Coaches Corner: Turning Around A Losing Program


Ron Sweet, the head volleyball coach at Wofford University, is used to winning. His current team is not. So why does a coach, who has won national championships and many coaching accolades, become the head coach at a perennially losing team? Because he enjoys a challenge.

Surely, there were tangible things that he changed about his team: harder practices, tougher off-season conditioning workouts, and more recruiting visits. But an equally important facet of Sweet’s change was intangible. Not to be measured by stats or numbers.

Two criteria for turning around an unsuccessful program

  • Passion for the sport. Sweet is confident that all good coaches, including himself, are passionate about their sport. His goal when taking over the program at Wofford was to have his players match his enthusiasm level. He wants his athletes to want to come to practice rather than having to go to practice.
  • Change team culture. Like many teams in a vicious cycle of losing, the team Sweet inherited was used to losing. They worked hard, they were skilled, but they didn’t quite believe. Like Vanessa Walby talked about in the article about turning her team around, sometimes teams just need a big win. Sweet believes those wins are in his team’s future.

It seems simple: get on board and be passionate about the sport or get left behind. Not only does he want his player’s energy to match his, he expects it.

Join me in a series of interviews with successful coaches.  I believe what we learn from our coaching peers can be applied to our teams, our recruiting efforts, and how we behave as professionals. These interviews will be less Q & A and much more philosophical in nature, keep coming back to see who I’m talking to and what they’ve got to say!