How to Avoid Squandering Your Greatest Resources – Volunteer Assistant Coaches

By JimBado

If your team is like most, you’ll have parents willing to help you. Some parents will be able to make every practice and game; others only some. Some will understand basketball; others will be clueless. No matter who they are, how you use them, to a great extent, will determine how well your team performs.

The worst thing you can do: squander adult volunteers’ time, knowledge and skills. If you’re a control freak who must manage and run every aspect of practices and games, do your volunteers a favor and tell them you don’t need their help (even though you do). Why? Because adult volunteers want to be active and involved; nothing is worse for them than standing around with nothing to do. Failure to give your helpers meaningful roles where they can deploy their knowledge and skills (some may know more about the sport than you) is a sure way to create frustrated, disappointed adult volunteers.

The good news: with a little foresight and planning, you can get a lot out of your volunteers. And, even better, the adults will enjoy being “used”. Assistants, in fact, are a lot like players, you need to keep them busy. One of the simplest and easiest ways to get the most from your volunteers is running stations in practice.

To run stations, follow these simple steps:

1) Split your squad into 2, 3, or 4 relatively even groups

2) Pick a fundamental skill to practice at each station

3) Assign an assistant to run each station

4) Rotate the players every 3-5 minutes among the stations (you will keep track of time)

5) Get the heck out of the way!

Splitting your squad into smaller groups benefits both your players and your volunteers. In station work, players get many repetitions of a fundamental skill. Since they run the station, your adult volunteers will share their knowledge with the team and work closely with all the players. Will your volunteers always teach a skill the exact way you would have? Of course not, but, remember, you’re a youth league coach – just like your assistants – not Duke’s Coach K.

Here’s a three-station example (3-5 minutes at each station, then rotate, 15-20 minutes total):

1) One basket: v-cut, catch pass from coach or another player, shoot jump shot

2) Up and down both sidelines: defensive slide/turn the dribbler (dribble against pressure)

3) Other basket: roll ball to shooter/defender runs to guard shooter and boxes-out/rebounds

If you follow this approach, your players will practice v-cuts, shooting, defensive slides, dribbling against pressure and boxing out multiple times over the quarter hour. As a youth coach, you’re always pressed for time: stations help you get the most out of your limited time. In some of our practices, we run two different sets of stations to keep the team and volunteers all busy.

There’s no limit to what you can practice in stations. You could do lay-ups, machine-gun passing and crossover/change of pace/speed dribbling. You could split your team in half where one group works on footwork drills while the other plays dribble knockout. No matter how you split them, you’ll receive the same benefits: multiple repetitions of fundamental skills while everyone stays active and involved.

Remember, your enemies are idle, bored players and, also, idle, bored volunteers. If you keep your assistants busy leading valuable station work, they will enjoy volunteering. And, even better, your team will be more successful as a result of their active participation.

You can find more articles from Jim Bado that are usually non-basketball related at the LOSER Report.

For more youth coaching tips, drills, plays, offense tips, defense tips, and much more, visit our Youth Basketball Coaching Home Page.