Great programs have great coaching staffs. Recruiting, game planning, scouting and player development are often seen as the responsibility of the head coach only. In fact, good coaching staffs are built so that those duties can be shared and utilized to get maximum results.
The head coach of any sports program is the face of that team, and is responsible and accountable for the results of that program. What is overlooked by many is the effort and expertise of the entire coaching staff. Rarely do the assistant coaches have to answer questions but they do have a lasting effect on the players and team.
In making coaching staff hires, a head coach must consider the following characteristics.
Loyalty: An assistant coach must be loyal to the head coach and to the program. A good assistant will never be a “yes” person only. However, they will support the final decisions of the head coach both internally with players and other coaches and externally with fans, parents, boosters and media. This is an absolute must for assistant coaches.
Dedication: Every coach should display an ability to work at a high level of energy on a daily basis. Work equals success. There are no shortcuts. The coach should have a focus on the job at hand and the success of the athletes in the program in everything they do. Assistant coaches should “look for work,” not just do what is asked.
Knowledge: The coach must have knowledge of the sport in which they are working. Knowledge of the skills, strategies and rules of the sport. It is also important to understand the psychology involved in leading young men and women. With compliance concerns in college, these coaches should be aware of recruiting rules and requirements. Knowledge often comes from playing experience and coaching experience.
Niche: What does the assistant bring to the program? Is it an expertise on offense or defense? Is it experience? Is it recruiting or player development?
It: Coaches must have “it”. A good assistant coach must have the ability to deliver their knowledge to the student athletes. Have the courage and conviction of their beliefs. To make decisions in a timely manner. To motivate and discipline. It may be the most important characteristic, the hardest to define and nearly impossible to teach. However, it is vital for making an impact on the program.
These things all make a good assistant. Hiring a coach that has all of these characteristics moves the needle in a positive direction.