Transitioning into a coaching career may seem impossible when you’ve never played to sport professionally. While it might be a challenge, it’s certainly doable!
While most coaches are former players or team captains, there are loads of examples of world-class coaches in lots of sports, football included, that never even played in their college teams.
How? Because coaching these athletes is about leadership and strategy rather than experience.
In this article, we’ll check out what it takes to be a football coach without prior experience.
Read on for industry insights, actionable steps, and valuable tips to getting your coaching career started.
- An Overview of Football Coaching: A Primer
- What You’ll Need to Become a Football Coach
- Is it Hard to Become a Football Coach?
- How to Become a Football Coach in 3 Simple Steps
- Reasons to Consider Becoming a Football Coach
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Similar Gigs to Check Out
- Wrapping Up
An Overview of Football Coaching: A Primer
Football coaching involves leading and developing players, devising strategic game plans, and fostering a positive team culture.
It doesn’t matter if you aspire to coach football at the grassroots level or have ambitions of coaching at higher levels of competition—it’s essential to have a great understanding of the game.
As a football coach, your primary objective is to develop players both individually and collectively.
This isn’t just about teaching fundamental skills; coaching is more about practicing tactical strategies and increasing your players’ game awareness.
You will need to design and implement training sessions that focus on improving players’ technical abilities, physical fitness, and mental resilience.
Beyond on-field training, coaches are responsible for game management.
This includes analyzing opponents, devising game plans, making tactical adjustments during matches, and effectively communicating with players in high-pressure situations.
Coaches must understand the game’s intricacies and adapt their strategies based on their team’s strengths and weaknesses.
Finally, coaches are mentors and role models for their players. A strong relationship between the team and their coach can make or break their performance.
How Much Do Football Coaches Make?
People tend to think that a football coach’s salary is in the millions since that’s all we hear on football news and websites, but that’s specific to NFL coaches.
In reality, the average high school football coach earns around $40-45k a year.
The more prestigious the entity you work for, the higher your pay. Football coaches who are on the younger and less experienced side can get less than that when they start.
You may also consider becoming an NFL referee as a career path.
What You’ll Need to Become a Football Coach
It’d be misleading to say that you don’t need substantial qualifications to become a football coach.
This is especially true in states with the most significant college football programs, such as Texas or California. These are some of the qualifications you’ll need to start your coaching career:
- On-The-Field Experience: If you’ve played football professionally and would like to switch to coaching, breaking into this career path will be relatively easier for you. Getting a job coaching a high school football team will be quite easy. Of course, you’ll still need to fulfill your state’s qualifications for high school coaches.
- Certifications and Diplomas: If you don’t have any experience playing or coaching, you’ll need to make up for that with certifications or diplomas from a recognized entity such as the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) or the United States Soccer Federation (USSF.)
- Volunteer Work: To improve your odds, you may want to volunteer as an assistant coach or work in youth programs long enough to have some achievements under your belt.
- Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree: If you’ve got the time and money, getting a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as physical education, sports science, or sports psychology will grab any potential employer’s eye and make up for not having professional expertise as a player or a coach.
More than any formal training and certifications, though, this job requires great skill and personal aptitude that’s not just about coaching.
You also need to be able to navigate the management and business aspects of the job.
How Much Does it Cost to Become a Football Coach?
Other than getting qualifications, your expenses as a coach will depend on what kind of work you’re doing or who you’re working for.
For example, you may need to field rental fees to get your players some practice sessions, or that may be covered by an organization or school.
So technically, you can start with nothing more than a plan and perhaps some money set aside for your expenses while you gain experience and look for a job.
If you’d like to take more tangible steps toward football coaching, however, here are some estimates of how much it might cost:
- Coaching education courses and certifications: This depends entirely on your budget. You can buy books for $5-10 or get a degree for a few thousand dollars.
- Training equipment and resources: As a coach, you may need to invest in sports equipment such as cones, agility ladders, and practice balls. The cost of these items can vary, but a basic set of training equipment usually runs from $100 to $200.
- Association membership fees: Joining coaching organizations is well worth its yearly fees. Their fees range between $25-250. You get to access resources, networking opportunities, and additional educational materials.
Is it Hard to Become a Football Coach?
Becoming a football coach is not complicated, but it takes a lot of work and time.
You’ll likely spend months working as a coordinator or other similar positions before you get your first break as a position coach.
As a coach, you’re always playing for the long run. That’s true for your career, your team, and your relationships.
