Role of the Assistant Coach by John Saintignon
The role of the Assistant Coaches: The definition is: A head or assistant coach is any coach who is designated by the institution’s athletics department to perform coaching duties and who serves in that capacity on a volunteer or paid basis. I have been asked many times what is this role? I have served as a Head Coach for a number of years and I have also been in that Assistant Coaches role. Both have their complications but I will address the role of the Assistant as that is a subject that needs to be defined and not just expected that those under your supervision will be doing exactly what you are asking them without providing them with what they should be doing.
1. Loyalty: The assistant coach must support the Head Coach in all efforts.
2. Integrity and Values: They are a reflection of the Head Coach.
3. Character: It is what they are when no one is around. That means no gossip, talking behind back Head Coach, Players, Management.
4. Enthusiastic: They must bring a level of enthusiasm to practice every day.
5. Motivated: Motivation gets them going. If Assistant is motivated, and Head Coach are motivated, the players will be motivated. Make motivation a habit.
6. Goal-setters: Assistant coaches should be setting goals for their own coaching careers. And, if they exhibit the above traits, Head Coach should assist them in achieving those goals.
To be a good assistant the individual must want to coach in the system they are in. A coach who has the background and the abilities, but isn’t happy with the situation, may wind up doing more harm than good to your program. We would be better off with a person who has the desire, but not the experience to assist you.
The assistant must be willing to work hard, know what the head coach wants, and must be willing to teach it. The assistant is an extension of the head coach. When the assistant doesn’t understand or questions the head coach’s philosophy, the head coach must be willing to spend the time to teach the assistant so they understand the big picture. However, the assistant must never question the head coach during practice or a game. The time for that is during staff meetings.
The assistant coach must look and act in a professional manner. During practice the assistant must help enforce discipline. If the assistant knows of a violation of team rules, it is their job to inform the head coach. The assistant must show a caring attitude for your players both on the court. By nature of the beast, the players will come to the assistant when they have a problem. Players should feel free to talk about their problems with the assistant. However, there is a very fine line that the assistant coach must not cross-they are the coach and the player is the player.
The role of the assistant coach is one of long hours, low pay, and often little recognition. It is up to the head coach to show his loyalty to the assistant coach. Give credit when credit is due. If the assistant did something to help the outcome of a game, let the media know it. On the same hand, if they make a coaching mistake, support them.
The head coach must delegate responsibility to the assistant coach. Then, make sure the assistant understands what is expected. Outline responsibilities ahead of time so the assistant has time to prepare himself for the job expected of them.
When an assistant needs to be corrected or criticized, do it in private. And, never do it in public or in front of your players. Be open with your assistants-encourage them to brainstorm with you. The more they feel ownership of the program, the more they will do to make the program a success.
Help them get a head-coaching job. If they have a desire to be a head coach, and they are prepared, do everything possible to assist them. Write a letter of recommendation and make a phone call on their behalf. Don’t be neutral-if they’re not ready, tell them why they are not ready. Evaluate them so they can grow!
Assistant Coaches Game Day Duties:
a. Prior to the game: strategy – may be asked to write the game plan and match-ups on the board.
b. Check the scorebook for accuracy prior to the game – the worst thing you can do is to start the game with a technical because no one checked the book.
c. During the game: sit next to the Head Coach-Keep key game information charted. It may be to keep track of the fouls, timeouts or other pertinent game information.
d. Take game notes for half-time adjustments
e. Have the dry erase board available for the Head Coach during time-outs.
f. Help the Head Coach with Post Game Evaluation
Assistant Coaches Practice Duties:
1. Assist Head Coach with planning practice
2. Arrive early on the floor to make sure the gym is set for practice
3. Work with assigned position players
4. Help the Head Coach with stations as assigned
5. Serve as a buffer between the Head Coach and the players
6. Run one of the teams in practice scrimmages
7. Make sure the gym is picked-up after practice
Other Assistant Coaches Duties:
Understand the head coach’s philosophy
Understand the head coach’s playbook
Understand the head coach’s preferred techniques
Scout other teams, have written report 3 days prior to game.
