Strategies For Becoming a College Coach

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Travis was both excited and nervous as he sat in the lobby waiting for his appointment with Coach Smith. He was excited because in a couple of minutes he would be visiting with one of the top coaches in college sports. Travis had scheduled an informational interview so he could find out more about the coaching profession in hopes that he, too, could someday be a successful coach.

As Coach Smith entered the lobby he greeted Travis with a big smile and a firm handshake. From there they made their way back to his office and Travis was in awe as he saw all of the trophies, championship photos and awards Coach Smith had lining his office walls. The hospitable coach graciously said, “have a seat Travis, I’m glad we’re able to get together.” Travis was nervous as he asked his first round of informational questions.

The conversation truly gave Travis some insight into the profession, and he now knew he definitely wanted to be a college coach. Nearly a half-hour into their conversation Coach Smith shared a book with Travis entitled “Getting Hired in College Sports.” It was a book on career development and outlined the formula that many coaches and administrators have used when they were breaking into the industry. In short, the book suggested that there are three broad areas a person should focus on as they develop a strategy for becoming a coach.

  • Learn all that you can about your sport
  • Begin to network within the industry
  • Gain experience

Learn All That You Can

Beginning your career in college coaching is an exciting time. You will need to prepare yourself to eventually become an expert in your sport. Research shows that if a person wants to become an expert in a particular activity, they will need approximately 10,000 hours of experience. This experience will include learning all you can about your subject; such as reading all you can about your subject, listening to audio programs about your craft, watching videos by expert coaches, and attending coaching clinics. You will want to learn the proper skills and techniques for teaching and coaching your sport, and you will want to learn the strategies and schemes for effective performance. These are some of the suggestions that are outlined in the book “Execute for Success.”

Begin To Network

Networking is one of the most important elements for getting hired in any industry. This is because people want to hire employees who they know and trust. Networking is building friendships and relationships with others within your profession. These friends/colleagues should help one another with advice, strategy, and emotional support. Quite often, people will get to know each other through working in the same organization, by working sports camps and clinics, through attending games or tournaments, and through attending regional or national conventions.

Gain Experience

Keep in mind that having a successful career in any profession is a journey and not a race. Building a career takes time if done right. Be patient and work your way up. Prove yourself as a passionate and professional coach. The following are some of the types of jobs that people are able to secure in order to start their coaching career and gain experience – graduate assistant, volunteer assistant, director of operations, small college assistant, student assistant, student manager, high school coach, or junior high coach. There is not one single right way to begin your coaching career. The key is to work hard, learn all you can about your sport, network, and be patient as you work your way up within the profession.

It didn’t Travis long to break into college coaching. He used the advice Coach Smith provided, and the tips and strategies he uncovered in the job search book. Travis first became a student assistant, worked several summer camps and clinics, and he finally became a graduate assistant. Travis has a bright future as he is following his passion for coaching.

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his new book Execute for Success at


#1 Sports Job Book

2nd edition Image


In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Click Here To Purchase Only $23.95


“This book is fantastic – it is very practical for people who want to get into (or advance) in the sports industry.”
-Greg McDermott
Head Men’s Basketball Coach
Creighton University


2 thoughts on “Strategies For Becoming a College Coach

  1. My name is Keith Langdon and I am a 42 year old quadriplegic who has been mentoring, training, and coaching basketball for more than 20 years and I believe that this book is valuable information.

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