Head Coaches: Don’t Wish Time Away

Transition from assistant to head

The transition from assistant to head coach is an exciting time, but it also carries with it potential pitfalls and new problems.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” –Arthur Ashe

I just discovered Mike Deegan’s email newsletter.  He writes regularly about life lessons from sports and coaching.

The particular one that came to my attention, “Seven Things You Should Consider Before Sliding Into the Big Seat,” has to do with the transition from assistant to head coach.

The transition is not always an easy one.

I have been a head coach and an assistant coach in my career.  I have enjoyed each job, but whenever I am doing one job, I have a tendency to remember and focus on my favorite parts of the other job.

There is a reason for the cliche “the grass is always greener.” It’s pretty true.

Deegan in his article lists out the most difficult changes for a new head coach.

He starts with “Get ready to be unpopular.

“Get ready to be unpopular: As an assistant, everyone likes you.  As the leader, that won’t be the case.  The happiness of our players, parents and coaches is really important to me, probably too important at times.  Let me be the first to tell you, not everyone will be happy and they will more than likely blame you.  Can you handle that?”

Advice for assistant coaches

He concludes the piece with a brief list of great advice for current assistant coaches including this very important one:

Enjoy your present situation. (Don’t wish time away.)

This is great advice and equally true for a head coach.

I remind myself often: don’t wish time away.

I get caught in what’s difficult about being in charge and I forget what’s great about being in charge. If I change my lens things improve and often very quickly.

Instead of caring if I am liked I try very hard to like and respect those around me.

I may not be able to provide playing time for each person, but I can teach each person and hold all accountable and do each of things in the long run that are good for a person or a team.


Instead of disconnecting as the stress grows I begin to connect to others. Each time I do this, each time I actually provide to others what I would like for myself, things improve.

And, not just for me. Things improve for the team and staff as well.

I think Deegan’s list has merit–we all feel these things–but we often forget to embrace our power to change this dynamic as well.

We forget to be right where we are.



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