So you want to become a football coach?
One of my goals is to help everyone, including the beginners enter into to the wonderful football profession, if you can call it that! I can tell you this, if you want to be a football coach to get into the NFL or major college football within 10 years, you may need to reasses your priorities.
Football coaching is a tough profession to get into because there is a lot of time commitment, low pay for 99% of coaches, and it takes a lot of technical knowledge. If you’re willing to put in the time to learn the intricacies, it can be very rewarding!
Becoming A Football Coach – Step One: Analyze Your Schedule
Do you have the time to take out at least 3 hours out of your day for 5 days a week? That’s a minimum 15 hour per week commitment. Being a football coach means you need to be at nearly every practice, rain or shine, sick or healthy, job or no job. That 15 hour per week time commitment is also probably going to grow very quickly after you start.
Next, when are you available? If it’s in the later parts of the evening, ie 6-9, youth coaching is probably for you! Some junior high football teams have practice right after school, but many youth leagues have them between 5-8 PM.
Can your wife, family or girlfriend handle the time commitment to coaching football? Perhaps the most important question. You need to make sure you talk to your wife or girlfriend, and estimate high on the time commitment. Don’t say 15 hours a week, because that is what they’ll expect. Most coaching jobs, even at the youth level, will suck up at least 20 hours when it’s all said and done. If your thinking high school, you might be between 30-35 hours a week. For college, as a full-time coach, think somewhere between 60-80 hours a week.
Obviously, being a teacher makes all this easier. You can just stay at that school (if you coach there). However, I do marketing and wake up at 5:00 in the morning during the season in order to get to work early enough to leave by 3. So you can still do it, even if you’re not a teacher.
What level to coach?
After analyzing your own schedule, look at the schools around you. Do you know any teachers who may know the football coach? Do you know any football coach? Ask them what the work load is like there.
If you want to get into high school right away, expect to take 30-40 hours out of your week just to coach. Especially as a new volunteer, you need to be around as much as possible to soak as much in. If you want to coach high school, you may need to be an assistant position coach at a freshmen or JV level first. Enjoy it! Learn from the position coaches ahead of you. They’ve likely done this for a long time!
If you think youth ball is the best avenue, which for many of you it will be, still try to talk to the local high school coaches. Try to ask them questions. A lot of us are friendly and more than willing to help out another coach.
Youth coaching can be great, but realize you need a lot of patience. Forget reading about X’s and O’s and what plays work. Let the head coach at your level worry about that. You learn how to coach your position within that system. The basic fundamentals. Know them like the back of your hand. But the next part, learn how to teach them to the kids. You need to be a fantastic and patient communicator to be a good coach.If you are still new to coaching, make sure you read other resources. Look at Coach Huey Football Forums, this blog, and other coaching football blogs to pick up as much knowledge as possible. Ask those people questions.
Sometimes, you won’t have a choice at what level to volunteer at. Take whatever you can get in stride. Be very loyal to your head coach. This profession is built off connections. If you burn one bridge, it will likely hurt you from now on.
Getting Paid the Big Bucks
Well, forget about that! You’ll likely need to volunteer for a few years wherever you go when you’re just starting out. You may get meals paid for and free clothes. This is part of the profession pretty much no matter what level you coach at. The new coaches to that level are not paid highly. Even the best coaching stipends at the high school level aren’t much more than $4,000 dollars, and in 90% of places it’s closer to $2,000 dollars, if that.
I want to coach Division 1 Football or in the NFL!
Do you really? Former Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio got fired for coming in late everyday at 9AM. He probably worked a 9 hour day and got mocked for his effort. Coaches, even at the division III football level, work 14-18 hour days. That’s 100 hours a week.
I encourage you to go after that level if you really want to. It will take time and a lot of sacrafice. The reward could potentially be huge. At the same time, just know what you’re getting into. For me personally, I love coaching high school kids. I love having time for my family.
What Coaching Football is Really About
Coaching football is about making a positive impact on your community. No, not just the players, but the entire school community. You can change lives. You can teach people the most valuable lessons in life. You can do that right now if you volunteer somewhere. You can make an impact starting this upcoming season. Try to get as much knowledge before then specific football related technique. If you become a technique expert, and a quality communicator, you’ll rise quickly. And remember, being a NFL or college coach is great, but it’s not all that matters. Heck, even being a High School Head Football Coach may not be in the cards. But you can still have a heck of a lot of fun and make a great impact.