Make sure the floor is clean
Provide basketballs and keep track of them
Assure that basketball are properly inflated
Return the basketballs to their storage area after game or practice
Make sure the first aid kit is available and complete along with trainer
Make sure ice is ready for games and practice
Enter the player names into the score book
Complete shot charts and statistical information
Coordinate volunteers for videotaping
In practice, assist with groups of players during breakdown drills
In full court practice, cover distant areas of the court and be a referee
Maintain team discipline when head coach is gone
Assist with clinics
Educate yourself by reading, attending clinics, coaching younger teams
Be a role model for sportsmanship
Follow all the team rules, just like a player is expected to follow them
Discuss the game plan with the head coach so you’re familiar with it
Advise coach during game as established beforehand
Tell the coach of all player injuries
Assist players with minor first aid needs
Advise coach of player confidences if urgent enough
Offer observations during the game by looking for the things the head coach may not notice.
Make sure the head coach has necessary tools such as clipboards and markers
Assist with video review and note-taking
Maintain comfortable conversational relationships with players
Dress respectably. At games.
Again, dress respectably. Look like a professional coach in practice.
Keep the players in line concerning language. No profanity.
When players come out of the game, help them with suggestions
If players get upset, act as a buffer between them and the head coach
Listen for signs of internal strife among players
Enjoy yourself. Cherish every minute of your coaching privilege.
Here is an example of what I had my Assistants responsible for in High School. See if this is what you are doing for your Assistants.
Game Day & Game
Pre Game Meal
Opponent Walk Through
Player Complimentary Tickets (home and road)
Make sure locker room is set for team meeting
Handle score book (Manager)
Sit closest to the scores table
Focus on Scorpion subbing during game, and chart it
At time out kneel in front of 4/5s away from table
At half: Check score book before leaving floor
In locker room post and verbalize fouls
In charge of last second playbook
Post game: Film exchange on site
At home immediately begin managers editing tape
Managers Recruiting Complementary Tickets
Equipment Recruits who are at the game
Work out players prior to team meeting Work out players prior to team meeting
Watch opponent warm-up Watch our warm-up (includes run 4 on 4 shell)
Sit in seat nearest to team Walk on the court with the team
Opponent scout chart their offense Sit between Dwayne and Phillip
Note possessions without post touches Opponent scout charts their offense
Focus on our post play Focus on our defense and guard play
At time out kneel in front of 2/3s closet to table
At Half: 2 or 3 key defensive adjustments At time out stand directly behind me (let me
know of any substitutions and time)
At half: overview/ 2 or 3 offensive adjustments note key statistics
Dwayne, Phillip, & Ken
I suggest a pre game checklist for each
Post game: console or cheer up players
Speak with parents and boosters
Attend any post game booster function
Desert Edge Basketball
Dwayne Williams Phillip Nowlin
Coordinate Recruiting Housing
Academic counseling, Registrations, etc. Tournament Details
Admissions Financial Aid
Team Travel/ Away Game Coordinator Misc. Fundraising
Assist in Scheduling Film Exchange
Assist in Budgeting Banquet
Student Office Aids Equipment (daily)
Player’s Parents Facilities (daily)
Kids Scorpion Club Pregame meals
Home Game Management (including visiting teams)
Bulk of Teaching
Dwayne Williams Phillip Nowlin
Movement Warm up Ritual and Stretching
X Zone Offense Shooting Drills
Baseline Obs Jump Balls
Free Throw Situations 1,2,3,5 Series
Film Preparation Ball handling
Front Line Play Equipment
Charts Perimeter Play
Academic Counseling, Registration, etc.
