An up-and-coming coach (I presume) asked the following question.
What are some things you wish you knew or had asked prior to taking your position?
NCAA Division I assistant coaches were the specific target, though most of the response applies across levels.
For me, the big question that comes to mind is what the head coach sees as my role. Early in my career I was in a position where I was effectively excluded from the practice planning. It was really annoying! I was trying to learn, and here I can’t take part in what I considered a key part of the job. That’s something I would have liked to know ahead of time. Might have made a different decision whether to take the position.
Head coach style/philosophy
I think you also want to try to get as much of a feel as you can with regards to the head coach’s style and philosophy. This can be hard in an interview type situation, or even in a more casual conversation. Ideally, you get to see the coach in action. That’s not always possible, though.
What you’re trying to do is to make sure you and the head coach are basically on the same page in terms of the way things will be run. You are not always going to agree on things. That’s a given. That’s not the same, though, as having completely different perspectives on how things should work. Such a situation will make you miserable.
This one is especially important for newer coaches. If you haven’t coached in a similar type of environment, you may have no idea what gets done away from the court. There is basically no such thing as the coach who just handles coaching duties – at least not in a paid position. Even juniors club teams have administrative requirements for their staff. That workload gets bigger as you progress up the ranks.
- What’s the recruiting workload and travel schedule?
- How much time will you spend covering athlete study hall and tracking their academic performance?
- Do you have to help with fundraising efforts?
- Is there any community service or outreach work to be done?
- Do you have to drive?
- Who handle’s recording matches and video exchange?
These represent just a few of the things that could be part of the work you do as an assistant coach.
How much longer?
You should also possibly ask about how long the head coach plans to in their position. For some you can probably guess pretty easily. For others, it’s best to at least ask.
You definitely want to have some idea what you’re getting yourself into before signing on!
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