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  • Bill Vasko

Tips for Transitioning from a High School Coach to a College Coach

Every year, I get questions from high school coaches who want to make the jump to college coaching. I've written on the topic before based upon my experiences, but I wanted to give a more traditional outline for steps to take. As always, my number one piece of advice is just find a way to get college experience. Becoming a college coach is easy.....making money at it, is not. Most college programs at the lower levels are always looking for additional help, typically in the form of volunteer or part-time assistants. If you have had success as a high school coach and want to try your hand at college coaching, reach out to local college programs to see what types of opportunities may exist.

With that said, here are a few of my other top tips:

1. Build a Strong Coaching Resume:

Develop a comprehensive coaching resume that highlights your coaching experience, achievements, and contributions at the high school level. Include details about your coaching philosophy, leadership roles, and any notable successes with your high school team.

2. Pursue Coaching Certifications:

Obtain coaching certifications and credentials recognized by college programs. This might include certifications from organizations like USA Football, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), or other relevant coaching clinics and workshops.

3. Network within the College Coaching Community:

Attend coaching conferences, clinics, and networking events where college coaches are present. This provides opportunities to make connections, learn about coaching opportunities, and gain insights into the college coaching landscape.

4. Connect with College Coaches:

Reach out to college coaches to express your interest in transitioning to the college level. Attend college practices, games, or recruiting events to establish connections and showcase your passion for coaching.

5. Develop a Strong Online Presence:

Create a professional online presence by updating your LinkedIn profile, creating a coaching portfolio or website, and engaging with college coaches on social media platforms. Highlight your coaching philosophy, accomplishments, and any relevant content that showcases your expertise.

6. Seek Guidance from College Coaches:

Approach college coaches for advice on making the transition. Seek guidance on what college programs are looking for in coaching candidates and how you can enhance your qualifications.

7. Build a Winning Program at the High School Level:

Continued success at the high school level enhances your coaching reputation and makes you a more attractive candidate for college coaching positions. Winning records and player development can draw attention from college programs.

8. Volunteer or Intern with College Programs:

Offer to volunteer or intern with college football programs during their offseason or summer camps. This provides valuable experience, exposes you to the college coaching environment, and allows you to build relationships with college coaches.

9. Pursue Graduate Assistant Positions:

Many college coaches start their careers as graduate assistants. Pursue graduate assistant positions at the college level, which often involve coaching responsibilities combined with graduate studies. This can serve as a stepping stone to a full-time coaching role.

10. Stay Current with Trends and Strategies:

Stay informed about the latest coaching trends, strategies, and technologies in college football. Attend coaching clinics and workshops to continuously improve your coaching knowledge and skills.

11. Highlight Transferable Skills:

Emphasize transferable skills from your high school coaching experience that are applicable to the college level. Showcase your ability to develop players, create effective game plans, and contribute to a positive team culture.

12. Apply for Open Positions:

Monitor job postings for college coaching positions and apply to openings that match your skill set and aspirations. Tailor your application materials to demonstrate how your experience makes you a valuable asset to a college program.

13. Be Patient and Persistent:

Transitioning to the college coaching ranks may take time. Be patient, stay persistent in your efforts, and continuously work to enhance your coaching profile and qualifications.

Remember that persistence, networking, and a commitment to ongoing professional development are key components of a successful transition from high school coaching to college coaching. Building relationships within the college community and demonstrating a strong commitment to excellence will enhance your chances of securing a position at the college level.

If you need help with your coaching resume, your portfolio, or the interview process, be sure to sign up for one of our job prep packages at The Coaching Portfolio Guide! We provide services that assist with all aspects of the job search process for coaches. Click here to get started today!

Written By: Bill Vasko – CEO, XO Coach

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