Financial Aid assistance
Monitor Academic progress
Summer Basketball Camps
Comp. Tickets for recruits
Conditioning and weights
Organization of scouting and Game preparation
Assist in Scheduling
Team Travel (on the road)
Team Travel Organization
Monitor the budget
On campus meals
Coach John Saintignon
John Saintignon has an extensive background of an experienced and successful basketball coach at the International Professional, NCAA Division 1, NCAA Division 2 and High School levels — and a three-time NCAA All-American as a player and a professional player. Coach Saintignon has been helping players and their families navigate through the NCAA process of helping them get a college scholarship, having wrote a book on the subject while at Oregon State University, “ What does it take to get a college scholarship?”, as well as preparing them for the court. Coach Saintignon trains the athletes and provides performance nutritional advice working alongside Advocare to help his athletes reach their fullest potential. FB: JSSportsNet and at www.advocare.com/130423949
Saintignon was the Head Coach of Fuerza Guinda of the FIBA Americas; Coach Saintignon led his team to a Playoff finish. During the 2011-2012 season of the NBA lockout, Saintignon was instrumental in getting NBA players into jobs overseas having placed Jarron Collins and Mardy Collins into the CBA in China, Salim Stoudamire into Italy, Sam Clancy into Argentina, James Porter into Japan, Calvin Hampton into Bahrain. Over a 100 players have come through Los Angeles to get player development training including the future Hall of Famer NFL Defensive end and Superbowl winner Simeon Rice who came out to LA to train for 3 days in strenuous basketball training with Coach Saintignon.
Saintignon has been a coach in high school, college and professional basketball in Arizona, California, Oregon, Mexico and Bahrain. Most recently, Saintignon was the successful Head Coach in the Premier League in the country of Bahrain in the Middle East since March 2010, leading his team to a Final Four finish. Prior to that he was the Assistant Coach at Cal State Stanislaus University in the CCAA Conference and an NCAA Division 2 institution. Saintignon was also the Associate Head Coach and Director of Player Development for the Culiacan Caballeros of the top league in the Mexican Professional Basketball League (LNBP). As a first-year franchise, the Caballeros went to the LNBP playoffs in a top 6 finish.
Prior to coaching professionally, Saintignon was the Director of Basketball Operations and Assistant Coach at Oregon State University in the Pac-10 Conference from 2006 to 2007. Before landing in Corvallis, Saintignon was a teacher and Head Coach at Desert Edge High School in Goodyear, Ariz. His previous high school coaching experience included being the Head Coach at Canyon del Oro High School in Tucson, Ariz. (2001-04); Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista, Calif. (1995-01); and Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach, Calif. (1992-95).
Saintignon led his team at Canyon del Oro to the state tournament twice and was named the Coach of the Year in 2001-02. At Bonita Vista, he was also named the league’s coach of the year after leading his team to the CIF championship in 1999, the first CIF Championship earned in the schools history. At Mar Vista, Saintignon earned Coach of the Year honors by taking his team to the league championship in 1994-95, and the schools first since 1964.
As a guest speaker in Italy, Croatia, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Bahrain, Mexico Israel and Argentina, Saintignon has earned a reputation as an authority on player development and has produced several DVD’s on getting athletes better through individual training; “Advanced Guard Workout” is the title, as well as attacking on offense with his Secondary Break philosophy, called “On the Attack: Mastering the Secondary Break.”
Saintignon graduated from the University of California at San Diego in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, and a Master’s degree from Liberty University in Sports Administration. He played one season at UC San Diego and three seasons at the University of California at Santa Cruz. In 1985-86, he was the Leading Scorer in the United States (USA) as he led the entire NCAA Divisions with 31.2 points per game scoring average. He earned All-Conference MVP and All-American candidate honors all three of his years at UC Santa Cruz as he scored more than 2,450 points in his career where he is the All-Time scoring leader in University history as his number was retired this year. He went on to play professionally in Spain and Mexico for four seasons earning various honors including several All-Star selections.
A native of Tucson, Ariz., Saintignon graduated from Salpointe Catholic High School where he was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998. Saintignon has been married for 16 years to Angelica and they are proud parents of their two sons, Vicente (14) and Sebastian (11).
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