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5 keys to keeping your staff together for the long haul

The value in keeping a group of cohesive coaches together who understand the expectations of the head coach, and communicate the same messages to kids in your program year after year cannot be overstated. It is vital to a program's long term success.

Over the past several seasons a number of college football programs have showcased an impressive degree of staff continuity. Programs that come to mind that have demonstrated the ability to keep the majority of their staff together over the past several seasons include Northwestern, Oregon, Clemson and Michigan State. These are just a few programs that clearly see the value in staff continuity.

Take a look at the most successful high school programs in your area and state and the same is likely true. Good programs have often figured out a way to keep their quality coaches around for the long haul. So what are the keys?

When it comes to keeping your staff together for the long haul, here are five things that you can do to help keep quality guys around according to head coaches that have successfully done it.

1 - Be honest and loyal
If there's an issue, handle it like an adult and address it promptly and be as upfront as possible. Your staff may not like what you say initially, but at the end of the day they'll respect it and they'll always know where you stand on things and that can go a long way.

The second part of that is being loyal. The chances of your assistants sticking around if you're publicly exploring your own options every off season is pretty slim. Show your guys you're in it for the long haul and are happy with where are and chances are much better that they'll reward your loyalty with loyalty of their own.

2 - Allow assistants opportunities to grow both professionally and personally
Every coach worth his salt wants opportunities to learn and grow. Head coaches that recognize this and find ways to help guys grow are rewarded twofold because 1) the staffers see it as confidence and an investment in them and their future, and 2) you often get a more quality product because guys treat it as an opportunity to impress rather than just being handed a title and responsibility - which can bring a much different approach.

Sometimes this may mean plugging them for a great personal or professional opportunity outside of your program, and that's okay. You going to bat for them to another coach in the profession speaks volumes about what you think of them, and refusing to says even more.

3 - Make sure that they feel their voices and ideas are heard andvalued
It's basic human nature to want to work somewhere where what you bring to the table is taken seriously and I've learned that one of the most popular reasons that coaches leave for other jobs (both lateral moves and promotions) is that they don't feel like their voices and ideas are valued. Few things are more frustrating that being in a staff meeting and suggesting an idea or schematic adjustment, only to have it shot down time after time.

4 - Show them that their value to you and the program goes well beyond what they do on the field, in the office, and on the recruiting trail
In order to garner the full respect of the assistant coaches on staff, you also have to have a full grasp and investment into their, the sacrifices that they all make, and make an honest effort to bring them into the fold. Some teams have the facility open to families all the time, while others hold family dinners or other events. Whatever it may be, find something that works for your program.

5 - Make the office and your practices places that people want to be
This one is rather simple and self explanatory, but it's also the easiest to lose sight of when much of your time is spent on finding ways to win and develop players. Create an environment where your coaches and players can be relaxed, and have fun, but also understand when it's time to buckle up and get things done in an efficient and effective manner so that you can get home to your family at a decent time as well without grinding the night away staring at a computer screen. Find ways to keep the game and environment fun, and the lives of your coaches and their families, as well as your players, will be better for it.