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In this article, I’ve laid out a definitive guide on How to Become a Sports Coach.
In this guide, I’ll tackle a few important aspects that will help you gain some clarity on this career path.
Those will include:
After reading through this article, you’ll be in a position to make a more informed decision.
And with that said, let’s jump right into it.
What is Sports Coaching?
If you’ve ever watched a big game or played fantasy football, you’ll know that the allure is based on aspiration.
Deep down inside, every sports fan is a sports fan because of how they live vicariously through their athletic heroes’ lives.
But it’s quite obvious that not all of us can be athletes.
If you find yourself in the nonathlete category but still have a passion and commitment for health, fitness, and athletic excellence, then perhaps a career in sports coaching is for you.
As the name suggests, sports coaching is simply coaching a sport.
But in this case, it gets a bit more complex and nuanced than that.
As a sports coach, you will be tasked with making many valuable decisions.
This is especially the case in high-level professional sports where the management of team dynamics, training, health and fitness, and even psychological wellbeing come into play.
As a sports coach, you may even have a finger on the button when it comes to important executive decisions concerning a sports team’s corporate activities.
For example, being a manager (head coach) for a top-tier European soccer team is one of the most demanding jobs in modern sports, and a large part of that job is financial management with player transfers.
So as a sporting coach, you’re responsible for optimizing the performance of your team as well as deciding what that team looks like.
It requires a lot of knowledge, forward-thinking, and decisive initiative.
How to Become a Certified Sports Coach
In this segment, you’ll learn the nitty-gritty of how to become a sports coach.
In order to be a successful, reputable coach, you need to learn the ropes of the sport you are coaching.
Unlike many other careers in fitness I’ve discussed, sports coaching is not a one size fits all field.
Sure there are some concepts, modalities, and methodologies that are consistent regardless of the sport, but these are just a framework.
The real meat and potatoes of sports coaching lie in how well you know the sport.
For that, having extensive experience playing the sport is important.
You don’t need to be good at it or even in any condition to still play; it’s all about having the knowledge and intelligence around the nuance of a sport.
This means everything from having a knowledge of the physicality and skills, an inside-out understanding of the rules and regulations, and finally, being in touch with the history, ethos, and contemporary culture of the sport in question.
As a sports coach, you aren’t only an instructor and manager to your athlete(s); you are also a mentor and guardian.
With all that considered, becoming a fully-fledged sports coach requires credentials.
Sports Coach Certifications and Qualifications
Here, I’ll show you what needs to be done to obtain the right certifications and qualifications needed to become a Sports Coach.
Getting A Degree
The first this you’ll want to do as a sports coach is getting yourself a degree.
Unlike many other fields in fitness and physical performance, sports coaching is sensitive, and the stakes can get quite high.
If you’re dealing with professional or even collegiate athletes, the expectations and pressure can get overwhelming.
You will need the extensive insight and training of a degree to equip you with the right set of skills and knowledge.
Having a degree also allows you to operate as per regulations when it comes to top-flight leagues and competition circuits.
It’s also a guaranteed way to get the right kind of insurance and liability cover.
A bachelor’s degree in a sports science, exercise science, sports medicine, or sports management field would suffice, but to really get a grip on the nitty-gritty, a master’s degree or higher is what you want to aim for.
This separates you from the pack and puts you in line for top-flight sports management.
That’s because a degree symbolizes work, dedication, and authority based on how much of a resource investment a degree program is.
So the higher the level of your qualification, the more access to bigger opportunities you’ll be granted.
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Besides getting a degree, you may also consider getting a certification that aligns with your chosen sport.
This will allow you to dial in on the specifics and streamline the knowledge acquired from your degree to suit.
Here at PT Pioneer, my main focus is on providing insight into the education and credentialing that goes into becoming a fitness pro.
However, in the case of sports coaching, not many of the sporting disciplines are covered by your typical certifying agency.
There isn’t exactly a baseball cert or a football cert.
Some sports do have certifications from the leading certifying institutions.
Disciplines like bodybuilding, weightlifting, and certain combat sports, to name a few.
These disciplines find themselves with popular, reputable certification options simply because they also lend themselves as good at promoting general fitness.
A sport like baseball, for example, while requiring high levels of athleticism at a tp-flight level, is simply not a fitness-centric activity for the general participant.
A sport like boxing, on the other hand, will get you very fit even if you never step into a ring.
