The Role of the Assistant Basketball Coach
“The best executive is the one who has enough sense to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” Theodore Roosevelt
The role of the assistant coach will vary program-to-program. However there are several qualities that must carry-over from program-to-program. These are:
1. Loyalty: Your assistant must support you in your efforts. Over the years, I have seen a number of Head Coaches lose their jobs because the Assistant Coach chose not to support the Head Coach.
2. Integrity and Values: They are a reflection of you.
3. Character: It is what they are when no one is around. Questionable character will not only get the assistant fired, but they may take you down as well.
4. Enthusiastic: They must bring a level of enthusiasm to practice every day.
5. Motivated: Motivation gets them going. If they are motivated, and you are motivated, your players will be motivated. Make motivation a habit.
6. Goal-setters: Your assistant coaches should be setting goals for their own coaching careers. And, if they exhibit the above traits, you should assist them in achieving those goals.
The assistant coach is vital to the success of the athletic program. Good assistant coaches are necessary regardless of the sport or the size of the school. With a shortage of both teachers and coaches, good assistants may be hard to come by. Once you find a good assistant, it is your job to prepare him/her to the best of your ability.
To be a good assistant the individual must want to coach in the school system they are in. A coach who has the background and the abilities, but isn’t happy with the situation, may wind up doing more harm than good to your program. You would be better off with a person who has the desire, but not the experience to assist you.
The assistant must be willing to work hard, know what the head coach wants, and must be willing to teach it. The assistant is an extension of the head coach. When the assistant doesn’t understand or questions the head coach’s philosophy, the head coach must be willing to spend the time to teach the assistant so they understand the big picture. However, the assistant must never question the head coach during practice or a game. The time for that is during staff meetings.
The assistant coach must look and act in a professional manner. During practice the assistant must help enforce discipline. If the assistant knows of a violation of team rules, it is their job to inform the head coach. The assistant must show a caring attitude for your players both on the court and in the classroom. By nature of the beast, the players will come to the assistant when they have a problem. Players should feel free to talk about their problems with the assistant. However, there is a very fine line that the assistant coach must not cross-they are the coach and the player is the player.
The role of the assistant coach is one of long hours, low pay, and often little recognition. It is up to the head coach to show his loyalty to the assistant coach. Give credit when credit is due. If the assistant did something to help the outcome of a game, let the media know it. On the same hand, if they make a coaching mistake, support them.
The head coach must delegate responsibility to the assistant coach. Then, make sure the assistant understands what is expected. Outline responsibilities ahead of time so the assistant has time to prepare himself or herself for the job expected of them.
When an assistant needs to be corrected or criticized, do it in private. And, never do it in public or in front of your players. Be open with your assistants-encourage them to brainstorm with you. The more they feel ownership of the program, the more they will do to make the program a success.
Help them get a head-coaching job. If they have a desire to be a head coach, and they are prepared, do everything possible to assist them. Write a letter of recommendation and make a phone call on their behalf. Don’t be neutral-if they’re not ready, tell them why they are not ready. Evaluate them so they can grow!
Some Examples of Assistant Coaches Game Day Duties:
a. Prior to the game: strategy – may be asked to write the game plan and match-ups on the board.
b. Check the scorebook for accuracy prior to the game – the worst thing you can do is to start the game with a technical because no one checked the book.
c. During the game: sit next to the Head Coach-Keep key game information charted. It may be to keep track of the fouls, timeouts or other pertinent game information.
d. Take game notes for half-time adjustments
e. Have the dry erase board available for the Head Coach during time-outs.
f. Help the Head Coach with Post Game Evaluation
Examples of Assistant Coaches Practice Duties:
1. Assist Head Coach with planning practice
2. Arrive early on the floor to make sure the gym is set for practice
3. Work with assigned position players
4. Help the Head Coach with stations as assigned
5. Serve as a buffer between the Head Coach and the players
6. Run the “B” team vs. the Varsity in practice scrimmages
7. Make sure the gym is picked-up after practice
Examples of Other Assistant Coaches Duties:
a. Help the Head Coach monitor academic progress. You may be asked to take charge of grade checks.
b. Scout the opponent as assigned – this may be breaking down video or seeing the opponent in person.
c. Assist the Head Coach with team scrapbook. You may be asked to keep track of any articles or photos in the area newspapers.
d. Call in game scores to the media as needed – especially when you are playing on the road.
e. Be available to break down game film upon request