How to Become a Sports Coach

W. Stephen Parker
W. Stephen Parker
Middle/high school principal; M.A. in Educational Leadership
A sports coach sits with a basketball player, going over a play.

Reasons to consider a career in coaching are wide and varied. For me it was the opportunity to teach young people in an area outside of a conventional classroom setting. Truthfully, being a sports coach is simply teaching in a different venue than the four-wall classroom. Approaches to coaching also give opportunity for creativity in presenting material, motivating for learning and celebration of successes.

With that said, the conventional classroom lends itself to creativity as well. There were many times over the years I took what worked on the field or the court and incorporated those successes into my regular classroom. A person aspiring to coach should recognize that they are, first and foremost, a teacher in the classroom or an athletic venue. A good coach should consider himself just that, a teacher.

Sports Coach Requirements: Skills & Education

The skills requirements to become a coach are similar to skills that must be developed to teach specific subject areas within schools. Generally, coaches take classes in their college studies focusing on overall athletic development and specialized courses pursuing specific sports.

Other courses may be necessary to obtaining the opportunity to coach such as health, first aid, and CPR. Additionally, someone desiring a career in coaching might major in physical education or kinesiology. Much of the knowledge gained for aspiring coaches comes from playing the sports or what they learned from their coaches during their own playing days.

As mentioned above, sport coaches must have a degree and educational endorsement to work within a school setting. Many coaches have a degree or certification in an area outside of coaching. For example, coaches are often classroom teachers in math, science, social studies, or English to name a few. I personally taught science and driver education for much of my career. My actual degree was in physical education with endorsements in science, health, and driver education.

I took courses outside of these areas that helped prepare me to coach athletic teams over the years. It is important to remember that administrators looking for coaches usually look for classroom teachers who can also coach a sport or multiple sports. The more marketable you are in the classroom areas, the better opportunity of also landing that coveted coaching job you have dreamed of.

Why Should You Consider a Sports Coach Position?

Coaching over the years brought me much joy because of the fulfillment of watching young athletes grow within the sport I was coaching. It was also a thrill to watch these athletes mature in character. Over the years, I have cherished the opportunity through athletics to help mold young people through adversity. It was an honor to be a part of guiding students through sports to overcome challenges.

Watching young people apply those same skill sets learned through school sports to enhance their overall lives was amazing. In this current climate in which we live, sports allow us to give to our student-athletes in unique and positive ways.

So, why should one consider being an athletic coach? The answer is because of the opportunity to give to young people in an area they are motivated, and then help them to parlay those skills into real-life lessons and come out on top because of those developed skills.

Why is it beneficial? Coaches have the opportunity to mold young lives positively. The benefits to the student-athlete are many and mostly positive life lessons. Coaching is beneficial to the coach because they get to see those successes in athletics and in the lives of the young people they coached as they grow into adulthood and enter the world.  

How to Become a Sports Coach

First, one should make up his mind that teaching and sports coaching are not just jobs. A wise former coach I worked with said, “Teaching and coach are not just jobs; they are a way of life.” I have tried to remember that I enter my school building every day. This is my calling, and I consider it just that and endeavor to do my best daily.

Plan Your Degrees & Courses

As one considers this career, the process is quite simple: plan your college work and work your college plan. Choose courses that satisfy your degree pursuit and that prepare you for sports program leadership or being an athletic director. Take courses that allow you to be well-rounded in your classroom setting as well as in the athletic venues. As you progress, be willing to alter your course as you see your passions for coaching change.

Follow Your Heart

I was on a course to coach baseball after college. However, as I progressed through my courses my heart’s desire became basketball and more specifically girls’ basketball. Allow your heart to guide you in your athletic pursuits. Coaching in the sport you want will greatly enhance your experience and probably your success as well.

If coaching is something your desire to do, then remember this always. A coach is a teacher first and foremost. The only real difference is the setting. Never forget you are a teacher and be the best teacher you can be in the classroom and your athletic endeavors. For all educators, “Student’s never care how much you know, until they first know how much you care.”

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