by Jayson Schmidt, Preseason
What makes a great assistant coach?
They’re loyal, humble, and innovative. They pay attention to detail, lead by example, and are great communicators. They ask questions, are open-minded, and do what needs to be done.
Every head coach (or future head coach) wants a staff that creates success both on and outside the proverbial field of competition. How does that translate into branding your program? Perhaps you’re ready to make a hire with a creative assistant coach, but don’t know where to get started.
Here are three hiring tips for finding and landing that creative assistant coach.
1. Weigh their creative ability equally.
As a head coach, my top three traits in hiring assistant coaches were charisma, sport IQ, and competitive nature. Perhaps it was the competitor in me, desiring to surround myself with like kind – or possibly my somewhat autocratic nature that wanted to handle booking all travel and social media. Either way, I didn’t value an assistant coach that could hit home runs with our creative strategy.
That was a mistake.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know that establishing your brand and creating content on social media is a must for the perception of your program and the success of your recruiting efforts. That means you’re either doing it yourself, giving it to your assistant, or giving it to me.
No matter what, creating quality content takes time. Those weekly hours need to be taken into consideration in the hiring process because it can set you up for success or mediocrity.
2. Find good talent.
All assistant coaching candidates fall on a scale between inexperienced, adequate, and talented. Your goal is to find the candidates that rank a six out of ten or higher as it pertains to creativity and direction; the more hands-off you can become, the better. You can even ask potential hires to rate themselves on a scale of 1-10 in areas like graphic design and photography (or applications like Photoshop, InDesign, and Lightroom).
While it doesn’t necessarily matter what tools they use for creating, ask to see their portfolio and their inspiration. Chances are, you can parse a “look and feel” through these two components while also providing creative strategy feedback during an interview.
The portfolio is important – even if just a collection of previous works in JPG or PDF – because you’ll see their capabilities. Good work stands out.
Their inspiration is important, too. Quality creatives will have saved the work of others for styles they want to imitate on websites like Pinterest, Behance, and Twitter. Design Twitter loves to nerd out on other peoples’ work; it’s just what we do. We love to see what others are doing that pushes the envelope.
3. Give them control.
During the hiring process, ensure candidates that you are hiring them under the assumption that they will receive full or near-full control of the creative process. To good designers, this autonomy may be enough to tip the scales if offered, as all designers have worked under a leader or on a project where micromanagement kills creative output.
While you may outline certain KPIs (or key performance indicators) like growing your social media following or producing content three times weekly, their best work will come when unhindered.
If that’s scary, you can schedule a bi-weekly meeting to simply discuss content and social media. This meeting is your check-in time to make sure everything is on track and on brand, but again, give them the control. You’ll find that by letting them lead it, the process and output will alleviate your stress and elevate your assistant’s future head coaching abilities.
By letting your assistant coaches operate under the freedom of their own strictures, more often than not, you’ll see them flourish.
This article is the thirteenth in a series on athletics branding. Jayson Schmidt is a former NCAA Division II head coach and managing partner of Preseason, a creative agency that helps colleges win.
Struggling with your brand or just simply want an edge on the competition? Preseason can elevate your story and deliver it to recruits, fans, and donors.