Why get into management, coaching & training?
There are so many different avenues you can explore within sports management and coaching. Obviously, there’s the whole Jose Mourinho route. You know the one: dissatisfied footballer turns amateur coach, works as an assistant manager, becomes an interpreter for Sir Bobby Robson at Barcelona and before you know it he’s the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’; winning every trophy under the sun and stirring up the blood pressure of every other Premiership manager. Easy.
There are more structured routes into sports coaching. Furthermore, working with sports professionals isn’t the only career you can pursue in this field. You could get a graduate job and work in all kinds of institutions and for all sorts of different organisations, including primary schools, secondary schools, further education colleges, universities, sports vacation schemes, amateur or semi-professional sports teams, summer training camps, or private member sports clubs. Then someday, maybe you’ll be the ‘New Special One’. You never know!
What do coaches and other training staff do?
If you didn’t already know, sport coaches and sports management staff work with professional athletes and amateur sportspeople to help them refine their talent through training sessions and preparing them for sporting events, matches and competitions.
They take individuals or teams of people under their wing and provide them with guidance and inspiration so that they can perform at the best of their ability and achieve success in their sport of choice. Whatever the sport, the coach must have ample amounts of enthusiasm. The ability to motivate people is the key characteristic you’ll need to bring to the table. After all, the athletes you’ll be working with will need psychological coaching as much as physical training.
To ‘make it’ in this arena, you’ll need to refine your coaching skills and gradually build an excellent reputation over a number of years. All this comes with experience and the more you get, the higher the level you’ll be able to reach in coaching. The good news is that great coaches don’t go unnoticed; if you continue to work with an athlete successfully, opportunities for progression will become available.
Most coaches specialise in one sport, unless you work for a school, in which case you may have to provide coaching expertise on more than one activity. You’ll need to know your sport inside-out, learn about new and innovative coaching techniques and be able to analyse and assess performances to help teams or athletes to improve next time round.
You’ll need to get to know your protégés really well, develop a professional but close relationship with them and alter your motivation or training techniques in accordance with the specific demands of the different athletes in your midst.
You’ll also need to be massively enthusiastic, be an exceptional motivator and have the communication skills of Morgan Freeman to strike fire and passion into the hearts of the athletes you are working with. Only then will you blossom into a world-beating sports coach or manager.
Above all, you need to have a strong natural passion for the sport. If you want to build a career out of coaching or management, it needs to be so much more than just a job. You’ll need to immerse yourself in the sport, learn about the best players and coaches and be adaptable to new training techniques.
Ever heard of coaching badges? Well, you’re going to have to know all about them. In order to make it the official coaching qualifications that are relevant to your sport. These bad boys are offered by the national governing body for each and every sport in the UK (except mud wrestling perhaps?!)
Coaching qualifications are often more important than getting a university degree. So do your research, find out which ones you need, work hard, get your badges and you’ll be coaching the superstars of tomorrow in absolutely no time!
You’ll also need to remember that you will need to obtain a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check before you can start coaching children. After all, safety is the number one priority when it comes to coaching youngsters.
What options do I have within this field?
Coaching roles involve teaching new techniques, studying the opposition and working with the management team to plan for the next event. The management team plan like mad for the event, prepare tactics and strategies and offer advice and instructions during the actual performance. If you take on a role in management, you’ll need to be able to adapt to various different performance factors and have a number of game plans up your sleeve.
Medical and physical therapy staff and health and fitness training staff work tend to help out more on the fitness and diet side of things, rather than focusing their efforts on technique and performance.
If you’re coaching or managing at an amateur level, it might be difficult to make enough cash to survive. Consequently, many people begin their careers by working ‘day jobs’ and coaching or managing in their spare time. This is all fantastic experience if you want to pursue a full-time career in this sector. It’s not easy, but if you have a passion for sport you could eventually turn your hobby into a permanent, paid career.
So, it you reckon you could give Sir Alex a run for his money (wouldn’t recommend the boot-throwing tactic, though…) and you’ve got a knack for getting the best out of people, then you could well triumph in a coaching or training role!