Being An Effective Assistant Coach

When I watch high school and grassroots and college basketball practices, I am continuously amazed at how ineffective the vast majority of assistant coaches allow themselves to be. I think the reason for this is a fundamental misunderstanding: during practice, an assistant coach must not attempt to be the assistant head coach; rather, the effective assistant coach acts as the head coach of a small number of need areas.

For example, when I was at Lafayette College, I pretty much only spoke in practice when the forwards/bigs failed to crash the offensive glass. I did also speak a good bit about sprinting, and deep help, but crashing the offensive boards was my #1 thing, by far. In fact, to this day, if you ask anyone who played at Lafayette College while I was an assistant coach there, they will unquestionably remember me harassing dudes about going to the boards.

The key word in the last sentence of the above paragraph is remember- if a kid can’t remember what you said during practice, what did you accomplish? Nothing.

Basically, if you’re an assistant coach and you want to actually be effective and make a positive impact on the team during practice, you should speak 12 times on 1 need area, not 1 time on 12 different random topics. During practice, it is the head coach’s job to teach the arbitrary subtle nuances that catch his eye, not yours.

I’m not saying that you aren’t allowed to teach as an assistant coach. During individual workouts that you’re running, or during 1-on-1 film sessions, of course assistant coaches should be teaching the little things.

But during practice, if you want to be effective as an assistant coach, you’ll carefully consider this brief article, because as is so often the case in coaching, we need to make positive changes in ourselves in order to make positive changes in the team.

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