Adam Gordon 01/20/2020
2 Minutes

How to Become a College or Professional Basketball Coach

6 Ways to break into coaching-1

6 Ways to break into Coaching


Get Your foot in the Door! – You have to start somewhere and establish yourself as a coach. Honestly it doesn’t entirely matter where. You just need to work with a program and have a coach or a staff that can vouch for you. There are many ways to do this. I recommend getting your start in a HS, AAU or JUCO program that has a history of producing high-level talent. You will be able to get your reps coaching on the court, but you will also establish a recruiting base that you will always be able to go back to when you need players later in your career.

If you have the luxury of being a student, then a great way to get your start is as a manager.  If you are already out of school, then you may need to volunteer for a year. Obviously, this is harder for someone with a family, but it’s not impossible.  Listen to Hall of Fame Coach Tim Ryan of College of Central Florida on the Rising Coaches Podcast explain how he got his start volunteering at a local JUCO while working full time and supporting his family.

Crush it! – Once you get that opportunity it is crucial that you do a tremendous job. Your best, and in many cases only chance of advancing at your current school or anywhere else is to earn a glowing recommendation from your coaching staff. It doesn’t matter if the program you’re in is dysfunctional and loses every game. You need to leave there with allies.

Find Your Niche – Be great at something. Some coaches are great at recruiting, some coaches are great with player development, some coaches are great with video and graphics. Of course you want to be well-rounded and good at all the aspects of the job, but if you are truly great at a specific skill, then you will always be able to get a job. Figure out what aspect of the job you love and are truly good at and work to make yourself one of the best in the country at that particular task.

Network – Coaching, like most professions are all about who you know. There are some great ways to meet people in the coaching profession. Contact coaches and DOBO’s and ask if you can come watch practice. That is a great way to build a relationship. Other ways to meet coaches – work camps, attend or work recruiting events, attend clinics. One thing to remember when networking is you never know who can help you so it’s just as important to network horizontally as it is to network vertically. Don’t just reach out to head coaches. Try reaching out to coaches who are lower on the totem pole.

Ask Questions – Networking can come off as awkward and fake, but if you are genuinely interested in learning from people, you can create long lasting relationships. Always have questions about the game ready. Coaches love to talk about their sport. Go figure! A simple question about ball-screen coverage often turns into an hour long chalk-talk. Listen, pay attention, ask questions and be a sponge!

Decide what level you want to coach at – There are so many different levels of basketball and they all have their pros and cons.  There is no right answer or wrong answer, there’s just the right answer for you. Each level has their own inner-circles so the sooner you decide which level is best for you the sooner you can work on establishing yourself at that level.  You can always change levels later, although you may have to sacrifice salary or role in order to make the leap.


If you are interested in connecting with other coaches and learning how to navigate the coaching profession sign up for the Rising Coaches Association today at

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