Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

For: Assistant Coaches

Posted by admin November - 17 - 2009 - Tuesday

The question has been posed to me from a young assistant coach: what do you recommend that I do to best prepare myself to become a head coach one day?
I would offer 4 key things that any assistant coach needs to be doing to achieve this goal:
1- be a LOYAL assistant! No HC wants to feel like he has assistants who are “after his job!” Nor do you want to labeled as someone who does not adhere to his philosophy. Your head coach needs to know that you “have” his back and will support him on the staff, around the school and in the community. You don’t want to develop a reputation as being an assistant who doesn’t exhibit loyalty to his head coach. Trust me… word gets around about what kind of character you possess. When it’s time for interviewing for that head job, you want your current head coach to give you a ringing endorsement! You may not agree with everything that he does, but your HC deserves your respect and support. If you can’t do that, you need to find another staff to work on.
2- Volunteer… for all of the “grunt work” around the locker room and coach’s office. There’s nothing like learning from the ground floor up. The more tasks you learn to perform, the better off you’ll be when you get the chance to run a program. Knowledge of these things (inventorying equipment, ordering new equipment, setting up and running the off-season strength and speed program, etc.) will be invaluable experience for you when the time comes that you are the head man. Be recognized as a “can do” kind of coach.
3- Be a “student of the game.” Learn as much football as you can from as many different sources as possible. One thing I challenge any coach to do is to be able to effectively coach ALL positions on the field! You limit yourself if you take the attitude of “I’m a line coach and always will be.” This will hurt your knowledge base when you are in charge. One of the key points that I point out in my book is that the HC needs to “coach the coaches.” If the HC lacks the knowledge of how to coach, for example, defensive backs, then how can he teach a new coach how he wants the secondary to be coached? Attend clinics, visit with other coaches, read books, buy coaching videos. Be prepared!
Finally 4- Interview… as much as possible. You don’t want to gain the reputation of being a guy who just interviews and then turns down the “bad job” when offered! But getting yourself in front of search/hiring committees is invaluable experience. Fielding questions, exhibiting the proper body language and just getting comfortable “selling” yourself to these people is helping you develop valuable knowledge about yourself and the hiring process.
Like coaching itself, the key is “proper preparation.” When your time comes to take over a program, you want to possess the tools to be off to a fast start.
Finally, be prepared for some disappointment. Many times you may feel like you are the best candidate for a job yet someone else with, say, less experience gets hired! There are many reasons why an individual gets hired… many of them beyond your control. All I can tell you is to be patient and continue to develop a strong resume. Your chance will come and you want to be ready. Good luck!

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