From the JVA Office: Closing Out The Season


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Navigating through the end of a season can be a daunting task for a Club Director. Preparation and planning for next season has already begun. Meanwhile the staff trying to keep teams motivated through the first couple weeks of summer vacation and the last couple weeks of practice, you are evaluating coaches and gathering feedback from parents.

Here's a few tips to make the end of the season an encouraging experience for Club Directors.

1.  Parent Feedback

The final month of the season is a great time to begin gathering feedback from parents. One option is to ask parents to complete an online survey. It's easy to track who has or has not completed a survey, and it is convenient to pull the collective results to compare and analyze the information.

If you need more specific feedback, parent meetings can be a great alternative. Carolina Union Volleyball Club holds parent meetings twice during the season, once when the shorter season ends, and one after the national teams finish the season.

CUVC Director John Brannon believes surveys make it difficult to get follow up information. "They tend to be all or nothing... 'the coach/team/club experience was amazing or terrible', with very little in between" says Brannon.

Parent Meetings are organized as follows:

  • CUVC uses sign-up genius to schedule parent meetings with set time-slots that vary from day to day, to give parents with different schedules the opportunity to find a time that works for them.

  • Four to five staff members select their designated time slots and they conduct those parent meetings. The staff members assigned to each time are not shared with the parents when they sign up. 

  • The meetings are between the parent(s) and either the Club Director, Director of Player Development, Recruiting Coordinator or one of the Board members/Coach.  It is up to the parent(s) whether the athlete is a part of the meeting. CUVC tries to divide and conquer because otherwise it turns into a lot of meetings.  If there's a conflict of interest between the family and the person assigned for the meeting, then CUVC will adjust who sits in on the meeting.  If the leadership team knows an issue will come up, there will be more than one member of the leadership team in the meeting.  Coaches are not included in the meeting because CUVC wants to receive honest feedback from parents on the coaches.  

  • Meetings are kept to 20-30 minutes with a set of questions to discuss, but usually they are free-flowing.  The meeting is usually started by giving parents the floor, asking for general feedback, followed by these five questions:

    • How was our communication as a club?
    • How was your coach's communication?
    • How is our online schedule software and registration system?
    • What is one thing that our club does well?
    • What is one thing that our club can improve upon? Parents are asked if there are any major issues with the coaching staff or with teammates that should be known.

Brannon feels strongly that the parent meetings allow for face to face time for the families, which is valuable because it gives the parents a voice, and they feel some ownership of their experience.  In addition, the meetings allow for follow up questions to be asked, which Brannon agrees is really important when there is a complaint.  

"Sometimes complaints are legitimate and need to be addressed with coaches. Other times, you figure out that playing time was the issue and that’s the only reason for complaining.  Either way, this face to face allows us to continue to put our message and our goals out there."

"Obviously there are downfalls to this process, as you can’t force parents to sign up.  But we consistently hear from people, including those that aren’t able to make it, how much they appreciate the opportunity to have a voice!"

2.  Player Cards

Player evaluations provide a formal way for coaches to athletes know specifically what physical and mental skills they can improve on, while also complimenting the athletes on their strengths. Evaluations can be done online, on paper, and in person throughout the season.

CUVC has National Team coaches complete a player evaluation form for each player at the end of season. It is succinct, but it covers what players do well and what they need to improve upon leading into next season.  The form is sent to the players, and the club keeps the form on file so information can be accessed before tryouts for the following year.  Brannon says "the player evaluations can be extremely helpful when it comes to a bubble kid who may not physically bring as much to the table, but they are “glue” kids that make teams better.  It’s also helpful when you have players/families that you would prefer not return on a top team."

3.  Meetings with Coaches

The final piece to closing out the season is the coach meetings.  Meeting with the coaches allows the Club Director and coach to go over the previous season, discuss concerns and areas that need improvement, as well as improvements from the last year and the coaches' strengths.  This is also a good time to discuss the next season, assuming the coach is going to return. 

CUVC waits until information from the parent meetings has been compiled, and the leadership team has made notes on individual coaches to sit down and have Coach Meetings. 

It is rare for a volleyball club not to make a coaching change the following season. Some coaching changes that can happen are:

  • An assistant coach moves up to a head coach, or a head coach becomes an assistant coach
  • A head coach moves to new age division
  • A coach decides to step away from coaching a team
  • The club decides to terminate the coach

Brannon says "our decisions regarding coaches are based some on observation, some on feedback, partially on what they prefer, and a lot on just gut instinct.  We also consider the groups that are moving to the next age group and what type of coach those potential teams need.  We don't usually move a coach up with an age group, so we kind of start with that understanding."

If a coach is not a good fit for the club it is common for club to let the coach go mid-season rather than wait until the end of the season. If your club does not have a spot for a coach for next season, let the coach know during the meeting, and try to find a way to put them in a position to learn and grow.  

"We’ve let more coaches go mid season than at the end. I would rather cut the cord mid-season if I know the coach doesn’t belong in the gym. While not ideal and it causes disruption, it also sends a message to the families that we are, at all times, doing our best to provide a great learning environment for the kids.  My best tip is as soon as you know, make the change, regardless of what point it is in the season."  

When moving a coach from head to assistant, be open and honest in the assessment. Explain the purpose behind it, and what the coach can learn.  

"I have found that if you hire the coaches you want in the first place, that are willing to learn, then they typically will gladly accept the “demotion” as an opportunity" adds Brannon.

Take a Break and Build on This Season

Once coach meetings are complete it's helpful to keep coaches informed during the summer about what lies ahead for next season. It's helpful to give your coaches a break, while also maintaining some communication with them. If your club runs camps and clinics during the summer, your head coaches for next season should be the first ones asked to work. If they are not available, then move on to the potential assistant coaches, and those coaches who have been around the club (as a player, past coach, or clinic coach) the longest. 

Having a summer celebration for the coaches as a "Thank you" is great way to build on a family culture, and build rapport with your coaching staff. "We try to do a mid-summer coaches get together, which also allows new coaches to come meet our current coaches. Usually about 40% of coaches attend, but they all appreciate that we host it" adds Brannon. "We start communicating about next season in September, and usually have our first official coaches meeting in mid-September."

The evaluation and meeting process can take as long as 4-5 weeks, but it is well worth the time and energy so that as a Club Director you can receive valuable feedback and information to continue to make improvements, offer a better service than the year before, and grow your volleyball programs.

Carolina Union Volleyball Club is a JVA member club located in Charlotte, North Carolina. For templates and resources for parent, coach and player meetings and feedback, click HERE to access JVA members education. For more information on the JVA click HERE. To view a 12 month timeline of a Club Director Click HERE.


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