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Being the new coach: How do you integrate into an existing coaching team? (Lions related) | Welcome and General

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Posted in: High Performance Coaching

Being the new coach: How do you integrate into an existing coaching team? (Lions related)

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  • robertkmaaye

    There was a lot of controversy this week regarding certain selections the British and Irish Lions coaching team made for their forthcoming tour of New Zealand this summer.

    Head coach Warren Gatland has discussed the areas that caused most debate amongst his team of coaches were the hooker (no Dylan Hartley?!), second row (no Joe Launchbury…what more can a man do?!) and midfield (no Gary Ringrose?!) positions.

    During the process of squad selection there were bound to be disagreements over certain positions such is the strength in depth available. Looking at the coaching team this got me thinking about their dynamic when it comes to handling these disagreements.

    5 of the six strong coaching team (Gatland, Howley, Farrell, Rowntree and Jenkins) have worked together before and are familiar with each others approach/thought processes. New to the group is England’s Forward Coach Steve Borthwick.

    It got me thinking about how he would go about integrating into the existing coaching group and what it would feel like if for example his opinion is overruled on something like selection (completely speculating but as a master of the lineout I can’t believe he didn’t want Hartley in the squad)? How would he approach this?

    Has anyone had any experiences of being the ‘new coach’ and having to integrate into an existing coaching team (at any level of sport)?

    What knowledge/advice can you pass on from it to help someone experiencing the situation for the first time?

    On the flip side have you been part of a group of coaches welcoming someone new to your coaching team? How did you go about integrating them into your coaching group?

    As always look forward to reading your thoughts



    PS off the scale excited about this tour…such a strong squad!!! (Lions win it 2-1)

  • Emily_P

    I have been both a new coach in this situation and an existing coach. In both situations there were teething problems. I think this is par for the course. 

    As the new coach, the sooner you can understand your role the better. Why have they bought you in? What do you add to the party...are you there as a critical friend, a new perspective, or someone that is aligned and complimentary to the existing team. Is it your specialist technical knowledge, your people skills and ability to bring harmony to a group? Does the head coach want your opinion and input on everything or just your area of specialism? In my opinion, the quicker you can establish these things the easier it becomes. Ask questions, meet with the head coach and reflect and be prepared to be flexible. Try not to have a fixed mind set early on. Teams evolve and they need work, Including coaching teams...something i under estimated

  • robertkmaaye

    Thanks for sharing your experiences Emily...some very helpful advice! laughing

  • philip1981

    I think it is important when either being the head coach who is bringing someone new into the group or the new coach going into that group that there is some shared philosophy and common goals between both parties, otherwise it will be a struggle from the start. It is ok to have different ideas about how to achieve the common goals as that is helpful and starts healthy discussion but without a shared vision it won't work.

    I have been a new coach in a grassroots environment and I though I was very clear about what I wanted to achieve. However, on refection I possibly wasn't checking in with the Head Coach often enough around what I was implementing at training and this did lead to some small conflict at the time.

    So I think constant communication between all of the coaching staff is critical to develop a cohesive and well run team that can work towards achieving its shared goals no matter what level of sport people are working in.

  • Nollzer

    These are all professional coaches and consequently, are closer to a corporate business environment. I suspect, that the roles, responsibilities, boundaries, frameworks and rules of engagement are clearly defined. This leaves it easier for integration on an operational basis. However, coaches are human first and coaches second. I would be surprised, if Gatland has not ensured the new coach is a cultural, pychological, spiritual and emotional fit, otherwise there will be trouble ahead. It will be difficult for the new coach to break in to the existing group. Only one thing for this, communication. A coaches meeting, single item Agenda, all present, how will Steve fit in?  Positives? Any obstacles? Any misgivings? Rationale for his inclusion. 

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