How to Become a Coach or Scout
Coaches and scouts must have overall knowledge of the game or sport.
Coaches and scouts typically need a bachelor’s degree. They must also have extensive knowledge of the sport. Coaches typically gain this knowledge through their own experiences playing the sport at some level. Although previous playing experience may be beneficial, it is not required for most scouting jobs.
High schools typically hire teachers at the school for most coaching jobs. If no suitable teacher is found, schools hire a qualified candidate from outside the school. For more information on education requirements for teachers, see the profile on high school teachers.
College and professional coaches must usually have a bachelor’s degree. This degree can typically be in any subject. However, some coaches may decide to study exercise and sports science, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition and fitness, physical education, and sports medicine.
Scouts must also typically have a bachelor’s degree. Some scouts decide to get a degree in business, marketing, sales, or sports management.
College and professional coaching jobs also typically require experience playing the sport at some level.
However, scouting jobs typically do not require experience playing a sport at the college or professional level. Employers look for applicants with a passion for sports and an ability to spot young players who have exceptional athletic ability and skills.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Most state high school athletic associations require coaches to be certified. Certification often requires coaches to be a minimum age (at least 18 years old) and be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first-aid. Some states also require coaches to attend classes related to sports safety and coaching fundamentals prior to becoming certified.
Although most public high school coaches need to meet these state requirements in order to become a coach, certification may not be required for coaching and sports instructor jobs in private schools.
Certification requirements for college coaching positions also vary.
Additional certification may be highly desirable or even required in order to become an instructor in scuba diving, tennis, golf, karate, or other individual sports. There are many certifying organizations specific to the various sports, and their requirements vary.
Part-time workers and those in smaller facilities or youth leagues are less likely to need formal education or training and may not need certification.
Many coaches begin their careers as assistant coaches to gain the knowledge and experience needed to become a head coach. Large schools and colleges that compete at the highest levels require a head coach with substantial experience at another school or as an assistant coach.
To reach the ranks of professional coaches, a candidate usually needs years of coaching experience and a winning record in the lower ranks or experience as an athlete in that sport.
Scouts may begin working as talent spotters in a particular area or region. They typically advance to become supervising scouts responsible for a whole territory or region.
Communication skills. Because coaches instruct, organize, and motivate athletes, they must have excellent communication skills. They must effectively communicate proper techniques, strategies, and rules of the sport so every player on the team understands.
Decision-making skills. Coaches must choose the appropriate players to use at a given position at a given time during a game and find a strategy that yields the best chance for winning. Coaches and scouts also must be very selective when recruiting players from lower levels of athletics.
Dedication. Coaches must attend daily practices and assist their team and individual athletes in improving their skills and physical conditioning. Coaches must be dedicated to their sport, as it often takes years to become successful.
Interpersonal skills. Being able to relate to athletes helps coaches and scouts foster positive relationships with their current players and recruit potential players.
Leadership skills. Coaches must demonstrate good leadership skills to get the most out of athletes. They also must be able to motivate, develop, and direct young athletes.
Resourcefulness. Coaches must utilize the talent on a team to achieve the best chances for winning. For example, a coach may change players during the game to meet the defensive needs of the team.