Coaching Youth Football- The Interview
In many parts of the country getting even a volunteer assistant coaching position can be very difficult. Many of the better youth football programs have long lists of coaching candidates and getting a coveted head coaching or coordinator position can be nearly impossible without the right connections. On the other end of the spectrum, in other areas of the country and in organizations that have not had much success, these programs are often go begging for coaches.
What can you do to improve your chances of getting on as a coach with a good youth football program? I had one prospective youth football coach approach me during a clinic a few weeks ago that asked me that very question. He was complaining about how he had gotten turned down by an organization for a coaching position without even an interview.
After speaking to him for just a few moments I could tell why he was turned away without any explanation. We all know first impressions are extremely important in youth sports, especially these days and this guys appearance was a disaster. Allowing young men to work with adult males in close quarters for an extended period of time, means any prospective coach is going to be heavily scrutinized. This coach had facial hair that would have made Charlie Mansons beard look well groomed, with plenty of moustache hair hanging right into his mouth. He wore a pair of saggy torn and dirty sweat pants to my coaches clinic and hadn’t bothered to shave or brush his teeth. He was a “close talker” and he had the most awful sewer smelling breath I’ve ever had to endure. While he seemed a nice enough fella, his outwardly appearance would be a complete turn off to most people making youth football coaching decisions. While none of us have to look like Tom Landry out there and we all have different preferences, the youth football coach has to consider his audience and the reality of how we are going to be looked at.
I used to have 90 coaches per year in my Omaha youth football program, where I live now I only have 3 teams and 15 coaches. I’ve interviewed and recruited hundreds of youth football coaches, I know what these guys are looking for.
If you want to get a youth football coaching position there are a few things you want to do:
Always be clean and well groomed. You don’t have to be Daper Dan, just be presentable.
Don’t wear t-shirts or caps with advertising or slogans on them.
If you have lots of tattoos, keep them covered.
Well groomed tight facial hair is fine, if your moustache and 14 chin whiskers are something only a 13 year old boy would be proud to wear, shave it off.
Use social pleasantries and refrain from using adolescent slang or profanity.
Present a copy of your criminal background check.
Present a copy of your coaching resume with references.
Present reference letters from your previous coaching peers or parents.
Present reference letters from your employer, church or influential friends.
Make it easy for the organization to say yes to “hiring” you.
Always be well organized and prepared.
Remember the names of everyone you meet and call them by name.
Find out about the organization, do research.
If you get invited to an interview, dress for the part. You don’t need a suit and tie, but wear dress slacks and a polo type shirt or the like. Bring a notebook and pen and make sure to ask the interviewers questions as well. Look everyone in the eyes when you answer.
Be prepared to answer questions like the following:
Why do you want to coach for us?
What do you know about our organization?
What is your football philosophy?
How would you teach safe blocking and tackling?
How do you handle discipline?
What has worked best for you in handling problem parents?
How do you improve a player that is really struggling?
Tell us how you motivate players?
Have you ever gotten an unsportsmanlike penalty or been reprimanded by a referee or your league?
How have you handled working with a poor and what appears to be biased referee?
How do you feel about following the directives of a head coach if that philosophy conflicts with your own?
What positions do you feel the most comfortable coaching and why?
Some questions you might ask the interviewers:
What is your organizations mission statement?
What kind of coaches have worked out well in your organization?
What kind of coaches have failed in your organization?
What are you looking for in a youth coach?
How do you evaluate your coaches at seasons end?
What type of responsibilities and freedom are given to assistant coaches?
What do I need to do to get this position?
If you do not answer from the heart, most interviewers are going to be able to figure that out right away. Be prepared to answer these questions and answer honestly, you don’t want to get into a youth football organization that is a poor fit because you told the interviewers what they wanted to hear. That isn’t a good situation for either party and will just make you both miserable. For most organizations, if you are responsible, bright, socially adept, organized and willing to follow directions they will find a spot for you somewhere.
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