How to Become a Football Coach

Three Methods:Becoming a School-based CoachCoaching Semi-Pro or Professional TeamsHoning Your Coaching Skills

Being a football coach is a dream for many people, however, becoming an effective football coach is not easy. Being a good coach requires an intense knowledge of the game and a personality that is capable of motivating a team. For someone with no experience coaching or playing the game it might be difficult to get into the profession, but it’s not impossible. If you study the game, work on your leadership, and network with other people in the field, you can start taking the steps to become a football coach.

Method 1
Becoming a School-based Coach

  1. 1
    Get certified in your state. Contact the local interscholastic federation in your state to see what certifications or licenses are required before you can start coaching in school. You can also visit to find what certifications are required for your specific state.
    • Certifications vary from state-to-state. Classes include concussion in sports, first aid and safety, as well as general coaching education courses.[1]
    • The California Interscholastic Federation requires coaches in the district get a general coaching certification, a sports specific concussion certification, a cardiac arrest certification, first aid certification, and CPR training.[2]
    • Each course will cost anywhere from $30 - $70 depending on which state you live in.[3]
    • In Pennsylvania, coaches are required to undergo concussion and cardiac arrest training.[4]
  2. 2
    Obtain the required clearances to become a coach. It's required that you get criminal background clearances in order to be a teacher and coach in many states. These background checks will often include a state and federal criminal background checks and child abuse background checks.[5]
    • Different states require different clearances.
    • In some states, it's required you undergo a drug and alcohol screening and employment and credential verification.[6]
  3. 3
    Pursue additional education to get your teaching license. You will have to work your way up if you want to coach on a college or professional level. Becoming a high school football coach is a great way to start. Many schools can’t afford to hire a full-time coach, so having your teaching degree is a way to get involved with coaching while still maintaining a job.
    • Concentrating on physical education and sports science while you study in college will help you get a position as a coach.[7]
  4. Image titled Become a Football Coach Step 2
    Look for local football coaching jobs in your area. Use job websites to find local coaching jobs in your area. You can also use the official American Football Coaches Associate job board to find jobs across the United States.[8] Many of your local listings may be for young adults or children, but starting there will help you later in attaining coaching positions at higher levels. Be aware that teaching children may be very different than teaching adults.[9]
    • Many lower level teams won’t require the experience that a college or high school would expect from a football coach.
    • Having a firm grasp over physical fitness or working with kids will help you get a coaching position.
  5. 5
    Volunteer with a local team as an assistant coach. If you’re having trouble finding a paid position as a head coach, it’s a good idea to start looking for volunteer assistant coach positions. If you have experience with strength and conditioning or physical fitness programs, it will help you land a job as a volunteer.
    • There are programs like Pop Warner that have listings for volunteer positions ranging from head coach to equipment manager on their website.[10]
    • Try to find your local athletic association and contact someone about becoming a volunteer.
  6. 6
    Network with other coaches and ask about assistant positions. Football teams made up of younger players may not require you to have any previous coaching experience. If you know the head coach and have a good rapport with them, they may be able to help find you a job as an assistant coach.
    • You can meet other coaches at clinics or camps that are taking place in your area.

Method 2
Coaching Semi-Pro or Professional Teams

  1. 1
    Network with people in the NFL. Experience as a player or staff member in the NFL may give you an advantage to getting a job as a coach.[11] While some coaches transition from college football to the NFL, it's not required. Excelling in an assistant coach or scouting position may give you the connections you need to land the job.
    • If you can't get a job in the NFL, try submitting an application to become an intern, then network with paid staff once you are accepted.[12]
    • Coach prospects tend to be offensive or defensive coordinators on NFL teams.[13]
  2. 2
    Be tenacious, dedicated, and disciplined. To get noticed by owners in the NFL, you need to show a past track record of success. This could entail being a competent coordinator on a current team, or taking a college football team to the championship. The best NFL coaches are the ones that are the most dedicated.
    • Be prepared to wake up early and work late. This may put a strain on social relationships.[14]
  3. Image titled Become a Football Coach Step 3
    Watch recordings of past football games. Being able to review and evaluate past wins and losses will allow you to make adjustments to your team. In addition to watching your own team’s games, make sure to review upcoming opponent's prior games thoroughly to get a better idea of their tendencies, strategies, strengths, and weaknesses.[15]
    • Take notes while you review film so that you can refer to them later.
    • You can also review coaches film from major NFL games to get a better idea of what professional teams are doing.[16] “All 22” is a type of camera location that allows you to see all 22 players on the field, thus giving you a better vantage point for plays and strategy.
  4. 4
    Network with other semi-pro or pro football coaches. Speaking with other coaches about your difficulties may help make you a better coach. They can also tell you about potential coach openings on different teams. Talk to coaches that win, so that you can extrapolate useful information from their victories and implement it in your strategy.
    • Speaking with the other coaches on your coaching staff may also help you get a better perspective of what areas need to improve on the team.[17]
    • Your coaching staff should be more reliable in understanding individual player’s strengths and weaknesses than someone who does not work with them.

