6 Important Qualities of an Assistant Coach


Author: Jake Stevens


Being a good assistant coach is about more than just knowing your X’s and O’s. Just because someone is knowledgeable about the game does not mean they are a good coach. We often focus on the important qualities of a Head Coach but neglect the fact that most successful Head Coaches have good quality Assistants on their coaching staff.

There are several qualities that make a successful assistant coach. Here are the ones that stand out to me the most!


A Head Coach is not looking for someone who they must micro-manage. It is the assistant’s job to take on as much work and stress off the Head Coach as possible. This means taking care of various small issues early and without being told to do so. This frees up the Head Coach to work on bigger issues that he or she would like to focus on.

Good Communicator

A good assistant will also be an excellent communicator. They must be able to quickly and clearly explain information to all coaches and athletes. The best assistant coaches are also excellent listener. You must be able to quickly comprehend what fellow staff members and athletes are trying to tell you to take the best course of action. Whether it is explaining a scouting report to the players or communicating with other coaches, time is valuable and you must not waste any of it.



In the coaching field, things are constantly changing. It is important that you can adapt and change (when need-be) over time. New rules, new athletes, new legislation, strategies and schemes are constantly appearing and changing and you do not have time to be stuck in your ways. This does not mean you have to change your coaching philosophy every month. But, you must be open-minded when it is asked of you.

Be Valuable

Every day presents an opportunity to contribute to the success of your players and your program. When taking on all the daily duties that an assistant is presented with, approach each one with the mindset that you are doing this to add value to the program. Do it with pride. Do it with a purpose.

Buy In

As an assistant, it is part of your job to get everyone to buy into what the Head Coach wants for the program. You must motivate and encourage others to do what is best for the team as a whole rather than focus on the individual. This starts with buying in yourself. If you don’t believe in what you are doing or teaching then how can you expect your players to? Which leads me to…

Don’t be a “Yes Man/Woman”

It is not your job to agree with everything the Head Coach does or says. You are there to provide a different outlook or perspective on things. No one knows everything about the game or how to run a program. If you just nod and smile at everything the Head Coach puts forward, are you really giving your all to the program?

The Head Coach may not always listen to or do what you suggest, but you are doing yourself and everyone else a disservice by holding back your thoughts and ideas. However, there is a proper time and place to have these discussions and they usually shouldn’t happen in front of the team. Once a decision has been made, whether it was your idea or theirs, it now becomes your job to support it to present a unified front from the coaching staff.

Bottom Line

Assistant coaches exist to make the lives of head coaches easier, not more difficult. Although they may not receive as much recognition, Assistants are an essential part of a successful program. Ensure that you are providing something of value to the team, take charge of the little things, buy into the program, don’t be afraid to disagree and be the best communicator possible. The best assistants possess, in some way or another, all of these qualities!




Cole, B. (n.d.). The Top 15 Characteristics Of Excellent Coaches. Retrieved March 28, 2016, from http://www.mentalgamecoach.com/articles/CoachingQualities.html

Stein, A. (2015). Coaching Basketball: Assistant Coach Qualities -. Retrieved April 04, 2016, fromhttp://www.coachingtoolbox.net/basketball-drills/coaching-basketball-assistant-coach-qualities.html

Lockwood, D. (2016). How to Be a Great Assistant Coach -. Retrieved April 04, 2016, from http://www.coachingtoolbox.net/blueprint/great-assistant-coach.html