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I ASKED HEAD COACHES-'WHAT IS YOUR #1 STRATEGY' WHEN YOU TAKE A NEW HEAD COACHING JOB?

I got a call a few days ago and was asked, "Randy, can you send me what you have on paper that are your 'order of events' after taking a new head coaching job?" I had to admit I didn't have anything on paper, but it is something that should be!


I have my own routine for taking over a new position but decided to do some research, so I contacted coaches from all over the U.S. and asked them to send me their #1 'to do' when landing a new head coaching job. I took the answers and made a coaching resource, 'YOU GOT THE JOB - NOW WHAT?!?, but wanted to share the data in a blog form also.


Answers below are from veteran coaches and athletic directors from Alaska to Florida. Hall-of-famers and a few guys just getting started. All of them are studs who care about our profession!


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1st team meeting: command the room, have your players sit up straight and put up their phones. Smile a lot, have immense enthusiasm, but take charge of the room. Do not allow anything that you will not tolerate later (no eye contact, etc.)

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Great book on starting a new job-

The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins

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The very first thing I do before I meet with the players on the first day is to have a brief meet and greet with the coaches on staff.

Hopefully, to relieve any tension and focus on the direction and vision from this day forward. Not a question and answer session.

Secondly, focus on building relationships with players, faculty, and staff by being visible and approachable. First impressions are monumental in selling your vision and program!!

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1. Make a strong first impression with all the people you come in contact with. (Coaches, Players, Admin, Boosters, etc...)You only get one chance to make a positive/powerful/memorable first impression.

2. Make sure that you are Professional, Personal, and Serve others. The secret to life is servant leadership. Everyone involved deserves these three aspects.

3. Pause before responding to any question or situation and really think them through.

4. Learn to forget. You are going to make a lot of mistakes, which is part of the journey ... only way to really grow. ... laugh at them too 🤣

5. Rather than always worrying about the next thing focus on being in the moment that week. The only way to win the moments are to be IN the moments.

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I think the initial team meeting is the most important 10 minutes of your first year. Making a great first impression and selling the vision - both must happen in that first meeting. The same goes for your first staff meeting.

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I want everyone on campus to feel the genuine love that's coming their way.

I want them to feel the energy and optimism that this new day has brought.

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Introduce myself - what can expect from me and visa versa

shake every kid's hand and learn names asap(use yearbook/whatsapp)

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Create a buzz of excitement by sharing the vision and start building relationships

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Reach the unreachable with built trust/excitement/buy-in.

Reach the doubters & naysayers (moms, teachers, other sports)

Set up opportunities to be real, gain respect and present ownership where these people can swing the momentum if we can captivate them effectively.

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Set high expectations w/great enthusiasm. Start talking about the high goals of your program and the things your program are going to accomplish.

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Build relationships...

Change is not welcomed in every regard. Relationships start the process...admin, kids, parents. NOTHING HAPPENS just because you're the coach now.

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Meet staff and ask for a copy of their resume, job description w/ teaching assignments.

Meet team-watch them and coaches work for the first week.

Visit one on one w/ every coach. Try to meet as many people as you can.

Set up parent meeting and booster club meeting.

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You clearly only get one time to make a first impression. I believe that impression has to come across as a person that wants to be THERE more than any other place in the world. You must be able to make them believe that we are going to win and you are the man to lead them.

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Get eyes on every kid in the program and feeders - share the message of expectations of greatness, excitement and what is to come.

Have a parent meeting asap to follow up.

Sell the brand and vision

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SHOW UP EVERYWHERE! Talk to everyone in the program and let them know that I realize that they did not choose me but I chose them. 1st week make sure I have 15-minute conversations with all adults dealing with the program. Then make sure I hit all seniors with the same 15 minute conversations. These are done individually so it takes time, but by doing these two things, they will show that I want to be there and will care for them. This will create a positive atmosphere. Then work on being the same person each and every day

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# 1 task for me....start reaching out to the stakeholders in my new position (AD, Facility Crew, Business Manager, Booster Club Prez, etc.) and ask questions about what I can do FOR THEM, to help make their jobs easier. Ask them for help in identifying WHO ELSE I need to bring into my inner circle.

