One of the major career goals for a vast majority of NCAA Division One Assistant Basketball Coaches is to land a highly coveted and somewhat elusive NCAA Head Coaching job. The road to achieving the goal is not an exact science, but there are things we can do to put ourselves in position to be considered as a Head Coaching candidate. Also, there are many things we can be doing NOW that will prepare us to be a Head Coach if/when we get that call.
Clearly, I am not currently a NCAA Division One Head Men’s Basketball Coach, but I have been fortunate enough to have a myriad of experiences from almost every aspect of the business of basketball, as well as having gone through being a candidate for several head coaching searches, that helped me formulate my list of tips. By no means do I consider my suggestions as the gospel on landing a Head Coaching job, but I do believe they can serve as lampposts for your journey.
Be a Well-Rounded “Basketball Guy”
1). Be the best recruiter you can be. Work hard at honing your evaluation skills & recruiting ability.
2). Develop a vast network of authentic recruiting contacts.
3). Spend time (everyday) discussing the game of basketball with others you respect in the business. These coaches may have more experience than you, have worked under Hall of Fame type coaches, were once head coaches etc… Being a serious student of the game will help you become a serious teacher of the game.
4). Attend high level coaching clinics. Caution: Make sure you know what your coaching philosophy is prior to attending any clinic, as great clinics have great coaches with lots of great ideas and things that work for them as a coach and for their particular team. Knowing what your coaching/teaching philosophy is will help you figure out what ideas will work in your system or not.
5). Watch lots of game film (even when the next game is not your scout)
6). Use recruiting trips to connect with other basketball people in that area (don’t waste time sleeping etc.. when you can be investing in your knowledge as a coach)
1). Get to know your Athletic Director and Assoc. Athletic Director. Athletic Director’s often share their thoughts on potential coaching candidates with each other. Also, remember a lot of Associate Athletic Directors will become Athletic Directors at some point in their career.
2). Get to know Administrators and Faculty Members on Campus (President, Vice President, Compliance Officer(s), Senior Female Administrators) – This will show you are able to work with various important constituents on campus.
3). Get to know other top assistant coaches from around the country (this will help you develop a list of Asst. Coaching Candidates – you will need to have a good idea of who you want to hire BEFORE you arrive at the interview). Make sure you use every contact with other assistant coaches as opportunities to evaluate them as being a fit for your program.
1). Connect with prominent business leaders in your community and around the country. Spend time asking them questions regarding how they run their organization, mentorship of employees, organizational/strategic planning etc… You need to learn how to look, think and act like a CEO!
2). READ meaningful books often. Reading will help keep your neural pathways open to learning, as well as helps with your creativity. Take a minimum of 5-10 minutes daily to read a few pages. It will expand your vocabulary, as well as enhance your ability to communicate with others.
Develop YOUR Coaching Philosophy
1). Take your time developing your personal coaching philosophy. You have to be able to breathe, eat and sleep your philosophy so you can articulate it and live it out for your team, Athletic Director, President etc… It should describe your culture, as well as how you want your teams to play. Your philosophy will be the Soul and Heartbeat of your program.
Number One Suggestion
Be the BEST assistant coach you can be by being humble, respectful, and loyal to your current employer. Never take time away from your duties trying to position yourself to be a Head Coach. Work hard and smart where you are and your current boss will be more than willing to recommend you for vacant coaching positions that are compatible to your knowledge, skills, abilities and experience.