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Five Ways to Be an Effective Assistant Coach

By Tom Bly, Chair, Coaches Program, 11/30/18, 1:00PM EST


Valuable way to make an impact and to gain experience coaching

Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa Photography

Being an assistant coach is a valuable way to make an impact and to gain experience coaching. They are a crucial part of the team staff and can help to alleviate some of the responsibilities of the head coach. They play a vital role to the team’s success and help throughout games and practices.

The guidelines below are by no means a comprehensive list, but will serve as a reliable starting point for new assistants. They can also be a refresher for more experienced assistants or as discussion points for an entire coaching staff throughout the season.


Take the lead and setup and run drills and stations. Do the little things that need to get done. These may seem small but they are important building blocks that don't go unnoticed. Show everyone that you’re reliable and willing to do whatever it takes to make the team better. If you display a good work ethic it can show the other coaches and players what is being expected of them on the team.

Good Relationships

Any good relationship is built on trust and respect. Assistant coaches need to have an understanding of their role and expectations in the picture of the team staff. They should be responsible and reliable. Once you have established you can be depended upon it will help solidify the foundation of the entire staff.


Being able to have an open dialogue with coaches, players and parents is an important aspect of your role. Be a good role model and display positive team behaviour. All coaches should be looking to improve – that means sometimes a differing of opinion can be a valuable learning tool for all involved. If you have an idea that could help the team don’t be afraid to suggest it in the appropriate setting.

Photo Credit: Brian Woo Photography

Continuously Get Better

Always be taking the opportunity to learn, whether it’s in a game or practice. Talk with the coaching staff about what you want to work on throughout the year and establish how you can do it. Don’t limit yourself to one area of the game like offence or defence – like players, coaches can also benefit from working in different areas of the game and with multiple positions.


It is very important for the coaching staff to be a unified front. All of the coaches should be reinforcing the same team message and values to players and parents. Coaches can disagree in private if there is something that needs to be discussed. Assistant coaches can make suggestions but ultimately it’s up to the head coach to make the final decision.

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Tom Bly is a Barrie, ON native and holds the position of Chair, Coaches Program in the OMHA.

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