How To Coach Football (Beginner’s Guide)

Written By: Chris Haddad
Updated: July 1, 2024

Learning how to coach football can be difficult. There are so many factors, including calling players, designing new schemes, and motivating players. There are many moving parts to coaching football, and in this article we’re going to show you how to coach football and have an impact on your program.

How To Get A Football Coaching Job

In order to start coaching football, you need to get hired by an established or new staff. Below, we’re going to cover how to get hired at the college, high school and youth level.

College Football Coach

College Football Coach

To become a college football coach, you must first work as a GA (grad assistant) or an analyst.

These coaches are often in charge of drawing up the opponent’s plays, entering data, and ensuring that the position coaches/coordinators have everything they need.

Being a GA is a tireless job. You’ll have to work long hours, and it often doesn’t pay well. However, it’s a great way to get your foot in the door as a young coach and learn the structure of how a college football program operates. It will also test whether you love football and if you should continue to further your coaching career.

Once you finish your role as a GA, you will try to work your way up the ladder and get either an analyst or position coach job. This is the standard path for every successful coach you see on TV.

High School Football Coach

High school football coaching requirements differ from state to state.

Some states, like California, require you to be a teacher (or at least in the school system) to be considered as a coach. Other states require no affiliation with the school and just require you to get certified.

States like Texas require you to to get certified in a number of different credentials, such as concussion training, safety training, sportsmanship training and more.

If you want to become a high school coach, contact the 3 closest high schools near your residency and ask what credentials you’ll need. Then, email the head coach directly and ask if he’s looking for help.

It’s common for high school coaches to start at the middle school or freshman level and work their way up to the JV and varsity levels.

Youth Football Coach

Youth Football Coach

Youth football coaches are often the dads of the team’s players. The prerequisites for coaching youth football are much more lenient than those for high school and college.

Youth football programs are always looking for new coaches. Most youth programs require you to be heads up certified by USA Football. They will also require you to be concussion certified. Each governing body will have different requirements to become a football coach, but often no experience is required.

How To Coach Football

Now that you know what it takes to become a football coach, how do you coach football? There are a few different areas that you should focus on, in order to be the best coach possible.

Connect With Your Players

The first thing we recommend to any new football coach is to learn how to connect with players. Players are often motivated by progress toward their goals, not by getting screamed at every two seconds.

The biggest mistake a new coach can make is to think he is an NFL coach they grew up watching and try to emulate that style. The old-school way of coaching is out. Players are more likely to do whatever you want for them if you connect with them.

There are two ways that you can connect with your players:

  • Effective communication
  • Education

The best form of effective communication is when you can motivate, teach, and inspire a player by simply talking to them. This means that when you talk, the players listen.

If you yell the entire time, eventually, you become white noise, and the players don’t listen. This is when coaching becomes frustrating, and assignments on the field are missed.

The second way to connect with your players is to educate them. Players love to be educated. They play football because they often enjoy the camaraderie and want to be like their favorite pro athlete.

If you can help educate that player, it will help them fall in love with the game. This is why we think it’s so important for coaches to have resources they can relate to so they can show their players new ideas. We’ll have more on this in a bit.

Learn How To Teach Tackling

Tackling is one of football’s core skills. Every player must be able to tackle efficiently and effectively.

Our goal as coaches is to reduce the amount of head injuries players face while tackling. The best way to do this is to ensure you teach tackling in a safe environment.

Gone are the days of Oklahoma Drills and players running full speed into each other from a far distance.

There are so many tackling drills that you can do that are both safe and effective.

Learn How To Teach Blocking

Another core skill in football is blocking. Without effective blocking, you won’t be able to throw or run the football effectively.

It’s one of the hardest skills to teach to a young player. But when done properly, it will drastically improve how you move the football down the field.

We break down how to block in football here.

Teach & Understand Scheme

Every coach has their own scheme and philosophy. There is no perfect scheme.

We recommend you research different schemes in order to put your players in the best position possible.

For example, if you have smaller, faster players, then running and spread offense may be to your benefit. Also, smaller and faster players benefit from systems like the Wing-T.

It’s important to assess your roster before you begin the season, then study the necessary scheme installs to make sure you give your players the best chance to succeed.

Formulate A Practice Plan

Learning how to run an efficient practice is one of the most underrated skills a coach can have.

In order to keep players engaged, you must keep them moving. We coach in a generation that is used to absorbing short form content. This means their attention spans have shrunk.

How can you get the most out of your players after they have been sitting in school all day?

The answer is to have shorter periods and create a schedule that is stimulating for the player and keeps the whole coaching staff moving. This means running drills that don’t have players standing around and creating an environment that is both challenging and engaging.

We go into depth about how to schedule a practice here.

Complete Guide To Coaching Football

If all of the information above has you worried because you’ve never coached football before, don’t worry; we have you covered.

We’ve developed an all-in-one solution for new coaches to feel confident when they start coaching.

We created vIQtory Pro to help you learn how to become a great football coach.

vIQtory Pro

Inside vIQtory Pro you’ll find:

  • Position courses so you know exactly how to coach each position
  • Coordinator courses so you effectively call an offense or defense
  • Scheme courses so you know exactly how to install an offense or defense.
  • A library of drills so you can easily build your practices.
  • Templates for practice scheduling, play calling, and coordinating.

Learn how to be the best football coach you can be with vIQtory Pro. Get Started Here

About the author 

Chris Haddad

Chris Haddad is the founder of vIQtory Sports & high school coach for over 12+ years. He has been featured as an authority on Hudl, Bleacher Report and countless other football-centric platforms. Chris continues to study and provide valuable content for those looking to learn more about the game of football.