Like with any company that is successful you find the secret to their success by looking at their leadership. Phil Knight at Nike & Steve Jobs at Apple are both great examples of successful leadership. Leaders that have a vision and more importantly hold on to that vision ensure their companies success. Sure there are going to be setbacks, but holding the vision is what leads to success. What empowers the leaders to lead is they surround themselves with people that have similar beliefs and also the same vision. Rarely is there a successful company that doesn't have a successful Board of Directors making collective decisions.
This is the start of my 12th season as a coach. Nine of those I spent in the first chair as a Head Coach. The three years spent as an assistant have been for the same Coach in different locations. People ask if I miss being a Head Coach. Sure I do. While I think it is every Coaches' dream to be a Head Coach, I think the best place for a Coach is where he can be used to his fullest. Some Coaches find their place in the second or third chair. For me personally, I have a job in mind but at his point in my life I'm more concerned with my Wife and kids happiness than chasing any open job. If it is a good move for our family, then we discuss it. As a Head Coach you are responsible for the success of the program. As an Assistant you are responsible for making the Head Coach and the program a success. Here are my 3 main points about Successful Staffs.
#1 Everyone isn't singing the same note in a Perfect Harmony
Don't be a YES man. This goes for the Head Coach and the Assistant. Have an opinion in the appropriate setting. Discuss and question why things work or won't work. Head Coaches, Don't be a "Because I said so" type of leader. The Common Sense decisions are and should never be questioned. What should be discussed are things that can affect your win/loss column: Personnel, Offense and Defense situations, match-ups. It's okay for a staff to disagree. But when the door opens, that's where opinions have to die and whatever and whomsoever decision the staff is going with becomes the team's decision.
It's okay to have a Bad Cop/Good Cop as long as the Assistant isn't the Bad Cop. If this is the relationship, it won't work because realistically the Assistant doesn't have final say. Find a relationship that works.
#2 Define Roles and Responsibilities and Allow Them to be Done
I just have to sit back and laugh when you see an Assistant Football Coach named the Offensive Coordinator and the Head Coach is the one calling the plays. In my situation, I guess I'm the Special Teams Coordinator in that I call all BLOBs and SLOBs as an Assistant Coach.While I have other duties in games and practice, I have the responsibility of installing and ensuring success of all Out of Bounds plays. On of my in game duties is I coach On-The-Ball Defense. The main reason is this. Since only one Coach is allowed up, it is easier for the Head Coach to coach the Help Defense because he can move closer to them. I'm also over all our Strength and Conditioning due to my relationship with Alan Stein and my wife Paige being a trainer. I probably have more say than most Assistants in that (1) I've been a Head Coach and (2) my current Head Coach has an enormous amount of trust in me.
As a Head Coach, if you trust and empower your Assistants to take ownership of different aspects of the game, it gives you more freedom to manage the entire program. I attended a Duke practice two years ago. Coach Collins was on one end running drills team drills while Coach Wojciechowski was running another group and Coach Krzyzewski was observing both ends and making coaching points to players on both ends. The amount of work done and the amount of coaching being done was impressive. If Coach K didn't trust his staff, you would have had 3 coaches watching 5 players while 7 others stood and waited for their turn. Use the resources you have to their fullest.
#3 Choose Wisely
As an Assistant and a Head Coach, choosing a job should take a lot of consideration. As a Head Coach, are you going to be able to select your Assistant Coach or are you going to be forced to keep the previous one. This is a slippery slope because 9 out of 10 times the Assistant applied and didn't get the job and the 1 time he didn't apply he knows it's an awful job so why are you applying?! In most high school settings it is hard to demand that due to teacher contracts and limits on hiring. As an Assistant looking for a job, how well do you know the Head Coach? Are you going to be allowed to Coach or are you going to be the bus driver and laundry facilitator? While that is part of every job, ask what your responsibilities are going to be. Talk to previous Coaches, both Head and Assistant. Why did they leave?
Lastly, I'm at a point in my career where happiness is my number one decision maker. I am leery of open Coaching jobs, on any level, that say: "Basketball Coaching position. Must teach ....." Is this school looking for a Coach or a Teacher that also Coaches. While we all know that it is Student-Athletes we deal with, I've yet to see a newspaper article say " Home Team 40 Visiting Team 70 but Coach Whatshisname is doing a great job in Science."
That's a quick look at Basketball Staff. If you need or have any questions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will go into more detail with you about bench duties, practice duties and administrative duties.
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