Strategic Planning: Aligning Your Program Through a Systematic Approach

By Robert Pomazak | Posted 4/19/2019

Business 101

Being a head coach is the greatest job in the world. The crowds and energy of a Friday night is the stuff that dreams are made of. However, every head coach will also tell you that 99 percent of their time is spent on everything but X’s and O’s. In our previous article, we talked about the role of a head coach being the “connector” of the program. In this installment, we are going to focus on the role of the head coach as the “business man.”

Invest and ROI

As a head coach, we are essentially the CEO of a small corporation. In total, when counting all our stakeholders from players, parents, staff and community, the number of connections can reach over 200 people. Often the business side of running a successful program is overlooked and devalued. I am here to tell you that if we do not place a high importance on our program’s stock then we are missing an opportunity to get the very best out of the experience.

Like any publicly traded corporation, the goal is to raise your program’s stock and increase the number of investors. I am not speaking in monetary terms but something far more valuable such as time, support and emotional investment. The stock of a program can be raised in a multitude of ways ranging from on-field success to individual player experience. In the St. Charles North program, we have placed a premium on our players’ overall experience within the program. It’s the central mission of our program that each player be left with memories that will last a lifetime. More importantly, our parents must have an equally memorable experience as we are asking them to invest their most prized possession into our program. THEIR CHILD!

Never underestimate the investment a parent is making into you as a coach. It is a gigantic responsibility that cannot be taken lightly! Make the experience you give each person you come into contact with one that will solidify their decision to be a part of your program. An investor will only invest when there is a return on investment (ROI). The beauty of running a relationship-driven corporation is that this ROI can be received in a variety of ways. Experiences, friendships, support and scholarships are all great examples, but simply put, we must deliver a ROI that gives a connection to something bigger than the investment made.

Strategic Planning

A business without a sound business plan is going to struggle to make gains and never fully capitalize on their window of opportunity. Running a football program is not much different in terms of developing a strategic plan of progress. Strategic planning is not something that is lost on most coaches. We spend hours developing game plans each week. Meticulously breaking down opponents’ film, conducting meetings and tweaking practice plans so that we can have the right formula to crack the code of the week’s opponent. Trust me, I love it just as much as the next guy, but it’s imperative that we fall in love with developing our program’s long-term strategic plan with that same passion. While there are many ways to go about developing a plan, we have found the following system to be a sound foundational element at St. Charles North.

  • Clearly define what you want the program to gain and be specific to all your key stakeholders
    • Parents/ players/ staff/ community
  • Set the vision and mission to reflect these desired outcomes
    • Build benchmarks into the outcomes.
    • Benchmarks allow us to reflect, evaluate and potentially remediate our outcomes in case we have missed the mark.
  • Build a detailed operations plan
    • Answer the “how.”
    • How will you deliver your vision, mission?
    • How will you deliver your ROI to your program?
    • How will you deliver your ROI to your players?
  • I have found that utilizing a systematic approach is a great way to deliver consistency and attention to all areas of your program. Each year the goal is to give a return on investment that makes the commitment and sacrifice worthwhile.
    • St. Charles North’s business development focus
      • Strategic Planning
      • Marketing
      • Branding
      • Public Relations
      • Event/Experience Coordination
      • Finance Management
      • Technological Development
      • Equipment Development
      • Schematic Development
  • On an individual level we have taken a holistic approach to player development and created a four-quadrant system that focuses on developing the player as a whole person.
    • Physical – Performance Enhancement
      • We utilize a four-quarter player development program that is highly individualized to maximize each person’s on field performance. This includes strength/speed training, nutrition/sleep monitoring and stress management.
    • Mental – Behaviorial Outcomes
      • We utilize a four-quarter player development program that places a high importance on mindset training. We develop skill sets that allow our players to believe, trust, handle adversity and respond in a positive way to yield a desired outcome.
    • Tactical – Decision action cycle made during high bouts of stress and conflict
      • We utilize a four-quarter tactical training program designed by a former U.S. Marine who is also a coach in our program. In no way do I equate football to military battle, however, there are strong similarities in terms of behavior development, vernacular and strategy. This program employs simple terms, cues and situational tactics that progress over time. The ultimate goal is to build an access point to a skill set that our players can use when under duress.
    • Social /Emotional – Self-actualization
      • We utilize a four-quarter program that raises awareness to our players’ social/emotional development. This includes a comprehensive 10-week leadership training curriculum, weekly group presentations on our value system, job interview skills, introduction/conversational skills, social media thumb print, proper respect of women and acceptance to all. 
  • Developing your calendar
    • With the infrastructure now in place, we turn to filling in the details and developing the year-round calendar. Every aspect of the program should be built around these ideologies and operation goals. It takes time, collaboration and constant reflection. There will be setbacks, and at times we may lose a moment. As they say success is not straight line and neither is the stock market. Keep the long view and the arrow moving up.

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