How to Become a Basketball Coach: A Definitive Guide

Playing basketball and coaching basketball are two different things. If you’ve ever played this sport, you’ll know it takes more effort and time to get good at it than expected but even harder to get good enough to be a coach.

A coach has tons of responsibilities that no other member of a team has. They need to organize every training session, supervise all physical endeavors, create strategies for matches, be aware of individual progress and entire teams, and eventually create the perfect environment for players to thrive.

Apart from all that, they need to be assertive, create the ideal emotional environment, and sometimes even motivate and guide players into their dreams.

And sure enough – none of that is an easy job.

That’s why becoming a basketball coach can be harder than it seems. But it is nothing impossible.

Here, we’ll tell you everything it takes and how to become a basketball coach the right way. So don’t hesitate and head-on to learn!

What is Basketball Sports Exactly?

In short, basketball is a sport with two teams that compete against each other, trying to score by throwing & passing the ball through a basket.

This sport consists of 5 players on each team. Every other team needs to score, but they also need to block the other team’s intents to score as well. Each score has a value of 2 points. If players score from outside the close ring to the basket, then it has a value of 3 points.

Players can’t just walk with the ball in their hands, so they need to move by dribbling or bouncing the ball on the floor while moving.

Also, some officials control the game and make sure that all the rules are followed. These officials include the timekeeper, the scorekeeper, the shot clock, Umpire, and referee.

The sport is played in a rectangular court that can vary in size, depending on the league or level of the players. But it typically has 94-feet in length and 50-feet in width. For international competitions, it can be only 91-feet long and 49-feet wide.

This court comes from the original game back in 1891 when James Naismith created it as an alternative to similar street games of that era. Since then, basketball has been through many changes and regulations, but it has undoubtedly become one of the most popular sports in the world.

As you see, basketball is more complicated than it seems. If you still want to become a coach – then keep reading.

Different Categories of Basketball Coaches

Becoming a coach has a different level of requirements depending on the level you want to achieve. Here are three different coaching types to consider:

High-School Coach

The high-school coach is probably the most common type out there. It is the coach or trainer of high-school students.

Almost every high-school in the US and many other countries have a basketball team. And sure enough, that team needs a coach. Here’s where a high-school coach enters into action.

The responsibilities of this coach are pushing students into learning the necessary level of basketball as a sport, teach them how to play as a team, and help them improve individually and as a team over time.

Many other responsibilities enter into play as well, but usually, it requires coaches to have high emotional intelligence to treat teenagers, as well as an ideal character to motivate and promote improvement.

These coaches are also the ones that induce the love for the sport. Teaching children how to play and become top players from the teenage years eventually helps them pursue bigger goals, which could end up in professional careers in the sport.

Apart from that, high-school coaches don’t need as many qualifications as other coaches, so it is an entry-level option for those who want to become coaches. Still, it demands several things, such as a degree in teaching and experience as a player in the past.

If you want to become a high-school coach, you’ll be happy to know that it is one of the most in-demand careers in sports right now. 

College Coach

Also known as the professional basketball coaches, this is a level over most high-school coaches.

What sets them apart is the level of experience, the degree, and the higher-level skills that often comes from being a college coach.

These coaches do the same as a high-school one. They run practices, recruit players, make strategies on games, motivate players, and help them improve over time.

However, these coaches often have more significant responsibilities because the players are usually college students who are trying to break into the professional level. Here, most players are between 17 and 21 years old – and can be recruited to high-level teams at any time if they’re good enough.

So these college coaches also need to evaluate performance, track their progress, induce skill enhancements, and help them compound their abilities. Apart from that, they need to look for weaknesses and improve them.

At this stage, players usually learn a specific position or type of playing, so coaches need to be utterly knowledgeable about every position and role in teams.

It is not necessary to teach the basics or induce love for the sport at this stage. But motivation is also super important, especially for those players who are looking to break into the professional level or have unique abilities and talent.

The market for college coaches is smaller than that of high schools, but it is still high in demand. If you want to become a college coach, though, you’ll need higher certifications, experience, and history on the sport and sometimes even as a professional player.

NBA Coach

Now that you know all about high-school and college coaches, it is time to get familiar with the National Basketball Association (NBA) coach profile.

This is a step-up from both college and high school coaches. And by now, you’re considered a professional in the sport, as well as a certified coach for almost any type of physical activity related to basketball.

At this stage, coaches not only need experience and certifications, but they also need to have connections and an excellent reputation within the sport. Most of the coaches are usually old players who can’t play anymore or the most reputable college coaches who went up the ranks for their deeds.

Here, the responsibilities include creating game strategies, improving players’ skills, helping players play together in the best way possible, and compounding the abilities of every player to the max.

Getting to this level usually takes at least 10 years of experience, certifications, and solid experience in the game. Without any of that, becoming an NBA coach can be immensely challenging.

This type of coaching is super hard to reach. In fact, due to the limited teams available as well as the level of professionalism required, only a few hundred coaches work as NBA coaches at the time. Only the most passionate and qualified get to this level.

Available Degrees to Become a Basketball Coach

When it comes to coaching basketball, there are no real minimum requirements. People of all education levels can become a coach as long as they fit all the other conditions such as experience, history, and knowledge in the game.

But still, there are several degrees or educational milestones a coach can get to make his/her way into this profession more smoothly.

Here are some of these degrees we’re talking about:

Online Certificates

While college education is the best a coach can have, online certifications may also work for the lowest coaching levels.

Being an assistant, coaching public or private teams, and even high schools are totally possible with an online certification.

These certifications usually teach stuff like the history of the sports, basic physical training, rules, strategies, and managing teams.

The problem is that not many of these certifications give hands-on experience – so you will need to get into trainee or intern level jobs to get the experience.

Luckily, these certificates are easy to get your hands into, as both requirements and costs tend to be pretty accessible. So getting one of these is totally doable for those passionate about basketball who can’t get into other degrees.

Bachelor’s Degree

To teach in most high schools, for example, it is necessary to have a bachelor’s degree. In some cases, the coaches are teachers themselves, people with education degrees who veer into the physical realm.

Among the many degrees in this area, you can find Kinesiology, Physical Education, Physiology, Sports Science, and similar ones.

Most high-school coach positions require one of these. But there are exceptions, of course.

Associate’s Degree

In case a bachelor’s is out of your reach or doesn’t seem doable, then you can always get an associate’s.

This is a less demanding degree to get, yet it offers almost the same type of job as a coach for mostly high-school levels.

It is not necessary either, but it is often an excellent way to get into entry-level coaching if it’s related to the physical area.

Administrative Degrees

Administrative degrees are not necessary or common for coaches in basketball. But they can be useful, especially for those levels of coaching that require a high level of administrative duties.

In fact, some coaches enter the industry as administrative workers and then veer into coaching. But of course, it is one of the less common career paths. Yet, it can make a significant difference whether someone gets the job or not.

Master’s Degree

The highest level of degree you can get to ensure a position as a coach is the master’s degree. Of course, basketball is not a master’s field of any kind, but Sports Management, Sports Administration, and similar ones are.

Any master’s degree related to physical education and training can serve as a smooth entrance to become a coach.

These degrees are harder to reach, though, and they require the holders to achieve bachelor’s first. But it is totally doable and a perfect way to increase earnings over time.

Step-by-Step Guide to Become a Basketball Coach

As you see, there are many ways you can become a basketball coach – it is up to you to find the one that best matches your needs & desires.

But of course, these paths are pretty similar nonetheless, so an excellent guide on how to follow them can be beneficial. Here’s a step-by-step guide that will help you become a basketball coach:

1. Get a Degree or Certification

As we said before, getting a degree is not necessary and won’t ensure a position as a coach either. But if you genuinely want to increase your chances, there’s no better way to start than getting a degree at first.

Any degree related to physical work will be a super helpful title to achieve if you want this. Most exercise programs are often easier than sciences, so it is totally doable.

These degrees often offer how to teach, as well. And that can be extremely helpful in the coaching industry.

The same happens with certifications such as CPR, first-aid, personal training, etc. They will improve your resume and get you closer to becoming a coach. But of course, it all comes down to all the skills & experience you bring to the table – so don’t hope a degree or certification gets you a job as a coach.

2. Get First-hand Basketball Experience

Getting a degree won’t be enough; you will also need to learn the sport itself. That’s why we heavily recommend playing basketball as much as possible and learning everything about the game.

