Be Loyal to the Program: One of the most important roles of an assistant coach is to be loyal to the head coach and to the program. There are many influences and issues that may emerge during the course of a season. Make sure you always keep the best interests of the players, your program, and the head coach in mind in whatever you do. Remember it’s about the team and not you.
Be Available and Present: The best assistant coaches are the ones that are present all of the time. Make yourself available to the head coach and dedicate the necessary time needed to make the program successful. Put in the extra work and always look to go above and beyond your basic responsibilities as a coach.
Do the Work: No job or responsibility is beneath you. As an assistant coach (and a head coach) you need to be willing to do the dirty work. Building a program and sustaining success are both done by putting in work that might not always be fun or filled with glory. Coaching is not for the faint of heart – it requires a tremendous amount of energy, effort, and time. If you want to be successful, you must put in the work every day.
Be Willing to Learn: A long-time successful head coach once said, “If I ever get to the point in my career where I stop learning, I will stop coaching.” The more you learn about the game, the more you’ll understand how little you truly know. Be a sponge. Learn as much as you can. Your head coach is a great source for knowledge, but you may also learn from coaches who may have less experience than you. Take something from everyone. Although you might not always agree with other coaches, maintain an open mind and understand that there isn’t one right way to do things.
Find a Specialty: Find something you can do for the program that you can own. Develop a speciality in an area that can make a positive impact on the success of your team and program. Bring something special to the table. There are a variety of areas in which you can bring something special to a program. Some ideas include: team defense, shooting skill work, technology, scouting, organizing clinics, breaking down game film, creating a program newsletter, and more.
Communicate with the Head Coach: Whether you are the freshman head coach or the sophomore assistant, you need to make sure the head coach is aware of everything that is going on in his or her program. Don’t expect the head coach to solve all of your problems for you, but make sure that there are no surprises in the program.
Know Your Role: As a young coach, it is easy to let your ambition take over. Make sure you don’t overstep your bounds. Know what your role is in the program and fill it to your greatest ability. Do whatever the head coach asks of you and never forget that you are his/her assistant.
Have Self-Discipline: Be on time. Follow school and program rules and expectations. Follow through on what you’re asked to do. Carry yourself and represent the school and program in a positive way at all times. Make sure you exercise self-discipline in all that you do. Not only does it make you a better coach and help the program, it sets a great example for your players.
Give Suggestions: Find ways to contribute to the program when called to do so. Don’t be afraid to give suggestions and understand that there is a good chance the head coach might not use what you say. However, it is important to give another perspective, another idea, and another plan. Don’t take it personally if your idea gets shot down, and don’t gloat if it is used successfully.
Promote a Unified Message: Stay on message. Don’t contradict what the message of the program and the head coach is, even if you don’t completely agree with it. Successful programs have a unified message. As an under-level coach, stick to the program that is in place and prepare your players for varsity basketball. All disagreements among staff members should be discussed privately. Successful programs almost always act as one.