Benefits of an assistant coach

Sept. 17, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

Last month, a Responsible Sports Coachwrote to our panel of experts to ask: 

I recently started a position with a softball travel club. I have run different clinics, assisted teams in the past and have been certified as a softball coach for 4-years but this is my first time as head coach. I am having a hard time finding an assistant coach and I really do not want to have a parent assist me. I am worried that they will overrun me since I am new to the position and am fairly young (I am only six years older than some of the players on the team). I worry that these players will not respect me and will be more willing to listen to a parent over me.

Should I ask if a parent wants to step up and help me or should I just do this on my own? If I do this on my own, how should I get started?”

- Ash, an aspiring softball coach

We asked two of our experts to weigh in. Coach Candrea – Head Softball Coach at The University of Arizona and former USA Softball Head Coach, had this to say:

As a first time Head Coach, you need to be comfortable with your staff and the people you surround yourself with. I always believe that whether it is a parent, friend, or someone you go out and find to help you – they must be loyal to the vision you establish for your program, good teachers of the game, and most importantly they bring positive people skills to your program. You need someone that you can feel comfortable with and will be a positive influence to you and your program. The traits they bring to you and the program are far more important than whether they are a parent or not. You cannot have any doubts in the person you select!!! Best of luck!

And Tina Syer, Chief Impact Officer from Positive Coaching Alliance answered:

Dear Ash,

My blink on this is that it’s really nice to have an assistant coach (assuming you can find the right parent for the job). Perhaps you can get a sense of the players’ parents and then extend an invitation to one you think would complement you well. If you’re clear with the parent/assistant coach about each of your roles, then I think the risk of you being undermined is slim. 

Simply having another coach who can help set up drills, keep an eye on the bench during games, give positive feedback to players and help you answer questions coming from parents (even as simple as what time is the next practice!) will be valuable to you and the team.

Finally, even though you are young, if you carry yourself with confidence and come to practices and games prepared, the respect from the players and their parents will not waver.

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