Most coaches in a youth sports league are moms and dads that have volunteered. Some of them may have played sports their whole lives, while others are stepping in at the last minute so the team can be formed, even if they don’t have that much experience. But when you are dealing with a dozen or so 8 year olds even the most experienced coaches could use a little help! That’s where the assistant coach comes into play. We’ve talked several times about what makes a good sports coach versus a bad coach, and while many of the same characteristics can also apply to assistant coaches there are three things we wanted to add to the list of what makes a great assistant coach:
1. Take initiative.
There is no way the head coach can be in three places at once. That’s why sports teams need assistant coaches to make sure nothing slips through the cracks and no one is standing around. Come up with drills and fun, competitive games for practices. Keep an eye on players that are struggling with certain fundamentals and pull a small group together to work on those skills specifically. Arrive early and help the head coach set up the field; stay late to help clean up. The assistant coach can make all the difference in how the team is run by how much they are willing to do.
2. Be honest with the head coach.
Just because you signed up to be the assistant coaches that doesn’t make you a “yes man” to the head coach. You are still entitled to your own opinion and can most certainly voice those opinions! If you have an idea that can help better streamline practices, speak up! If parents are coming to you with concerns have a conversation with the head coach. You’re allowed to disagree with the head coach, just make sure you stay calm and try not to argue in front of the players. You want to present a united front to your team and work out any issues off the field.
3. Remember you are still a coach!
Do your players refer to you as “Assistant Coach?” Probably not, right? Even if you are “just” the assistant coach you are still one of the adults in charge and therefore “Coach.” Your attitude, your enthusiasm (or lack thereof), and how you carry yourself on and off the field still influences your team. You are still responsible for the safety and well-being of your players, as well as their development as youth athletes. The head coach can’t be everywhere at once so sooner or later you’ll be running drills with ½ the team. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes an assistant coach to run a youth sports team.
Remember assistant coaches, you are just as important as the head coach when it comes to the success of the team so if you’re not sure you can handle the responsibility then maybe being part of the coaching squad isn’t for you. Parent-volunteers are usually welcome and appreciated by coaches, but it isn’t as strong a commitment as stepping up to be an actual coach, assistant or otherwise.
Also please remember that if you are a coach, head or otherwise, you can’t just focus on your own child and their athletic success. As a coach you are responsible for the development of another dozen plus players and they all deserve equal attention!