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Hiring a coaching staff is key to both short and long term success for any athletic program. I spent eight years a head coach before moving in to athletic administration. Hiring assistant coaches was one of my favorite parts of being a Head Coach because I saw it as an opportunity for our program to get better.
As an Athletic Director, there aren't many things more important than hiring Head Coaches. At both schools where I worked as an Athletic Director, we set a school record for most championships won in one season. A major part of this success was the coaches I brought in.
Here are some keys to hiring great assistant coaches.
Cast a wide net
Many coaches just try to hire by word of mouth. I think this is lazy, and I question if the Head Coach really wants what is best for their program. I do understand that you want to hire via trusted associates and friends, but this mentality makes your pool of candidates smaller.
I've always believed that the most effective way to get the best coaches is by casting a wide net. Yes, it will make more work for you to effectively communicate with the correspondence that you'll get. There are so many websites out there now for you to place a "Coach Wanted" ad, take advantage of the technology available to make your pool wide and deep to find the best candidates.Be Specific In Your Job Announcement
I spoke with a NCAA D3 Head Coach who recently received 250 resumes in a TWENTY FOUR period for a simple Assistant Coach position. 250! He placed an advertisement on Football Scoop for the position. I gave him this suggestion to minimize his work next time. "Next time you hire a coach, write this in the advertisement: ‘Put Go Chargers - Coaching Candidate' in the subject line. All emails without this in the subject line will be deleted."
This will eliminate about half of your emails. Half of the coaches won't follow this first, simple instruction that you, the head coach, give them. Is this someone you want on your staff? Someone who can't follow this simple directive is not someone you want on your staff. So, you casted a very wide net on as many websites as you could, and then cut that list of candidates to the most organized and effective ones. Use Your Staff To Help Narrow Down The Candidates
The right fit is huge. You might find a tremendous quarterbacks coach. But if he is arrogant, and or doesn't get along with your staff already in place, what good will he be to you?
I've always found that a collaborative approach to hiring is beneficial to everyone. Getting more eyes and ears on those resumes than just yours, as well as having them make reference calls, will help your staff find the best coach. If the Head Coach is the only one making the hire, it will be more difficult on him on several levels if that hire doesn't go well. Put Your Candidates On The White Board First
When it comes time to interview your top candidates, have them start on the whiteboard. This is something I started to do as an Athletic Director when I hired Head Coaches. It was a game changer when i started doing this. Some very highly recommended coaches were not good on the whiteboard. A few times, we ended the interview early when a coach failed that part of the interview. Once you're satisfied that they are a match x and o wise, move on to the rest of your interview. 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.