Head Coach Roles: Coaching Your Assistant Coaches

This is part of a series on head coaching roles. Coaching your assistant coaches is an extremely important role as a head coach. Your assistants need to be an extension of you and cannot if you don’t guide them there.

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If you’re anything like me you have a young coaching staff with college or recent college grads and they are enthusiastic and energized but need some direction with all of that caffeinated youthful exuberance (that was as wordy as anyone should ever be about football). I believe that we have a clear set of duties as a head coach and safety is first and foremost. From there it’s coaching your assistants to be good coaches.


So what can you do with these 18-23 year old novice coaches? You need to teach them everything. Everything everything. Here is a list of important things an assistant needs to be told:

  1. You can never over-emphasize that the players are not their friends. They just aren’t. I tell them: you aren’t cool, you’re a tool for them to start/get the ball more (there’s a Sopranos where Carmella tells Tony he doesn’t have friends just cronies). This is a hard lesson for young guys, especially alumni.
  2. Nothing said in the meeting room EVER leaves. Not even for girlfriends, mom, roommates, etc. I use Coachspeak (not my upcoming podcast) on my dad. The guy lives next to an opposing team’s QB and his chatty father. God only knows what he’ll say after a few beers and a rum or two.
  3. Social media is on lock down. They can have it, but never post about the school/program and never friend/like/swipe right on: parents, teachers, coaches, players, media, etc. It must all be on private.
  4. If anyone e-mails them re the program or vice versa, they must CC you on a reply. They don’t e-mail or text anyone first, ever.
  5. No texting with players. Force them to get an e-mail address. Then you can CC it. It’s called C Y A.
  6. They need to take their school/program gear off before going out drinking.
  7. It’s like Mr. Burns with Don Mattingly on that Simpsons softball episode: their appearance can never be too square (I’m sorry for having long hair for those years Coach Flath). Their appearance is vital for credibility and a ZZ Top beard and man (douche) bun ain’t gonna cut it. Seriously. You don’t look cool- you’re a grown ass man.
  8. Tell these young jokers about Coach Huey, Joe Daniel Football, my blog, and other resources. It’s your job to also tell them to not post their 2 cents- just read and nod, then come ask you questions.
  9. Provide them with resources- I own a Coaches Choice DVD for every position group. I own a ton of coaching books. They can learn drills that maybe I don’t even teach them from there, I also buy them a Glazier pass every year.
  10. Give them a little 1-page primer on what to say, what not to say, what’s important, what’s not important, how to dress, their daily responsibilities (ex. Hudl, ball bag, locker room duty).

So now that you’ve laid some ground rules- how do you teach your assistants?

I like to clinic talk in the weight room after workouts. I will go over 5+ drills that I want to see done for each position group. BUT, I don’t stop there, I also explain WHY we’re running said drill that day or every day. I tell them what play we’re doing each day and what to focus on technique-wise. That way they aren’t focusing on skip pulls while we’re installing trap. Trust me- you MUST do this. Even with veteran staffs. Once we scheme and do drills, the next step is Q&A. I want them to dig deeper, why do we use a midline step on power? Why don’t we teach skip pulls when installing trap? etc. Get their creative flow going. No one is wrong in football unless it’s unsafe. 100 ways to skin a cat.


You can’t be too busy for after-practice discussion. Ask them what they struggled with, what they need help with, what they don’t or do understand. If they ‘get it’-  why? If they don’t – why not? Maybe you did a bad job explaining it. Maybe it’s an entirely new idea to them. Learning to teach takes more time than learning.


Keep up with them. Just because it’s Saturday or the off-season doesn’t mean you can shoot a short concise e-mail or text. Again, the more you ask them if they need anything or to send questions the more likely you are to receive them.


Nothing is too simple or too basic. I send the bare bones out every single spring and every single summer. I do this to help me remember just as much as to remind them. I get the same thing “this is the same stuff you sent last year” YEAP! And the reason is that we all can use a refresher. I even send out clips on Hudl to remind them before an install day.


Here are a couple of links for them to check out as assistants: