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Jason sent the following question:
How does someone get into coaching football? It is my dream and ambition in life to become a football coach. The level of play isn't important, I just love the game and want to teach it to others, but I'm not sure how to get started. I'm 24 years old with no college education because of a lack of money to go. I played a year of high school football but quit the team because of how the coaches treated the players, which is another reason I want to get into coaching.
I was thinking that the best way to go about it was to go to college and get a degree in teaching and try to join the team at the school I would teach. If this is the best avenue to pursue, could you also suggest what types of classes I should be taking in college? I know for certain that I would try to be involved with the team somehow, even if that meant being a walk on for the team.
I really think you are on the right track. Becoming a coach at any level, from junior high up, starts with education - formal and football - networking and gaining experience. Earning a teaching degree in any subject, especially a classroom subject, will open doors where you will be able to find employment, not only as teacher but also as football coach.
With a major in math, science, social studies or any of the other various subjects taught in high school, a minor in physical education and the education classes needed to be credentialed in your state, you will have taken your first and most important step.
Being a part of the football program in whatever way at the college you attend will be a real plus for your football education. If for some reason that does not happen, see if you can volunteer for a youth team or high school team and start your football experience at the same time you are in college.
The one thing that is common to a majority of football coaches I have known over my years in the profession is their continuing quest for knowledge and networking with fellow coaches from all across the country.
Try to attend every clinic you can, go and visit any practice that is available and introduce yourself and visit with every coach that you can meet. Then take the time to keep in touch with each coach. Coaches move from job to job, openings occur and someone you have established contact with may be in a position to offer you a football coaching position.
My path to a football coaching profession involved many of the aspects I have described to you. After contracting polio during my junior football season, I was able to return to college after two years and was given the opportunity to become a freshman coach at San Jose State University.
While at San Jose State I attended every clinic I could. I met Don Coryell at a number of coaching clinics, spent time talking football with him and kept in touch. When he became the head coach at San Diego State University, he hired me as his defensive coordinator.
During the time I was with Don, I had the opportunity to visit with the Charger coaching staff, was invited to their training camp and got to spend time looking at film and talking football. The Chargers had a coach leave the program, and they called me up to offer me a coaching position. That was the start of my professional coaching career.
I worked hard at my job at every stop along the way and had the opportunity to not only work with Don, but also Sid Gilman, Paul Brown and John McKay. I always tried to listen and learn more and more from each of them, but the most important thing I did was to go out of my way meet and network with fellow football coaches.
In your case, select a college - size is not important - that will prepare you to teach in the classroom, in physical education and coaching, and start building your professional network each and every year. With your attitude and dedication, I am certain that you will let me know that you have your first coaching and teaching position in a few years.
Coach Tom Bass
Coach Tom Bass, the technical writer and advisor for USA Football, is a 30-year NFL coach who has also authored several books, including "Play Football the NFL Way" - the first "how to" book ever authorized and published by the NFL. Coach Bass is happy to personally autograph his books to you. Book ordering information can be found at http://www.coachbass.com/.