The coaching profession consists of coaches who work in professional sports and those who work with amateur athletes and teams. Coaches who work with elementary, middle school, and high school sports teams typically hold full-time jobs in other areas; they may be academic teachers or school administrators, who coach part time after school on weekdays and during weekends. There are also coaches who volunteer to coach school sports programs. At the university level most coaches work full time coaching sports teams. Many work as coaches at the schools they attended, for the teams they played on. The same is true for professional coaches who played on the team and came back to coach after retiring from playing. They may start as an assistant coach and advance to the coach position after several years of effective, dedicated work.
The coach’s job entails teaching fundamental skills and techniques of a specific sport. They train and hold practice sessions to help athletes improve their conditioning and stamina, and to help them learn how to perform effectively as a team to achieve goals. Coaches at the professional level work closely with sports instructors to help athletes improve in certain areas; for example, pitching instructors help baseball pitchers improve their pitching. Sports instructors customize exercise programs based on the strengths and weaknesses of the athletes. Coaches are also responsible for studying opposing teams’ strategies and adjusting players and strategies to succeed against opponents.
Lower level coaches typically have a wide range of responsibilities, including scouting and recruiting athletes, managing the team, and handling administrative tasks. University and college coaches as well as coaches for professional teams have larger staffs to assist with different aspects of the job, such as team managers who take on the management responsibilities.
There are also scouts who evaluate amateur and professional athletes’ skills and performance as potential candidates for teams. Scouts learn about athletes by reading newspapers, following sports blogs and social media, attending games locally, and traveling to other cities and countries to see athletes perform. They watch videos of games the athlete performed in and study statistics on the athlete’s performance. Scouts also interview athletes and coaches to learn more about athletes’ potential to be strong contributors to the teams for which they’re being scouted. They take notes and create reports for the team’s coach, manager, or owner. If an athlete looks promising, scouts negotiate and offer an incentive package to become part of the team.
Fitness trainers and instructors teach people of all ages how to perform certain exercises and use exercise equipment. They watch their students do the exercises and correct their form and technique. They keep track of students’ progress and change exercise programs to correspond to students’ performance and goals. Fitness instructors teach cardiovascular exercises to help improve heart and blood circulation; they also conduct strength training and stretching exercises. Fitness instructors who teach group classes create exercise routines with sets of moves for students. They may choose music to accompany the class, especially if it’s a dance class.
Fitness trainers and instructors work in gyms, health clubs, and recreation centers. They may work for gyms that are franchises, such as Planet Fitness and Crunch, or for independently owned and operated fitness clubs. They may work for fitness centers that are part of civic or social organizations. Many fitness instructors travel to work at different gyms and conduct personal training sessions. Their hours vary to accommodate students’ work schedules; they usually teach classes on weeknights as well as weekends. Some fitness instructors also train people privately in their homes.
Most fitness trainers and instructors specialize in a few areas of fitness. Specialized fitness instructors usually have certification in specific types of fitness training, such as yoga or Pilates. Some employers require fitness instructors to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a health or fitness field, such as physical education, exercise science, or kinesiology. Fitness directors oversee the staff and part-time personal trainers and fitness instructors at gyms and health clubs. They handle administrative tasks, such as maintaining clients’ personal training schedules and records, overseeing fitness programs, and creating incentives for recruiting students. They may also monitor fitness equipment maintenance and choose new equipment when needed.
Athletic trainers work in educational settings, such as in colleges and elementary and secondary schools, in health practitioners' offices, and in medical and surgical hospitals. They evaluate sports-related injuries, provide first aid, and create rehabilitation programs and programs to prevent injuries. They keep records and write reports on athletes' injuries and treatment programs. They work closely with athletic directors, physicians, and others involved in the care and well-being of the athletes. They often work onsite throughout sports games on weeknights and weekends and travel with the teams that employ them.