How to Become a Football Coach
A football player who loves the game never wants to call it quits. Unfortunately, the day will eventually come when it’s finally time to hang up the cleats for good. Although you’re no longer contributing as a player, you can still stay involved in the game. Making the transition from player to coach is a great way to participate at a competitive level. This guide offers important tips as you start your coaching career.
Make Sure You Want to Coach
Coaching football can be a very worthwhile and satisfying experience, and it provides a whole new vantage point on the game. That being said, not everyone can or should be a coach. Consider these factors before you commit to coaching:
- Understand your motivation: A bit of self-reflection should be your first step. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to be a football coach?” The fact that coaching allows you to stay involved with the game is — and should be — appealing, but coaching is completely separate from playing. You should have other reasons for wanting to coach other than just being around football.
- Recognize the commitment it takes: Much like being a player, coaching football requires a significant investment of time, dedication, and effort. Coaches regularly put in more hours than players. Between planning and running practices, handling bureaucratic responsibilities, and managing the day-to-day affairs of the team, being a football coach can take up a large chunk of your time.
Coaching can be rewarding, but only if your heart is in it. A lack of motivation directly results in a lack of enjoyment. If you’re unsure about coaching, there’s no reason to short-change either the players or yourself.
You’re Not a Player Anymore
Part of becoming a coach is learning how to carry yourself around your players. This can be especially difficult if you just recently stopped playing. Recall what it was like when you were a player: You probably didn’t talk to you coach the same way you talked to your teammates. Now, the shoe is on the other foot.
Coaches need to be an authority figure and a teacher. Behaving like you’re still just “one of the guys” makes it difficult to meet both of these obligations. If players don’t take you seriously as a coach, then you will have a very difficult time managing them, let alone teaching them how to play the game.
Find the Right Opportunity
Hot Tip: Getting Certified
Most football organizations require their coaches to be certified. When you find a team with an open coaching position, do some research about what it takes to become certified within their organization.
There are literally thousands of football openings out there, from pee wee to professional teams. Starting out with a youth team is the easiest way to get involved, because of the vast amount of open coaching positions. Working with a youth team is a great way to begin your coaching career for a couple of reasons:
- Low pressure: Players are still learning the game, which means you can focus on helping them master the basic skills.
- High enjoyment: Ever watch a bunch of kids play... anything? They aren’t worried about their stats, and they don’t beat themselves up over a blown assignment. Kids play to have fun, and helping make football fun is an all-around rewarding experience.
That’s not to say only younger players — and coaches of younger players — will have fun during a football game. However, as the age of the players increases, so too does the level of competitiveness. When you’re starting your coaching career, high-intensity environments can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s usually better to start with a younger team, and then work your way up to more advanced levels of the game.
Know What You Have to Offer
Regardless of the playing level, it’s very rare to start out in a head coaching position. More often than not, new coaches begin as position coaches. This offers a great opportunity to begin your coaching career by focusing on what you learned during your time as a player. After all, you’ve spent several years working on improving your abilities at one or two specific positions. You likely have in-depth knowledge about what it takes to succeed in those positions, which makes coaching much easier. Starting out as a position coach is a great way to start your coaching career: You can focus on teaching players what you know, while not having to take on too much responsibility.
Start Small, Aim High
Just about every football coach has struggled at some point in the career, and instant success is highly uncommon. You shouldn’t expect coaching perfection either, especially not as a brand-new coach. It takes time to develop and improve your coaching abilities, so stay patient and learn from your mistakes. Much like playing football, practice makes perfect for coaches as well. For more information about coaching, or to talk with other coaches, be sure to check out iSport's Football Forum.