The “Good” Assistant

By Jenn Cook, Assistant Coach, Princeton University  @princetonwlax


What makes a good assistant coach? The answer to that question depends on what your Head Coach needs from you.

“Think like a Head Coach, but act like an Assistant Coach.” – Tommy Amaker, Head Coach, Harvard University Basketball

      Photo courtesy of Princeton Athletics.

Good assistant coaches understand that head coaches have a lot of their plates. So, assistants should be constantly thinking about what balls are in the air, what balls could potentially be dropped, and how they can help the boss. Being one step ahead of potential issues that might arise is always important. Good assistant coaches are:

  • Always looking to grow and improve their technical and tactical understanding of the game
  • Masters of suggesting ideas to the head coach
  • Honest and show integrity
  • Organized
  • Loyal
  • Respectful and responsible
  • Accountable for performance and work
  • Supportive of the head coach’s decisions in order to present a united front
  • Able to set a good example on and off the field for student-athletes
  • Passionate and enthusiastic about their love of the game
  • Expert communicators
  • Liaisons between head coach and players, but always supportive of the head coach
  • Able to understand their role in the program
  • Always professional
  • Able to balance the emotions of the head coach, staffers and players
  • Individuals who like hard work and the do the little things that are often “thankless”
  • Relationship builders with the head coach and players
  • People who help players “buy in” to the team culture
  • Driven and strive to make the program and the people around them better

Every single day on the field and in the office, is different from the next for an assistant coach. Your skills will constantly change, evolve and grow. Assistant coaches recognize their influence on impacting the next generation of confident, strong, independent, and hardworking women.  It is a challenging and fast paced job, but if you enjoy solving problems, mentoring student-athletes, and becoming an effective leader, being an assistant coach is an extremely rewarding career.

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