So how do you get a sport-specific certification when none of the main agencies like ISSA, ACE, or NASM don’t exactly offer them?
For that, you need to look to the sport in question’s governing body.
Depending on what level of the sport you are coaching, there is usually a regulatory body in charge of approving and verifying the coaches and managers that handle the teams and athletes.
For instance, using the example of European soccer again, to be a manager, you need to certify by obtaining the UEFA Certificate in Football Management.
In more local football terms, if you wanted to be an NFL coach, you would certify with the USA Football Coach Certification.
Sports Coach Job Description
If you want to take on the role of a Sports coach, it is vital to understand the job description perfectly.
Check below for detailed info!
Sports coaching job opportunities are almost boundless when it comes to options.
Besides the different sports you can choose from, there’s also a high variance in the levels of athleticism and leagues you could engage with.
To look at a rudimentary example, you’d be able to coach high school sports teams and physical education.
This would require you to have something of educational background in teaching as well since you’re dealing with kids in a learning environment.
Having said that, even high school sports coaching can place many demands, pressure, and expectations.
It is at this level that future athletes are initially discovered and form the foundation for what could be professional talent and skill.
That means whichever way you cut it; sports coaching is a serious commitment.
So what will your job actually look like as a sports coach?
What are the strengths and requirements that will allow you to excel?
Here are a few things that come into play, no matter which sport it is:
- Charismatic leadership skills
- An in-depth, nuanced understanding of the sports rules, regulations, and culture
- Communication skills and interpersonal skills
Charisma and leadership skills are required to get your athlete or athletes behind your plans, plays, and decisions.
Leadership skills are one thing, but having a charismatic quality about them will help you propel your athletes psychologically as well as physically.
Having a firm foundational knowledge of a sport’s rules and regulation is a no-brainer, but it’s also important to understand the nuance as well as the prevailing culture of a sport.
Knowing what events, major players, and current affairs dominate the conversation around a particular sport are necessary for you to maintain a relevant approach to leadership as a coach.
It also allows you to stay ahead of trends and keep informed on development.
Communication and interpersonal skills are important in not just commanding your team or athlete but also in receiving valuable information in the form of feedback.
Active listening in this regard can be more powerful than instructing.
Lastly, experience is important for a very simple reason.
The more time you’ve been in the game, the better you understand it.
That’s why most team managers and head coaches of top-tier teams and athletes are usually people past their middle age.
You need time to develop your skills and understanding no matter how talented you are off the bat.
Duties As A Sports Coach
Below are insightful explanations on the specific duties of a Sports Coach.
I’ve gone at length describing what a sports coach is and how to become one, but what does the day-to-day activity of a sports coach actually look like?
Let’s break down some of the key roles and on-the-job duties of a sports coach.
Scouting and Recruitment
Scouting and recruiting new talent is one of the most essential tasks a sports coach will undertake.
If you’re the coach of a team, being able to build an effective, successful roster of athletes is your primary goal.
The scouting and recruitment aspect of coaching usually targets younger athletes at a high school or collegiate level.
Because of this, a lot of time and knowledge on how to facilitate transfers or academy enrollment is required.
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Performance Optimisation and Tracking
As a sports coach, you want your team or athletes to perform at their highest potential.
This means keeping a constant eye on how well their performing and implementing strategies to improve that performance.
On a superficial level, the quality of their training, recovery, injury prevention and management, and nutrition are your primary considerations.
Taking it a step further, the mental state and psychology of your athletes need to be managed.
This is especially true for team sports where mental adaptation isn’t just about the pressure from the opposition, but the ability to form a cohesive unit within the team dynamic.
At the top levels of sports, optimization and tracking of performance require a dedicated team with whom you can delegate management tasks.
For example, you would have a dedicated dietician to manage nutrition, a strength, and conditioning coach to optimize physical output, and a sports psychologist to keep everyone’s head in the game.
Athletes are often hindered by injury, so part of tracking and optimizing performance includes dealing with injuries.
having a basic knowledge of first aid and primary care is a must, but you will need a fully dedicated system for dealing with injuries and post-injury rehab.
Mentorship and Guardianship
As a sports coach, your athletes don’t just follow your commands, they follow your example.
Your character, personality, and history imprint on how athletes behave and perform on and off the field.
A good coach plays the role of a parental figure and inspires respect within the ranks.
This has the benefit of making coaching easier.
There’s is much less resistance when it comes to accepting instructions and being able to covey them in a comprehensive way.
