Building Your Coaching Staff Chemistry #1 – Characteristics of a Good Coach

By Scott Rosberg

Do you have great chemistry on your coaching staff? Do you have positive, working relationships with everyone? How about your overall athletic department? Do all the coaches in the entire program work together in a spirit of collegiality, selflessness, and servant-leadership? Is everyone on the same page trying to help all kids in all programs have a positive athletic experience?

This is the first in a series of posts on developing great chemistry on your coaching staff. These posts come from my new eBook and new workshopcalled “Building Your Coaching Staff Chemistry.” I will also be turning the workshop into an online course later this year or early next year.

“Building Your Coaching Staff Chemistry” is written to help coaches, athletic directors, and league directors create positive working relationships among their coaches. It is written first and foremost for specific sport coaching staffs to develop better working relationships. This is the largest section, and it is based upon my two most popular booklets, “A Head Coach’s Guide for Working with Assistants” and “The Assistant Coach’s Guide to Coaching” and my most-requested hour-long presentation, “The Head Coach/Assistant Coach Relationship: Learning to Work Together.”

I found that with both of the booklets and the presentation, people wanted more. So I combined the two booklets into this one book. However, I have added new sections and a lot more information. As for the presentation, one hour just wasn’t enough. I had to race through the presentation, and even then I could only briefly touch on many of the specific topics. So I have turned it into a 3-hour interactive workshop where coaches have a chance to work together through breakout sessions to start or continue to improve the working relationships they have with one another.

Finally, I have an added an entire section on the importance of athletic departments building positive relationships with each other and some strategies for doing so. This is exciting for me, as I have noticed that coaches all across the country often talk about some issues or problems they are having with coaches of other teams in their athletic department. As a former athletic director, I know all-too-well how prevalent these kinds of situations are in athletic departments. This book and workshop are designed to start the process of working through the various challenges that these situations bring. The eBook is now available and can be ordered at my new website – For those of you who are interested in finding out more about the workshop for your staff, email me at

Characteristics of a Good Coach – Character

There are a variety of characteristics that all coaches need, whether they are a head coach, assistant coach, or volunteer coach. Between the two chapters in the book devoted to the characteristics of a good head coach and a good assistant coach, we discuss thirteen of these important characteristics for coaches to have.

One of the characteristics that we discuss in both chapters is probably the most important characteristic of all for good coaches to possess – good character. Everything starts and ends with character. If you are in a leadership position, people are not just following your words. They are following your actions and they are following your example. If you do not live your life with great character and integrity, people will not follow you for very long.

As a coach it is absolutely imperative that you are a person of good character. You have a lot of people taking their cues from you. Most importantly, you have your players looking to you for guidance on how to live. They are young and impressionable. They are trying to figure out how to make their way in the world, what it means to be a human being on the planet. The most common way they figure out how to do that is by watching adults.

Consider what young people are learning about human behavior from the various people with whom they are engaged. Film stars, musicians, professional athletes, reality TV stars, Instagram celebrities, and many others who are not necessarily at the top of the list when it comes to displaying great character are teaching young people what it means to be human (and the lessons young people are learning can be downright scary).

The adult leaders in young people’s lives must teach a different lesson. They must show the young people that living life with integrity is the most important thing because at the end of the day, your integrity is all you have. It tells the world exactly who you are.

If you are a leader of great integrity, you model for young people what that means and how to live that way themselves. Obviously, if you do not have great character and integrity, they learn that from you, too. Think of all the different leaders in the world that young people have seen throughout their lives. What message are they receiving from these people? Hopefully, it is one of positive intent and great character. However, there are certainly leaders that young people are seeing who are not demonstrating great character. It is up to us then to provide them with one more clear-cut example of how to be a person of integrity.

For head coaches, another important group that you impact with your character and integrity is your staff of assistant coaches. By demonstrating character and integrity in your life, you set the example for how to be a leader and coach in your program.

Assistant coaches take their cues from the head coach. Their role is to assist you in developing the culture of your program. If you are leading with integrity, they will feel the responsibility to follow suit. You can also demand it of them should they fall short at times. However, if you are not living with integrity yourself, it is hard to turn around and demand it of others. You can try, but you will not have them with you for very long. Lead with honor so that you create a staff that leads with honor.

Also, consider that as every move and decision that a head coach makes is helping to develop the assistant coaches, each of those decisions are helping the assistant coaches lead their staffs of assistants when they become head coaches themselves. Head coaches are not just teaching skills and strategies in this moment or this year to win games. They are leading programs of people who will go out into the world and take the lessons they have learned and applied them in their own lives, and that includes their assistant coaches. Just like our kids learn how to be adults by watching adults, assistant coaches learn to become head coaches by watching head coaches. What are your assistants seeing and learning from you when it comes to leading with character and integrity?

Character is the foundation for all good programs. But character doesn’t just happen. It takes coaches who are people of character that commit to teaching, instilling, and modeling great character for their programs to become model programs of character. Be intentional about leading your teams with great character so that they will become teams of great character.

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Teaching and Coaching have been two of my greatest passions since I began my career over 30 years ago. I have always believed that as coaches, we are teachers just like any classroom teacher. However, we are entrusted with so much more than just teaching skills and techniques of our specific sports. We are role models, counselors, and educators of the many life lessons that sports can teach young people. Therefore, it is imperative that we intentionally work to teach those lessons to our athletes. You can find more articles like this at:
August 1, 2017 – Foto IPPAndrea Oldani.Trento, 30072017.Basket Trentino Cup, Nazionale Italiana di Pallacanestro.Italia – Olanda .Nella foto l’allenatore della Nazionale di basket Italiana, Ettore Messina.Italy Photo Press – World Copyright (Credit Image: � Italy Photo Press via ZUMA Press)