Assistant coaches are a vital part of the success of any team. Having knowledgeable and motivated assistant coaches makes the life of the head coach so much better, and the team more successful.
HEAD COACHES WORKING WITH ASSISTANT COACHES
It's vitally important that the head coach be willing and able to make the assistant coaches an integral part of the team.
As the size of the staff grows, the more difficult this may become. But, the larger the staff, the greater the need for a feeling of unity.
The perceptive head coach never misses an opportunity to show appreciation to the assistant coaches for what they are contributing to the overall success of the team.
A considerate coach strives to form the term "we" and "us" among the staff, including their spouses. Remember, loyalty is a two-way street - if you expect it, you must first give it.
Considerations when choosing assistants
When given the opportunity to select assistant coaches, remembering the words of Italian Renaissance statesman Machiavelli, "The first option that is formed of a ruler's (head coach) intelligence is based on the quality of men he has around him."
If the head coach surrounds him or herself with smarter, more eager, harder workers, and better coaches than him or herself, he's in good shape.
Be careful using a coach's athletic accomplishments as a metric - we've already talked about not all good players make good coaches.
Working with Assistant Coaches
In his book, The Power of Double-Goal Coaching, Jim Thompson talk about concepts for a head coach to use to work effectively with assistant coaches. Some of that information can be found on the Positive Coaching Alliance's Development Zone.
The head coach should forge the assistant coaches into a cohesive unit to accomplish as much as possible. Using assistant coaches effectively during a youth sports practice can help eliminate one of the major problems in youth sports - kids standing around during practice.
The balance is control versus reach. Using your assistant coaches in a more decentralized fashion requires a trust in those coaches, due to less control. Delegating teaching responsibilities to assistant coaches is something many coaches are unwilling to do, or just plain don't know how to do.
Jim Thompson outlines three methods to use to help the head coach more effectively use assistant coaches, and gain their trust.
1. See and Do: the assistant coach watches the head coach demonstrate the skill and replicates it with a group of players. The head coach should provide specific coaching points to the assistant coach, unless he or she already trusts the assistant coach to teach that skill.
2. Plan and Preview: the assistant plans to teach a specific skill at an upcoming practice and previews it with the head coach before trying it out on the players.
3. Do and Report: the assistant teaches a skill to part of the team and reports how well it went.
A good rule is to involve assistant coaches in practice planning, during practice, and carve out a specific role during the game.
HOW TO BE AN ASSISTANT COACH
There is a vast difference between making a suggestion, and making a decision.
Being an assistant coach can be fun and rewarding as you get to do all of the coaching and little to none of the administrative work, especially in youth sports.
The role can also be frustrating, stifling, and unhappy.
The determining factor usually rests with the head coach and that coach's personal philosophy and teachings - if you think you can do better, it's eventually going to become a problem.
This does not mean the assistant coach should never disagree with the head coach. Not only will the coaches disagree from time to time, but they should, and must if the program is going to grow and improve. However, all disagreements should center primarily on the mechanical aspects of the game.
Follow the link below to see more about being an assistant coach.
Responsibilities of an Assistant Coach
Being an assistant can be rewarding if you and the head coach agree, generally at least, on what you both consider to be a sound philosophy of coaching. It's absolutely critical for the head coach to clarify the exact responsibilities for you, and all assistant coaches. Many head coaches keep a manual for assistant coaches' responsibilities. If the head coach believes in delegating responsibilities, the assistant coaches should be willing and ready to handle them.
The assistant coaches should be creative. Often the head coach will use the assistant coaches to come up with new and different ideas - something out of the norm of the team. This allows for a broader scope of reach to the players.
Of all qualities of an assistant coach, this ranks as the highest. Loyalty isn't always agreeing, but is always supporting. Even in disagreement, when the head coach makes a decision, the loyal assistant coach will support him.
As one of the primary roles of the assistant coach is often to teach a certain part of the game, this is another primary quality needed in an assistant coach.
Genuine enthusiasm is contagious. It helps when teaching a skill, especially when it's an otherwise boring time.
It's not difficult to show initiative if you're genuinely enthusiastic about being a coach and about possibly becoming a head coach. coaches with initiative generally make great contributions in many ways, because they make things happen. Good assistant coaches anticipate what needs to be done and then get it done before being directed to do so; they also understand the shortcomings or limitations of the head coach and supplement in those areas.
When a head coach asks an assistant coach to perform a certain task, to assume certain responsibilities, or to accomplish specific goals, he or she should have little to no doubt that the request will be filled, and promptly. You should perform your duties in such a way that the head coach does not have to spend valuable time double-checking to see whether the job was done or not.