10 Ways an Assistant Coach Can Add Value

Fultondale coach Richie Busby talks to media members during the Jefferson/Shelby high school football media days in Gardendale, Ala., Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (Dennis Victory/preps@al.com)

By Drew Champlin, FNF Coaches Contributor

Richie Busby was promoted to the head coaching position at Fultondale High (Ala.) four seasons ago after 16 years as an assistant. He now has eight assistants on his staff. Seven are teachers at Fultondale and one is a volunteer.

Busby explained 10 ways an assistant coach can add value to his program.

LOYALTY: “No matter what you’re doing, whether it’s scheme or discipline, things need to stay within the program. You need guys that are going to be loyal to the head coach and the program,” he said.

KNOWING YOUR ROLE: “It’s that old saying, stay in your lane and do what you’re supposed to do and don’t worry about what everybody else is supposed to do,” Busby said. “That’s a big deal for the kids, but also coaches. Know your responsibility, do it well, and take care of your group of guys.”

PROFESSIONALISM: “I want them to carry themselves well and speak well of the program,” Busby said. “Carry yourself like you’re a head coach as well. I want my guys to want to move up, but I want them to learn to be a professional the way they dress and adapt.”

ADAPTABILITY: Busby said his defensive coordinator is a longtime veteran, but the Wildcats changed defenses before last season to adapt to personnel. “It’s not plug-and-play at a small school like this,” Busby said. “You’ve got to take what you’ve got and try to make a winner out of it. If you’re not willing to learn and adapt to what you’re doing, you’re not going to survive.”

RELATING TO KIDS: Busby has a good variety of ages throughout his staff. Some assistants are just out of college, while others have been in the game for a while. “You need guys who can pull you aside, who can relate to the kids so they can teach us older guys how to get on Twitter, I guess,” Busby said.

MOTIVATIONAL: Busby wants coaches who can get kids fired up to play a tough sport and show them why all the hard work will benefit them. “It’s tough, it’s hot, it’s nasty, all those type things,” Busby said. “I think you’ve got to be able to motivate the kids to want to go through that.”

POSITION KNOWLEDGE: Busby wants his linebackers coach to be an expert on the linebacker position. “When we go to the Alabama clinic, I want you to spend as much time as you can with Jeremy Pruitt or Kirby Smart – or whoever it is at the time – learning how they are doing things, and then be able to bring it back to our campus and relate it to a high school player,” Busby said.

INTEGRITY: “Any coach who has made a list of 10 things they would want a coach to have, character and integrity would be on there,” Busby said. “Quality guys who are going to help these kids be great young men on and off the field.”

GREAT TEACHER: Administrators look to hire coaches who also teach core subjects, and a great history teacher is usually a great coach, and vice versa. “It doesn’t matter what you know, if you can’t teach it to the kids who have to go out there and do it, it’s wasted knowledge,” Busby said. “You have to be able to teach the kids, and give it to them a way the kids understand it.”

A DESIRE TO BE A HEAD COACH: The assistants with the ultimate goal of becoming a head coach are going to work the hardest and learn what it takes to run a program. “If you’ve got guys who want to be a head coach, they’re going to do everything they can to get to that point,” Busby said. “I think it’s a reflection of your program when you’ve got guys that become a head coach.”

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