Optimal coaching ratios for your athletes

Each week SPAC’s head coaches Nils and Dave carefully put together training groups based on the Smartsheet roster for the week. They consider each athletes ability, personality, and experience along with the mix of athletes and coaches and the training plan for the week. Great time, thought and care is put into making these groups great for all of our athletes.  “Sometimes we will intentionally put a kid in a group that will challenge or push them to see how they perform,” says Nils. Coaches are also rotated weekly to make sure that athletes have an opportunity to work with different coaching and communication styles. Nils and Dave find this really improves skill development in our athletes

One of the most important things they are trying to balance is the coach to athlete ratio. They are looking to achieve that sweet spot which optimizes individualized coaching and feedback, athlete socialization and fun, while maintaining a ratio that is financially viable for the club. Years of experience have determined that the groups should be between 5-8 kids per coach. Younger less experienced athletes ideally will be in smaller groups where slightly larger groups are still effective with older athletes.

Using Smartsheet has really transformed how the training groups are assigned each week. When everyone signs up by entering all of their available days into the training schedule at least a month ahead of time, Nils and Dave can optimize assignments for each week. The groups can be thoughtfully composed ahead of time, and on the hill training time isn’t used trying to create groups on the fly. And for the coaches it means they only have to be on the mountain, when there are enough kids for them to work. It’s a much better quality experience for coaches and athletes alike.

So what happens when parents don’t sign their kids up on Smartsheet? All the thought and time spent to compose groups gets really compromised.

Last week we had 10 or so athletes show up each day, who hadn’t signed up on Smartsheet. I could have used a couple more coaches. Then some of the groups got as big as 9-10 kids which was less than optimal for the lesson plan we had established for the weekend. It’s not fair to the other kids or to the coaches,” says Nils. When Nils or Dave need to re-shuffle group sizes and ability mixes/splits the morning of training, groups don’t get out quickly, and kids have less time on the hill.

The biggest issue is that it takes time away from others who do sign up on Smartsheet while we redo the groups and make them somewhat workable. There’s no way for us to optimize the groups when it’s last minute like this,” says Dave.

So if you want to get the most out of the SPAC program for your athlete, make sure you double check that you’ve filled out the Smartsheet intent on your athletes calendar. Ideally it’s done a month or more ahead, but get in the habit of checking it every weekend for the next weekend. Check out the previous Smartsheet post if you are not sure how to fill out the intent. If you are experiencing challenges around working with Smartsheet please, email Kate, and she’ll have someone work with you directly to help you get it working for you. Let’s do everything we can as a club to let our amazingly dedicated coaches do the best job they can do.