Sometimes motivating your players is challenging enough but what about your assistant coaches? Just like you need a plan to motivate your players – your assistants need to be motivated as well. The following are some helpful tips to consider.
- Permit them to contribute in a meaningful way. Give them definite responsibilities, not busy work or menial tasks that you wouldn’t do yourself.
- Set a good example for them. Work harder than your assistants. The reasons for this should be obvious.
- Set high expectations for them. For example, you have every right to expect and require that your assistants be on time, properly dressed and fully prepared for practices, games, meetings, etc. Expect them to shoulder their share of the load without complaint or excuse. If they are serious about coaching they won’t mind hard work or long hours. Remember, just like you – your assistants also set an example for your players.
- Communicate with them. Ask their advice, listen; and evaluate. You don’t have to follow your assistants’ suggestions in every case, but you should be willing to listen and evaluate – and to use their advice if it is sound, or explain to them how or why their advice is unsound.
- Include your assistants in your strategy sessions and the decision-making process, whether as contributors or as learners. If you decide not to use a particular piece of advice or strategy suggested by an assistant coach, you should take time later to explain why his or her advice was not used. Also, think of your assistants as future head coaches. Teach them the game – the more on board they are with your philosophies the more valuable they will be in communicating with your players and team.
- Don’t blame your assistant coaches for defeats. As the head coach you are fully responsible for the performance of your team.
- Share the credit for victories. Great coaches understand success is a result of your team and staff efforts. That’s part of the gig – take blame for the failures and share the glory when your team is successful.
- Try to avoid criticizing your assistant coaches in public, or correcting them in front of players. It is best to take an assistant aside and talk to them in private about issues or problems rather than to air your complaints in public. And never let players criticize an assistant coach.
- Back up decisions made by your assistant coaches. Don’t take the player’s side in a confrontation. Hopefully, of course, it won’t come to that sort of impasse. If you ever have to make such a choice, though, professionalism dictates that you side with your assistant coach, regardless of whether he’s right or not. You can always point out your assistant coach’s error when the two of you are alone and away from the player(s) involved.