Getting your foot in the door can be the most difficult step of your coaching career. After discerning what level you’re hoping to coach, you can begin searching for positions.
1. Participate in the sport
One of the best ways to develop the base of your coaching knowledge is to participate in the sport. Running, throwing, or jumping in high school and college will give you valuable insight into the athlete experience.
You do NOT need to be a star athlete to be a great coach. You do not necessarily even have to be an athlete at all. But you do need to have a strong understanding of the sport: both the technical and psychological components.
2. Become a student of the sport
To successfully make the transition from an athlete to a coach, you must do more than just participate.
It is NEVER TOO EARLY to start building the foundation.
As you have probably heard, “who you know” is indeed the most important factor in which positions will be available to you. The most critical step in seeking a job is tapping into your network.
Think about experienced coaches who you already know: maybe they coach at the local high school or go to your church or coached you in college. Reach out to them through email, text, LinkedIn, or in person! Let them know that you’re interested in getting involved with coaching. Even weak connections can yield leads.
Have real conversations. Learn from them. Ask questions. Listen to their stories. Shadow your mentors.
Let them know you’re interested in coaching. Keep your eyes open for opportunities. Join our Facebook Group!
4. Get ready for the (unpaid) grind
Be prepared to take a volunteer position, especially if you’re hoping to coach at the collegiate level. The coaching lifestyle is intense. Be prepared. Oftentimes, it is a good choice to spend time as an unpaid assistant at a well-known, successful program.
Volunteer at local running events or races to get your name out to the community.
Moral of the story: Work really, really hard. And for goodness sake, don’t complain; you signed yourself up for this!
Former Volunteer Assistant at Georgia Tech
The advice I’d give aspiring coaches is go all-in. If you want to coach at any level, I’d recommend learning as much as possible.
If you want to get into collegiate coaching, go to a program & spend your time there as if it’s a full-time job, even though it doesn’t pay... Read More
5. Add value
Find a way that you can contribute beyond raking the sand pit and moving hurdles. Make sure that if someone asked, “What do you bring to this team?”, you have an answer.
Begin to develop your coaching philosophy.
6. View yourself as a professional
View your coaching as a professional endeavor, like this woman does.
Keep your eyes open for professional development opportunities. Attend conferences.
Talk to the Athletic Director and Senior Women’s Administrator.
7. Get Paid
Make friends with all assistant coaches, even those outside of your event speciality. Eventually, they may be hired as head coaches, and you’ll know who they will call.
Let everyone (and we mean everyone) know that you’re looking for a position.
Ready to start Applying?
Ready to start applying? It can be difficult to make your resume stand out from the crowd. A good first step is to reach out to the coaches that you already know and let them know that you’re looking.
Your Coaching Resume
You’ll want to create a resume that is specific to coaching. Even if you are not applying to a formal job, a resume is a great way to show your athletes (or even yourself) that you are qualified for the job.
If your coaching experience is sparse, consider putting on other applicable experience such as teaching positions, transferable skills, or extracurricular leadership activities.
If you were (or are) a track & field athlete, you may want to include a small section on your athletic accomplishments. While this is important for context, you do not want your coaching skills to be overshadowed by your skills on the track (& field).
Interview Tips — Coming Soon
Volunteering Info — Coming Soon
Switching Levels — Coming Soon
Profile: Coach Jeremy Heizer
Throws Coach at Eastern Mennonite University
I think it was a great experience being a D3 coach. I feel like you connect more with your athletes than you could at a bigger college.
At the same time, I think it was a little harder to be a D3 coach. Most of us had another primary job, so we don’t get all the access and benefits that a D1 coach would have… Read More