So what makes a good assistant coach? Of course we want someone with knowledge of our sport and, logistically, we want someone who we can rely on to attend practices and competitions when they’ve said they could. Those are just the basics, there is more.3 qualities of a great assistant coach – Loyalty. Someone who’ll stay around with LAVA for a reasonable amount of time and who will support us behind the scenes. – Common voice. Speaking of supporting us, a great assistant supports their head coach with the athletes…no matter what. I’m not saying you can’t have heated debates as a coaching staff behind closed doors. Hopefully, assistant coaches feel comfortable voicing their opinion and you, as head coach, have created an atmosphere where divergent opinions are welcome. But once your players are around, we’re all singing from the same hymnal. – Nurturing. The head coach doesn’t always get to be the nice guy. Sometimes we have to point out the inconsistencies between team goals and effort level in practice, sometimes we have to bench a player, sometimes we have to have hard conversations. That’s when the great assistant coach steps in to make sure the athlete can see their way to success, because sometimes, those tough conversations can cloud their vision. 4 ways to manage assistant coaches – Give them a role. Whether you’re lucky enough to have full-time assistants or you’re making it work with part-timers, they should know their value to the team. It’s good for them and the team will respect them more if they have a designated role. – Coaches meetings. Have regular check-ins with your assistants to make sure you are all on the same page. It could be that you’ve decided that, as a staff, you’re going to be tough on your team, or that you’re going to focus on only one correction for a particular time period. Whatever it is, everyone’s got to know what’s going on. – In game responsibilities. The beauty of assistant coaches is they are a set of willing extra hands. Depending on the level of support at your institution, your game day responsibilities could be great. Maybe your assistant has to help set up your game space, or set up the camera so that the game can be filmed, or do stats. During the game, give them at least one thing to do during warmup and in game…those responsibilities will make them feel useful and needed. – Ask for feedback. Speak after each practice, even if it’s just for a few moments. Talk about what went well and what didn’t, what the team needs to keep working on, and personnel issues. Having a great assistant coach as a sounding board is priceless.