Football is the most popular sport in the United States, with teams in the National Football League leading the way. In the 100 years since the NHL was founded, football gradually surpassed baseball as America’s favorite sport, with basketball trailing in second place.
NCAA football is also a wildly popular multi-billion-dollar industry. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, your state’s highest–paid public employee is probably a college football coach.
The start of football season is treated as a celebration in the United States. Summer is over. Autumn has begun and the weather is getting cooler. College basketball ended months ago and baseball’s World Series is still months away. Football bridges the gap. The excitement of a game only increases with the intensity of team rivalries, perhaps the greatest of any sport.
Try to remember how you felt the first time you saw a perfect pigskin spiral – a beautifully executed throw that sent the ball 40 yards down the field into the outstretched hands of a receiver, who suddenly transformed into a jackrabbit, hitting the accelerator and crossing into the end zone to score the winning touchdown with less than a second left on the clock. Football delivers legendary thrills.
We should also mention The Super Bowl, which remains the most-watched annual event on television. There is no other championship like it. Consider:
The NBA Finals is best of seven.
The Stanley Cup Finals in hockey is best of seven.
Baseball’s World Series is best of seven.
But the Super Bowl is winner take all.
Despite its reputation as a violent sport (Compared to what we might wonder? Boxing?), football is about much more than brute strength and speed. The outcome of almost any football game originates on the sidelines, as the coach plots his moves, consults with assistant coaches and sends those directives to the quarterback.
A great football coach requires tremendous skill in strategizing and conceptual thinking. While plays off the line of scrimmage may end quickly, significant effort goes into their development, with hours of practice in pursuit of perfect execution. That’s one of the key roles a head football coach plays in leading a team to victory.
Pumped up yet? Get ready for the excitement of a professional coaching career in football. In this article you’ll learn:
- How much money you can make as a football 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 football coaches
How much money can you make?
Private football coaches charge anywhere from $30 an hour to $85 or more. The pricing generally depends on the skills being taught and the coach’s experience. Factors such as competition for private coaching can also impact the fee you can charge. In a locality saturated with football coaches, you’re less likely to command top dollar.
The sky is almost the limit when you’re head coach of an NFL team. Bill Belichick, who leads the New England Patriots, gets $12 million a year for his services.
Top college football coaches also do well, with most pulling down multi-million dollar salaries. Clemson University head coach Dabo Swinney banks compensation of $9.3 million a year, putting him at the top of the pack. Nick Saban, head coach of the Crimson Tide at University of Alabama, comes in second with an annual salary of $8.3 million. Of the Top 100 highest-paid college football coaches, no one is earning less than $600,000 a year.
Assistant college football coaches make considerably less, but would still be considered well-paid, with average annual salaries in the $150,000 to $200,000 range.
The average annual salary for high school football coaches is $33,780, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Training and Certification
A bachelor’s degree in sports medicine, physical education or other program of athletic study is a standard expectation of employers hiring football coaches at any level. Here’s a searchable list of colleges that offer degree programs suitable for coaching preparation.
USA Football certifies more than 100,000 novice football coaches each year. Options include certification for youth coaches and high school coaches. Many of the course modules are free or available at a nominal cost, around $10 each.
The programs cover these fundamentals leading to certification:
- Physical Development
- Thinking, Feeling & Behaving Abilities
- Technical Non-Contact Skills
- Tactical Strategies & Principles
- Health & Safety (Head, Heart, Heat)
- Building a Coaching Purpose Statement
- Anti-Abuse Training – How to recognize signs of abuse and report it
- Blocking & Defeating Blocks
- Shoulder Tackling
- Proper Equipment Fitting
- Contact Levels
The United States Sports Academy offers certification in football coaching. Tuition is $150 for the 16-week course, which covers “Specific fundamentals necessary for coaching football. Emphasis is placed on teaching skills, techniques and drills. Planning, preparation and administration for the various phases of the season are also covered along with program evaluation for continued improvement.”
The American Football Coaches Association offers a number of training videos for coaches that will help you understand what’s involved in coach training.
Free and low-cost football coaching and training videos are also available at CoachTube.
Professional Groups to Join
The American Football Coaches Association is the group that attracts serious professionals. The association’s membership includes more than 11,000 American football coaches and staff on all levels. Membership benefits include ongoing professional development and the ability to network with other coaches. You’ll also be entitled to attend the annual conventions held in a different city each year. Attending conventions is a great way to stay social and meet people in a position to help advance your career.
Although it’s not a professional organization, more of an informal chat room, The Youth Football Coaches Forum on Facebook is a good place to swap ideas with other coaches.
Your first stop on the quest to find a football coaching job should be the jobs board maintained by the AFCA. On this site you can also create a profile and post your resume so employers can find you.
Don’t overlook other online job-search resources such as Indeed.com and ZipRecruiter.
Stay current in your professional memberships, which let you connect with other coaches. You’re likely to meet people who know of job openings or opportunities soon to come up that have not yet been advertised.
If you’re running a private football camp for student athletes, get your business listed across online camp directories. Start with the most popular, including Next College Student Athlete and CampPage.
Encourage your current players and their parents, if you coach a youth camp, to write and post online reviews of your coaching business.
Contact high school football coaches in your area to let them know you have summer training camps and private coaching to help keep their athletes primed and in great shape until the pre-season begins.
Cross-pollinate your business website with links and posts on social media platforms. Your social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter should include plenty of photos of players having fun. Video clips are even better. Marketing studies show people prefer to engage with video over any other form of online content.
If you need to fill a specific spot on the team right away, perhaps due to a player’s injury, go to FindAPlayer.com for quick searches to locate players interested in getting on a team.
At the college and high school levels, players typically come to you, either through love of the game or the desire to earn a scholarship. As an assistant or head coach of a college football team, you might be called upon at some point to assist a player who’s under consideration for recruitment by the NFL.
Good to know:
- As a private coach, offer a discount to players who sign up for multiple sessions. This helps ensure consistent business so you spend more time coaching and less time looking for new clients who might pay for 1 or 2 sessions, then vanish.
- In preparing your practice sessions, check out Football Tutorials, where you’ll find 527 practice drill ideas you can build into your sessions.
- Cover yourself with liability insurance if you offer private coaching. How much coverage you need will depend on several factors, such as your net worth and the value of your private business. Some professional organizations may include liability coverage as a benefit of membership. Only you can decide if the coverage amount is sufficient for your business. Liability insurance is important because injuries happen in football and you could potentially be blamed, unfairly or not.
- On Coaches Clinic you’ll discover a number of wide-ranging resources for improving as a youth football coach. Get new ideas for practice. Discover the latest offense and defense strategies.
- Over on FootballScoop you’ll find a wealth of videos and articles geared toward football coaches, plus news and a rundown of upcoming events of interest.
USA Football suggests new football coaches follow these tips as they gain experience and build confidence.
- Be clear on your coaching goals. The season should be enjoyable so players come back next year.
- Greet every player by name at every practice and before each game. This fosters a positive, welcoming environment.
- Plan practices that keep players active, which will help them stay focused.
- Use games and drills that give players a lot of repeated skills practice.
- Concentrate on one or two focus areas per practice. Sessions may only last an hour so make the time count.
- End each practice and game on a positive note, no matter the outcome.
- Connect with other football coaches who have been coaching for a while. Tell them your challenges and ask how they overcome theirs.
If you enjoyed this article, check out some other PocketSuite.io content that can help you grow your career as a football coach. Here’s a great place to start.
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