Assistant’s Corner: 5 Tips for an Aspiring Head Coach

James Vint is the offensive line coach at Lubbock Estacado (Texas). He published a book about RPO installation, “Using RPO’s to Create Explosive Play”, and writes a blog at

Be great at the job you have.

Most head coaches begin their careers as great assistants. Learn everything you can about your area of expertise.

“Most assistants aspire to be coordinators, and most coordinators aspire to be head coaches and athletic directors,” Vint said. “You’ve got to coach where you are instead of having one foot in the next job, or you’ll be looking for your next job.”

Lubbock Estacado head coach Marcus Shavers encourages his position coaches to view themselves as head coaches of that position group.

Share your goals with the head coach.

A coaching staff gets stronger with trust and honest communication. A head coach will understand if you have greater aspirations than serving as his assistant.

“A head coach will meet with each of his assistants at the end of the season, and this is when you should share your short-term and long-term goals.”

Don’t escalate situations to the head coach unless appropriate.

If you’re the coach of a position group, and one of your players has a bad attitude at practice, it is your responsibility to help the player. Don’t escalate every problem when you can come up with a solution. However, when a situation within your position group affects the team as a whole (i.e. injury, suspension), it is appropriate to escalate the situation.

Always notify the head coach when interviewing for another position.

Your head coach should always hear about your job interviews from you. Don’t let another coach surprise your head coach by calling for a reference.

“The minute you hit send on the application, you need to talk to or text your coach,” Vint said. “Most head coaches will help you. But you never want them to get a call asking about a job candidate if they don’t know about it first.”

Network on behalf of other assistants.

Vint once served as an offensive coordinator on a staff, and one of his position coaches was excelling in his position. Vint discovered an opening for an offensive coordinator position, and he called on his position coach’s behalf.

“You want guys on your staff to do that for each other,” Vint said. “Loyalty’s a two-way street, and coaches need that. That’s part of building trust. I’m looking out for opportunities for other coaches, and I hope they’re looking out for opportunities for me.”

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