This is Coach Phil Tran, championship-winning high school football coach and award-winning strength coach.
Let us say you have been hired as a Head Football Coach. Who would you consider to be your most important Assistant Coach? In filling out your staff, who do you prioritize?
There are lot of good answers here and your situation may vary due to needs, loyalties, and practicalities.
In my opinion, the most important Assistant Coach is your Strength Coach. A new Head Coach should prioritize the hiring of a qualified Strength and Conditioning Coach.
Offensive and Defensive Coordinators work primarily on one side of the ball and focus on scheme. Special Teams Coordinators work with a mixture of offensive and defensive players. Position Coaches work primarily with their position groups and focus on fundamental skills.
However, the Strength Coach will work with every player in the program of all grade levels year round. Besides the Head Coach, only the Strength Coach touches all players in the program of all grade levels year round for the entirely of a player’s high school career.
The right Strength Coach for the program will enforce, extend, and enhance team culture. We also have to mention the obvious. The right Strength Coach will be critical for athlete development, athlete retention, and injury prevention which will all translate to a better athlete experience and, hopefully, more wins.
Especially at the high school level where qualified strength coaches are in short supply, you can never have too many certified strength and conditioning specialists on staff so long as everyone knows their role and can fill in whenever and wherever needed.
Having coached other girls’ and boys’ sports outside of football at the high school and club level, I would maintain that the strength coach is also the most important assistant coach of any sport. Football is a collision sport with unavoidable collisions happening on every play so the weight room will be the reality for the totality of a football player’s career.
Other sports that require a ton of specialized skills and technical precision without the unavoidable collisions on every play such as baseball, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, and softball, have gotten away at the high school level without lifting weights. Such athletes who go on to the next level after high school are behind the curve because weight lifting is certainly the reality for every sport for men and women at the college level and beyond.
Sport science proves that weight lifting will give any athlete a cutting edge on the field, court, or ice. It would make sense to start lifting early and often regardless of what sport the athlete is playing. If improved performance is not enough of a motivator to get athletes in the weight room, perhaps a pretty physique would do the job. Good looks are a natural byproduct of weight lifting for better sport performance.
I believe the Strength Coach is the most important Assistant Coach. Your priorities will vary based on needs, loyalties, and practicalities. Let me know what has been your experience in the comments.
This is Phil Tran saying so long. I will see you next time.