Fostering Good Sportsmanship
This responsibility follows on from the idea of mentorship.
Being a respectable figure in the eyes of your athletes allows them to adopt good traits that align with the good values and ethics of the sport in question.
It’s one thing to know how to play the game, it’s another to know how to play it with dignity and integrity.
When it comes to that, the burden rests on you to instill good values and conduct or make harsh decisions when those standards are not being met.
Most serious athletes are making a big decision to forego the easy income option of the rat race in pursuit of their passion.
As a sports coach, you want to incentivize this decision by providing a variety of resource opportunities.
These could be in the form of sponsorship, contract negotiations, endorsement deals, and non-sporting opportunities such as public speaking events.
This role requires a bit of networking on your part with brands and organizations.
Having the ability to provide your athletes with auxiliary income streams also benefits you through commission and kickbacks on whatever deals are struck.
What Is An Average Sports Coach Salary?
Are you interested in knowing if a Sports coach career is viable in terms of income?
Read on to learn more!
When entering or even just entertaining the idea of any career field, we usually go to how much we can earn as an initial consideration.
When it comes to being a full-time sports coach, the average annual income is $33,680 per year, according to salary.com.
And according to indeed.com, the average hourly rate for a sports coach is $16.97 per hour.
This isn’t remarkable by any stretch, and you’re probably wondering why it’s so low if team managers of major teams or coaches of star athletes are so wealthy.
Well, here’s the thing, those top-flight sports coaches make up only a fraction of the total number of practitioners in the field.
Most sports coaches don’t even come close.
If you’re worried that working as a sports coach might not be the lucrative opportunity you’re looking for, don’t despair.
There are certain factors that influence earning potential and could help you elevate your income prospects.
Location is a huge underpinning factor with regard to income prospects.
Every year, millions, if not billions, of people relocate with the sole purpose of being in a place where they can earn more money.
That’s because the same job or career field can have vastly different salary outcomes depending on where you ply your trade.
Location affects income in several ways, the most obvious being the state of the local economy.
This determines how much money is floating around that can be spent by consumers, some of whom will be spending it on you.
The economy also dictates the number of employment opportunities as well as infrastructure and openness for business.
when it comes to sports coaching, and especially with professional teams, location is pivotal.
many teams are specifically location-oriented.
teams that represent entire cities, states, and countries will require their coaches to be located centrally.
We’ve already gone through qualifications, but just to reiterate their importance, I’ve included them here.
The quantity and level of your qualifications both play a significant role, to an extent.
By extent I mean you can have way too many certs and credentials.
Having a bloated catalog of credentials after your name just makes it confusing for those looking to understand what you’re about.
You can also go to the extreme with your qualifications.
For instance, you don’t need a Ph.D. in anything if you’re working as a sports coach.
Qualifications work in two ways.
The first way is the obvious skills and resources you’ll gain through the process of earning your credentials.
These are essential when it comes to delivering the coaching service required.
The other way is in how your qualifications serve as an immediate call to your skills and prestige.
Sometimes just having credentials attached to your name automatically raises your perceived value in the industry.
This allows you to leverage yourself for bigger and better coaching jobs.
Level of Experience
Another one I’ve already mentioned, your experience level determines how much skin you have in the game.
How much skin you have in the game determines how capable you are to propel athletes towards excellence.
Your experience also indicates your reputation which can propel you to greater opportunities in dealing with higher-level athletes and teams.
The most lucrative opportunities in coaching usually come about after a decade of experience.
Unlike many other factors that influence income and salary prospects, experience can’t be fast-tracked.
It is what it is, so just staying in the game and cultivating a reputation as a reputable coach is the way to go.
With all that said you have to remember that your salary is simply one aspect of your total income.
You also have to consider your expenses.
Your operational expenses as well as your cost of living will ultimately determine the true value of the money you bring in.
Despite the challenges you’ll face as a Sports coach, it is a career opportunity that offers you much more than you’ll expect from other professions.
Expecting to hear some positive news from you soon!
Being a sports coach is as rewarding as it is complex.
Unlike many career paths in fitness, sports coaching brings a lot of pressure.
When you coach clients as a personal trainer, the results and expectations are contained within the client-coach relationship you establish.
With sports coaching, the expectations and results are far-reaching and will involve the interests of many from fans to sponsors and the media.
I hope you enjoyed this article.
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please drop a few words in the section below and I’ll get right to them.