Creating a High Performing Centre (part 4) – An Effective Coaching Team (Edited)

So the 4th instalment in the Building a High Performing Centre series and I guess that you could argue that maybe it should have been the first post.

In business teams are the basic building blocks of a successful organisation the same is true of swimming clubs. There are several basic teams involved in the building of a successful club program
1. The coaching team
2. The athletes
3. The committee

In this post I will be looking primarily at the coaching team.

I mean what’s the point in having the best facilities and structure in place if the club management and coaches are not pulling in the same direction.

Having a coaching team with a shared vision is essential to building a High Performing Centre.

What is a team?

A small number of people with complimentary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually responsible

Katzenbach & Smith 1993
The Discipline of Team

Groups don’t just become teams because that is what someone called them, nor does teamwork ensure team performance.

The essence of a team is shared commitment, without it the group performs as individuals, with it the group can become a powerful unit of collective performance.

The best teams have a shared purpose they can own which lead to specific performance goals, each member of the team becoming accountable with and to each other member.

A teams strives for something greater than its members can achieve individually, and is ultimately worth more than the sum of its parts.

In the context of this article this team mindset is most directly associated with the coaches. As coaches we are in essence a task force team – a team that is driven to make or do some something. We are driven to build athletes and deliver performances in the pool.

Success in the pool will largely depend on how well you and the other team members operate together. If the energies of individuals are at crossed purposes then, even though the individuals may be working very hard, these efforts will not translate into teamwork and the result will be wasted effort. Alternatively if there is a shared vision and and understanding of how to compliment each others efforts then the team is more likely to be in the groove.

High Performing Teams require complimentary characteristics known collectively as S.C.O.R.E.


1. Collective Strategy and shared purpose
2. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
3. Open and transparent communication
4. Rapid response in adapting to challenges
5. Exemplary and effective leadership

Collective Strategy – our High Performance Team of coaches will have to unite behind the clubs vision for how we believe athletes should be developed. We are committed to following AN L.T.A.D. pathway, each squad has a clearly defined role within the overall structure. The clubs values and ground rules are built on at each stage as athletes progress through the club. Each squad coach needs to be clear about what they do, we will aim to do this by outlining clear key results areas for each team member.

Clear roles and responsibilities – Successful teams determine overall team competencies before clearly defining each members individual roles and responsibilities. Each team members needs to understand not only the overall teams object time but also their individual role within that. As a club and as a lead coach this is an area that needs to be improved on during the ‘closed season’. this aspect of leadership I need to improve on. I dont know that I effectively use each member of my team to their fullest potential. I am also not sure that each member feels appreciated

Open and transparent communication – communication is the key to a teams success, from personal experience, it’s lack severely limits the team. Effective communication relies on the proper use of communication  channels such as email and voice mail. In addition individual differences should be respected and used to enhance the overall team performance. my 144 character or less approach may well need to be changed up

Rapid response to challenges – when faced with challenges the high performing team reacts quickly and creatively to come up with innovative solutions.

Exemplary & effective leadership kinda putting myself in the firing line on this one. As a team leader I have not always displayed the characteristics required for the position and as a result have undoubtedly limited the success of the team as a whole. However, an effective team leader should have the ability to adjust their style of leadership to suit the task at hand and the skill of the practicioner of that task. They also play a critical role raising moral by providing positive feedback and coaching team members to move performance. Finally the team leader also takes and active role in guiding the team through each stage of the team development.

In high performing teams leadership shifts during the stages of team development based in what the team needs. It can shift from very directing when the team is being formed, to more delegating when the team is functioning effectively. As the leader of this team of coaches I need to find a way to move beyond the ‘storming’ stage of development!!


Moving towards this High Performing Centre with the club and starting with a new coaching team in September I am going to have to take on this directing role initially to get all the areas of the club working in a way that I believe will lead to success for the athlete being an inevitable outcome. This is a challenge for me as communication is not one of my strong points.
Writing his post I have started to realise that I was displaying the characteristics of leadership to the athletes but not always to the coaches. Ensuring a strong cohesive approach from the coaching team starts with the Head Coach. The buck stops here.

posted by Peter


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