Many times I have referenced Coach Neighbors’ UW Basketball Newsletter. Hopefully you have signed up for it.
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Coach Neighbors provided some very good thoughts and insight on the qualities or traits of being a really good assistant coach. He knows, he lives it every day.
Below, I will paste his ideas from the newsletter and also add in my thoughts and some examples, IN ITALICS, as coach has asked us all to do. If you think of good examples please add them by way of comments and I will make sure they get back to Coach Neighbors… or better yet, sign up for his newsletter and add them directly to him yourself.
WELL COACHEDwork in progress by Mike Neighbors, UW Women’s Basketball
I have been gathering ideas and thoughts on being a good assistant coach throughout the year and am about ready to turn (it) into a piece like the WELL COACHED piece I mentioned above. (refer to Coach Neighbors’ March 22nd Newsletter for the Well Coached piece.) So, if you have some thoughts on this topic I would love for you to send them to me and we will work into the piece.
Here are some things I have jotted down… some are from personal experience, others are from Kevin Eastman, Bob Starkey, and other coaches I follow on blogs:
I have also taken a huge interest in the TV SHOW the WEST WING and the “assistant coaches to the President” that the show develops so well. Every staff needs a Leo, Josh, CJ, and Toby… if you don’t watch the show you won’t get that reference… but I would recommend it to anyone in a role as a leader or as an assistant.
These are in no particular order yet… just ramblings… but I do believe that I have simplified all of them to fit into three categories that I think all assistant coaches should strive to attain. I also believe they are qualities that most head coaches look for in hiring assistants…
TRUST… TALENT… TIME
– I have a personal goal to make sure my head coach get’s home to his/her family by giving them confidence things can be handled around the office in their absence.
– Weeds the garden for the head coach.
* Figuratively, by cleaning up everything you can around the team, office, etc… for the head coach. Maybe he means litterally. I once had to go to my head coaches home at 1:20 AM when the coach came back from recruiting to crawl under the garage door (it was stuck), in a driving rain storm and pull the release so the head coach could drive in the garage without waking their family. Yes, the head coach was sitting in the driveway, in front of the door when they called. I didn’t bat an eye. I was in the car and at the head coaches house in 15 minutes and stayed until I repaired the door.
– Takes a bullet with players, media, administration, recruit, etc from time to time
*This is the foundation of LOYALTY. Our profession is rooted in loyalty. It’s not your program, it’s the program of the school or organization you are with and your head coach. Everything we do is in protection of those two entities. Easy examples: Gossip. Don’t do it. You are at the Final Four and people are talking about your head coach, your players… don’t perpetuate the hype. Protect your players, protect your school and above all – protect your head coach.
– Be willing to do things the head coach doesn’t like to do
*You will know right away what these things are. Mental note… YOU make sure those things get done first by you.
– Learn your craft and advance in your area of responsibility
*Grow the game is growing your own knowledge base. Try to find one thing a week that you don’t like or are not good at and learn it. It doesn’t matter from who. Never get too big to learn. Learning occurs where ego and selfishness ends. We can learn from anyone at any time if we let ourselves.
– Evaluates during game/practice… emotions are in check
*Arguably one of the greatest challenges for any competitive person. When you invest your love of learning into your team and the teaching of the game – unsuccessful events can lead to negative emotions. Focus on the process and not the outcome. Focus helps to control emotion.
– Make your point but never argue it
*WOW… Is this a great teaching and learning point. Being able to recoganize the difference between making your point, supporting your point and arguing your point. IF you are fortunate to work for a head coach that values your opinion and the professional debate, be extremely careful not to walk over that line by interjecting the emotion of arguing into the mix. Professional debate is healthy. Emotional arguing leads to conflict and erodes trust.
– Puts in the time to learn
– Understands every aspect of the program even though it my not require your attention
*This is HUGE. So many assistants say, “that’s not my area.” Learn it, make it a strength and jump in to help any where you can.
– Anticipate needs
– Enjoy what you are doing while working toward what you want to be doing.
*The Jeff and Stan Van Gundy rule: Do the job you have each day like it is the first day on the last job you will ever have…
– Make the big time where you are
– Prepare every day like YOU were running the practice
– Take things off their desk by dealing with them before they get to head coaches
*Don’t be asked to do something. The more you take off their desk, the more faith and trust you build and the more valuable responsibility you have.
– Pyramid messaging… echo the words and message of HC
*ONE THEME… many voices.
– Enforce the culture of the program
*Building “Standards of Behavior” is establishing a culture. Be a steward to the culture each day. Make it part of who you are, not just something you do or something you tolerate. IF you don’t, during times of the greatest stress your true beliefs will come through: negative or positive.
– Keep a change of clothes in the office for any occasion
*Keep an extra staff shirt, tie, scarf, etc… of your head coaches in your office just in case.
– Find a place in the gym you can sleep if needed
– Gather information
*Life long learning.
– Always have directions
*Never trust a GPS completely. Have a back up to the back up. Your one chance to make a first impression can be ruined by something as simple as printing out a set of directions.
Mistakes will happen. Own them. Be responsible and accountable to them, then… get over them. Move on and learn from them so they do NOT happen a second time.
– Have them over prepared
– Be an energy giver not taker
– Never let them be surprised… nothing gets passed my door and into his
– Remember it’s NOT your team
*AMEN. It is the school’s and head coaches team. We are all entrusted to lead and serve these two entities.
– Add value
– Positive body language
– Be ready to speak
– Bring solutions to every problem
*Don’t bring problems looking for solutions.
I am going to expand and try to give examples of each. So if you have ones to add to the piece and have time also share a way in which it has applied to a specific situation. Thanks in advance for your help.
Thanks coach! As you always do… GROW THE GAME!