The following list comes from Coach Mike Deegan, the head baseball coach at Denison. Coach Deegan came to Denison after being as assistant at Marietta College where he was part of a staff that won three National Championships. Often as assistant coaches we assume the transition to head coach is not as difficult as it may seem -- Coach Deegan gives us some great insight.
The following list comes from an article that you can and should read hear. Coach Deegan, in the article, gives some great advice for assistants wanting to make the move up.
1. 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?
2. Get ready to be questioned: As an assistant you make suggestions, as a leader you make decisions. There is a huge difference. And guess what, everyone knows more than you. People with fractions of the information will tell you what you are doing wrong. The questions will come from everywhere. In my profession that means assistant coaches, players, parents, bus drivers, fans, administrators, faculty….the list goes on and on. Can you be confident enough in yourself to make bold decisions? Can you stay strong and not allow outside influences to affect your decision making process?
3. Get ready to have your character challenged: I recently had dinner with a Federal judge. We were discussing the coaching profession when I said, “you are never popular as a head coach.” He responded by saying, “tell me about it, I’m the most hated man in America right now.” If you decide to lead you will be attacked at some point. People will take shots at you either directly or more often than not, behind your back. How will you handle this?
4. Get ready to have your family affected: Yes, your family will feel the impact of your leadership position. Don’t let anyone fool you; this will be tough on your family. The hours will be longer and you will never be completely “off” from the job. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve come home from a long day at work and tried to shift gears into dad and husband when I’ve received the “emergency” text or email. This absolutely impacts the family. Yes, dad is home but now dad is distracted.
5. Get ready to be on an island: There will only be a very, very select few people who know what you are going through. Other people may think they know but they don’t. You won’t have the ability to “vent” to many people. You will have to find a core group of friends that will be there to support you, provide you with advice and help you through the difficult times.
6. Get ready for a different type of relationship with your players: This may be the toughest challenge. As an assistant, typically, you have a very close relationship with the players. However, as an assistant, you are not making the final decision. The leader needs to maintain a healthy distance. You will have to guard against getting too close; you have to make sure it doesn’t appear that you are “playing favorites.”
7. Get ready to deal with people who just don’t get it: You will work around the clock trying to provide growth and contribution for those you lead. You will sacrifice your personal time for others. And, there will still be some people who don’t get it. In my profession, it all revolves around playing time. You will strive to teach the life long lessons that sports provide. It won’t matter to some. This will hurt. Can you stay the course? Can you continue to try to do what’s right despite of the criticism?