Any thriving organization is often driven by its employees; however, it is the decision-making from executive leadership that can derail any potential for sustainable competitiveness. There are too many instances to count where a superior product or an enviable team of talent fail to meet expectations because of a lack of direction, discipline, or collective execution. This is why building the right staff for any athletic program can make all the difference between a championship or consolation.

Start Internal

The first step to hiring the right staff starts by looking in the mirror. From a head coaching perspective, perform an internal audit on a variety of categories that can impact program success. Answer a couple of questions: what are my strengths and where could I improve. This exercise hopes to reveal the potential missing pieces to the puzzle in pursuit of building a championship program of integrity.

Some categories to consider for self-assessment include:

  • Personality
  • *Capability (Instruction/Direction)
  • *Capacity (Problem Solving)
  • Investment
  • Situational Philosophy
*Find the 4:50 mark for the capability vs capacity discussion*

Identify: Fit, Roles, & Relationships

After filtering through internal feedback, roles and preferable profiles will begin to materialize. Whatever the methodology is for the interview process, the objective stays the same to find the best overall fit based on combining the aforementioned balance of personality, skill-set, and acumen. An example can be as specific as seeking an assistant that operates with a constant level of high energy to complement the head coach with a relatively low pulse. Or finding the potential Swiss Army knife for smaller budget programs that can produce marketing material for mailouts and teach a couple classes per semester, all while cultivating personal relationships in talent-rich regions to get prospective recruits on campus. Regardless of what the position available is on staff, it is important to be clear what the expectations are for the job opportunity and communicate how their role will provide added value to the overall program success.

From all of these discussions, the likeliest fit tends to emerge from those that leave an impression for their potential to establish positive relationships, not only amongst the staff but more importantly with the players. If employees drive organizational success, then players win championships. And to build a winning staff, all members are responsible for the success of their student-athletes and are to be the number one priority.

after HIRING the staff

It is the head coach’s responsibility to foster an environment of trust, development, and direction. The self-audit should be done intentionally to identify qualified applicants that can complement each other in a staff meeting, or during time-outs. Putting people in a position to be successful by emboldening their strengths, yet working to continuously develop them professionally can facilitate said trust. This will trickle down to the players seeing the coaching staff in situations where they are most confident reinforcing carved out roles within the program.

Yet, not everyone, wants to be labeled as the scout, or the recruiter. Almost every assistant is investing their time in your program to help put themselves in a position to one-day lead a program of their own. This is also a head coach’s responsibility to connect with the staff to find areas for professional development. It could be related to anything from media training to practice planning.

A winning locker room often dismisses the relationships cultivated inside the offices. Coaching inherently takes sacrifices; whether that comes in the form of time, travel, or role. The chemistry amongst the staff bleeds into the fabric of the jerseys worn by the players because as soon as there are frustrations within those locker rooms, typically, the first person to hear of it outside of a teammate is an assistant coach. It could be the G.A. during rebounding from after practice shootarounds, or the lone assistant – likely doing the exact same thing because that’s often what it takes. But, when a disgruntled player or anyone with mixed emotions speaks up, is the entire staff going to be on the same page to respond with support, yet reinforce the same values as the head coach?

Building a winning staff should be a calculated set of decisions. First, by performing a self-audit to reveal preferred profiles for positions on staff to target. Then, actively participate during the interview process to effectively vet applicants to find the right fit for the appropriate roles available. After being hired, it is incumbent upon the head coach to optimize from the personnel on staff to play to their strengths collectively working towards a winning brand of basketball!


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