Coach's Corner: Tom Radke 9/4
By Tom Radke Head Coach St. James Academy
Relax, I’ve been repeating it in my head over and over for the last few weeks. Getting ready for the season is a great experience, but sometimes while making practice plans, and lesson plans we forget to take care of the basics. I sometimes worry I’ll forget some of the automatic things, you know, sleeping, breathing, eating, but, what can I say, I love it.
This year I’m getting ready with a new team and a new staff, so I’ve really been focusing on how to use my assistant coaches effectively to make sure everyone is working towards the same goal, not stepping on each other’s toes, and doing what they love.
I’ve learned these things over the years from my Dad and my coaching mentor Rick Byers, along with lots of great assistant coaches that I’ve worked with over the years (shout out to Larry Beashore).
1. Hire people with the same morals and values as yourself. A lot of disagreements can be avoided and you’ll be able to develop trust more quickly. This is not to say everyone you hire should be exactly like you, in fact, hiring people with different experience and knowledge is extremely beneficial, but if the foundation that they are coming from is drastically different than yours, it’s going to be hard to get on solid footing.
2. Be very clear on expectations in the beginning, that way there will be very few surprises during the season. Set the tone early. Don’t talk down to staff during practice, but if you do, be sure to apologize in front of the team.
3. Give them something that is theirs and let them do it. Be patient, if they aren’t doing something the way you would like them to, it’s probably because you didn’t communicate it very well. Trust them to do the job you hired them to do.
4. Give them enough to do to keep them engaged. Don’t be afraid to delegate to your assistants, that’s why you hired them. People feel more ownership when they feel you’ve trusted them with something important, and they will work hard not to let you down.
5. Meet with them before and after practice. Walk through the goals for the day, and review the progress at the end of the day to be sure the goals were met. Let them speak to the team at the end of practice; it’s the best time to give the quick pointers on the lessons of the day.
6. Ask their opinion! Make sure they know their ideas are welcome and wanted. They must also know that their ideas will not always be used. Let them know they are part of your program, and everything they do reflects on the head coach and the school.
7. Loyalty – If assistant coaches are loyal to the head coach everything will fall into place. Discuss, but never second-guess the head coach. In my opinion loyalty is No. 1. Make sure to compliment the coaches in front of the team as often as possible. And mention assistant coaches specific to position to the media as often as possible to help build trust and loyalty.
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