By Scarlett Ivy
Behind every successful sports team is a great coach. NBA had Phil Jackson who is arguably the best coach of all time; Sir Alex Ferguson is the most decorated soccer manager in English history; Toni Nadal helped turn his nephew, Rafael, into a legendary tennis player; and many others who stand by their teams and their players.
But before any of them landed their dream coaching job, they had to start small. If you want to make it to the big leagues, training amateurs is a good test of your coaching ability.
There are different requirements for different organizations so you will have to double-check with your desired sports team. For instance, The Balance Careers reports that a bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for those who want to train student athletes. Most coaches are teachers or professors, too. Some schools are more selective and will also look at your history with instructing or playing the sport in addition to a coaching certification.
Other courses might also be advantageous. First aid training, for instance, is very important when overseeing an athletic team. Some type of leadership training that involves skills needed for a coach (e.g. motivational speaking, strategic thinking) will also look nice on a coach’s resume.
Every coach has their own approach when it comes to leading their team or athlete to success. There is no set formula but there are general qualities for effective coaching. One of which is a thorough knowledge of the sport being taught. Didier Deschamps, for example, succeeded in helping France achieve victory in this year’s World Cup. Remarkably, Coral noted that their last win was two decades ago with Deschamps himself as the team captain. Any coach can say that he/she can lead a team. What helps them to rise above is an understanding of the game through past experience. This can help you create strategies and customize training according to the specific needs of the players. An effective coach analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of their team as well as their opponents.
Another vital skill is the ability to motivate players. Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson has observed that encouragement is more effective than criticism. Athletes, especially young ones, are still honing their skills. Too much negative feedback might discourage them from performing at their best. As a coach, you have to strike a balance between motivating them with praise and criticism. Both have to be constructive.
Fostering a healthy relationship with your players is another thing to keep in mind. You need to be a person they can trust. The National Federation of State High School Associations adds that empathy is one key to effective guidance. You need to understand that every athlete will have a different upbringing, ergo different needs and personalities. Don’t overemphasize winning in place of personal growth. It might lead to an unhealthy relationship with the sport and poor ethical standards. They might resort to taking shortcuts in order to win every time.
Where should I begin?
Sports Careers Institute previously posed the question: Where should I begin? More often than not, the start is the hardest part of the journey. Making your way into the profession can be a humongous challenge. If you really want to pursue a career in coaching, start by reaching out to state sport organizations that can help you identify your options. They should help you connect with teams scouting for a coach for the sport of your choice.
Look into local schools that may be in need of a coach for their athletic teams. You can consider community-based organizations that are looking for volunteer coaches as well. Your first gig may not be as glamorous as you’d expect, but everyone has to begin somewhere. Just remember that every step you take is an inch closer to your dream coaching job.
Article written for the exclusive use of sportscareersinstitute.com