How to structure your coaching and make yourself clearAug 31, 2022
All the best coaches in Esports (and the world) have a skill in common. This skill isn't particularly flashy or exciting. However, it's a true cornerstone of all great coaches who have mastered this skill. It's their ability to bring structure and clarity to their coaching.
In this blog, you'll learn what structure and clarity are in esports coaching, how to bring them into your coaching, and when it's most effective to apply so that you can increase efficiency by having a straightforward way of coaching through communication.
The last-minute coach
You probably know a last-minute coach. Maybe you are one yourself. The kind of coach that does everything last-minute, without much planning or structure. The type of coach who asks his team in the morning if they want to scrim at 19:00 that same evening. His players typically respond with "sorry, I'm going to the movies", "I can't", or simply not replying. They also don't have clear goals with a step-by-step plan to achieve them.
This type of coach lacks structure and clarity. Unstructured and vague teams struggle to achieve results, so it's your job to bring this to your team and players.
A lack of structure and clarity is common in Tier 3 and Tier 2 teams and even in some Tier 1 teams with full-time salaried coaches. It's safe to say that there is much room for growth. And that's a good thing because that's exactly what we're going to help you to do so that you can be a stand-out coach!
Why aren't teams structured and using clear communication?
One key reason is that they don't understand that they need structure and clarity. There's a high chance that they haven't been a part of a team that is on-point with these fundamentals. Therefore, they haven't experienced the benefits of better results and team cohesion themselves.
What is meant by structure and clarity?
An unstructured team sounds like "we need to do this, we need to do that, we need a schedule, we need to align our playstyles, we need to have better communication, we need to work on our positioning, we should do this, we should do that, etc...".
Players (and even coaches) say what they want without knowing how to turn their desires into actual progress. Unstructured and vague communication lacks specifics of what they're going to do, how they will do it, and when. Their communication is random and feels "all over the place".
On the other hand, a structured and clear team sounds like "this is what we're going to work on this week, and this is how we're going to do it. This is what we're going to work on next week, and this is how we will do it. These are our goals. This is our vision as a team. This is what we want to achieve this split and season".
Do you see the difference? You can use the paragraph above as a framework for your next team meeting or pre-scrim. Fill in the specifics for your team and read the paragraph to them. If you do this consistently, you will see improvements from the added structure and clarity.
What is structure and clarity at its core?
At its core, structure and clarity are three things:
- Communicating expectations
- Setting agreements
- Addressing behaviour
Let's say you're starting with a new team. You've never met or worked with these players before. Following these three steps will bring structure and clarity from the very beginning.
The first step is to communicate expectations. Ask the players what they expect of you as their coach, and tell them what you expect of them as players. Some questions to think about are:
- How should we approach practice?
- How should we behave?
- How should we plan?
- How do we want to communicate (Discord messages or calls?) and when?
- How will we work together?
The second step is to set agreements. An agreement is a proposed way of working made (and agreed upon) by both you and your players. Some examples of agreements are:
- We are all always 30 minutes early to scrims
- We always show sportsmanship by typing "gg wp" after every scrim and official match
- We show respect by giving each player time to speak and discuss their ideas in team meetings
- If there is ever a conflict, we do our best to solve it straight away
The third step is to address behaviors. As a coach, you want to address any behaviors that are either good or bad quickly. For example:
- You have all been showing up 30 minutes early to scrims, great work on following our agreement!
- On the other hand, if one player keeps talking over other players, you can say, "we agreed to give time for everyone to speak during team meetings. You're not doing that right now. Let's do that now and do our best to remember it for next time, too".
It takes time
I know what you're thinking. Why spend all of this time and effort? Why not jump straight into coaching, VOD reviews, and scrims? Because trust us when we say that if you spend a few hours at the beginning of the season to cover these fundaments, you will save many headaches and much trouble down the road. After you've laid this groundwork, you can shoot for the moon because you've laid a clear and safe framework for you to coach within.
When to provide structure and clarity
This work is most effective at the start of a season and/or tournament. If you try to do this halfway through a season, it will be challenging because the players will already be accustomed to your way of coaching. The 'norms' have already set in. We highly recommend you do this work within the first week of a season or tournament.
Your next level
If you want a deeper dive into this topic, including more Esports examples and a weekly Q&A with other Esports coaches, join the Esports Coach Development Program.
Every week we deliver a Masterclass for esports coaches. These Masterclasses are a part of the Esports Coach Development Program, where we cover esports topics and questions from coaches. To join the masterclass, click [here] to join the Next Level Esports Discord and just send a message in general chat or a DM to get access, everyone can join one time for free to check it out!
See you there, coach!
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