by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today
Q: What’s the difference between a sport coach, and an extra-large cheese pizza?
A: The cheese pizza can feed a family of four.
I sat in the parking lot, my forehead on the steering wheel.
I was thinking to myself, “Good God, what have I done?”
I had just graduated college. I had a degree in a hard science.
On the seat next to me was my first student-loan bill.
Next to that lay my first pay-statement as a college coach.
Both scared me.
I remember why I took the job as a coach.
In my senior year, 30 seconds after my last race, I uttered these words, “Now what?”
I had just spent years training and I wasn’t ready for it to be over.
I wasn’t talented enough to take the next step as an athlete, so it made perfect sense to me to be a coach.
Perfect sense THEN, but not NOW, after looking at those statements.
What had I done?
How was I going to make a living coaching sports?
That was 37 years ago, and I’m here to report that I’ve made a living as a coach since then.
It has not been easy—far from it—there have been highs and lows and financial struggles, but I have made a living as a coach, a living I desired.
And you can too.
Over the next several posts, I’ll share the plan I used to make it happen for me.
I created it the same day I was sitting in that parking lot.
I can’t guarantee the plan will work for you, but it might, and maybe that makes it worth a try.
A plan on how to make a living from coaching sports
What follows is a step-by-step outline.
I present it in the same format I’ve used in several of the books I’ve written.
Those books have helped many coaches and I believe one reason is the format, one I copied from John Muir’s How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot. (I believe in giving credit where credit is due.)
I’m presenting this info here for because if it helps one good, caring, coach stay in coaching (and make a living from it) then it
has been worth my effort.
Off we go then …
How To Make The Living From Coaching Sports
JOB 1: Do you REALLY WANT to make a living coaching sports?
Problem: You need an answer to this very personal question.
Needed: Pencil, paper, thoughtful place
Step 1: Can it be done—make a living from coaching sports?
I estimate, in the US, there are over 5 million sport coaches.
However, only a small percent of those actually make a living from coaching.
A tiny percentage.
I can’t throw an exact number at you (I don’t think it really exists) but I’d be surprised if it were over 30,000.
That includes amateur and professional sport coaches.
Most of the other 4.9 million are volunteer or part-time coaches, who have other ways to support themselves while they coach.
They coach but they make their living doing something else.
So, to answer my own question, yes it can be done. However …
Step 2: How badly do you want it?
Determining how great is your desire to make a living as a sport coach will have a huge impact on your success.
Straight up, coaching is not an easy way to make a living.
It’s not as tough as digging ditches (I know, I’ve done that) but it does involve a wide variety of responsibilities other jobs just don’t seem to have, at least not all at the SAME TIME.
A coach who is passionate about coaching, who lives-and-breathes coaching, stands a much greater chance of making the living she desires as a coach.
When I first started coaching my plan was to do it only for a year or two.
In short time, I was bitten by the “coach-bug” and had dreams of coaching as a career.
It was at that point, because I REALLY WANTED it, that I became open to some of the steps I needed to take to make a living as a coach.
Caution, keep this in mind … 15% and 85%.
The 15% is usually what coaches love about coaching.
That is the teaching and interacting and competing part.
This is the stuff that gets many coaches to volunteer to be a coach.
As you move more into the full-time world of coaching you become more involved with the OTHER—the 85%.
That’s the part that most coaches slog through so they can do the 15%.
I read once, and I’ll be darned if I can find who said it, but a great quote went something like this, “Coaching is 15% teaching and 85% preparing to teach.”
Seems to sum it up well.
At this point, grab paper and something to write with.
Step 3: Write it down
Engage your brain.
Smack in the middle of the paper write the words, “Coaching Sports.”
Then think of all the other ways you could, right now, make a living.
Let’s say one is “librarian.”
If you’d rather be a librarian than a coach, and have those skills, put librarian above “coaching sports.”
Rather coach than work in a library? Put “librarian” under “coaching sports.”
Now let your mind crank for 10 minutes on other ways you might want to make a living.
Think and write.
After 10 minutes or so, you should have a list of ways for you to make a living.
Move items above or below “coaching sports.”
Step 4: Furget-about-it
If, on the list you just did, “coaching sports” is not at the top, or darn close to it, then pay attention.
You might not really want to coach—for a living that is.
Do some coaching? Sure.
Make a living from it? Eh…probably not.
Every time I saw a certain family friend he was always so excited about all the coaching jobs he had applied to, all around the country.
Yet, he had a job in a different field that he enjoyed and allowed him to supports his family, and it had nothing to do with coaching at all.
I knew he enjoyed coaching yet I never got the feeling from him that making a living as a coach was something he was keen about.
Yet he kept on applying for those jobs.
If I never felt he was serious about it, I wonder how the potential employers felt about hiring him?
So, if “coaching sports” is not highest on your list then enjoy where you are with things, and don’t stress on the making-living-part.
And you need to read no further.
Step 5: Or go for it
But if your list is topped by “coaching sports” then it’s time to get serious about making a living from it.
In the next post, we’ll talk about exactly what Making a living from coaching means to you.
Want more insights into your college coaching career, and how to build a great one? Visit Coach Sports Today and learn about Mike Davenport’s resources for coaches who want to develop a strong career.