The big world of college basketball is alluring to those sitting at home. The coaches are dressed sharp, well paid, and most are household names. Fame and fortune occasionally accompany the college head coach, especially at the highest Division I levels. Many times I'm asked how a young coach can enter the doors of college basketball coaching.
Coaching is a profession that offers many opportunities for young people after college. Over the years I have collected my thoughts, ideas, and proven methods and helped more that 85 coaches enter college coaching. If you are interested in this type of coaching career, this article is for you.
Here is a three-step approach for stepping onto the path to college coaching. Each one of these steps contains many smaller steps, but this will give you a good idea what the "bigger picture" looks like.
- Decide which level is right for you. Many young people think they want to coach in college without knowing much about it. Getting a college job takes planning, commitment, drive, and an unending work ethic. Saying you want to coach in college and being committed to doing whatever it takes are two different things. This is a very daunting task and I've seen very few in my years actually carry out the plan. Careful research and analysis is needed to determine your path. The best way to accomplish this is to talk to coaches in college coaching and ask for advice.
- Acknowledging your commitment by setting goals. Telling your friends and family of your intent to become a college coach is the first big step. Until you tell yourself and others of your plans, your desire remains a dream. Careful steps must be followed to get you headed in the right direction. The first thing is to find a mentor, someone who has actually worked as a college coach and can share the ins and outs of the business. Without guidance from a knowledgeable expert, you chances are almost zero.
- Making a plan and following through. The third step is designing a plan. This is done by taking the big topics and breaking them down into smaller pieces. This step-by-step plan must be measurable and time-sensitive. If your goal is to become a graduate assistant for a college program in one year, many steps and plans of action must be organized over the next 365 days. Each day becomes a small step that leads you to your ultimate goal. Persistence will be a key factor for you as you struggle through the doubts and insecurities that go along with the journey.
Other major components of this journey include networking, marketing yourself, and determining a day-to-day plan. All of these areas are part of my popular "Path to College Coaching" program. I encourage you to set your sights high and shoot for the top. Maybe you will be the next coach to work with me on your way to the college sidelines?