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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!!!