How To Become A Basketball Instructor/Coach

8 min read • 1 May 2020

Basketball is the most popular college sport in the United States, according to BusinessInsider. Basketball is also the third most popular sport overall in the United States, where there are a greater number of B-ball fans than in any other country in the world, reports TopEnd Sports.

If you’re an avid basketball player plotting a career in athletics, take encouragement in the knowledge that coaching basketball is one of the most professionally satisfying and well-paying jobs in sports.

Basketball coaches teach their players how to play the game and work together as a team toward victory. As a coach you’ll organize practice sessions, supervise players’ physical conditioning, study game videos of individual players and the team, and develop winning game strategies. Your goal is to motivate and guide your players to greatness.

Basketball Instructor
Jan 15, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; General view of the basket during warmups prior to the San Diego State Aztecs game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Viejas Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most important first step in becoming a basketball coach is to play a lot of basketball. Firsthand experience gives you comprehensive knowledge of the sport and helps you communicate with your players.

Many basketball coaches at the high school level are also teachers. If you are already a state-certified teacher you may have a better chance at finding work as a high school basketball coach.

To become a basketball coach, the basic training requires a bachelor’s degree, extensive experience playing the sport and at least some coaching experience, such as at the assistant level. We’ll go over all these topics.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job opportunities for coaches will grow 11 percent through 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Increasing participation in high school and college basketball programs is expected to boost that demand for coaches.

As a basketball coach, you can work with players at levels ranging from high school to college and professional. Salaries climb dramatically as you move up the career ladder.

In this article you’ll discover:

  • How much money you can make as a basketball coach
  • The required training and certifications
  • Professional groups to join
  • Employment Opportunities
  • Finding players as a private coach or owner of a training camp
  • Plus helpful tips for basketball coaches

How much money can you make?

Private basketball coaches earn an average of $35,382 per year.

How Much do Basketball Coaches Make

According to Stateuniversity.com, part-time high school basketball coaches earn between $1,000 and $3,000 per year during the playing season. The median annual wage for full-time high school coaches is $33,780, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,970, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $77,880. Salary is a factor of experience, performance and location.

At the college level, coaching salaries are a whole other ballgame. Basketball coach Tony Bennett, who leads the NCAA championship team at the University of Virginia, receives a base salary of $525,000 plus performance incentives of $1.175 million. And according to TheStreet.com, Bennett isn’t even among the Top 10 highest paid college basketball coaches. The top distinction goes to Mike Krzyzewski, head basketball coach at Duke University, where he receives an annual salary just under $9 million.

When you make it to head coach of an NBA team, the average salary of a basketball coach is $3 million a year, according to Boyd’s Bets. Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, was paid $11 million for the most recent season. That works out to more than $134,000 per game during the regular season.

Training and Certification

A Bachelor’s Degree in exercise science and physical education is considered standard preparation for a career in basketball coaching, especially if you aspire to the higher levels of collegiate and professional play.

Some schools offer degree programs focused on coach training. In these programs you’ll learn how to work with and motivate athletes, develop game plans, as well as physical conditioning and skills development. Injury prevention is another core topic.

Here’s a video on basketball coaching 101 to give you an idea of a training session and basic drills that players run with their coaches.

Basketball Coach Training and Certification

Most states require public high school coaches to hold certification. To become certified, you must complete approved courses in coaching, CPR, and first aid and pass an examination. Requirements for high school coaches also often include a background check, drug testing and job training.

Some educational programs may help you find an opportunity to gain coaching experience. But if you’re on your own, you’ll have to get creative. While you’re still in college, volunteering as an assistant for a local high school basketball team is an option. Youth summer camps are another opportunity to gain coaching experience and make some money between semesters. You can also apply to be team manager for your college basketball team or volunteer in any capacity that helps you learn how to become a college basketball coach.

As part of your training, take time to learn how to analyze game tapes. This is an essential part of the job, whether you’re an assistant or head basketball coach. By watching game tapes you can study the moves and strategies of teams and individual players. The goal is to be able to recognize offense and defense strategies, as well as how to adapt them to your team’s strengths. The best way to learn game analysis is by talking to other basketball coaches, finding out what they look for and how they break down game play.

