It is likely that many people consider the job of football coach to be mainly athletic, and not based on real ability. Football at any level, after all, is a game, so coaches tend to command respect only from fans who understand how complex the sport is. These fans, however, have an awareness others then do not. As the following will reveal, and far from being an easy career choice, the dream of being a football coach becomes reality only when the work is done to earn it. To be a coach requires a strong educational background, study of the sport itself, experience with football playing, developing leadership skills, and a willingness to begin at any level.
To begin with, coaching is a form of teaching, so a basic background at the college level is necessary. To coach football at virtually any school level requires a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education, and most school coaches are actually PE teachers first and coaches second Of course, some community teams do not require anything beyond willingness, but coaching at any level above this calls for the degree. Connected to this educational background is the commitment to studying the game. Football is a sport of great complexity; the combinations and possibilities of plays are many, just as the skill levels of the players creates endless variations on these. The person determined to be a coach must then learn the history of the game and the many elements of strategy, as it is also helpful to study the careers of legendary players and coaches.
Secondly, the coach should definitely have experience as a player. To coach at the college level, this is virtually required, but it clearly is of great benefit no matter how and where the coaching occurs. In playing, there is a sense gained of the game that cannot be had any other way, and the coach will understand the realities of play “from the inside.” Playing the sport will then also provide ideas for the individual who seeks to move into coaching; they will acquire a perspective on rival teams’ strengths and weaknesses, the options and mechanics of individual plays, and the physical factors of the field.
A third step essential for the football coach is working toward being a true leader, and this requires an entire range of skills. The coach must be able to inspire the team to always do its best for the sakes of the team itself, the organization, and for their individual senses of esteem. This can be challenging when players lose spirit after losses, face strong rivals, make mistakes, or when other factors influence them in negative ways. The coach as leader must understand these realities and still generate the ambition to play well.
The fourth and final step to be followed is not exactly a step, but a kind of readiness; that is, the person must understand that no football coach begins at the top, and that competition for coaching jobs is always intense. The coach must be willing to take on the most minor teams, or work in the most amateur conditions. Very often first coaching jobs in communities are not paid, but even these kinds of circumstances offer experience that is extremely valuable. Connected to this willingness to begin small is the need to being open to relocating to coach a team. The football coach starting out or even well-established basically must go where the work is.
Following a dream is an attractive – and even practical – approach to anyone’s life’s work, and this is certainly true of the dream of coaching football. That dream, however, requires work, and a great deal more than a love for football or a desire to win is required before anyone may become a genuinely effective football coach. As has been demonstrated, to be a football coach calls for a strong educational background, extensive study of the sport itself, real experience with football playing, developing leadership skills, and a willingness to begin at any level.