9 Things to Look for in an Assistant Coach

assistant coach does this shirt make me look like a softball coach
assistant coach does this shirt make me look like a softball coach

Whether you’re paying your assistants or having to find volunteers, what’s important is that you find good ones.

You’re only as good as your assistants so discover how you can find the right ones.

Whether you’re looking for a pitching coach or just an all around assistant there are some very important factors you should be considering. The responsibilities of coaching are too enormous and overwhelming to do it all by yourself and any successful head coach will tell you that success is largely dependent on the quality of your assistant coaches.

Whether you are able to pay your assistant or you have to find a volunteer you’re still going to be asking a lot from this person so you want to make sure you get the absolute best person for the job. For those of you fortunate enough to be able to pay an assistant, it’s vital that you’re thorough in both your requirements as well as your search and hiring process since hiring an assistant is much easier than getting rid of one.

And for those of you having to use volunteers don’t be discouraged. People love being a part of something, being important to others and simply being asked so don’t let the fact that you can’t pay your assistant stop you from being picky about who you get.

I’ve seen and heard far too many horror stories about head coaches looking for assistants that simply went on one criteria – they wanted someone who either knew pitching or was an outstanding pitcher (or whatever skill they felt they needed help with). So they hire a person that fits that description and very quickly the whole thing goes south for a million other reasons and the head coach must eventually get rid of this assistant after the season has become a complete mess – and yet this person still posses the one criteria that was looked for: skill knowledge.

I know we can do a more thorough job of finding the people that will be in the foxhole with us helping us make important decisions throughout the course of the season. We want someone we can trust, but we also need to consider a list of 9 other factors as well.

Here’s my list of qualities I’d look for in an assistant coach, see what you think:

Volunteer, or Almost a Volunteer –

  1.  Availability – they’ve got to be able to be there on a consistent basis or else they aren’t going to help you or your players.

Volunteer or Paid Assistant –

  1. Dependability – just because they can come doesn’t mean they will, so you want someone who you can depend on to show up on a regular basis. That might not mean every single day, but it must mean whatever days you’ve worked out for them to be there. If you’re paying someone to be your assistant then dependability means you want them to show up for ALL the things they’re involved with and not just the basics. Make sure you’re hiring someone you can depend on to show up for weights, conditioning, study hall, extra workouts, etc… no matter what time or day of the week it is.

All Assistant Coaches, Paid or Volunteer –

  1. LOYALTY – this is a HUGE requirement! You want assistant coaches that support you as the head coach and aren’t trying to undermine you to the players, their parents or the administration. This doesn’t mean they won’t listen to and work with players, parents and administration but they are always doing so in a mind frame that is supportive of you as the head coach. Loyalty is so important it probably should be #1.
  1. Hard Working – coaching involves lots of long hours and unglamorous work and you want coaches that are willing to put in the work and not just get the attention and the “stuff”.
  1. Communication – you want someone who can relate to your players and who they can relate to. Age isn’t important but the ability to communicate is.
  1. Enthusiasm – I get better when you convince me I will so you want someone who’s enthusiastic and makes your players want to practice, want to improve and want to get through the tough days.
  1. Willingness to Learn – look for someone who is always trying to improve what they know. No matter how much or how little they currently know, you want someone on your staff who is always trying to improve their knowledge since you’re constantly asking your players to improve their skills.
  1. Pride – having pride in your work and caring about the quality of the job you do is a very important quality to have. There’s a BIG difference between doing a job and doing a good job. Surround yourself with people who want to do the best job possible, and who are willing to work hard enough to do their very best.
  1. Knowledge – this is really the last thing they need. Someone with all of the above qualities and a little skill knowledge will help your players a whole lot more than someone who knows a lot but is short on the other areas. Knowledge can be improved on much easier than the other qualities can be.

Remember that assistant coaches are your lifeline to success. Put a lot of time, and thought and research into who you ask into your inner-most circle. Make sure you aren’t spending more time picking players than you are assistant coaches.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list then do your homework and talk to their former coaches, ask around to see what others think of them, and then interview them yourself in a way that’s going to bring up any problems BEFORE they happen. Coaches, we work every day to make good decisions with our players and with our strategies – let’s do the same when it comes to hiring our assistant coaches.

For more help with coaching, and overall coaches training and education, check out our Coaching Certification Courses (great for individual coaches and softball organizations!):

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