No Director of Coaching (DOC) can do it all on their own. With everything that's already on your plate - from recruitment and staff development, to defining and implementing a new club culture and sporting philosophy - it's important that you're backed up by qualified and experienced specialists.
If you have ambitions of taking your soccer club or organisation to the next level, improving on-pitch performance and consistently developing better players, here are the 11 hires you need to make.
While all the hires detailed in this guide will add real value to your club, good coaches should be the first priority for your recruitment strategy, simply because they have the most contact with your players - and players are, after all, your most important asset.
As a DOC, you'll inevitably be measured on your ability to deliver strong results and develop high-quality players. In order to achieve these objectives, you'll need to rely on your coaches. However innovative your playing philosophy or detailed your season plans, they'll count for little without the support of a talented and bought-in coaching team.
Soccer coaches have wide-ranging roles and responsibilities. Some may concentrate on a specific age group or team - or even on coaching a certain skill, such as defence or goalkeeping - while others have broader areas of focus. Either way, it's vital that they buy into your sporting philosophy. For tips on how to do this, check out our guide to identifying the right coaches for your system.
As players graduate to older age groups, their strength and all-around fitness become increasingly important. They may be blessed with natural talent, but if they can't keep up with the opposition over the course of a match, they're unlikely to progress within the game. Likewise, you want your players to spend as much time on the pitch as possible, rather than recuperating from injury.
This is where you need a conditioning coach. They hold the key to helping your players develop in a range of key fitness-related areas, including:
Strength and conditioning sessions may focus specifically on fitness and physique (e.g. weight lifting, sprinting, tempo runs, etc.). However, particularly when coaching younger players, these sessions are often more effective when the drills combine conditioning with a soccer-based scenario, such as out-sprinting an opponent to get on the end of a cross or through-ball. This helps players to take the skills they picked up in training onto the pitch.
When two opposing sides are equally matched, fine margins often determine the winner. Who has a game plan that best suits their players? Who has the self-belief to back themselves under pressure? And who has the endurance to keep making smart decisions when their legs are tiring?
Hiring a sport nutritionist could be a difference-maker for your club or organisation, ensuring that your players are taking on the right nutrients - from vitamins and minerals to carbohydrates and proteins - to boost their performance when it matters.
While some players are more prone than others, anyone who plays soccer for long enough will eventually pick up an injury. These injuries can be very different to those suffered in everyday life; the high demand placed on an athlete's body places their bones, joints and muscles under far greater strain than normal.
While injuries are inevitable, recovery times are far less certain. A minor hamstring pull or tear may take a few days to repair, but without the right care and attention, the injury could be exacerbated, sidelining a player for several weeks. By hiring a physiotherapist, you can be sure that your injured players are getting the support they need to get them back on the pitch as soon as possible.
Every sporting decision - from player fitness to transfer policy - is now backed up by reams of data. But there is a huge difference between pure data - pieces of information, often numbers, relating to something that has previously happened on a soccer pitch - and analytics, which uses data to attempt to predict future outcomes.
Today, it's possible to access a huge amount of soccer data on matches dating back several years. Data analysts are able to leverage this information to help inform tactics for an upcoming game, or identify whether or not a certain player is worth signing.
Speaking to the Independent, analyst Rory Campbell, founder of C&N Sporting Risk, highlighted some of the questions that data analysts are attempting to answer:
"Are shots more likely to have a higher percent of scoring if they come after a cross, a through-ball, a counter-attack or a long ball? Or are passes more valuable if they go directly forward or at an angle? Are teams more likely to play better when they’re winning, losing or drawing? Is it better for these 11 players to play long-ball, counter-attack or possession football? All these kind of things. You’re trying to test the premise, to get closer to solving a problem."
Soccer clubs and college soccer programmes rely on scouts to identify quality players and report back on opposition tactics.
With the globalisation of the game, talent scouting has become more important than ever. The most astute scouts with the best connections give their clubs the greatest chance of unearthing the "next big thing". Some clubs - such as Portuguese giants Porto - have forged a reputation for finding the best talent from across the globe thanks to their superb scouting network.
On the other hand, tactical scouts will study upcoming opponents, before reporting back to coaches on their playing systems, strengths and weaknesses. André Villas-Boas explained of his time working as a tactical scout for José Mourinho: "My work enables José to know exactly when a player from the opposition team is likely to be at his best or his weakest.
"I will travel to training grounds, often incognito, and then look at our opponents' mental and physical state before drawing my conclusions and presenting a full dossier to José."
As a DOC, you'll naturally want to be heavily involved in staff recruitment, leading interviews and making the final call on hires. But it's highly unlikely you'll have time to personally vet CVs or gather a list of candidates.
That's where a recruiter comes in. Someone with a deep understanding of what you're looking for in a hire, in terms of skill set and personality. The best recruiters also have the best contacts, often allowing them to immediately recommend a shortlist of potential hires for any given role.
Having quality training and playing surfaces is a huge help when it comes to developing players who are comfortable on the ball. It's almost impossible to coach a technical, possession-based game on a pitch covered in bumps and divots.
Hiring a groundsman is essential to developing and maintaining a good pitch. And if your club or organisation is located in a region that faces extremes in weather - such as freezing temperatures or heavy rainfall - your groundsman could be the difference between a match going ahead or being cancelled due to unsuitable conditions.
One of the unsung heroes of the backroom team, the kit manager ensures that all players and coaching staff have their kit ready for training sessions or matchdays. They'll order new kit as and when necessary, and also takes responsibility for maintaining kit and equipment - whether that means having shirts and shorts sent for laundering, or inflating soccer balls.
Stewards are on hand to ensure that matchday runs smoothly, particularly when it comes to evacuating the ground in an emergency or after the final whistle has blown. Effective stewarding contributes to a positive experience for supporters, making it more likely that fans will buy a ticket to watch you again in future.
Marketing, PR and social media managers
Like it or not, marketing is now a reality in soccer - and not just at elite level. Even age-level clubs and high school programmes need to have their marketing in order if they want to attract new players and build a following.
All too often, marketing is treated as a luxury, or a job for the intern. Unsurprisingly, this rarely yields the best results. Hire a professional to take charge of your marketing efforts, from raising awareness of your club or organisation among the local press, to growing your online following via social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.