Video: Marcus Fulcher's highlights coaching clinic
Watch the hallmarks of good coaching and communicating.
In April, 2015 I surveyed 183 Head Coaches from all over America. Ninety-eight percent of the coaches were in the high school ranks, with just 2 percent being from college. I asked them many questions about their assistant coaches, and how those coaches can better serve the program.
I was a head coach from 2003-2011 in private sector (small schools) here in Southern California. Currently, I serve as the varsity special teams coordinator at Sultana High School (a large public school) in Hesperia, Calif. There is no doubt that my time as a head coach has made me a better assistant today.
From all of the responses from my survey, mixed with my background as a head coach, I've developed the top 7 Keys To Being A Great Assistant Coach. (These are in no particular order.)1. Find some way to bring value to the program
Take charge of something that needs to be done without the head coach having to delegate it. What needs to be done that you can do? Surely there is something. What are you passionate about and good at doing within the program? I'm a "stats guy." I like numbers and stats. We had a coach who managed the stat girls who is no longer with the program. So, without even asking the head coach his permission, I simply took over this aspect of our program. It's a way that I bring value to the program, and solve a problem: managing the stat girls, ensuring their accuracy, submitting the stats to Max Preps, and keeping our database.2. Do the little things that need to be done
There are so many things that need to happen in every football program. Just one practice holds a list of tasks: hydration, setting up the field, cleaning up the field, supervising the locker room, locking up, putting together the practice schedule, creating the wristbands, communicating with teachers about grades, etc. etc. etc. Who is "in charge" of all of this? The head coach. How does it all happen? The assistants. Take some of these off the plate of the head coach, take ownership of them. Be the guy who gets his hands dirty, no job is too small.3. Become an expert
Another way to put this is: Be a pro! Never stop learning. If you coach defensive backs, become the best defensive backs coach in your league, conference and state. Your head coach wants experts on his staff. You might not be one now, but you can become an expert at coaching your position. The more experts who are on the staff, the better the program will be.4. Know your role
Remember, you are an assistant coach. You are not the head coach. Be careful not to overstep your bounds. Your role is to be a loyal assistant to your boss. You might totally disagree with a part of the program, the direction of the program, how your boss conducts practice. None of that matters! It is not your program. Know your role, accept your role and become great at your role.5. Don't just be a "yes person"
Head coaches don't want all of their coaches to sit around the table saying "yes, yes, yes." They want what is best for the program. They want to improve the program. And they don't always have the answers. This is where assistants come in. When the head coach asks for input, or when the door opens for you to give your input, do it. If you disagree with something, or have an idea to make something better, express that. Just remember, if your boss doesn't like it, he's the boss!6. Be dependable
The last thing that a head coach needs is to babysit his own assistants. If you say that you're going to do something for the program, do it, period. Make it happen. There were not many things more frustrating to me as a head coach as when an assistant tried to take something off my plate, and then either failed to do it, or did a bad job at it. Be on time, be prepared, and leave no doubt in the head coach's head that you will be who you say you will be.7. Be hungry
Take the bull by the horns. Take ownership for the position you're coaching, the side of the ball you're coaching, a special team, fundraising, program management or equipment. Be proactive to make the program better by having an appetite for success! Demonstrate to your boss that you want what is best for the program by taking initiative on a year round basis.
If you practice these seven keys to being a great assistant coach, you will take some great steps to be a positive, effective and valuable person to both the program and your head coach.Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.