Soccer Assistant Coach



The gold standard for a soccer assistant coach is someone who is 1.) knowledgeable, willing, and able to coach the goalkeepers; and, 2.) completely in tune with the head coach and the program such that he can take on numerous duties or replace the coach in an emergency.

Goalkeeper Coach

Good goalkeeping is critical to the success of the team and goalkeepers occupy an extremely unique position that requires an extremely unique set of skills. The two main problems faced by a single head coach are 1.) insufficient personal training to provide proper instruction to their goalkeepers; and, 2.) insufficient time to focus on the needs of these one or two individuals over the bulk of the team. These problems can be overcome by taking the necessary coursework, doing the homework, getting the experience, cross-training all of the team in goalkeeping, and having separate goalkeeper practices, or by finding an eager assistant coach.

It is essential that an assistant coach who becomes the goalkeeper coach receive proper training. Club, state and national organizations provide formal training. Numerous books and videos are also available. If the head coach has adequate goalkeeper training, then he may provide the instruction to the assistant coach.

Emergency Head Coach

The needs of the team don’t go away if the head coach becomes ill, incapacitated, or must otherwise be absent. Absence can be a scheduled event or occur at a moment’s notice. Accordingly, an assistant coach must have access to all training information and documents and be fully prepared to step in. This is part of the Contingency Planning process.

As with goalkeeping, club, state and national organizations provide formal training for field play, and numerous books and videos are also available. Similarly, the coach must meet and talk with the assistant coach early and often to expose them to all aspects of Team Administration. The assistant may also take on some of the Team Manager or Team Administrator functions. Like a school teacher, the coach should prepare lesson plans for upcoming practices that the assistant coach can obtain, if needed.  Assistant coaches need to know all the IFAB Laws of the Game.

The head coach-assistant coach dynamic is a serious personal relationship. As usual in such cases, regular and effective communication is key.

Soccer Coaching Tips:

– The head coach-assistant coach relationship requires mutual respect and understanding. Coaches must be open and honest with assistants and respect their input. Assistant coaches must not do anything by word or action to undermine the head coach.
– Assistant coaches are regularly approached by players who may feel that they can’t adequately talk with the head coach. Assistants must not make promises beyond trying to be an effective mediator with the head coach.
– Coaches should train assistant coaches to become head coaches, particularly in cases of succession planning.

© Copyright, John C. Harves