Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Assistant Coaches: 'Be flexible, understanding and positive' (Part 3)
by Mike Woitalla, July 10th, 2013 1:32AM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

TAGS:  youth boys, youth girls


By Mike Woitalla

In Part 3 of our series on assistant coaches, we asked for advice for assistant coaches on how to approach their role.

Rusty Scarborough (CASL, Director of Soccer):
“Be very flexible and understanding. Be a team player and willing to do all the little things that make a team succeed.”

Bob Montgomery (New York Red Bulls, Director of Youth Programs):
“The head coach should consult you -- talk to you about, for example, who should start at right back. You can disagree, and at the end the head coach will decide which way it will be, and then you give the full support. If players ask why they didn’t get the start, you don’t say, 'Don’t ask me, I thought you’ve been great.' That’s undermining. That doesn’t work. You can disagree, and at the end the head coach will decide which way it will be, and then you give full support. Loyalty is important.”

Sam Snow (U.S. Youth Soccer, Coaching Director):
“Be ready and willing to help at training sessions with the practical aspects of moving cones, goals, etc., as well as coaching the players. Happily take on administrative duties to help the team on and off the field.

“Listen to the head coach's ideas on training activities, match tactics, player evaluations and so on, but do offer your own thoughts, even if they are contrary to the head coach. No good head coach wants an assistant who only goes along. However, when you have a different point of view from the head coach have that discussion in private. In front of the team present a unified approach.

“Be the ear to the team for the players and back to the head coach. Be first to volunteer to assist with team management, which could be washing the uniforms, paying the referees, distributing the agenda for a meeting with parents, etc.

“Be the primary first-aid giver, unless there is someone more medically qualified than you to take on that duty. Always, always, always keep an open mind to learning more about the sport, the craft of coaching, personnel management, sport administration and much more.”

Ian Barker (NSCAA, Director of Coaching of Education):
“To respect the position of the head coach and be more than willing to support them is critical for the effective assistant. As an assistant one has to appreciate that sometimes, often in adversity, one may be overlooked or asked to do something less “important” than direct players and coach the game. If the assistants can appreciate that and trust that the head coach is not abusing the privilege of their support then they are performing a critical role well. ...

"The effective assistant coach should be ready to collect cones, bag balls etc., and have enough confidence and technical, tactical knowledge to support the players and head coach in performance."

Gerry McKeown (PDA, Boys Director of Coaching):
“Learn about the person and program you are working with to make sure you can use your skill set to benefit the players. It will be important to have an open mind and learn as much as you can as no one has all the answers.

“You should have a strategy that allows you to support the type of personality you will be working with, even if it means temporarily adapting. Being an assistant can be a challenging proposition, particularly when working with someone that you are incompatible with. Many young assistants take jobs to gain entry into the industry and are working with programs or systems that do not match their vision of the game.

“In these cases it is important to remain positive and find private moments to have constructive dialogue for the betterment of the team. If these attempts are unsuccessful it is critical that you remain publicly supportive but keep a ledger of things that you would not condone when you become a head coach. As my grandmother once said "No man is useless, he can always serve as a bad example."

Tim Schulz (Rush Soccer, President & CEO):
“The player can view the assistant as a substitute teacher, meaning, "Ah, what he says is not as important." This is difficult to overcome. You must let the player know you have as much authority as the head coach. Especially on the boys side, you must command a presence … at the right time!"

Read Part 1 of our assistant coach series HERE and Part 2 HERE.

(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, is co-author, with Tim Mulqueen, of The Complete Soccer Goalkeeper and co-author with Claudio Reyna of More Than Goals: The Journey from Backyard Games to World Cup Competition. Woitalla's youth soccer articles are archived at

No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Youth Soccer Insider
The must-see concussion video    
Perhaps the most crucial information from recent science on concussions is how dangerous another concussion is ...
U.S. U-17 boys Residency Program welcomes 11 newcomers    
Coach John Hackworth made 11 changes to the 32-player roster for the U-17 Residency Program for ...
North Korea claims U-17 Women's World Cup title    
North Korea beat defending champion Japan, 5-4, in a penalty kick shootout in the final to ...
Should you play sports when you're sick?    
We're getting in to that time of year when people start sneezing and coughing all around ...
DiCicco and Dorrance react to USA's U-17 World Cup exit     
On Friday, Japan faces North Korea in the final of the 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup, ...
Watch out corporate America, Here come the Refs!     
A few very advanced refs can earn enough money from refereeing to make it their vocation. ...
Mallory Pugh leads USA's U-20 Women's World Cup squad    
Mallory Pugh, the 18-year-old Colorado product who has already made 17 appearances, with four goals and ...
World Cup ends early for U.S. U-17 girls    
The USA exited in the first round at the 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup with a ...
MLS newcomer already has two teens on the roster    
Atlanta United begins MLS play in 2017, but it made a bit of history by becoming ...
Please, Don't scream at the children    
Within the last few weeks, while coaching and refereeing, I observed a couple of very different ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives