Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Finding Quality Assistant Coaches

Posted by admin March - 13 - 2018 - Tuesday

It has become a bit of a problem in our area. I hope it isn’t the same where you are. But finding (and keeping) quality coaches is becoming difficult. There are too many guys who think because they watch the NFL Network “talking heads” or Mike and Mike in the morning (is that show still on??!!) that they are qualified to coach high school football! Or, in some cases, they are kinda like those guys who come out for the football team cuz all they want to do is “wear the jersey to school on Friday!” They simply have no idea of the time that is required to become a great coach and to make the program the success that everyone wants it to be. They want to be “seen” but don’t want to put in the work.

If you are a head coach and you’re looking for assistants, you might consider a couple of these points that I want to make for you.

First, see if you already have enough coaches… and can promote one of them. I see a lot of staffs on Friday nights that look like an “army” on the sideline. I wonder what all of them are doing during the game? What do they contribute during the week? You may want to consider cutting down on the number of assistants that you have. Look at one of those young guys as someone you can give more responsibility to.

If you do interview guys from outside the program, I think it’s important to get to know them as “people” before you start talking coaching knowledge and experience. What about his family life? Is he currently working full time? Knowing a man’s character before you hire him is vital. Let him meet some of your current staff. Watch how they interact. You want someone who will fit in with your existing coaches.

I recall a young man who I interviewed for an assistant position. He was (to put it mildly) “full of himself” during the interview! I purposely set up the interview time so we’d be done just in time to start one of our summer workouts. I invited him to hang around and watch us work with the kids. He interacted with some of the coaches and talked to a few of the players during the next hour. I was blown away by his comments as we walked in from the field! He began to tell me how many things HE would do differently! He didn’t like this and he’d improve that. Whaaaaat??? I’m no coaching genius but we’d done fairly well working within the system we’d been using. Now this young coach with one year of coaching experience was “schooling” me on how I should be conducting our program. Needless to say when I later asked the other coaches what they thought of this candidate… all I got was a bunch of “raised eyebrows” and shakes of the head! No! Heck NO!!!

If you find a coach with limited experience and knowledge but has a strong work ethic and a positive personality, you can “coach this coach.” It becomes the HC’s responsibility to educate his assistants. Private tutoring sessions are the best way to teach him. If this isn’t possible, make sure he’s attending all staff meetings and is on the field during spring and summer workouts.

Finally, the topic of loyalty must be discussed. It gets back to the reason that this candidate is in the coaching profession in the first place. If he’s in it for himself, you’re going to have problems. As a former assistant used to remind me… “check your ego at the door!” You need assistants who are going to support you…. especially if things aren’t going well. A coach who is going to cut your down behind your back is NOT who you want on your staff. If you get an inkling of this happening, it’s time to call that coach in for a private conversation. It always comes back to character.

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