This is probably the most essential part of becoming a basketball coach. If you don’t learn basketball, then you won’t be able to become a coach – or you’ll just be a mediocre one.

The benefit of learning basketball directly aids in communicating concepts, strategies, managing the team, and helping players to get better and learn. Otherwise, it will be just like any other physical education without any specificity in the sport.

3. Get Coaching Experience

Once you get a degree and enough basketball experience – then you’ll need to start coaching. And this is probably the hardest step in the list.

When you’re fresh out of college or trying to land your first job – getting the experience becomes harder than expected. That’s why we heavily recommend starting as an assistant, trainee, or intern.

Even if you have the experience to be managing teams directly, starting at the lowest level of the hierarchy gives you all the confidence to eventually scale. And the knowledge at this level is invaluable, especially because you may end up being the lead coach in the future.

Here, the focus is not only about learning how to be a coach but also learning about other coaches. Especially if you’re working under different people, then you will love learning directly from them. And then, you can improve accordingly.

Volunteering and doing free work as a coach is another excellent way to get experience. But of course, it can be costly or not wise if you aren’t financially stable.

4. Grow Slowly

Growing in this industry takes more time and effort than it seems. But it is totally possible.

To become a head coach in high-school, for example, it can take between 2 and 5 years. That’s enough to double earnings and possibly more.

It is essential to know that this growth depends heavily on the level of professionalism, the achievements, and the contacts.

Any high school head coach can quickly become a college coach as long as they win competitions, help players get into college, and more. The more achievements a coach gets, the more opportunities he/she will get.

5. Establish as a Professional Coach

Growing takes years but establishing as a professional coach can take decades. That means feeling good enough to end up doing this for life.

Some coaches end up opening their own academies, getting into college, and professional level, while some even reach the NBA as coaches. But of course, this is not easy and most of the time requires at least 10 years of experience and several achievements under the arm.

However, once you take the time to grow and become good enough, then this starts looking like a more achievable goal.

Establishing as a professional doesn’t mean stagnating but rather becoming better and better every day. That should be the goal of every coach.

Extra Tips to Consider for Starting Basketball Coaching Carrier

Tips to Consider

So, are you ready to start your path into becoming the best basketball coach out there? Well, there may still be a few things you want to know. Here are a few tips that will help you speed up your career path:

  • Always watch other coaches, games, historical plays, and even street games to improve as a coach. Even the slightest of details can have a significant impact on your knowledge, ideas, and skills as a coach.
  • Develop personal values, self-esteem, and integrity. Treating with teenagers, college students, and even professional players is not easy. You’ll need these three.
  • Being a great communicator, a patient person, and someone who inspires respect is essential in the career path of a coach. From the jargon to knowing how to handle defeat and even helping players get motivated and calm down when needed – those are essential for coaches.
  • Managing time and space are two essential factors. Sloppiness and disorganization are the worst enemies of a basketball coach. When you’re working directly with people, then you need to be as organized as you can. Otherwise, you will have a hard time growing in the profession.
  • Help young people appreciate physical exercise & fitness. If you become a middle school or high school coach, then you need to focus on the basics of physical training above anything else. But don’t let basketball be your last focus either.
  • Having a passion for teaching can help enormously. The intensity, enthusiasm, and hard work that a coach instills into players often get translated into more intensity, enthusiasm, and hard work from them.
  • Focusing on preparing players and managing teams. Every coach needs to have a great relationship with players so they can follow advice. But they should also inspire respect from teams or groups as a whole for easy management.
  • Preparation beats talent. Hard work is an essential part, emotionally, physically, and socially. Being a coach takes more effort than it seems – so give it your best to be prepared for any endeavor.
Becoming a Basketball Coach Today!

There’s probably nothing more important than truly wanting to become a basketball coach if you really want to be one.

If you’re doing it for the money, then it won’t be the best career choice. And if you’re doing it to train the best athletes in the future hopefully, then it may not be a great idea either.

But if you’re doing it because you love the sport and teaching and becoming a coach requires both – then you will have a high chance of being successful.

Remember, it takes time and a lot of effort – but if you take the right steps, it will be totally doable to become a basketball coach. So don’t waste any more time and start now!

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