10 Ways for an Assistant Coach to Impact the Game Plan

Ohio’s Al Martin has been the head coach at Cuyahoga Heights High School for 21 years, earning Coach of the Year honors last season after leading the Redskins to their first state finals appearance in school history. He shared 10 things every assistant coach can do throughout a year to help a team be successful.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK. Martin said people with a lot of coaching experience are always willing to help with any question a position coach might have during practice or a game. It could be a question that helps the team win on a Friday night.

FLEXIBILITY. Under Martin, coaches have the ability to do other things away from the football field, whether that is attending their own children’s games or other family events. But, when it’s time to prepare, he knows his staff will be ready when they’re called in to set the game plan.

SPEAK UP. Don’t be shy. Coaches never fault a coach for speaking up if they believe they see something others don’t. Martin has many coaches he relies on during the week. “Everybody contributes and everybody feels comfortable,” Martin said. “Really the offensive and defensive coordinators make a lot of the decisions, but everybody has input.”

FIND YOUR CALLING. “We have guys on our staff who are great with the kids, great position coaches, and a lot of other things,” Martin said. “In football, there’s so much that needs to get done other than film and game planning. It’s a large task these days.”

ORGANIZATION. Martin assigns coaches to focus solely on coordinating video equipment and iPads on a Friday night. Staying organized and on task is one of the more important things to a team’s success.

TECH SAVVY HELPS. Along with being organized, understanding how an iPad works, or divvying up game film through HUDL is important for a head coach each week. Martin and staff gather at his house to view game film just a couple hours after each game.

PREPARE LIKE A COORDINATOR. Coaches on the field always ask coaches in the booth what they see. Prepare during the week as much as a coordinator so you can be on the same page.

ALWAYS LEND A HAND. “It’s become such a complicated game and the coaching is so good that there’s no way you can do it on your own,” Martin said. “You rely on your assistants, whether young or old, to be an active part of game nights.”

DEDICATION. When Martin began coaching in 1994 he never thought he’d see the game grow to what it is today. One piece of advice he gave to coaches just out of college was to really dedicate themselves to the game.

KEEP PROGRAM HEALTHY. Even during the offseason there’s always work to do. “There’s so much to do to keep a program at a level where you can be successful,” Martin said. “You have to communicate well with parents and administration to help grow the sport of football.”

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