More than the head coach, assistant coaches have heavy responsibilities on their shoulders. Such responsibilities are entrusted to them not to relieve the head coach, but to make the team work more organized and efficient.

Let’s try to look at some of the roles of assistant coaches. During an actual game, an assistant coach monitors the following: number of timeouts left, time left in the shot clock, and number of team fouls. He sits near the head coach and takes down notes on certain key information valuable for discussion during halftimes. He ensures to bring in necessary equipments for the game such as small white board, white board pen, and eraser. He assists the coach in making evaluations every after game. And in cases wherein the coach heightens up his emotions due to a bad referee call, he exerts the effort to calm the coach down.

The duties of the assistant coach don’t stop there. He can be responsible in monitoring the players in each practice schedule. He ensures that the gym is set for practice. And so, usually, he arrives early on practice. In practice, he works individually with players assigned to him by the head coach.

Moreover, the assistant coach may be assigned to scout for potential basketball players, and scout an opponent as well. For high school or collegiate basketball, he may also be tasked to check the academics of the players. He ensures that the players maintain a desirable grade in all major and minor subjects.

Upon knowing all of these duties, there is no way for an assistant coach to perform his job perfectly. The thing is nobody is perfect in this world. Things never come easy. Challenges will always be there to block the completion of success.

Now, what are the struggles that an assistant coach may encounter during the course of his duty? Let us try to have a look at the following problems of being an assistant coach:

1. Not in command
From the job title itself, he is said to be assisting the head coach. He would always follow what the coach would tell him. If the coach tells him to do this, he would do so. If the coach would ask him not to do this, he would not do it too. This is a major challenge for assistant coaches because they are meant to, primarily, follow the coach at all times. An assistant coach should have a good discretion about things. He cannot follow orders all the time. If he thinks that the head coach asks him to do something unethical to his profession, he should not do it. He has every freedom to fight for what is right. You know, you cannot deny that sometimes coaches plan to play bad basketball in order to win.

2. Cannot make the final decision

Only the head coach has the ultimate authority to make final decisions for the team. Perhaps, we can exclude the managers and team owners of the team. Let us just focus on the group itself. Maybe, an assistant coach thinks that it is better to do this and that. But the disadvantage is that he does not make decisions for the team. For assistant coaches, please do not feel doomed about this. The good news is you can voice out your suggestions. Yes, you cannot make the final decisions. BUT you can influence a coach’s decision by making relevant suggestions. Be smart enough to think and suggest new plays, drills, or anything else.

3. Primary victim of coach’s displacement
The coach and assistant coach go together. Even if there are no players, they can still be together to make new plans and/ or strategies. If the coach is mad about something, he can shout as loud as he can with the presence of his coaching staff. During actual games, he becomes very emotional pointing and shouting at his bench, including the assistant coaches. Moreover, any problem in the team’s system, the coach would go up to his assistant coaches and ask for help. I do not intend to say that coaches pass their problems to their assistants. What I am trying to say is the realization of what really is the role of the assistant coaches. Whether they like it or not, whatever problems that stress the head coach can also be theirs.

4. May not have the same level of respect like the head coach
Players, or people, may see an assistant coach lower than the head coach. Of course! The head coach is the leader of the team and an assistant coach is just merely his aid. And so, there is a tendency that players do not pay the same respect to him just like how they paid respect to the coach. Players may take them easy and ignore them. This is really a bad thing for an assistant coach. Well, he should do something about it. He can start off by developing a sense of trust to the players, let the players see how he thinks, he can communicate with them with proper ethics, and he should act professionally.

5. Pressure in meeting up a coach’s expectations
This is a common problem for everyone. An assistant coach is expected to get his job done. Head coaches want results. Now, an assistant coach can feel the pressure of making his work as excellent as possible to meet the expectations of the head coach. The pressure can make or break him. He should learn to handle it well to do his job appropriately.

6. Being given an unsuitable task
There can be times that you, as an assistant coach, would be delegated with a task that is not within your specialties. Oops! This is too bad for you. The thing you can do is force yourself to learn and study on areas that your coach want you to do. If you have problems dealing with it, inform your coach, and then ask for guidance. These are just challenges that test your abilities.

7. Getting involved with players’ academic struggles
I consider this as one of the struggles of assistant coaches. It is because they are getting into the players more personal. And this is a heavy duty. Assistant coach will be acting as a parent who will monitor the players’ academic performance. If there are problems, it becomes his problem too. He would try to motivate the players to study more. Or, he can follow the teachers up and ask them to give additional consideration for the players. Additional burden, isn’t it? However, this is how it should be for students to play in the varsity team. The least thing you can do is keep on reminding them that they have to pass their grade so they can play.

A good assistant coach is able to handle problems like these ones. What they should do is to acknowledge the problem so that they would know how to work them out. Problems are there not to ruin an assistant coach’s career. Instead, problems furnish them to become better coaches in the future.

Picture credit: SD DirkCreative Commons Attribution