Christmas Gifts Of Advice For Young Coaches
By FirstDown PlayBook on Dec 18, 2017

We are speeding towards Christmas day this time next week and FirstDown PlayBook thought we would tie our series about how to climb the ladder in the football coaching profession into a holiday theme. Today we are going to give three pieces of advice to young coaches that revolve more around being selfless as opposed to the normal aggressive tactics that are used to get ahead in the coaching world.


At first glance, they may seem silly and unorthodox but in our thirty year coaching career these things have proven to be as reliable and effective as anything else we have done to stay in this crazy profession.


Ask For Advice Not A Job

It is hard to get most people to slow down and take time from their busy day to do someone else a favor. Most people have so much going on in their lives that if they think a person needs something from them they are going to avoid that person. That’s why when you are out of a job or folks know that you are looking for a job, your phone calls or texts do not get answered right away. The chances are that the person you are contacting already knows what you want before they even pick the phone up.

There is one thing that a young coach can get from an older coach without a whole lot of resistance though and that is advice. Older football coaches love to give advice. After all, it’s just another form of coaching, right? It’s kind of that same thing where if you want to get a person to talk, just ask them to talk about themselves. When someone asks someone else for advice it says few things.

It says that you respect their opinion and their advice that is based on the years of experience they posses. It also presents them with a situation where they can look at your questions and goals through your eyes as opposed to you just asking them to call some other coach and recommend you. Finally, giving advice is free. It’s just a few minutes that you will benefit from and they will remember.

Odds are that if you approach it this way the older coach is going to slow down and listen to you and also think enough of you because you sought out their advice that they may even offer to actually help you with your job search and pick up the phone on their own.

Loyalty Is A Two Way Street

Most head coaches are going to understand your desire to move into a better coaching position, gain more responsibility and make more money even if it requires that you leave and go somewhere else to do it. It is how some assistants go about it that can be a point of contention. Here are two things to consider:

  1. If you are still playing in the regular season or playoffs be very careful about being distracted from the season at hand while job hunting. A good assistant coach will always stay focused on the job they have. Always remember when you see these major college assistants get head coaching jobs before their season is over, they have agents that are doing a bulk of that work. Odds are you do not.
  2. Football teams and organizations all will be quick to tell you how important it is that the “Team” comes first and individuals and their needs take a back seat to this. If you are promoting yourself with the media to look good for your next job then you are fooling no one. The team sees it, the coaches see it and the only story getting spun is the one the media wants and is getting out of you as you try to promote yourself.

What Goes Round Comes Around (in a good way)

As we have mentioned before, not every job you know about or hear about is a fit for you. At the same time you may run across a job or a head coach looking for an assistant coach and you know of someone who fits the bill about perfectly. Pay it forward a little bit and recommend the guy. It’s not only a smart thing to do, if you really believe it’s a good fit but it is the right thing to do.

Now, I personally know of some coaches who would call you at 2:00 in the morning to ask you for a job call favor and would never begin to think of sticking their neck out for you in return. Don’t be that guy. If the coach that you recommend ends up doing a great job, then not only will he remember you down the line but the head coach who gets a good coach that you put your name on will remember that too.

So what’s the underlying message here? It really is a Christmas message as most of it is centered on thinking about someone else before you narrowly focus on yourself. The odds are if you are off the charts with your passion and work ethic and then you combine that with the ability to navigate the coaching profession with class and professionalism, you are going to be in this business for a long time.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from FirstDown PlayBook!

FirstDown PlayBook is taking some time in the month of December to look into some of the different things a young football coach can do to move up the ranks in the coaching profession. If you have missed any of the previous three blogs here they are:

November 27: Your Football Coaching Career Path

December 4: Don’t Chase Every Job You See On Football Scoop

December 11: Special Teams Will Keep You Employed

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