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Encouraging Your Assistant Coaches

There seems to be endless amounts of advice when it comes to understanding and motivating your athletes. But athletes aren’t the only important people in your program. It’s also necessary to work with your assistants in a way that motivates them to grow and coach their best.

In a blog for Sports Coaching Associates, Founder and CEO Jason Hoseney offers a few tips on how to inspire your assistant coaches. First, he suggests giving them the chance to significantly contribute to the team. This means giving them responsibilities beyond things like tedious office tasks and taking stock of uniforms. Instead, allow them to work directly with the athletes.

Allowing assistants a bigger role on the team also means including them in important conversations. According to Hoseney, this could mean asking for their presence during decision-making processes as well as when you are planning your strategy either for practice or an upcoming competition. Of course, there will be times when your final decision doesn’t match their opinions.

“If you decide not to use a particular piece of advice or strategy suggested by an assistant coach, you should take time later to explain why his or her advice was not used,” writes Hoseney. “Also, think of your assistants as future head coaches. Teach them the game – the more on board they are with your philosophies the more valuable they will be in communicating with your players and team.”

Whether you use their ideas or not, constant communication is important in motivating your assistant coaches. And Hoseney recommends not being stuck in your own ways—instead, be open to asking for advice, take your assistants’ opinions and insights into consideration, and utilize their advice if deemed appropriate.

No matter what, there will be times when you disagree with a decision that an assistant coach makes. Instead of challenging their direction in front of your players, Hoseney recommends having a conversation in private about your concerns. And even when you disagree, Hoseney stresses the importance of backing up your assistant coaches and not allowing the athletes to criticize them.

“Don’t take the player’s side in a confrontation,” writes Hoseney. “Hopefully, of course, it won’t come to that sort of impasse. If you ever have to make such a choice, though, professionalism dictates that you side with your assistant coach, regardless of whether he’s right or not. You can always point out your assistant coach’s error when the two of you are alone and away from the player(s) involved.”

Next, Hoseney suggests setting and sticking to high expectations for your assistant coaches, just as you do for the athletes. One way to do this is to set a good example for them by following your own standards to an even higher level.

“For example, you have every right to expect and require that your assistants be on time, properly dressed and fully prepared for practices, games, meetings, etc,” writes Hoseney. “Expect them to shoulder their share of the load without complaint or excuse. If they are serious about coaching they won’t mind hard work or long hours. Remember, just like you – your assistants also set an example for your players.”

When it comes to the game itself, Hoseney says it’s important for head coaches to take responsibility when their team does not perform well.  This means not placing all of the blame for a mistake or lost match on your assistant coaches. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Hoseney explains that motivating your assistant coaches includes giving them some of the credit when your team does well.

Click here to read the full article.

“Great coaches understand success is a result of your team and staff efforts,” writes Hoseney. “That’s part of the gig – take blame for the failures and share the glory when your team is successful.”

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