It’ll also take years of practice to make it to major positions, such as assistant coach in a college team. So if you’re considering it just because you enjoy football, that may not be enough.
That said, coaching is a deeply fulfilling job. Professional football coaches tend to become their team’s mentors and role models and can affect major changes in the lives of everyone they work with.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Football Coach?
Getting the necessary knowledge and qualifications can take around one year, depending on your availability and the program’s structure.
Gaining practical experience is an ongoing process. It might take at least a few months of on-the-ground experience to be able to become a coach.
However, getting enough qualifications to become a head coach will take years, regardless of where you’re starting, since this often requires proving yourself as a position coach or coordinator.
How to Become a Football Coach in 3 Simple Steps
So we’ve covered the broad lines of how to become a football coach. Now it’s time for the game plan!
Starting as a football coach without experience can be daunting, but breaking it down into manageable steps can make the process more approachable.
Step 1: Define Your Coaching Philosophy
Figuring out your coaching philosophy and goals is important because it’ll give you direction when you’re deciding what to study, where to apply, or even where to live.
Having a specific approach gives your potential employers, as well as your players, something to work with when dealing with you.
Develop your coaching philosophy by identifying the values and principles you want to instill in your players.
Determine your coaching style, preferred playing system, and the environment you aim to create within your team.
Step 2: Study and Apply Yourself
Whether you’re taking the route of education or experience, this step is crucial for your success as a novice football coach.
Enroll in coaching education courses and certifications. Read everything you can find about it. Sign up for a coaching course.
Get a coaching or physical education certification if possible. This will help you enhance your understanding of the game and develop your career.
While you do that, seek opportunities to apply your theoretical knowledge in real-life coaching scenarios.
There are lots of ways you can do that, depending on your city, such as volunteering, observing training sessions, or seeking out football coaches to assist and learn from.
You could also create coaching opportunities by organizing small training programs or summer camps.
Collaborate with local schools, community centers, or youth organizations to establish coaching partnerships.
Step 3: Build a Coaching Network
Just like every job out there, the best opportunities often never make it outside of the community.
That means that making new connections and building a network will help you almost as much as courses and experience.
Network within the football community through coaching conferences and workshops. Attend coaching clinics and connect with professional coaches you meet there.
Join online communities and forums to share ideas, ask questions, and receive feedback.
Having a mentor who can provide guidance and support throughout your coaching journey and even get you hired is the ideal scenario.
Seek out experienced coaches who align with your coaching philosophy and values. Learn from their experiences and seek feedback to improve your coaching skills.
Reasons to Consider Becoming a Football Coach
Coaching is a rewarding career and can even get you to stardom. Here are a few reasons to consider a career in football coaching:
- Making a Positive Impact: As a coach, you have the opportunity to transform the lives of your players.
- Passion for the Sport: You get to work in an environment you love and geek out about football.
- Personal Development: Coaching challenges you to continually learn, adapt, and improve. It hones your leadership skills, communication abilities, and strategic thinking. Coaching also encourages personal growth and self-reflection.
- Sense of Community: The sports community is one of the most tightly woven on our planet. It allows you to build enough valuable connections to build a life from scratch.
- Flexibility and Side Hustle Potential: As a coach, you often have complete control over your working hours, making it suitable as a side hustle or part-time endeavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Coach Football if I’ve Never Played the Sport?
Yes, but it’s going to be a lot of hard work. Gaining solid knowledge, qualifications, and practical experience is far more important for you than an ex-player.
Do I Need a License to Coach Football?
You don’t need a license, but you can get one as you gain more experience coaching. Different levels of licenses vary from one country to another, so it’s best to understand them from your local football community.
Similar Gigs to Check Out
There are lots of opportunities around football coaching that you can do to support yourself while pursuing this exciting career.
- How to Become a CPR Instructor: What’s better than a great coach? A great coach who’s certified in CPR training! You can even teach fellow coaches and players and make an extra buck.
- How to Become a Security Guard: Since you’ll be dealing with schools, community centers, and schools, becoming a security guard can be a great way to join their staff till your coaching knowledge is up to par.
- How to Make Money with Online Coaching: If your passion is more about providing support and knowledge than strategizing or need a short-term way to make money, this might be the perfect gig for you.
Coaching is all about strategy, leadership, and making a positive impact on the lives of your players.
Figuring out how to become a football coach may not be difficult, but learning enough to become a great football coach is where the true challenge lies.
What do you think? Are you ready to lace up your coaching shoes and begin your journey with football coaching?
Share your thoughts in the comments below and join the conversation now!