What you need to know
Coaches teach amateur or professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport.
Scouts look for new players and evaluate their skills and likelihood for success at the college, amateur, or professional level. Many coaches also are involved in scouting.
Coaches and scouts often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Coaches travel frequently to sporting events. Scouts may be required to travel more extensively when searching for talented athletes.
Some of the things coaches and scouts might do:
- Plan, organize, and conduct practice sessions
- Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of individual athletes and opposing teams
- Plan strategies and choose team members for each game
- Provide direction, encouragement, and motivation to prepare athletes for games
- Call plays and make decisions about strategy and player substitutions during games
- Plan and direct physical conditioning programs that enable athletes to achieve maximum performance
- Instruct athletes on proper techniques, game strategies, sportsmanship, and the rules of the sport
- Keep records of athletes’ and opponents’ performances
- Identify and recruit potential athletes
- Arrange for and offer incentives to prospective players
- Communication skills. Because coaches instruct, organize, and motivate athletes, they must have excellent communication skills. They must communicate proper techniques, strategies, and rules of the sport effectively enough that every player on the team understands what he or she has been told.
- Decision-making skills. Coaches must choose the appropriate players to use at a given position at a given time during a game and must know the proper time to utilize game-managing tools such as timeouts. Coaches and scouts must also be very selective when recruiting players.
- Dedication. Coaches must attend daily practices and assist their team and individual athletes in improving their skills and physical conditioning. Coaches must be dedicated to their sport, as it often takes years to become successful.
- Interpersonal skills. Being able to relate to athletes helps coaches and scouts foster positive relationships with their current players and recruit potential players.
- Leadership skills. Coaches must demonstrate good leadership skills to get the most out of athletes. They must be able to motivate, develop, and direct young athletes.
- Resourcefulness. Coaches must find and develop a game plan and strategy that yields the best chances of winning. Coaches often need to create original plays or formations that provide a competitive advantage and confuse opponents.
The average pay for coaches and scouts in the United States ranges from $22,200 to $80,720 as of May 2021.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Employment of coaches and scouts is projected to grow 26 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Rising participation in high school and college sports should increase demand for coaches and scouts.
College and professional coaches usually must have a bachelor’s degree, typically in any subject. However, some coaches may decide to study exercise and sports science, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition and fitness, physical education, or sports medicine.
High schools typically hire teachers or administrators at the school for most coaching jobs. If no suitable teacher is found, schools hire a qualified candidate from outside the school. For more information on education requirements for teachers, see the profile on high school teachers.
Like coaches, scouts must typically have a bachelor’s degree. Some scouts decide to get a degree in business, marketing, sales, or sports management.