COURTSIDE WITH COACH EDMONDS: Assistant coaches; why are they so crucial to the success of a team?

A key position in an athletic program that often is overlooked is the role of an Assistant Coach. This coach plays a “behind the scenes” role in the athletic program but a very vital one as well. They have a huge role is the successes or failures of a program and should (in my opinion) aspire to oversee their own program as a career goal.

One of the assistant coach’s most important roles – even though it’s not always the most visible part of the job – is supporting the head coach. The assistant coach discusses the game plan with the head coach, supports the coach in front of students and parents, follows team guidelines, keeps the coach updated on player injuries, scouts opposing teams and players and helps with transportation when necessary. And that’s just the BEGINNING!

I was very fortunate to have quality assistants when I coached and still have a quality assistant with me currently on the girls’ side with my AAU team. I learned very early in my coaching career how to be a good assistant coach by following these 5 simple rules.

1. Find some way to bring value to the program.

Take charge of something that needs to be done without the head coach having to delegate it. What needs to be done that YOU can do? I’m sure there is something that you are passionate about and good at doing within the program.

2. Do the little things that need to be done.

There are many things that need to happen in every basketball program. Just one practice holds a list of tasks that include: getting equipment out, preparing scouting reports, supervising the locker room, opening and locking facilities and much more. Accept the fact that you may be given remedial things to do. Accept it and get those things done.

3. Know and ACCEPT your role.

Remember, you are an Assistant coach. You are not the head coach. Be careful not to overstep your bounds. Your role is to be a loyal assistant to your boss. You might totally disagree with a part of the program, the direction of the program or how your boss conducts practice. None of that matters. It is not your program. Know your role, accept your role and become great at your role.

4. Don’t just be a “yes person.”

Head coaches don’t want all of their coaches to sit around the table saying “yes, yes, yes.” They want what is best for the program. They want to improve the program and they don’t always have the answers. This is where assistants come in. When the head coach asks for input, or when the door opens for you to give your input, DO IT. If you disagree with something, or have an idea to make something better, express that later when time allows for it.


Take the bull by the horns! Take ownership of the position and tasks you’ve been given. Be proactive to make the program better by having an appetite for success! Remember: The head coach chose YOU to be an assistant, take pride in that.

If your EGO will allow you, please follow these simple rules to be a quality assistant coach because trust me when I say, YOUR EGO WILL GET IN THE WAY if you let it; so be humble, understand that yes you may do things a little differently when it’s YOUR program, but learn all that you can from the coaches that you work for. Then, you can apply apply those principles when you begin your own program.

Keith Edmonds is a 32-year veteran of teaching and school administration from Fort Wayne. He coached boys high school basketball as an assistant at Snider High School, North Side High School and was the head boys basketball coach at Elmhurst High School for 12 years, advancing to the Class 3A State championship in 2003. Courtside with Coach Edmonds will appear every Monday at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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