The Varied Role of the Assistant Coach

Good communication between a Head Coach and Assistant Coach is a vital ingredient of success within a program (Photo Source: mark6mauno)
Good communication between a Head Coach and Assistant Coach is a vital ingredient of success within a program (Photo Source: mark6mauno)

The role of an Assistant Coach can be varied and very different depending on the needs of the individual program. A Head Coach will ultimately be the main driving factor within the role of what an Assistant Coach must complete. This is probably the defining point to the role of an Assistant Coach, as an assistant you are there is support and Head Coach and their vision of what a program should look like now and into the future.


For this reason, an Assistant Coach must buy into the philosophy, vision or mission and program in all aspects that a Head Coach deems to be necessary. This must be the consistent and unified theme of everything that an Assistant Coach does. At the very least to the outside observers of a program the Assistant Coach and Head Coach must be very consistent in their vision of where the program is heading. This can however be slightly different in private, behind closed doors. However, if behind the scenes the fiction becomes overly aggressive this will have a negative effect on performance.




One of the key areas in the role of an Assistant Coach is knowledge. The basis of this knowledge can be broad and often works best if it is different to that of a Head Coach. This knowledge can be sports specific (for example basketball) or discipline specific (for example strength and conditioning). Either way the Assistant Coach will be most beneficial to a program if they can bring some sort of specialisation to a program to help add depth to the programs activities. When this happens, a program is sure to benefit for those people making decisions about it having an informed opinion.


Common knowledge areas can revolve around styles of play, offense and defence or player development. Many coaches have over the course of their career developed a number of very specific interests that have led to a greater amount of knowledge in one particular facet of the game than others have. At the professional level, this development of knowledge is truly fanatical and a coach can become an expert in the field.




A skill is when an individual (such as an Assistant Coach) is competent at being able to demonstrate their knowledge. The better an Assistant Coach can capitalise upon their knowledge to produce results, the better a program can benefit for their experiences and knowledge day to day.


For many Assistant Coach’s the skill of being able to coach on court will be a mandatory aspect of their role. Not being afraid to speak while on court, coaching on the run and having a well-defined understanding about the principles of what a successful coach is all need to come together to help an Assistant Coach be something more than just wiping up spills while at training.




The duties an Assistant Coach is allocated should be reflective of both their knowledge and skills. Strengths should be played upon and weaknesses minimise or the team and program runs the risk of hampering itself from within.


The duties an Assistant Coach can be put in charge of will prow in responsibility the longer the relationship between the Head Coach and the Assistant Coach endures. If not then a Head Coach risks losing individual they have invested much time and effort into.


Some of the more common roles at the very low end of the responsibility spectrum will be recoding of statistics, managing the recording of game information and providing input for consideration of the head Coach. At the other end of the responsibility scale is the management of a team’s offense or defence, play calling and tactic implementation. An Assistant Coach needs to be aware however, that with greater responsibility comes greater accountability for these choices and actions.


The role of an Assistant Coach can make or break a program with even more opportunity for an impact in-between these two options. To get the most out of an Assistant Coach a Head Coach must be able to delegate and develop trust in their assistant’s abilities. For an Assistant Coach it is important to remember there is a very big difference between talking about what to do and having the accountability of making those decisions happen.

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Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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