Assistant Coach Contracts and Evaluation Forms
Guy Edson, May 2019
American Swimming Coaches Association
Bottom Line: We don’t have contract forms or evaluation forms for assistant coaches.
I don’t believe there should be a contract between the board of directors and an assistant coach because it blurs the line of who the assistant coach works for. If the assistant coach has a contract with the board, then who does he or she answer to?
In a properly structured program, an assistant coach is hired by, works for, answers to, is supervised by, and is fired by the head coach.
As an illustration. ASCA is very much like a big swim team. We have a board of directors and an executive director (head coach). The head coach has a contract with the board of directors. The head coach has the responsibility to hire and fire staff members. I have worked for ASCA for 31 years without a contract. I report to John Leonard, not the board. I keep my job by doing good work for John. If I did bad work, and it reflected badly on the organization, and John didn’t want to fire me, the board might say to John, “get rid of Guy or your job is on the line also.” The board would not fire me because I do not have contact with them and do not work directly for them.
I have benefits. I have security. I have a fair salary. All are dependent on me doing good work and staying in the good graces of the head coach.
There should always be a chain of command and it should be a straight line. It goes BOD –> President of BOD –> Head Coach –> Head Assistant Coach.
So what to do? I think there should be a job description for each assistant coach that is arrived at with discussions with the head coach. This job escription is a detailed list of responsibilities and authorities along with standards for performance.
What are those responsibilities and authorities? It all depends on what the head coach wants in an assistant and what an assistant wants to do. It’s called negotiation. It begins with the head coach imagining the ideal assistant coach for every position on the team. Then the head coach creates a list detailing what each assistant should be responsible for. Next, the head coach presents the list to the assistant coach and a discussion takes place. If an assistant coach is unwilling or unable to comply with the areas of responsibility then the head coach has the choice of altering his list, or releasing the assistant coach.
Below is a starting list of assistant coach responsibilities. Keep in mind that there are two extremes in assistant coach types. Some assistant coaches are “go for” types: they show up on time, are given instructions, then leave. They have no other responsibilities, they don’t write workouts, they don’t do meet entries, they might not even go to meets. At the other end, some assistant coaches do it all: they plan workouts, put in office hours, attend meets, make phone calls, etc. The following list, therefore, needs to be edited according to the needs of the head coach and the desires of the assistant coach – it’s a starting point.
Coaching aspects for daily workouts
– presents a detailed season plan to the head coach for approval
– writes workouts a week at a time, one week in advance
– keeps a neat and organized workout log available for inspection by the head coach at any time
– keeps daily attendance
– arrives 15 minutes early for all workouts and begins workouts on time
– wears team issued team shirt and maintains an overall professional manner
– posts daily workouts
– workout design includes a researched dry land program which is age and skill appropriate
– knows the criteria for moving from group to group
– creates smaller workout groups within the larger group for the purpose of providing more challenging workouts and meeting the needs of a wider range of abilities.
– posts criteria for moving from group to group
– creates workout sets designed to develop swimmers for the next group
– helps swimmers set performance goals
– helps swimmers set outcome goals
– keeps records of all individual goals
– posts time standards
– keeps swimmer’s best times readily available to use for motivation
– sets team workout goals
– includes quality stroke work as part of the workout plan in accordance with the percentages prescribed by the head coach
– uses the pace clock to manage workout
– trains all swimmers to use pace clock
– maintains control of all swimmers in workout
– never sits down during workout and constantly moves along the deck
– constantly encourages and corrects swimmers
– never talks to parents during workout
– never uses a cell phone during a workout
– never leaves the pool deck while any swimmers are in pool
– when teaching starts, warns swimmers of the dangers
– never allows swimmers to use starting blocks unless under the direct supervision of the coach
– has authority to dismiss any swimmer temporarily
– contacts head coach as soon as possible
– attempts to finish workouts with something exciting or challenging each day
– is available to speak with parents immediately following workout
– communicates with parents with respect and professionalism
– keeps an organized notebook including
– season planning
– best times
– writes monthly report including
– attendance by age and sex
– time standards evaluation (how many A, AA, etc swimmers, this month, last month, one year ago, future goal)
– swim meet performance
– maintains scheduled office hours
– writes column for monthly newsletter
– attends Board Meeting upon reasonable request of head coach
– disburses meet information
– posts meet results for swimmers in group
– reports new team records to head coach
– attends all staff meetings
– selects individual’s meet events and reviews with each swimmer
– recommends individual’s meet schedule (with parent approval)
– has prompt attendance on all scheduled meet days – 15 minutes prior to warm up time
– structures individual and group warm-ups
– attends all pertinent meetings at meets
– wears team colors and maintains a neat appearance
– speaks to each swimmer before each event
– observes all swims
– records split times for all swims
– speaks to each swimmer after their swim
– supports head coach and team policies
– conducts himself with the highest moral and ethical standards
Standards of Performance
– Moves (number) swimmers to the next workout group by (date)
– Maintains 90 percent of roster through season not counting move ups or moving away
– Develops (number) of (time standard) swimmers by season end
– Develops (percent) of group with a legal (time standard) 200 IM
The salary of the assistant coach for doing all of the above is negotiated with the head coach who has it approved by the board according to the overall budget.
Now, what about evaluations? Evaluations should be based on what we ask our assistant coaches to do. (See list above.)
You can evaluate the coach because you have set clear responsibilities with standards.
I recommend evaluating your assistant coaches two weeks after the start of the season, again at mid season, and again at season’s end. Do it at a quiet, sit down meeting, away from distractions. Make it a constructive growth opportunity rather than a confrontation. In areas that have been well done, congratulate the coach. In areas needing improvement ask the assistant why, in their opinion, the standard was not met. If it was a reasonable objective, what does it take to meet the objective by a future date? What help or resources are needed by the assistant coach. The job of the head coach is to nurture the staff but not to continue to tolerate inadequate performance. Sometimes it is best to part ways.