Head Coach Job Description

The Head Coach of a high school or college sports team teaches student athletes the basics of a particular sport, such as football, basketball or lacrosse, as well as setting up and calling offensive and defensive plays during games and managing subordinate coaches. Other duties include arranging practices and recruiting new players. While a high school Head Coach is typically a teacher who performs coaching duties in addition to their academic responsibilities, a college Head Coach usually occupies this position on a full-time basis.

Head Coaches can work for public or private colleges or high schools. Projected employment growth for coaches is 6 percent through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Increases in college and high school sports participation and college sports program expansions are believed to be major factors in this projected growth.


Head Coach Duties and Responsibilities

To accomplish their primary goals of guiding a successful sports team and overseeing an effective sports program, Head Coaches must perform many tasks. We reviewed several job listings for Head Coaches and found the following among the core duties and responsibilities of this profession.

Develop Student Athletes

A Head Coach must be committed to the personal development of each player on the roster. This includes teaching them maneuvers and plays relating to the position in which the player is assigned. A Head Coach must also help students develop a competitive nature, teach them about ethical behavior and good sportsmanship, and assist in the development of leadership skills.

Recruit New Players

An important duty of a Head Coach is to build up a roster of talented players. A college Head Coach, for instance, will visit other colleges and high schools and evaluate players that they believe would contribute to their team. They would be involved in meeting with players, parents, scouts and other relevant individuals in discussing the enrollment of a new player in a specific program.

Create Game Strategies

It is up to a Head Coach to decide which player is assigned to a particular position and to create both offensive and defensive plays to be used in game situations. This would involve working with assistant coaches in developing game plans. A Head Coach also oversees and decides on any changes to these plans during actual games.

Maintain a Program Budget

A Head Coach must also fulfill some administrative duties, with the main one being the creation of and adherence to a budget. A Head Coach must determine costs of uniforms, equipment, transportation and other items and operate within a budget. In many cases, a Head Coach will be responsible for submitting fiscal reports showing team expenses and costs.


Head Coach Skills

Successful Head Coaches should display strong communication, motivational and organizational skills. Team-building abilities and working in a collaborative environment are essential for a Head Coach. They should also be able to draw assistant coaches together to achieve the same goal and work off of the same plan. In addition to these general skills, many employers will tend to look for Head Coach candidates to possess the following skills.

Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Head Coaches with these core skills. If you want to work as a Head Coach, focus on the following.

  • Designing game plans and assigning positions
  • Preparing and conditioning athletes
  • Understanding rules and regulations governing high school and collegiate sports
  • Assessing talent of players to be recruited into a sports program
  • Developing and evaluating a budget for all expenses

Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Head Coach toolbox and broaden your career options.

  • Manage fundraising and promotional efforts
  • Understand aspects of health, exercise science and physical education
  • Mentor student off- as well as on-field, encouraging leadership skills and academic success


Head Coach Resources

Before making this or any career decision, it is helpful to research additional resources regarding a specific job title. Below you will find links to other resources that can give you further insight into a Head Coach career.

On the Web

Coach Allen – A site offered by a college football head coach offering insights, tips and advice about coaching, coaching philosophy, recruiting, public relations practices and more.

AVCA Blog – Offered by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, this blog provides an insight into Head Coach practices in recruiting, training and more.

Industry Groups

National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) – An organization providing Head Coaches with information about certification, education programs and advocacy.

National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA) – Offered through the National Alliance of Youth Sports (NAYs), this association provides training opportunities for youth sports coaches.


The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever – A book that delivers advice about successful coaching strategies and methods to improve your leadership and get the best from your players.

Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out – Read about the leadership style, coaching philosophy and success of John Calipari, a college basketball coach.

Saban: The Making of a Coach – Learn how one well-known and successful football Head Coach climbed the ranks, recruited players and built effective programs.


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