One of the most critical parts of a head coach’s job is assembling his staff. Even the best coaches can be undone by subpar assistants, lazy workers or individuals who don’t believe in their bosses’ philosophies. A great coach will recruit and strategically place his staff in positions that best suit their strengths.
As a head coach, it’s important to remember you can’t do it all. Take advantage of your assistant coaches and delegate team duties!
If you’re interviewing for a head football coach position, bring a list of your potential staff members. Outline their responsibilities and explain to the interview committee why it’s vital for them to come with you.
Here are eight coaching roles—in no particular order—I believe build an ideal staff. If you’re at the high school level and not able to pay all eight, find volunteers. When you prove yourself and start winning, you can revisit pay with management.
1) Your Go-To Coach: This is the coach you’d choose to go to war with you. You don’t need to watch over his shoulder or second guess his decisions. This coach has the most FBI (Football Intelligence) and could be in line for the next available head coaching job. He gets the job done, typically as an offensive or defensive coordinator.
2) Strength Coach: Every team needs a strength coach! Vital to the team’s overall performance on the field, he doesn’t necessarily need to coach a position. He’s there all year long, helping athletes stay physically prepared. This coach believes a game isn’t won during the season—it’s won during the offseason.
3) Lower Levels Coach: Most likely a rookie already on your staff or a former player, this coach is a perfect fit for lower levels, like the head coach of the sophomore team. He’ll follow your instructions, teach fundamentals, and bring the team together. Mentor this coach to be prepared for the next level when the time is right.
4) The GSD Coach: This coach Gets Stuff Done. He’s considered a “fixer”—if there’s a problem, he’ll find the solution. This coach is highly respected by the players, as well as the school’s teachers, because they know he’ll make sure the players fix their attitude or work harder in class to stay eligible. He’s generally a coordinator and is known as the head coach’s right-hand man.
5) The Boy Scout Coach: Because he’s always prepared, he’s usually in charge of all the technology, practice plans and setup, and generally takes on the special teams duties. This is the head coach’s left-hand man, making sure everything is ready for the head coach and the GSD coach. He’s up in the press box on Friday nights, crunching the numbers.
6) The Role Model Coach: All coaches are role models, but this is the guy all the players like, respect and respond to. Usually the youngest coach on the staff, he’s most likely a former player of yours who completely bought into the program and wants to give back to future players.
7) The Behind-the-Scenes Coach: A very talented and loyal coach, who doesn’t yet have enough experience at a certain position. He has either the best or second-best FBI on the staff, and can coach any level or position or be an amazing coordinator.
8) The Local Coach: This coach is known in the community, a coaching veteran who’s well respected and adored by all. He might have only coached at the youth level his entire career, but he knows the game inside and out. For the older coaches like me, it’s like Cheers—he’s Norm from the show and everyone knows his name. He can be the voice of reason for the head coach, but only chimes in when he needs to.
Keep in mind, these are just suggestions. Every head coach has a unique style—remember to find coaches who complement you. Every assistant is unique, and it’s important to build a coaching staff that meets the need of the team. Please share what your ideal coaching staff positions are through my website, or via Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #HudlCoachingStaff.
Anthony Stone is a physical education teacher at Gregory Elementary School and quarterbacks coach at Boylan High School in Rockford, Ill. He is also the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Women’s Australian National Outback 2017 Team & writes blogs for Firstdown Playbook.
In July 2016, he was named to the Hudl 100 list. He has presented at IAPHERD, the top physical education convention in Illinois, on how to get students moving with his Games Galore presentations. He has also presented at the Chicago Glazier Clinics on quarterbacks & special teams. He was the defensive coordinator for the 2010 U.S. Women’s National Tackle Football Team, winners of the IFAF Women’s World Championship in which Team USA did not allow a point in three games with an overall score of 201-0. Stone has coached in the CIFL and the IWFL Leagues as well as Beloit College (linebackers/special teams coordinator) and Rockford University (quarterbacks/wide receivers).
Stone has also coached football at the youth, middle school and high school level. He will be putting on fundamental youth football camps around the world in 2017. Please contact him to bring his “Back to the Basics Youth Football Camp” to a city near you.
Follow him on Twitter @Coach_Stone_MT.