There are a variety of directions to take the notion of “Becoming The Best Assistant.” At the end of this post are notes on the very same topic from Larry Shyatt while speaking at a coaching clinic a few years that is worth the read. Written below is the #1 attribute from an assistant during my time as a head coach, followed by my #1 objective as an assistant on staff.
As A Head Coach
The most important thing an assistant coach can bring to the table is dependability. There’s a lot on the table for coaches to consider, and the ability to effectively delegate is integral to program success. Dependability as the #1 attribute from assistants is very broad; however, head coaches often reveal what their top priorities are, and this may even differ from year to year. With my first shot as a head coach, my focal points centered around commitment and character. It was invaluable for anyone on staff to reinforce setting our standards. We were conscientious of thinking long-term, yet outwardly pushing to make the right decisions in the moment. After working to lay the foundation for core values and concepts the priorities then shift towards enhancing continuity, or regenerative learning with upperclassmen leading the younger kids. Our growth as a program relies on the dependency of the staff’s commitment to program priorities.
AS AN ASSISTANT
My objective is to connect with the players. Mind-blowing, I know, but this is my thought process:
- The more trust I have with the players the more I can potentially extract from them.
- It is the most direct way to impact program trajectory (e.g. player development)
- Players are the trend-setters for our sport (i.e. value system)
An assistant aims to bring added value, and the root of my responsibilities combine taking care of the players: on the roster now, appeal to future roster additions, and appreciating the roster that has played in the past. From a professional development standpoint consider how connecting with players lead to our growth as coaches. Daily interactions with players create training opportunities for leadership, emotional intelligence (EQ), and social situations. The best ability is availability, and if the players understand that I am always accessible as a rebounder, or at the very least a sounding board then I have the potential to help one of our players get better in some capacity that day. Finally, athletes today are the source for next generation expectations. What catches/keeps the kids attention? The players are the key stakeholder in any program, and subsequently can open the door for professional development to help us on our path to becoming the best assistant possible!
If you haven’t had the chance, I would highly recommend reading the notes from Larry Shyatt on “Shy’s Friendly Advice” for Assistant Coaches. Coach Shyatt spent seven seasons with the University of Florida under Head Coach Billy Donovan during the time the Gators won back-to-back championships.