Coaching Your Coaches

One of the greatest challenges for a head coach, especially at small schools where coaches are assigned 2 or 3 sports, is the art of coaching your coaches.  It would be nice if all coaches were knowledgeable in all sports but that is just not the case…I was a prime example when I was hired at White Oak.

As fate would have it, I was hired very late in the summer (in fact, 2-a-days had already began) when one of our coaches left for an administrative position.  I was hired and assigned to 9th grade football. Though I had been around football and liked the game, I had very little knowledge of X’s and O’s from a coaching perspective.  Fortunately, I was hired by one of the greatest football minds in the history of Texas High School football, Coach Andy Griffin and we had a great staff at White Oak that I could learn under.  I can remember many days just trying to be able to know my assignment for the next practice and feeling very overwhelmed. When I became the head basketball coach, I promised myself that I would remember those days when I had assistants who were new to the game or to our system.  This was just one of the ways I felt God had prepared me for His mission.

In this entry of Coach With A Purpose, I would like to discuss different ideas and concepts I used as the head coach at White Oak to give our assistants the opportunity to grow as a coach.  

To begin, I believe all coaches should feel an obligation to be the best coach they can be for each sport they are assigned.  As the head basketball coach, I wanted to work as hard during football season as I did during basketball for several reasons…I was paid to coach football, I owed it to our kids, I owed it to our football staff, and above all, I’m accountable to my God and I believe He expects me to do my best at whatever I’m doing. As the head coach, I would do all I was capable of doing to prepare my assistants to be the best they could be. However, I also expected them to do their part even if basketball wasn’t their first love. As long as I had set the proper example, then I could justify holding my assistants to the same level of accountability. However, I couldn’t expect them to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself.

1) Put It On Paper

Shortly after I was named the head basketball coach at White Oak, my first undertaking that summer was to put together a coaches manual. Ironically, for some of the younger readers, this was just about the time that computers were becoming popular so being able to type a manual up on a word processor, save it, and print it was a very cool thing! This manual became the bible of White Oak basketball over the years.  It included philosophy, explanation of all drills, how to teach the drills, all offenses, defenses, staff duties, etc. As far as White Oak basketball went, it had it all. Part of the reason for creating this manual was to have a resource when new coaches came into our program.

However, as much as anything, it was for me.  It made sure I had a philosophy and a road map for our program.  By putting it on paper, you know it’s important, been thought about and organized.  If not, it may just be speculation. Finally, a coaches manual is a way of helping your assistants prepare to be head coaches later in their career should they choose to take that path.  

2) Coaches Video

With the advancement in video over the past couple of years, so much can be done through this medium to help coach your coaches. Another endeavor I undertook shortly after becoming a head coach was to create a shooting video (VHS back in the day) for our coaches that included a break down of how we wanted to teach shooting.  I also used some of our former players to make a video of our drills that we would use in the Junior High since this would many times be some of our more inexperienced coaches.

Later, I would use our off-season players to film our offenses, inbound plays, press breaks, drills, etc.  We would normally do this on the first Saturday after basketball practice had started so we could knock it out in 1 day.  With the use of Hudl, we were able to break this down into clips which corresponded to the script. As much as I could, I would make separate videos for our Junior High and High School staffs in order to concentrate on the areas of emphasis in our program progression.  

The videos allowed our coaches to watch at their convenience and pace as well as freeing me up from constantly going over the same drills. Also, if we hired a new coach late in the year or summer, the video would give them an opportunity to get a jump start on things before the season began if they chose to.

3) Work Basketball Camp

The way our camp was designed (see basketball camp entry) it was a great opportunity for our 7th, 8th, & 9th grade coaches to spend a week working with their kids as well as listening to me teach our skills, drills, and offenses.  I was very fortunate that most of our assistant coaches were always willing to work our camps but I believe it was also important to pay them for their time spent in the summer.

4) Preseason Coaches Meeting

Each year, I would meet with our junior high staff on the Saturday after our football season to go over team selections, practice format, etc. prior to their first practice.  Our high school staff would always meet on the Sunday after the completion of our football season, whenever that happened to be. As long as our coaches were still in football, I didn’t expect them to do anything related to basketball until our football season was over.

Most years, my main assistant in high school basketball would be one of our 9th grade football coaches so that he could come to basketball at the conclusion of the regular season and this was always crucial to allowing basketball to get started even if football was fortunate enough to be in the playoffs.  Being at a school that is successful in multiple sports is truly a blessing but it requires sacrifice by all involved to not allow one sports’ success to hamper another sports’ opportunity for success (I’ll discuss this in a later entry).

In summary, as the head coach at a small school that shares coaches as well as athletes, it was important for me to do all I could to prepare our coaches for basketball season as well as respecting the time they have committed to their other sports.  As many resources as I could give them to use on their own time that didn’t require us to meet as a staff, the better that I believed it was for all involved.

Thanks for reading and Coach With A Purpose!