Also, initiate communication with the student-athletes in my care, AND their parents/guardians, letting them know of my desire to help them in any way. Taking time to set up individual, face to face meetings with players & parents IN THEIR HOMES will pay big dividends!!

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A few first day biggies.

#1 for me would be to have an awesome first team meeting with all HS football players.

Show genuine excitement to be there, lay out an incredible vision, let them see how much passion I have for them as people, students and as athletes.

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Week 1 Goals/Transition Plan:

1. Meet with HS Football Players. Preferably after school Thursday. I’d like to meet them alone. I think that’s significant to kids meeting a new coach. I want them to feel like they are the most important people in this process. I want to -introduce myself- share my vision for their success - explain our process - introduce our (5) core values and program standards - answer any basic question they have.

2. Meet with Football staff; preferably Friday morning before lift. I’d like to introduce myself- share my vision for TLFB - offer my help and understanding - express my expectations moving forward - Give them a “until Spring Break” plan which will be based on weekly Evals and appropriate adjustments.

3. Athletic staff introductions. However works best but maybe me going to them for a quick hello until we can have a campus meeting. I don’t want to disrupt in-season sports.

4. Key Contacts introductions

- Boosters

- Upper Admin/ Business manager/Facilities/HR

- Athletic Department personnel

- Building Principals

- HS/MS parents meeting that first week of Feb so realignment talk can be included.

5. On the fly put together inventory and needs/wants list as well as facility plan. Spring calendar.

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Make physical contact with everyone involved in the program...just like when you shake hands with everyone on the interview committee.

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I know this may be a little harder at some places, but I watch a ton of film and google their names and etc to get as many names matched with faces as possible. So the first time I meet the kids, most of the time I will know about 3/4’s of their names, what sports they play, and a lot of times what position, how much success, etc. that they have had in football. Kids are just blown away and feel special and it already makes you credible in their books. And like many other answers, be visible from day 1 at every event I can be, counting band concerts, one-act play, little league games for your JH baseball kids. The care rule goes a long way! Then you have won their trust and begin to show the genuine love and care you have for each and everyone, not just the “studs”!

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Day One - address players to introduce vision of the program; spend time with coaching staff especially S&C coach and support staff (secretaries and custodial)

Rest of week - get to work! Will have to learn a lot of things about operational procedures on the fly. Likely starting during off-season/winter workouts, so best to get in the fray and see how they work.

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Each situation is different but get to know as much as you can about the past coaching staff. What were the expectations of athletes and coaches from a leadership and work ethic aspect. If it fits what you do then tweak to your style and move forward. If it needs a 180, then eliminate assumptions early, knock down the wall and tell them what the expectation is moving forward.

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Give the principal and dept. Heads a copy of offseason roster and go through it. Every kid! Do the same w/ middle school roster.

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Meet as many people as possible. Teachers, coaches, kids - get to middle schools and elementary.

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The custodial staff..go let them know they will be special to you! Set up parent meeting to share your vision and begin building relationships

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Questionnaire for leftover fb staff. go around and meet everyone you can (MS/HS). Meet w/ department heads asap!

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#1 thing for me: Deliver a powerful, impactful, energized speech about where we are going to take this new program. Get the players jacked about a new vision. How we are going to attack our goals daily etc. It's your first chance to set the tone. Can't drop the ball! Energy, energy and more energy. First impressions matter!

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1st Day- Introduction, Let them know who I am, what I'm about, and feel the excitement for being there.

1st Week- watch them work, be as visible as possible at all activities. Get meetings started with all football coaches & head coaches of other sports.

**Meeting**- Each coach tells me 3 things they love about their job and 3 things they dislike about their job. For the dislikes they need to provide solutions for me to help them correct/rectify those situations.

It's a way to get them talking, let them feel heard, and for you to get a feel for them.

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Set the expectations in a positive, exciting, and energetic way... sell yourself on what you're about to do (work ethic, discipline, leadership, offense, defense, etc)...culture!!!

