Much like a general manager in business needs a team of supervisors to help carry out his plans, a head coach in sports needs a team of competent and trustworthy assistant coaches. The assistant coach typically is assigned specific areas of responsibilities and is held accountable by the head coach for the results. Assistant coaches must be fully supportive of the head coach and his vision for the team's success.
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Assistant coaches allow the head coach to concentrate on managing a team by assuming specific responsibilities as delegated by the head coach. Assistant coaches often work more closely with individual players than the head coach and have the responsibility of helping players develop specific sets of skills. For example, a basketball assistant coach may work with players on proper techniques for rebounding.
Assistant coaches are often assigned to specific player positions. For example, on a football team, one assistant may work with linebackers, another with defensive linemen and a third with the defensive backs. They all will work under the direction of a defensive coordinator, who reports to the head coach. Other assistants may be in charge of keeping team statistics, developing players' physical strength or developing a game plan for their area, of responsibility which must be approved by the head coach.
The size of an assistant coaching staff is usually determined by the type and level of the sport. Professional sports have the most assistants, with the number decreasing through ranks of college, high school and youth league sports. Football often has the largest number of assistants since there are often more players on a team. Typically, the fewer assistant coaches there are on a team, the more each is required to "multitask."
A head coach will often bring in an assistant coach that can help a team in a specific area. For example, if a baseball team is poor at fielding, a coach may hire an assistant who is strong in teaching defensive fundamentals. An assistant may also be brought in to address an area where the head coach lacks the necessary expertise.
The head coach should ensure that any assistant he hires buys into his coaching philosophy and is able to communicate it to the players. A basketball assistant who believes in a "run and gun" style of offences as opposed to a head coach who prefers a more conservative approach may not have complete faith in the head coach's system. As a result, he may be less enthusiastic about teaching it to the players.
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