October 2, 2009 • Athletic Administration

Timing is Everything

We often get so wrapped up in our own little world of athletics that we may forget that timing is everything. Years ago, someone pulled me aside and pointed out that it is important to know when to approach your principal, with a request for money or help.

The reason for this is simple:

As administrators, we face our own deadlines, problems, demands on our packed schedules, and frustrating situations.

Approaching a principal during one of these difficult times is a sure way to get a quick refusal or unceremoniously being shown the door.

If, for example, a budget referendum was recently defeated in your district. You picked this time to request for increased funding for athletics. This not only was futile but foolhardy. If money is limited for items such as new books, salary increases, and basic necessities, greater funding for athletics will surely be low on the list of priorities.

While you always want to work toward improving your program, it is absolutely vital to understand the dynamics that exist in your situation and that things are constantly changing.

There are several things you can do to understand the role of time and what is happening around you. The following suggestions should help:

1. Take a few minutes periodically to ask other knowledgeable individuals – secretaries, trusted teachers, department chairmen, or parents – to keep you updated with respect to all of the developments within your school and district.

New developments occur constantly that can ultimately affect your athletic program. Being clueless or uninformed about what is going on around you can cause problems and this should never be an excuse for being unprepared.

2. Keep abreast of what is happening in your region and around the state. The political climate, legislation, and other general trends may also eventually have an effect upon your community and program. By being well-informed, you can think about possible solutions and courses of action before they actually occur locally.

3. Take time occasionally to think, reflect, and ponder. These efforts are integral to goal setting, strategic planning, and preparing for new initiatives. Without taking the time to explore possibilities, future opportunities and options may be very limited. Creativity and visionary thinking usually require uninterrupted time.

4. Determine what alternatives you may have to handling any existing problems. Things do change over a period of time. For example, as gas prices rapidly increased this past year, many athletic directors had to determine how to stretch their transportation budget. Since budgets had already been set, the sudden increase necessitated action.

The options might have included putting more than one team on a bus, fund raising to cover any shortfall, or maybe even cutting back on some team trips.

5. Analyze if you have enough information to make a critical decision and the resources on hand in the form of people or money in order to implement it. If not, it is better to delay making a determination.

Additional time may provide you with an opportunity to be better prepared to go a long way toward ensuring success. The expression, “Haste makes Waste,” makes a lot of sense and should be one of your guiding principles.

6. Consider how a change that you anticipate making will be perceived within the school and community. For any issues involving personnel, existing programs and long-time traditions, it may be better to wait a few weeks or months to allow existing or potential emotions to recede.

Additional time also provides you with an opportunity to develop effective strategies to educate and work with those who may oppose a new effort.

7. Take some time before responding to an aggravating incident or situation. While you may not be able to control what has happened, the timing of your response can be controlled. Even by taking a few seconds – more if possible – your response can be more composed, intelligent, and professional.

8. Make sure that you have enough interest and a coach in place before adding a new sport to your program. To drop a team once a schedule is in place and expenditures have been made makes things difficult not only at your school but also potential opponents, transportation personnel, and officials.

Take the additional time, even if that means an additional year, to be sure that everything is in place and you’re ready to ensure a smooth beginning.

9. Watch for occasions to offer encouragement after a difficult situation or extend a thank-you for a job-well done. A few well-placed positive words may be all that is needed to relieve the pressure from demanding parents for one of your coaches, or the encouragement of your booster club to continue their efforts.

Obviously, recognizing the need and knowing when to offer these supportive words is often critical in making the difference.

10. Recognize the problems created by being late in completing reports, entries or attending meetings. Planning ahead, avoiding procrastination, and giving yourself a little bit of a buffer are important in avoiding any time crunch. It is probably always better to be early. That should become one of your managerial goals.

Time presents an interesting, perhaps frustrating and complex, concept for many athletic directors.

Most would probably proclaim that there is not enough of it to accomplish what has to be done. But more importantly, it is vital to take advantage of the timing of developments in your setting. Timing is everything.

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