Many youth soccer assistant coaches have aspirations of becoming head coaches. They want to run their own offense, defense, special teams and they want to see how their methods work, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve had about 14 assistant coaches with me become head coaches. I encouraged and mentored them, and most good youth coaches will do the same if asked.
Many youth organizations have more people wanting to be head coaches than head coaching positions, so the organization has to determine the best fit for the organization.
The first step to becoming a head coach is to be the best assistant coach the organization has ever seen and here’s how you do it:
Be the best at whatever task you are given, if you are in charge of something as mundane as water make sure the water situation is the best ever. Get personalized water bottles for each player and make sure your timeout water is the freshest the team has ever seen and get it out in bulk and in a hurry, you get the idea.
Be loyal to the head coach’s practice outlines and methods. If you’re running a spread offense with zone blocking rules, learn all you can about those systems. He’s in charge and can execute whatever he wants, regardless of whether the offense is a poor choice for his team. Don’t criticize him or his systems publicly if you’re forced to comment, just say, “My job as an assistant coach is to implement what the head coach wants done the way he wants it done.”
If you have suggestions for outlines and techniques, please make them to the coach outside of the practice and playing fields. Introduce them in a non-aggressive, non-threatening manner. If he disagrees with you and is adamant about sticking to his ways, don’t hold a grudge against him, aggressively teach him his ways to the best of your ability.
Be on time, practice early, help establish and develop positive relationships with children and parents.
Offer to take any load from the head coach as possible. This could include bringing in some of the blocking dummies to practice or scout an upcoming opponent.
Ask him to take you if he explores equipment to learn how he does it.
Ask the head coach what he uses to learn more about his system and borrow or buy it yourself.
Being above reproach from an ethical standard, even if other coaches smoke or drink in front of the players, don’t do it. Steer clear of petty skirmishes on the coaching staff or in team dynamics.
Be the best sportsman and model exceptional sportsmanship for your players.
Be well dressed, well groomed and professional.
If your area of the team is having trouble, ask the head coach for suggestions, be humble.
Be enthusiastic and friendly with opposing coaches and referees. If you attend other youth games, develop positive relationships with them.
Take initiative with the little things and excel at them. Something as simple as making sure everyone on the starting team is on the field. Or even pick up all the trash on your sidelines after the game. Offer to do signage to make the field more special on game days, things like that.
Suggest fun team building drills like the ones in the book in Chapter 4 for a day when the team starts to run out of gas. Suggest something unique that you are in charge of and execute on it. Make these suggestions off the field and show the head coach why it’s important and how it will help “his” team.
Break down the movie of your games and provide statistics to the coach.
Bring a donor or hold a fundraising effort.
Make framed end of the year certificates or awards for the kids, the frames we use are only $2 each and the certificates are free online.
Let the head coach know that you would like to be a head coach, and ask him what areas he thinks he needs to improve in order to become a head coach. Ask him to recommend training materials or clinics you should attend.
Attend league board meetings and inform them of your interest and qualifications.
Finally, get letters of recommendation from the head coach, other assistants, and even the parents of the kids on your team.
Go to the trainer clinics in your area, sit in the front, learn and become known, be part of the demonstrations. The clinics are always looking for volunteer workers, volunteers.
If you do these things somehow, somewhere, people will knock on your door to be head football coach.
As someone who has “hired” hundreds of head coaches, I can assure you that we look for the coach who has the best ability to lead and balance that with any responsibilities you may have. Most youth organizations like to keep their risks as low as possible, so if you’re not well organized, a pain in the ass, have sportsmanship issues, this will often overwhelm your coaching experience.
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