Preparing for an athletic coaching career in high school

Youth interested in coaching a sport as a career can learn about the profession in high school.

Coaching can be a rewarding career. Learn how to pursue this career in high school. Photo credit: ANR Communications | MSU Extension
Coaching can be a rewarding career. Learn how to pursue this career in high school. Photo credit: ANR Communications | MSU Extension

If you have an interest in athletics and like to motivate people, develop strategies and teach, think about a career in coaching. Coaching can be a rewarding career as you get to build positive relationships, be a role model for young men and women and bring joy to a high school, college, community, city or state as a result of winning games. For youth who want to pursue the athletic coaching career path, they can get started in high school with these basic tips.

If you are physically able, meaning the doctor has cleared you to play a sport, play the sport or sports you’re interested in coaching. Experience in that sport can help you as a future coach, as you will be able to relate to your athletes by sharing your own playing experience. If you are not physically able to play or don’t make the team in try-outs, try to become involved with the team somehow. Some ways of doing this include becoming a team manager, trainer or team statistician (recording statistics). Just being in the athletic environment will allow you to observe and learn the system of offense or defense the coaches use, learn practice methods used for skill-building, and develop an understanding of what athletes experience from the time of practice until the game. To learn more about skill-building in a particular sport and the types of drills used, attend a sports camp in the community or at a local college or university.

Another way to prepare for becoming a coach is to connect with coaches in your sport(s) of interest. Seek various opportunities to interview coaches on learning the game you’re interested in. Find out about studying the game film and breaking down offensive and defensive methods from the coaches you connect with. If your high school has some type of job shadowing or internship program, take advantage and see if you can utilize that program to learn about coaching.

Another great chance for you to explore and practice coaching is to seek the opportunity to coach. Find out if certain youth sports and recreation leagues will allow you to volunteer and assist coaches. This will allow you to get a hands-on coaching experience in a sport. Another possible idea or opportunity is to be a referee in the youth sporting leagues to see a different perspective in the sport(s) you’re interested in coaching.

As you explore coaching in high school, make plans to pursue higher education for at least a bachelor’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a student interested in pursuing a career in coaching can receive a degree in any major. A good program at Michigan State University for students interested in this area is Kinesiology in the College of Education.

These steps from Michigan State University Extension will help high school students gain experience and as they pursue a career in coaching. Good luck!

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