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 also must 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.
Coaches and scouts typically need a bachelor's degree. Coaches may study kinesiology, sports medicine, or physical education; some scouts major in business, marketing, or sports management. Coaches and scouts also may choose to get a degree in a related field, such as recreation and fitness.
High schools typically hire teachers or administrators 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.
Like coaches, scouts must 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 typically require experience playing the sport at some level.
Scouting jobs typically do not require experience playing a sport at the college or professional level, but doing so can be beneficial. 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 or at least complete mandatory education courses.
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. For information about specific state coaching requirements, contact the state’s high school athletic association or visit the National Association of State Boards of Education.
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 jobs in private schools.
Some schools may require coaches to have a teaching license and complete a background check.
Certification requirements for college coaching positions also vary.
Additional certification may be highly desirable or even required for someone to coach individual sports such as tennis or golf. 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.
To reach the rank of a professional coach, a candidate usually needs years of coaching experience and a winning record at a college. Some coaches may not have previous coaching experience but are nevertheless hired at the professional level because of their success as an athlete in their sport.
Some college coaches begin their careers as graduate assistants or assistant coaches in order 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 who has had substantial experience at another school or as an assistant coach.
Other college coaches may start out as high school coaches before moving up to the collegiate level.
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 communicate proper techniques, strategies, and rules of the sport effectively enough that every player on the team understands what he or she has been told.
Decisionmaking skills. Coaches must choose the appropriate players to use at a given position at a given time during a game and must know the proper time to utilize game-managing tools such as timeouts. Coaches and scouts must also be very selective when recruiting players.
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 must be able to motivate, develop, and direct young athletes.
Resourcefulness. Coaches must find and develop a game plan and strategy that yields the best chances for winning. Coaches often need to create original plays or formations that provide a competitive advantage and confuse opponents.