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Each situation can be different in which you are coming into. You need to know what you are stepping into so you will know how to approach the players and staff with your vision. We all have our vision in which we believe and we will all communicate that, but I believe it can be more about how you present it based on what you are stepping into. With that said, bring your passion, your plan, and your purpose. With time, the players will see your character, your love for them, and recognize you are genuine. Most players are excited you are there so make sure they know you are excited as well. Less is more at the beginning.

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First thing is to meet with your staff and kids so they know who you are and what your expectations are. The positive and winning influence should be identified by all people that you are surrounded by. Be able to evaluate situations of dress, work habits, and the character and the relationships between coaches and players. Set your organizational plan . Meet with the administration, faculty, and the student body . Try to find a way to meet with people in the community and begin the important process of developing the culture that you are going to build. Set the path to: Develop the trust and set the standard for building young boys into successful men!

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Establish a new and fresh environment while being respectful of former regime. Bring energy and create excitement. It's a new day and a new era!

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I agree totally! Establishing your path, and being respectful to the old crew matters. Important to create the image of the leadership you are going to execute. There should be no doubt who you are from start to finish with remaining staff and players. I have always felt it was important to try and win the room from the jump.

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Meet players face to face, talk about expectations & how you will accomplish it together - not about ME, but US!

Be consistent with your message to athletes, faculty, & community. Be positive & bring energy.

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Meet with football staff. Meet with kids. Try to meet and shake hands of as many faculty/staff members as humanly possible. Speak separately with seniors to be and see if there are any things they want to see consistent within program. They've invested for three years and deserve an opportunity to give an opinion. ENERGY ENERGY ENERGY

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I created a 90-day snapshot/ synopsis of what it looks like to be the A.D., Head Football coach. I like Meeting the Staff and asking for a copy of a resume and their job description with teaching assignments that is a great idea. The 90-day powerpoint is shared with the school board and the superintendent. It is titled the "State of our program" we will then walk around the facilities that pertain to various sports take pictures etc. write down suggestions for repairs/improvement etc. Meet the Team and share vision. Then go watch them and coaches work for the first week. Visit one on one with every coach. Try to set up meet the coach night ASAP.

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I want to meet with every athletic group and fill them with a vision of the future. 1st week observe coaches and players for current status and meet individually with upcoming seniors.

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Bring positive juice! I want to establish a high level of positive energy. Make the kids and staff feel like it's going to be a football party. Literally, have some kind of football kickoff party day one. Push the energy into weights for the day.

Be consistent with the energy and not let it fizzle after a kickoff. Show the kids you authentically care for them and will create an environment that is fun and challenging.

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First day: meet with seniors. Let them know that I'm here for them and though I'm new, I'm a Tiger and that I will earn their trust through my actions and I expect the same from them. Get a List of kids that have been removed from the program by previous regime and figure out if we can save them.

First week: meet with all head coaches one on one and make them aware of the new expectations and the vision for our athletic program. Meet with counselors about our academic philosophy, meet with parents (home visits/group).

Evaluate the current football staff and see if they are a good fit for us.

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Meet with the entire staff.

1st impressions is a must on both accounts. Message depends on what you're taking over... serving notice either way

Meet with athletes ASAP or entire student body if a small school

They need to know that I'm here and I am who I am. They need to be calmed and excited (uncertainty eased yet newness should be exciting)

Try to have a parent meeting ASAP. Knowing expectations is a must

But biggest thing is be there in off season, observe coaches and kids and start learning names ASAP!

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Only got one shot for that first impression on kids. Show em how much you care, your passion for others to grow and the game we love. Tell why you were chosen and have them ready to run through a wall!

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Identify who is driving the bus. Meaning who are the ones who will help you reach above goals.

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Win the upcoming seniors!

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Day 1 = Get after it!

Week 1 = Get after it x5 and really get to know the kids and program as a whole (relationship bldg).

T-Day1 = Meet with staff to discuss expectations and core values. I like this to happen before the athlete meeting so we come out of the office on the same page and are a team of coaches standing in front of our players.

