How to Become a Football Coach

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 re-examine 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 sacrifice. 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. Read a lot of football coaching books and sites like these. 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.

12 thoughts on “How to Become a Football Coach

  1. Pingback: » Football Coaches Survey! » Strong Football by Coach CP

  2. Braulio

    Good Morning USA Football,

    My name is Braulio Lee and I am 21 years old. I am a football coach in Panama in the Varsity league,youth leage, arena football league and girls arena football league. I have been doing this for three years so far.

    I am currently enrolled at Universidad Santa Maria La Antigua studying Industrial Engineering. This is my fourth year at this career and unfortunately I have lost my interest in that same; I found something that passions me more than engineering. I found that coaching is something that keeps me happy all 365 days of the years, something that makes me stay all day in work or go home and keep working.

    I discover football when I was 15 years old and played for two years until injuries kept me away from the football fields. After this I tried other sports such as tennis, soccer, baseball, martial arts and boxing. And even though all of those are not American Football per se, in all of them I learned lessons that made me the great coach I am today.
    I started coaching the day that a friend of my dad called me and asked me if I could help him coaching a team. My answer was yes and my enthusiasm and energy towards this new part of my life was incomparable. Since that day I have been coaching. I have achieved one championship and one sub-championship in just three years against coaches that had ten or fifteen years in this. Because of this I recently I asked myself if I am good enough to take it to the next level? Should I keep on studying my engineering and ignored something that really is my passion.
    I have never ask myself or people how much a coach earns, I just want to do it. In panama football is just a hobby and their is no national association, no salary, no benefits, no insurance, no nothing so I want to take it to the next level. I want to make coaching my day to day job, last thing I will lose is my hope. I will keep trying and this is something football thought me, if you want something you have to fight for it, every yard, every down, every muscle of your body will fill the pain; but you must never quit. You must step up and go for it. If you fail you have to get up and try again and again because with time you will achieve your goals. This goal for me is to become a professional coach.
    All I am asking for is an opportunity to show you how can I contribute to your team. For further information please contact me at (507)6090-0491 or

    Thanks for your time

  3. Andrew

    I love football but now 23 And still playing in semi pro. I’m starting to think about to go into coaching.
    There no way that my days as a Player will ever go much higher than I am right now.
    I’m just trying to figure out if I should.

    I know for me All I think about is football. Even now on my team I’m a player(utility) and a positions (OL/DL/FB) coach.
    But I don’t know really where to start.
    At lest this gives me some clue Thanks.

  4. Mike

    I love coaching Football. i ve Been a HC for 4 Years and 1 year Offensive coordinator. How can move to high school Level? And who can help me with a Football resume?

    1. david

      First talk to your local high school football head. Coach and he will direct you and also help you with your resume. If you got what you say you have they may be able to put you on there team.

  5. Dilan Humphrys

    My name is Dilan and I am from little old Rhode Island. I am 21 years old and have only coached football for one season. However, my love for the game runs very deep. As a youth I played baseball unsuccessfully from age 4 until age 16. That twelve year commitment were some of the best and worst times I ever had. Leaving the sport wasn’t easy. I didn’t feel as though I had the skill or ability to continue at a level that I would enjoy. But I was lazy, undetermined and scared. I started working at age 13, and soon that became a higher priority than baseball and so I quit in my sophomore team, ending my career in the youth league. Looking back after that, I felt angry because I let myself lose something I loved. But work made me focus, I learned life lessons from many great people, and made connections with countless others.
    I developed a secret obsession that has since consumed my free time since freshman year of high school. Football came into my life when I began watching it on television in 2007. As a Patriots fan I became hooked and never looked back. I suddenly had to know as much as I could about the sport. I learned its history, other styles and versions, team history, facts, myths, etc. Then, in freshman year of college, I became enthrall end with Xs and Os. I learned about routes, patterns, blocking, schemes, playbooks and everything under the sun about the technical side of football. I bought books, read blogs, and took in information constantly. My parents and close friends started to notice and soon I received an offer to coaching another town near me.

    This is my coaching disclaimer. I followed my passion, sacrificed my time, and made a commitment to chasing this dream. I took two, sometimes three, busses every day for practice (not being able to drive just yet) and wrangled my parents into picking me up at night. I got rides from parents and coaches. I connected with a community, kids, and even families. I was beyond happy with the connections I made that summer. Anything is possible and I will ride the wave until it ends no matter what.

    Those who read this, know that even those you may not have participated in something at first, a little knowledge (or a lot in my case) will go a long way. Be smart, be active, and make your own worth in something. People will notice that

    (This summer I will begin my s one season, now coaching 6th grade in Johnston, RI. I am blessed and privileged to be where I am and cannot wait to be the best coach I can for my team, wherever it is. )

  6. Kyle Belland

    My name is Kyle and I’ve been obsessed with football since I graduated high school in ’07. I’ve never played the game, but I religiously follow NFL Network and am wanting to understand the x’s and o’s on a more technical level. I want to coach football since I’ve never been able to play it at a high school or college level. I am only 24 years old and am willing to put forth the time and effort to become a successful coach on any level.

