In-Game Responsibilities for Assistant Coaches

Great assistant coaches are vital to the success of a team.  Head coaches have the responsibility of hiring a dynamic and well-rounded coaching staff and then giving each assistant coach a role to positively impact their program.  Head coaches are looking for assistants that can make the program better by developing strong relationships with players and the rest of the coaching staff, assisting with player development throughout the program, assisting with scouting and game planning, and assisting on the bench during the game.  When it comes to coaching within the game, every coach on the bench should have a specific role so that your staff can perform in a productive and efficient manner.

For this article, we are going to take a deeper dive into the in-game roles and responsibilities of the Whiteland High School assistant coaches.  Our coaching staff is very fortunate to have five paid assistant coaches and one volunteer assistant coach that all work very hard to build our program.  Although I realize that each coaching job may have different resources and may allow for more or less coaches on staff, my two suggestions on your coaching staff are:

  • Assign every coach on staff a specific role.
    • If coaches have a specific role, they are more likely to feel like a valued member of the program and will work harder to succeed in their role.
  • Evaluate a coach’s strengths and weaknesses before assigning them a role.
    • As coaches, we know that every player is different and we adjust our game plans and systems based on that fact.  It’s also important to realize that every coach is different as well and we should develop a role that fits each individual coach based on their strengths and weaknesses.

Varsity Assistants

In our program, we have two varsity assistant coaches that are responsible for assisting with play calling and adjustments.  Although we want both varsity assistant coaches to be engaged in coaching both sides of the ball, we want one varsity assistant to have a closer eye on the defensive side, while the other varsity assistant is watching the offensive side of the ball a little closer.  The two varsity assistants will have a copy of our game play card because both are actively involved in adjustments that we make in-game from changing offenses/defenses to player personnel decisions.  One of our varsity assistant coaches also has the responsibility of keeping track of player fouls while the other varsity assistant coach keeps track of timeouts.

Junior Varsity Head Coach/Varsity Assistant

We consider our junior varsity head coach to be our third varsity assistant.  Our junior varsity head coach is responsible for keeping our “4 Minute Battle Chart”.  We divide the game up into eight four minute segments.  We have a goal that we want to win every four minute battle throughout a game and we are tracking our success in each of those four minute battles.  Our “4 Minute Battle Chart” is divided into three columns.  The first column shows which segment of the game we are in.  The second column allows our assistant coach to keep track of possessions and evaluate how we are playing in that segment.  The third column is where we write down the names of any player that we played during that segment.  This allows us to see positive and negative trends that happen when we play certain players and certain lineups together.  Our third varsity assistant is also involved in decisions where we are discussing play calling and in-game adjustments.

Freshmen Head Coach

Our Freshmen head coach sits on our bench and helps us track our offensive efficiency in game.  Our freshmen coach has an Offensive Efficiency Chart that has a list of all of our play calls.  When we run a certain play, he will track the outcome of that play on the chart.  The goal of having this offensive efficiency chart is so that we know in game if there is something that we are doing really well or if there is something that we are doing in game that is leading to a lack of efficiency on offense.  We can also use this chart in the fourth quarter of a close game to make sure we keep running sets that have been working well against our opponent.

Freshmen Assistant Coach

Our Freshmen assistant coach helps us track our defensive efficiency in game.  This assistant is in charge of our Defensive Efficiency Chart that has a list of all of our defensive calls that we may use that game.  Our assistant will track the outcome of each possession that we utilize that specific defense.  This helps us in game to track which defense is giving our opponent the most problems.  It also allows us to track runs that our opponent is making and helps us in making timely adjustments on the defensive end.

Volunteer Assistant

We also have a volunteer assistant on the bench.  Our volunteer assistant is responsible for providing in-game statistics.  This is especially helpful when we go into halftime to know certain stats from the first half.  Examples of how we might use stats to make halftime adjustments:

  • A certain player is shooting the ball better than expected so we need to make a defensive adjustment.
  • A team has been beating us on the offensive glass so we should consider using a better rebounding lineup against this opponent.

Assistant Coaches Seating Chart

We have our assistants sitting in the following places on the bench:

  • Varsity Assistant #1 nearest to the scorers table
  • Varsity Assistant #2 next to VA #1
  • Junior Varsity Head Coach/Varsity Assistant #3 next to VA #2
  • Players
  • Freshmen Head Coach
  • Freshmen Assistant Coach
  • Volunteer Assistant Coach
  • Trainer

We have several reasons for making our bench seating chart this way including:

  • We want the three Varsity Assistants to be together so that they can be bouncing information off of each other during the game.  We also want them together so that when the head coach wants to discuss something during the game, he can go to one place and get all of the information or answers needed.
  • We want the other three assistant coaches on the other side of the bench because we don’t want any player to be at the end of the bench where they might lose focus.  We want our players to be surrounded by our staff so we can make sure they stay locked in throughout the game.
  • We want our other three assistant coaches to be seated together so they can bounce information off of each other during the game.  Have you ever tried to keep accurate stats during a game? As the game gets going and teams are flying up and down the court, it becomes tough to follow each and every play.  With these three assistant coaches together, it helps that they can bounce information off of each other.

Additional Roles for Assistant Coaches

There are many in-game responsibilities that you could assign to coaches on your staff. Some other potential in-game responsibilities could include:

  • Kills Chart (3 Defensive Stops in a Row)
  • Shot Chart (Chart shots for your team or the opponents)
  • Hype Man (A coach that sits in the middle of the players to keep them active and engaged)
  • Minutes Chart (Keeping track of the minutes your players are playing)
  • Tracking and Echoing Opponent’s Play Calls
  • Track Special Stats (Paint Touches, Ball Reversals, etc.)
  • …and many more.

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