T-Day1 = Ideal setting, meeting with players prior to first official day to get the introductions accomplished, define what our program will look like and how we accomplish that. Then let them know that all starts tomorrow (insert appropriate time). **If this happens on actual day 1 then do all of this + build in the work afterwards to set the tone for how we will accomplish success as individuals and a program.

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Figure out:

1. Where are we?

2. Where are we going

3. How are we going to get there?

Set the vision, set the tone

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Get everyone pointed in my direction ASAP... change is happening now to some degree depending on situation....create excitement within the change and lets get r done!!!

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I want to capture and connect with them day 1 in our 1st meeting and start building trust and relationships. I like to take a few days to observe and watch what they are doing and how the coaches are coaching. I take mental notes as to know how and what I need to adjust. Each place is unique and has its own issues. I do think setting the tone day 1 is important about your expectations and vision.

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First day/week... I want to start building relationships and get their minds moving towards how we want the culture to be established (talk to them about moving towards developing core values/Creed together). Also must figure out who the Alpha's are in the room and how they use their power of influence. Lots of observing people and their processes the first week as well.

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Shake hands with every kid and coach - Identify the leaders whether they are good or bad influence.

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First day on the job

1. Early morning meeting with the coaching staff to open the lines of communication and to let them know your vision and expectations

2. Meet with the athletes and no matter where they are when they come in to meet you move them. When I move them it automatically gets them out of a comfort zone and lets them know a new person is in charge and running the show.

3. Provide a vision for the team

4. Tell them how we are going to get there.

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1) Meet the coaches in the morning prior to the kids to establish tone and direction of what we are going to be about. "Every coach is going to be given 6 foot of rope, whether not they choose to pull themself up or tie themself is up will be based on their buy in.

2) Going to meet the kids (and parents as soon as possible) to put a face on the program, clear the lines of communication and assess the current state of the program from the five shareholder perspectives:

1) players

2) coaches

3) parents

4) district

5) community

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What comes to my mind on day one is to:

Watch and listen as much as possible

Having taken over three different programs; I think I did a better job when I gave the players, staff, etc my eyes and ears at the get go!!

A great way to begin to earn trust of people that are looking at a brand new leader.

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I think it depends on what time of year you take the job. I took this job last week of school so for me it was important to figure out who the kids were.

Took headshots of the kids and had coaches tell me names. After that I felt figuring out Coaching staff was top priority.

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Everyone and we all know EVERYONE hopes to be reassured and wishes to walk away feeling good. Give them what they need mixed with highly CONTAGIOUS, INFECTIOUS energy. That goes for the athletes, trainers, coaches, custodians.

Next day, hit EVERY teacher in their classroom (with your Principal tagging along). 3rd Day before school host a General Athletic Department breakfast/meeting.

And 4th day, hold your Football Staff Meeting.

5th Day, meet with ALL junior high staffs,

Finally (this job I currently have has 88 coaches & 4 trainers), schedule 1-on-1 meetings with each coach either before school or after school. It's been the single BEST yet the daunting thing I've done in all my 51+ years. That move supplied instant credibility.

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Learn the names of players!

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Day 1 start sending the message in what you do and say that the players will be your priority

Week 1 - begin evaluating everything, you cannot create goals without evaluation

Begin the real early staff meetings to begin seeing who really wants to stay and be a part of what you are doing, treat all the same you may have to make changes and don't send the wrong message either way

Get to the junior high or middle school, this is your lifeline

Make times to get in the school and making contact with faculty, administrators, and support staff

Make times to be seen in the community, eat all of your meals there, visit churches, realtors, stores, look for events with Ag, chamber, visitor bureau , rotary/ Kiwanis etc

Make an appearance at every athletic contest that week

Try to make an appearance at youth league games if you can, again your lifeline

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During the initial team meeting, have every player get out their phone and download WhatsApp or a similar group communication tool. Tell them to take a selfie and post into the new group (you give the group a cool name!). Tell them also to include one thing you need to know about them. Other players will be able to see the responses so they will learn each other better at this time as well.


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