Youth Leagues: Director of Coaching Development

Last month, I suggested one way that a youth organization could raise the funds to pay someone to nurture, develop, assist and train volunteer coaches. I speak to organizations on a regular basis, and most acknowledge a need to offer coaches more assistance, but then they rattle off the excuses as to why they cannot improve the coaching in their organization.

By chance, a coach from Canada named Andrew MacKay emailed this week for a link to my books. He mentioned his role with his organization, and I was intrigued. MacKay is the Director of Coaching Development for Kitchener Waterloo Youth Basketball Association, about an hour from Toronto, Canada. I asked Coach MacKay a few questions to learn more about his role as Director of Coaching Development and to share with others as we push for more coach development in our youth organizations.

BM: What would the league compare to in the U.S.? Is your area club-based? Is it like a recreation-center league or a private league?

MacKay: We are a club.  We have a rep program and a house league program.  One team at each of U19, U17, U16, U15, U14, U13, U12, U11, U10.  The house league program covers same ages.

BM: How many players play in your league? How much does the league cost?

MacKay: In house league, I believe there are about 500 kids in 5 different leagues.  They pay $200 early bird, or $225 after certain date.

BM: How many coaches?

MacKay: House league varies on number of teams.  We will say 35-50 coaches.  Every rep team has head coach and one or two assistants

BM: Is your position a paid position?

MacKay: Not a paid position!

BM: What does your position entail? What are your duties? How many hours per week?

MacKay: I sit on the Board of Directors, so I have some input and votes on direction and decisions we make as a club.  As of right now, I am defining my role.  We start the year with a couple coaching clinics for the house league coaches.  We actually just put one on tonight.  I took them through a number of drills for children.  They received a handout with a page each on dynamic warm up, warm-up games, shooting, dribbling, passing and transition & playing drills.  I then quickly ran the kids through the drills.  I am involved with our house league evaluation night, again running drills and being a role model for both the kids and the coaches.  Showing them the energy I bring to the gym and how to keep kids engaged, make proper corrections and what to focus their teaching on.  Last season I ran a practice for each of our rep teams and invited in the house league coaches from that particular age group to watch.  It was an opportunity to see where the kids were in their development, to show all the coaches some new drills and help them with what they should be focusing on.  I’m planning on a bi-weekly or monthly newsletter this year to offer some tips as well as direct them to good information on the net – sites like yours!  And I’m looking for other ways to help them.

BM: Based on your experience, are there feasible ways for a position like yours to make a bigger impact? Do you have any visions for where you would like to take the position or things you would like to accomplish in the position?

MacKay: Eventually, I would like to control what our coaches are teaching their kids.  Without forcing, I’d like them to have a practice plan template that they can drag and drop drills into easily, so that they all have a plan when they go to the gym, they are spending the right amount of time on specific skills for the appropriate ages and it cuts down on their prep time.  I’d like to be at practices more often and help coaches to learn how to teach the kids and connect with them better.  I’d also like to build an online resource that they can access for tips and info.  All in due time.

BM: Do you have a way to measure the impact of the coach development position?

MacKay: Other than asking for feedback – and making a point of asking for positive and negative – is about it for now.  A survey would probably help increase response, but I haven’t pursued that as of yet.

Key points: The position is something that every youth organization should establish. An experienced coach to mentor coaches through directing coaches to good resources, organizing clinics and running practices for coaches to watch and learn. The next goal should be to find a way to fund these positions to ensure qualified and experienced coaches. Why can’t a local high school coach oversee coach development for a youth league if he or she was compensated for his or her time and effort? The original Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development outlined a plan involving coaches up and down the development stream.

By Brian McCormick
Brian McCormick Basketball
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

2 thoughts on “Youth Leagues: Director of Coaching Development

  • This is great insight.

    I’ve been thinking of trying to get involved in my local club in this sort of fashion for a while, I am glad to see someone else has done so. In my club each coach acts individually, there is no progression of skills, little cooperation between coaches, and no direction provided by the club. I understand club leaders need to work to make ends meet and basketball training falls to the end of the list. Since we focus on under resourced kids, visions of making this a paid position seem far off.

    Cooperating with high school coaches is key. Getting their feedback, direction, and even participation would be a great help. My goal in coaching is to get my kids ready for high school basketball. One complication with involving high schools is the number of school kids have to choose from. Each kid on any given team may end up going to a different school!

    That said, I am committed to improving youth basketball in my area (Minneapolis, MN) and would gladly fill this sort of role as a volunteer.

    Thanks for posting Brian.

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