Coaches should take time to prepare their understudy

jonbuzby@hotmail.comMay 27, 2012 

Just like players, coaches occasionally are going to miss games because of commitments that come up in their personal or professional lives.

As the spring season comes to a close and graduation parties and other traditional rites of spring take place, the issue might come up on your team.

It might be a wedding, graduation party or work trip that can't be avoided. It might also be for health reasons. At some point during the season, the head coach is going to have to miss a game.

It's all the more reason to be sure the assistant coaches are prepared to take over if and when it happens. Regardless of the sport, there should be at least one assistant coach who can comfortably jump in at any moment -- remember an illness could occur mid-game -- and put on the head-coaching hat with little or no change in the momentum of the team.

This decision should be made ahead of time so assistant coaches aren't pointing the finger at each other -- or themselves -- when the head coach asks who wants to take over. Indecision like that would immediately rock the team boat, interfere with the transition and put doubt in the players' minds as to who is really in charge.

I do recommend that head coaches do everything in their power not to miss playoff games, or games with playoff implications. It's not fair to put an untested assistant coach in the position of power in a win-or-go-home game. Granted, sometimes it's unavoidable. But remember, you can be a few minutes late to whatever graduation party you've been invited to attend.

Volunteering as a head coach is a major time commitment, and everyone -- parents and players -- have to understand there will be times when the head coach just can't be there.

But it is imperative that a person be prepared to take the head coaching role if and when it becomes necessary, and be ready to make the decisions that go along with the job. And like with so many other things on the team, being sure someone is prepared to do so falls on the head coach -- before he has to miss a game.

Reach Jon Buzby at and follow him on Twitter @jonbuzby.

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