Professional Groups to Join

The National Association of Basketball Coaches offers membership categories for Men’s coaches and Women’s coaches.

Membership fees range from $40 annually for high school coaches up to $450 for head coaches at NCAA Division 1 schools.

The principal benefits of membership include continuing education opportunities and networking with other coaches.

The annual NABC Convention, held during the NCAA Men’s Final Four, is the top professional development event in men’s basketball coaching. Members have the opportunity to purchase Final Four tickets.

Basketball coach professional groups

The association’s Professional Development Series (PDS) Certification is held during the convention and covers coaching development, ethics and personal development. Members receive official PDS certification and the chance to earn continuing education credits.

Another benefit is access to NABC Championship Basketball Clinics with discount registration. These clinics provide coaches at every level with year-round professional development. Clinics are held around the country every spring and fall, and feature programming by many of the game’s most honored coaches.

The association also offers a host of training videos, awards programs and recognition by peer members for your achievements as a basketball coach.

Employment

Demand for trained basketball coaches remains strong. A search on Indeed.com turned up more than 100 job openings for basketball coaches at schools and camps throughout the country in the last 30 days.

If you are interested in full-time basketball coaching, you should concentrate on college or professional basketball. Many high school coaches work with basketball teams as a side role to their primary duties as a teacher. While the rewards can be highly satisfying, the pay is nowhere near on par with the salaries the college and pro coaches make.

Finding Clients

When you’re coaching at the pro, collegiate and especially high school level, chances are the players are coming to you or your staff is actively recruiting new talent. This is a critical part of a college coach’s job, since the entire team moves on after graduation every 4-5 years.

College athletic departments typically have a dedicated staff who handle scholarship budges and assist the head coach and assistant coaches in their recruiting efforts.

If you run a private basketball clinic or summer camp, here are strategies to help you sign more students:

  •         Partner with your local high schools and let the coaches know you have off-season camps and private training.
  •         List your business on as many online camp directories as you can. Parents use these directories to find camps for their kids. One of the most popular directories is CampChannel.com.
  •         Set up a business page for your basketball camp on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Post regular photos and news about your offers and activities, with links back to your business website.

Good to know:

Stack Coaches and Trainers says preparation and attention to details are the top attributes of successful basketball coaches.

  •         Preparation

Coaches should never believe they know enough. Instead, always be learning, practicing and planning.

  •         Focus on the Details

If players make fundamental errors on techniques during practice, you can expect they’ll do the same during a game.

Things to Know as a Basketball Coach
  •         Maintain Discipline

You set the standards. It’s your job to be sure players meet those standards. Perfection should be the goal. The fact that perfection may not always be attainable doesn’t matter. It should still be the goal.

  •         Intensity

This doesn’t mean angry screaming when something goes wrong. It means coaching with purpose and focus. Over time, the team will adopt your personality and mindset toward the game. When players understand they have a job to do on the basketball court, they work harder toward the goal of winning.

  •         Maintain a Positive Attitude

You’ll go farther with a spoonful of sugar than a shot glass brimming with vinegar in motivating your players. Being positive produces long-lasting results. This also means shutting down negativity when it crops up in your players.

Basketball Coach Positive Attitude
  •         Be Confident and Consistent

If you are uncertain, that will creep into the mindset of your players. Without consistency, your players don’t know what to expect. Treat everyone the same to build and sustain trust.

  •         Be Yourself

The expression “keeping it real” applies just as much to coaches as anyone. Sincerity and honesty are always the best tools for building a smooth-running team.

  •         Show You Care with Clear Communication

People respond better when they are led by someone who clearly cares about them. This will come through in the way you communicate to the team. Listen to your players. That is how you will come to know them.

  •         Cultivate a Winning Culture

A winning culture involves dedication, commitment, competitiveness, and pursuing high standards. Don’t settle for less than you expect, otherwise you’re holding back your team. The team comes first. Winning the next game is the priority.

  •         If you offer private coaching, buy a liability insurance policy and keep it up to date. How much coverage you need will depend on several factors, such as your net worth and the value of your private business. Liability insurance is important because in all sports injuries can happen and you could potentially be blamed.

If you enjoyed this article, check out some other PocketSuite.io content that can help you grow your career as a basketball coach. Here’s a great place to start.

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