Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Expectations of an Assistant Coach

Posted by admin June - 19 - 2018 - Tuesday

Talking with coaches from 4-5 different states over the last 2 weeks, one of the most common concerns is finding quality assistant coaches. It seems fewer and fewer men are going into teaching careers; so finding a quality assistant coach who will be IN the school building is unlikely to occur.

I would caution you to do your due diligence before hiring someone today just because you have a position available. There are a lot of wannabe’s who think they know football AND how to coach kids. However, when it comes time to show up and perform the duties that the head coach wants done, “it’s too much trouble.” Or, “I don’t have time.” Or, “That’s beneath me.” When interviewing, I’d suggest finding out more about his work ethic and his character before I discussed how much football he knows.

There are things that a HC must expect his assistants to do as part of a staff. I used to break them down as “on-the-field” and “OFF-the-field” duties. For any operation/organization to run smoothly, everybody needs to pitch in and cooperate. I’d hire a guy who may have been lacking in football knowledge but wants to learn and, more importantly, wants to work.

Something else I’d establish early on when interviewing (and starting to work with) assistants were the expectations I had for them. I will mention a few key qualities here in a minute. If you would like the whole article, email me at and I’ll be glad to send it to you.
I printed up an entire sheet of “expectations.” One thing that I emphasized right off the bat was, I expected a LOT from myself; therefore, I expected a lot from my assistant coaches. Some people get hung on on others having “expectations” of them; but, in this case, when the assistants know that the HC is holding himself to a standard of excellence, it’s easier to accept that the assistant must live up to those same expectations. If they don’t like it, then maybe you hired the wrong guy!

The first thing I talked about to the staff was a Code of Conduct. These are those qualities that show how hard a guy is willing to work and how his behavior and attitude impact the entire program. Such things as arriving on time (and staying late), proper attire for practice and games and being loyal… to the program and to the HC are extremely important.

The second part of the Expectation Sheet dealt with Staff Organization. This laid out in general the responsibilities that assistant coaches were expected to carry out. From being involved during the Special Teams portion of practice (when a lot of assistants think it’s time to take a break!) to helping line the field… all of the duties assigned to an assistant are important. A head coach MUST learn to delegate! Yes, you could live with the old adage that “if you want something done right, do it yourself” but… it’s a recipe for burnout if you don’t delegate responsibilities to assistants. Give an assistant a responsibility. Make sure you teach him HOW you want it done. Check behind him. Correct him if anything could be done better and then… follow up to be sure that he’s doing it in a timely fashion.

One final point that I want to share is that I let assistants know is this adage: “The harder you work, the more responsibility you get!” I had an assistant once who rarely showed up for spring and summer workouts prior to preseason practice officially starting. Once he was there, he was the one with all the good ideas on how to run the program. He got upset because I wouldn’t give him a coordinator’s position. We had to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting where I reminded him of my adage. I asked him, “why do you think you deserve more responsibility when you’re rarely here?” His response, “Cuz the kids like me and I’m the coach with the most experience.” THAT didn’t sit too well with me. He was gone a few weeks later!

You need to communicate your expectations and you need to get them in writing so there’s no question about what assistants are supposed to be doing. If a problem arises, you’ve covered your butt. Finally, be ready to hold an assistant accountable. If he’s not performing his responsibilities, you need to have a conference with him. If he continues to come up short, it may be time to get rid of him. Just remember that next time you are interviewing a new candidate. There’s more to it than how much football he knows!

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