Steven Poacher

Steven Poacher – Understand the challenges facing managers

I read an article recently from a former county manager about the time he invested into management and coaching and all the sacrifices he made.

That included missing important family events, weekends away with the wife, or friends, parties, golf trips. They all went out the window.

In our sport of Gaelic Games, fans, players, administrators, and anyone outside of the coaching circle are pretty fickle.

They don’t see the hours and hours of effort and preparation that go into preparing a team for a national league game on a Sunday or a club league game on a Friday night.

Things can happen on the day, players can under-perform for a number of reasons, players might not follow the game plan, referee decisions might go against you at critical times.

There is so much as a coach you can control but there is so much you can’t control. I don’t have any sympathy for coaches or managers who get criticism or abuse because I get plenty of it myself and it’s the world and environment we chose to be in.

If things go well you get praise, if things go wrong you get criticism, that’s sport. But sometimes I certainly feel it should be put into perspective and those on the outside should consider the effort and preparation that goes in behind the scenes.

There is no feeling like winning when you are a manager or a coach, but when you are beaten it’s not easy.

It’s not like a player where you are worrying about just yourself, you are thinking about everything! It twists your mind even more, particularly when you feel you have every angle covered – the training was intense all week, players all have role clarity in regards to their role in the system, the video analysis has left no stone unturned, the nutritionist has the diet off to a tee, recovery has been excellent, you are building on a solid performance from the previous week. What can possibly go wrong?

It’s sport. It happens. You have no divine right to success. It has to be earned every single time you play, and the way the modern game has gone, outside the big four in the country, most sides are very evenly matched on their day!

CoachingManaging is a very difficult environment and in the modern game some very difficult issues face managers, here for me are some of them;

Manager-CoachPlayer Relationship – probably the biggest challenge of the lot, is man-management of players within the group. Remember, in a group of 30 players you are going to be faced with so many different personalities and characters. Your ability to manage and keep all these different players happy is a difficult task. It may take discipline, humour, leadership, enthusiasm, or even giving them a voice, letting their opinions be heard. It takes all sorts to keep a camp happy, because likely a happy camp will equal happy results!

Manager-CoachAdministrator Relationship – Nowadays county boards are like big businesses. It takes a lot of money to run county teams and therefore added pressure and senior club teams with aspirations to win a senior club championship are now the same. It’s important for the managercoach to have a good relationship with county board members or senior club committee members because these are the people in administration who ultimately you will need onside to help with administration tasks, but crucially that’s where their input should begin and end – in administration!

MediaSocial Media Issues – The media can be a very powerful tool in both a positive and a negative way. People read headlines, sometimes something you say can be manipulated or construed in a different way. Social media, the more modern phenomenon can be even more powerful, toxic and poisonous, because a lot of what is written is certainly not true. There is a very simple way around it, I remember a story from Man United when Alex Ferguson took over, he was getting destroyed by the media, he asked Sir Matt Busby for advice, and it was simple – don’t read the papers and the rest is history. As a coach or a manager if you want to find negativity somewhere in the media you’ll find it, best just ignore it.

The Backroom Team – A modern day manager might have, on average 15 in a backroom team, between physio, coach, selectors, logistics, video analysis, nutritionists, psychologists, strength and conditioning coaches, stats men, the list could go on. It’s a crucially important that all these people know their roles and have role clarity and that’s an added pressure. Even in club side now the background teams are getting larger and larger!

Managing the training environment – Creating and maintaining high standards on the training field is extremely important. You should create a training environment that replicates the high intensity needed for inter county level and also have the structure and organisation within the session that challenges players and takes them out of their comfort zone. This takes a lot of planning and organisation and might not be achievable on your own.


FRUSTRATION… Manager can get frustrated on the sideline. If you are thinking about getting into management then you need to know the challenges

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