How to Become a Football Coach (9-Step Guide)

By Coach Martin | Coaching


Football is an amazing game with new generations of kids carrying on the tradition year after year.

But for them to properly learn and enjoy the game, there's always a need for new youth football coaches.

Becoming a football coach takes some time, dedication, and education, but it's well worth all the work you'll put in.

The rewards of being a football coach are immense -- from watching young kids mature to connecting with the next generation.

If you're wondering how to become a football coach, read on:

How to Become a Football Coach in 9 Steps

There are many different paths to becoming a football coach.

The road you take could be different from someone else, and that's what makes the sport of football so wonderful.

People from many different backgrounds and paths come together to bring new ideas and perspective to the sport.

That being said, there are some basics you will need to master if you want to learn how to become a football coach.

We outline some of those basics below.


1. Find Your "WHY"

The first step in becoming a football coach is understanding what your motivation is in the first place.

> Do you want to give back to your community and teach the game you love to young people who've never played the game before?

> Do you want to share your knowledge and experience with the sport to high schoolers for the next level?

> Are you looking to make a career out of football coaching to help support you and your family?

Clearly defining "WHY" you want to become a football coach will help you determine the specific path you might want to take. 

After all, the things you'll need to focus on to become a youth coach will be vastly different from the requirements of coaching HS football.

2. Study the Game

Even if you've played for many years, understanding the game from a coaching perspective can be quite different.

So before you take any definitive steps to becoming a coach, it's a good idea to study the game.

You can do this in many different ways:

> Reading football books (theory, biographies, etc)
> "Talking shop" with people who love the game
> Or simply watching a lot of football on TV

When watching, look at the game from a coaching perspective.

Instead of paying attention to the action and outcome of the game, look at how the coaches call the game.

Take notes on what plays the offense ran, what the situation was, what the outcome was, and what they did next. Then do the same for the defensive side of the ball as well.

Make note of any questions you have to research theories further.

There's a wealth of information about the game online, so there's plenty of education you could get from the comfort of your own home.

3. Attend Coaching Clinics

You may aspire to be a head football coach, but rarely does anyone start in that position right away. Instead, most new football coaches will start as an assistant on someone else's staff.

"How do you get your foot in the door without experience?"

At the entry level of youth football, it may just take you volunteering for the position. While at for higher levels of football, you'll likely have to network and meet the right people.

One great way to network, and to refine your coaching skills at the same time, is to attend football coaching clinics.

These clinics are similar to skills-based training that players can receive, only these are specifically designed for coaches.

Here, you'll learn some of the basics of how to coach, as well as some theories behind different aspects of the game.


You'll also learn about how to pursue a coaching career and get necessary resources that will help you along the way.

Most importantly, attending football coaching clinics will give you the opportunity to meet other people like you.

Hopefully, meeting other people with the same interests and goals could lead to you landing an assistant football coach position.

4. Learn from Others

In addition to books, videos, and film, learning from other coaches is also a great way to increase your knowledge about the game.

If possible, find a "mentor" who can teach you the ropes, answer any questions you have, and help you along in your development as a coach.

This mentor can be someone you met at the clinic, someone you know, someone who used to be a coach, or someone who currently coaches.

Don't worry, there are many options!

Football coaches love to "talk shop" and love to share the knowledge they've gathered with others throughout the years.

One of the defining characteristics of most great football coaches is that they love to see the game constantly advance and develop.

They do this by helping others become great leaders in the sport as well.


5. Find an Assistant Role

Now that you've done the groundwork, it's time to get to work. 

You'll likely have to become an assistant coach before becoming a head coach (as we mentioned earlier).

This will actually be a good thing, as it will help you hone your skills on one specific area of the game first, rather than having to know each and every aspect of the game as a head coach.

Reach out to local youth football leagues, high schools, and club leagues to see if they have a need for an assistant coach.

You may need to start in an unpaid position so that you can gain the experience you need. Keep that in mind when you're starting out.

6. Find Your Niche

Most assistant football coaching jobs will specialize in a particular niche.

This could either be quite general -- such as a defensive assistant, offensive assistant, or special teams assistant -- or much more specific.

At higher levels of the game, assistant coaches often have very specific assignments. For example, there is an assistant coach dedicated just to the defensive line, the offensive line, linebackers, and every other "position group."

It's a good idea when you first become an assistant coach to be open to doing whatever the head coach asks of you.

Even if you have an interest in becoming an offensive coordinator one day, be OK with serving as a wide receivers coach when you first start out.

As you begin your coaching career and get some experience under your belt, you can slowly find the niche you're most interested in. You can then pursue that specific niche as an assistant so that you can refine your skills in that one particular area.

After becoming a receivers coach, for example, and serving in that role for a while, you can likely expand your horizons and take on more responsibilities on the offensive side of the ball.

Also, don't close off gaining experience on all sides of the game -- offense, defense, and special teams.

If you're asking how to become a football coach, gaining a wide variety of experience will definitely be beneficial. 

7. Build Your Resume

Just like any other job, climbing the ladder in football coaching means building a resume to show future prospective employers.

If you want to become a football coach at a higher level, you'll need to submit a formal resume, as you would to any other job.

Your resume should include brief descriptions of all your past coaching experience, including where you worked, under whom, and what your specialties were. You should also include descriptions of what you learned and who your mentors are.

Further, include a description of your overall philosophy of the game, and what you hope to learn in the future. And include any official coaching credentials you have, including any clinics or classes you've attended.

Building and refining your football coaching resume will be key if you want to continue to take on larger positions in the sport.

8. Obtain Necessary Certifications

If you want to coach football in a school-based environment, you will need to obtain certain coaching certifications and credentials. 

What credentials you'll need will depend on the state in which you live and want to work.

Each state has their own certification requirements, as well as steps you need to take to obtain them.

You can research these credentials online, or reach out to a local high school or school district to find out what the requirements are. That information should also be on file with your state's Department of Education.

Sometimes, these credentials will require you to take classes, either online or in person, and pass certain tests.

There will also likely be some course fees you will have to pay. After all, you will be dealing with kids who are in school.

After you receive these necessary certifications, make sure to put them on your resume, as that'll go a long way in helping you get future jobs.

9. Work Hard and Refine Your Craft

You'll now have completed all the necessary research and back-work it takes to prepare for a football coaching career.

All that's left to do, and our last step in how to become a football coach, is coach, coach, and coach some more. 

The more you can get involved and gain on-field experience, the better you will become as a football head coach.

This will take some time, of course, as you refine your skills -- just as it does when you're on a job or picking up a new hobby, for instance.

Football coaches will refine their craft over many, many years.

Sometimes, it may feel like you're treading water and not making a lot of progress, but remain confident in yourself that the hard work, effort, and time you're putting in now is going to pay off down the line.

Eventually, you will build a very unique skillset that will help in your journey to becoming a great football coach.



While there isn't just one, single path to take when it comes to football coaching, following our 9-step guide will definitely help you on your path to becoming a great coach.

Keep in mind that learning how to become a football coach takes a lot of time and effort. 

Don't forget that despite the hard work you'll have to put in, you can also have a lot of fun along the way.

In the end, you'll be in a better position to excel as a coach, give back to players who love the game, and expand knowledge of the sport to future generations.

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