What Do You Need to Be a Coach?

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Coaching is an essential part of creating a great athlete or sports team. Athletes need more than just physical fitness and skill to be successful; coaches provide guidance to athletes and sports teams to improve their performance and help them achieve success. Coaches need a variety of skills and attributes to be successful.

Sports Experience and Knowledge

Perhaps the most important requirement for becoming a coach is extensive knowledge of the sport you plan to coach. Coaches fill many roles as trainers and strategists for athletes and teams. If you don't know all of the techniques and rules that apply to a sport, you will not be able to instruct athletes effectively.

Many coaches obtain sports experience and knowledge through participation in the sport at some level. The amount of knowledge required of a coach may vary depending on the level of coaching. For instance, a coach might only need basic sports knowledge to instruct a team of grade school athletes while high school, college and professional sports coaches need greater levels of knowledge. Many college and professional level coaches are former college or professional athletes.

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are essential for coaches. Coaches must communicate advice and strategies to athletes in a way that is easy to understand and implement. Coaches may also need to communicate with referees, media, parents and other coaches to organize events or dispute rules. Coaches must know how to deal with people with different personalities and be able to discipline athletes if necessary. It may fall to the coach to resolve disputes and fights that arise between athletes.

Organization Skills

Coaches must have strong organization and planning skills. Coaches must keep track of information related to each of their athletes, such as age, height, weight, positions, injuries, strengths and weaknesses. Coaches may also have to run practices for athletes; if practices are not well-planned, athletes may not develop skills as efficiently as possible.


The education required to become a coach will vary from one coaching position to another. Head coaches at public secondary schools and sports instructors must usually have a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, although people that are very experienced at a certain sport may be able to coach with less education.