Method 3
Honing Your Coaching Skills

  1. 1
    Learn how to coach all the positions on your team. Although you always want to concentrate on consistency and working together as a team, it’s important that you learn how to develop each player’s individual skills.[18] Every player will have different strengths, weaknesses, and temperaments. A good coach will know how to use these attributes to their team’s advantage. The more you win, the more you'll receive offers from bigger teams to coach.
    • If you don’t know how to coach all positions including, receiving, blocking, defending, catching, running, and throwing, you are severely limiting your players' development.[19]
    • You don’t have to be good at everything, just make sure that you have an understanding of all positions. Maintain and hire staff who will make up for your weaknesses.
  2. 2
    Communicate effectively to your team and staff. A good coach must have good communication. You should be concise with your goals to both your staff and your team. Set clear expectations and be consistent with your rules.[20] Coaching on a professional level requires that you can choose talented staff and delegate responsibilities to create the most effective team.
    • This means taking your staff or player complaints seriously and potentially altering your coaching methods based off them.
    • Become friends with your staff so you can speak candidly and open with them.
  3. 3
    Attend football clinics, conferences, and camps. A coaching clinic or camp is a gathering of successful coaches with the aim of improving coaching technique and strategy. At these events you’ll learn about player development and expand your coaching knowledge.[21] Attending a conference is also another great opportunity to network with other coaches and find potential job openings.
    • Other coaches may know about job openings or may have vacant assistant coach positions on their teams. Always be friendly and try to meet as many people as you can.
  4. 4
    Motivate your players to achieve better results. Having all the knowledge is a start, but you also need to have the charisma to motivate your team when they have had a difficult game or practice. Also, you must also have a commanding personality to maintain a disciplined football team. Work on listening to your players and figure out what motivates and drives them and be passionate and remain interested in their development.
    • Showing that you can develop an effective team will give you expanded opportunities to find a job as a coach at a higher level.
  5. 5
    Read books on football strategy. There is an extensive library of books on football strategy and how to lead an effective team. Read books published by winning coaches to get an understanding of their training regimes, drills, and strategy.
    • Books that can provide practical coaching knowledge include, “Finding the Winning Edge,” “The Quick Passing Game,” “The Bunch Attack,” “The Winners Manual,” and “Winning Everyday.”[22]
    • There is more to being a coach than knowing a lot of plays. You must have the mentality to win and charisma to motivate a team.
  6. 6
    Study and learn the rules of football. If you don’t have any previous experience coaching or playing football, then it’s necessary that you learn all of the rules before you consider coaching a team. You need to know how to score points and how to defend. You should also be able to explain illegal plays to your players so that they don’t pick up on bad habits during practice.[23]
    • The NFL provides their rulebook on their website.
    • In the NFL you can challenge a play which will reverse a referee's decision on a penalty if you are correct. Each coach gets two challenges per game and one more challenge if the first two are correct.[24]
    • Knowing what the rules are is essential to challenge a play.
    • If you’ve played football in the past, you’ll have a firmer grasp of all the rules.
  7. 7
    Learn different plays and strategies on offense, defense, and special team. Even if you’ve watched a lot of football, you may not know the names and types of plays that exist. On offense alone, there are somewhere around 500 plays that a coach in the NFL should be aware of or have in their playbook.[25] You can search for online football playbooks, or you can buy them at bookstores.
    • Offensive, defensive, and special teams configurations are called line setups.[26]
    • A scheme is a general philosophy that your players follow. The most common football schemes are man-to-man, zone, 3-4, and 4-3.[27]

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Categories: Sports Leadership | Team Sports