Written By: Steven Murry
Excel Aquatics operates out of four different cities with five training locations. At each of our training locations, we have a full-time Site Coordinator. The Site Coordinators are in charge of all training and day-to-day operations for their training sites.
Examples of multi-site challenges include coaches putting sites against one another, swimmers sitting divided up at meets per site versus one team, and parents feeling that sites are valued differently. All of these factors detract from the team’s mission and long-term goals. How can multi-site issues be corrected to move towards a better team environment? It is the responsibility of the Head Coach to address these situations and implement long-term structural changes to move the program in a healthier direction.
Single Site Versus Multi-Site Programs
Teams with one site or multiple sites all face the similar challenge of maintaining a positive team culture that transcends through each age group. With a multi-site program, the additional challenge of the distance between locations and varying cultures at each training location adds a unique dynamic. Additionally, Site Coordinators who respectfully advocate for the needs of their training sites is valuable.
Different Training Sites = Different Personalities
A strategy for multi-site stability is not treating every training site the same. Knowing each site's personality is key when hiring a Site Coordinator. Successfully matching a Site Coordinator’s personality to the training site is critical in maximizing each site's long-term success.
“Attitude Reflects Leadership”
Leadership includes making sure the Head Coach has the staff bought into the long-term goals of the team. If all coaches work well together, then internal turmoil between site coaches and athletes is reduced. Identifying and recognizing individual shortcomings allows leaders to surround themselves with people who complement their deficits.
To accomplish team goals, Head Coaches can provide coaches with training frameworks, and then give them the creative flexibility to reach goals in ways that match their training sites’ preferences. Intervening in training matters should only happen if the training method drastically deviates from the framework provided. Encouraging coaches to share practices also helps staff understand other coaching and training styles to build familiarity and dialogue between coaches. Shared electronic systems like Google Docs can be used for information sharing.
A Best Friend in Club Portal
Club Portal is a great metric for measuring an entire team’s success such as tracking rates of improvement and comparing them to the national average. Metrics should be shared with the entire coaching staff. The Club Portal information allows teams to identify deficiencies and then make corresponding training adjustments.
Head Coach visits to all sites are important. The type of site visits can vary and include meeting with Site Coordinators, observing practice, and talking with parents and swimmers. There might also be times when a Head Coach is needed to address a specific technique or issue.
Video conferencing is great for holding meetings with staff at multiple sites. Staff can have improved communication and reduced travel times through modalities such as Zoom. This is particularly useful for safety during a pandemic!
The tracking of each site’s income and expenses can be beneficial. Head Coaches can review the profit and loss statements with the Site Coordinators to help increase understanding of their financial standing and where adjustments need to be made. The review of financial statements also streamlines conversations during budgeting for items such as contract negotiations and raises.
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
Staff should be rewarded for their hard work. If a Site Coordinator has a swimmer qualify for a competition, every attempt possible should be made to send those coaches with their swimmers. Head Coaches should hire and assemble the coaching staff and allow coaches to receive credit for their swimmers’ success.
Running a multi-site program can bring a multitude of challenges and also rewards. At Excel Aquatics, we are far from having a perfect system, and we are always making adjustments. However, the advancements we have made over the years have transformed our program and allowed us to pursue our goals in a healthy way. I could not be more proud of our staff!
Steven Murry grew up swimming on Excel Aquatics from ages 12-18. For college, he swam at Indiana University and became a NCAA All-American and the school record holder for the 400 IM. He concluded his swimming career at the 2008 Olympic Trials. After retiring from swimming, Steven started coaching full-time with Excel Aquatics in 2008 and has been the Head Coach for the past 6 years. The team has achieved Silver and Bronze Medal Club rankings and placed in the top 50 of the Virtual Club Championship through USA Swimming. Excel swimmers have qualified for Olympic Trials, been selected for USA Swimming’s National Junior Team, had multiple top 16 finishes and a top 3 finish at USA Swimming’s Summer Junior National Championship, and had multiple top 10 national rankings. For the LSC, Steven has held multiple positions including as the Age Group Chair in 2014 and currently as the General Chair since 2019.