1A (or 2A or 3A) Head Coach isn’t ready to be a 5A Head Coach yet … he hasn’t really “paid his dues.””
You get the idea.
With that being said, I know there is great value in experience.
I have had several conversations in the last couple of weeks with high school administrators commenting on how it seems that many young coaches now need “instant gratification”. How these coaches often expect to be considered for a Head Coaching position (at LARGE high schools) after just a couple years of coaching experience… and are disappointed when not offered the position.
I have had similar conversations with Head Coaches reflecting on the same thing happening with assistants vying for coordinator positions… how some young coaches feel slighted if they are not offered a coordinating position… even if it is only their first or second year in the profession.
My career path was similar to most coaches of my generation.
- Assistant at a large high school for several years
- Coordinator at a smaller high school for several years
- Head coach at a still smaller high school for several years
- College GA
- College Assistant for several years
- College Coordinator for several years
- Head College Coach
Had any of those steps been skipped, I would not have been as prepared for the next challenge.
Here are a few things from this experience that I would like to share with young coaches.
First, while I always thought I was ready for the next step, rather if it becoming a coordinator or a head coach, there were always things that I WAS NOT ready for… there was always much to learn. I am not saying I was not ready for the new position… but often you do not know what you do not know. I was always extremely glad for the experience I DID have, and always wished I had a little more.
Second, the best way to “move up” the coaching ladder is to do a GREAT job in the position you currently hold. I have been around coaches who are always looking toward the next job instead of concentrating on their current position. If your foot is always half way out the door on to your next position, it is difficult to develop meaningful relationships with the people you are currently around. Don’t shortchange your players, staff and administration.
And finally, be careful what you wish for.
As you ascend the coaching ladder, you will find that it becomes more administration, and less coaching.
I loved COACHING… enjoyed the bonds developed with my position group… with my defense.
Reflecting now, I would not change a single thing… I enjoyed (and still enjoy) the experiences I had with every team, at every city, at every level of play.
Love where you are and what you are doing.
Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org