Being a youth sports coach is a big responsability! You’ve got a lot of moving parts to keep track of and sometimes it’s hard to manage all on your own. That’s why assistant coaches are so important to a youth sports team! They may not carry the biggest clipboard on the field, but they are a critical component of any successful team.
Here are four things we feel are the job of the assistant coach:
1. Keep the kids moving at practice.
The best practices are the ones that keep the kids engaged and moving. It doesn’t matter how complicated or impressive looking your drills are, or how perfectly scripted your practice time is, if half the team is standing in a line for 20 minutes waiting their turn. An assistant coach can help the head coach run multiple drills at the same time so no one is left day dreaming in the outfield. Remember, the younger the players the worse their attention span is. If you think you can get 12 6 year-olds to stand in line for an hour you’re in for a big surprise!
2. Run interference between the head coach and the parents.
There is nothing worse than seeing a parent and coach get into a screaming match (except maybe a physical fight) on the field. It completely undermines everything we are supposed to teach our children through youth sports. An assistant coach can help run interference between the head coach and parents so a cooler head is in control of the situation. After all, as much as a coach may try to not take it personally, if a parent is screaming about what a terrible person they are, how unfair they are, how little they know about coaching, and so forth, it’s hard to not take it personally. An assistant coach can help calm everyone down before it gets out of hand.
Some teams actually make it so that the parents deal directly with the assistant coach when they have an issue (the head coach is kind of like the Wizard of Oz, no one talks to him!), and the assistant brings it up to the coach after the game/practice. The assistant coach acts as the representative for the parents, but they have the unique perspective of understanding what the coach is trying to do as well.
3. Organize the details.
This is especially important if you are the assistant coach for a travel team. There are a lot of little details to keep track of! For instance, you need to make sure everyone has their airline tickets squared away for the right flight. What if 1/2 of your team is arriving on a different flight? How many hotel rooms are you going to need? Someone needs to rent a van big enough for the whole team, make reservations at local restaurants, pack extra gear for when someone forgets theirs, and so forth. As the assistant coach you can help ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
4. Be an extra set of eyes and ears on the field.
Let’s be honest, when you’ve got a dozen kids running around one person simply can’t see it all or hear it all because they can’t physically be in two places at once. The assistant coach is there to be extra set of eyes and ears on the field and keep the kids safe. Is one child getting picked on by their teammates? Is a particular parent ragging on a player? Are there any signs of physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse that need to be reported? Even though you aren’t the head coach, the assistant coach is still responsible for the safety and well-being of their players. Imagine how many young lives could have been saved if an assistant coach at Penn State got on to what Sandusky was doing sooner and reported it?