    My wife is supportive of my decision. However, I feel the current timing just doesn’t feel right since I’m already working 70 hours a week between two jobs. This is my dream. This is my passion. I live and breathe football. How do I get started (besides quitting my part time job) in achieving this goal?

  7. Kylar Russell

    Hey guys my name is Kylar Russell. I am currently a sophomore at Volunteer State Community College. I played football from the time I was seven until my senior year. I wasnt ever the best player but I loved the game. I want to get into coaching, specifically at the college level, however I have had zero success with my search thus far. Ive tried getting involved with virtually every youth, middle, and high school in my area and have gotten nowhere. Ive talked to some college coaches who have told me the best thing is to simply volunteer my time and yet I still havent made it anywhere. Im trying to just keep soaking up information and be patient. I am currently writing this between classes and am simply wanting an opportunity somewhere.

  8. Dan

    Reality — In most places, if you wish to coach football at the secondary level (i.e., high school or junior high), you must be a teacher in the school or school system. Most (paid) high school football coaches are teachers first. Coaching is an extracurricular activity for which they receive a small stipend. There are exceptions to this, of course. For instance, in some areas a high school may hire a full time football coach. (Places in Texas come to mind — but then some of those larger school teams can fill stadiums with 15,000 fans for a regular season high school game!) But the bottom line is most coaches’ paid profession is teaching math or english or social studies, etc. Coaching is their avocation.

    Now, if you wish to coach at the college level, get in line. There are experienced coaches all over the country who would love to coach at the collegiate level if they had the opportunity. But those opportunities are hard to come by and extroadinarily competitive. What’s more, most college coaches played college football. Upon graduating from college, many became “Graduate Assistant” coaches (commonly referred to as GAs). GAs are technically student-coaches. They must carry a full load of masters level coursework (usually 9hrs of graduate-level classes per semester). Now the good news is the university compensates a GA for his coaching work by covering his tuition and paying him a small stipend (eg. at the D-1 level, a GA may receive $10,000-$15,000 stipend + tuition). However, the bad news is the GA’s life is coaching 100hrs a week + class + studying (at the masters degree level). The article above does not begin to capture the amount of work GAs put in just for the opportunity to coach at the collegiate level — without any guarantee of fulltime employment as a coach when their GAship is over.

    Oh yeah, D-1 college football teams can have 2 GAs (they usually have 1 on offense and 1 on defense). There’s about 115-120 D-I football programs. So you’re talking about 230-240 GA positions nationwide at the D-1 level. (Note, D-1AA, D-2, D-3 schools may have GA programs, but may not, depending upon whether they have the funding to support them.) GAs are college graduates. GAs are all working on a masters degree while pursuing their coaching dream. And all GAs are limited to 2 year stint, after which time they either catch a break and hook onto a full time coaching job or they do something else (hopefully leveraging that masters degree that they earned!).

    IF a GA is fortunate enough to catch on to a full time job, (a) it may not be at the D-1 level. It could be a D-1AA, D-2, or D-3 job. (b) it may not be in an official assistant coaching job. For instance, a GA may become the “quality control” coach (who can watch film, but is prohibited by NCAA rules from coaching players directly). Or a GA may become the “strength coach” (working weight room). Or a GA may get a job as a “football relations” or “football business” representative or “recruiting coordinator” or “compliance officer” (monitoring and ensuring student-athletes comply with all NCAA regulations). These are types of positions that surround a college football program, often held by aspiring coaches, but which are not full time coaching positions.

    So if a 120 GAs are hitting the market every year, you can be sure there are NOT 120 NEW openings every year. While jobs open every year at the collegiate (and NFL) level, many are filled by established coaches coming from other coaching jobs. Big time coaching is very NETWORK oriented. Young coaches must catch a break to get into the network. And then they must prove themselves to earn their keep — because there are literary hundreds, if not thousands, of aspiring coaches out their to take their place. Bottom line: All aspiring coaches must pay their dues — without any promise of a full time coaching career. And all must catch a break — through hardwork, to break into the fraternity of bigtime football. After that, it’s on them to earn their keep. Rest assured, it’s a tough, competitive business.

    And the pros… well, many of them either played in the NFL, or coached at the collegiate level first, or are related to the head coach. 😉 (Same goes for officials, by the way.)

    I see a lot of very young aspiring coaches have commented here about their desire to coach. I applaud that desire and wish you the best. A coach can have a tremendous postive impact on the lives of the young men and boys they are priviliged to teach. Please don’t lose focus on that by becoming overly endulged in your own self-interest. And know that a “full time” coaching gig, a position that enables you to earn a living (which is usually modest, mind you, unless you get into the big time), requires a tremendous amount of work, and in most nearly every case, a college education (preferably including a degree), and a healthy dose of good luck to boot.


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