Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The three functions of assistant coaches

Winning Hoops magazine had a good interview with former Marquette and current Indiana head coach Tom Crean.

During the interview, Coach Crean outlines "three functions" that assistants should fulfill.

1. Offset the mood of the head coach: If the head coach is in a bad mood, you as an assistant need to be a in a good mood. Assistants should not be carbon copies of head coaches.

I love playing teams where the assistants act and teach just like the head coach because they just aren’t prepared as well,” Crean says.

2. Always be accessible to players: A head coach is often pulled in several directions through various responsibilities. An assistant must be available to players at all times. Players need that stability.

3. Do what's needed: As an assistant, Crean says, you are there to do whatever the head coach needs. An assistant’s primary role is to make the life of a head coach easier. You must be a willing participant in this process.

“When I was learning under Ralph Willard (Western Kentucky and Pittsburgh) and Tom Izzo, my job was to make them Coach of the Year. I wanted to allow them to do what they do best, so I took care of the things they didn’t want to do or didn’t have time to do.”

According to the article, Coach Crean contends that "when assistants know their role and players are energized about their part on the team, then your program is certain to get better every day."

Along these lines, Coach Crean encourages his assistants, and other coaches he meets at clinics and camps, to learn as much as they can about as much as they can.

Never stop learning from others. It doesn’t have to be just in our sport. Look at military and business leaders. And, look at other sports. I bet you I have read more football books than anything else,” Crean acknowledges.

As the author describes, "your ultimate goal as a coach is not simply to win games... it’s to make
players better — as athletes and as people. It starts with accountability on and off the court. When you expect the best from players, you don’t have to harp on it day after day. Having to stress bringing energy and enthusiasm to the practice court each day gets old and
tired. Expect it and expect the best from everyone associated with your squad."