Have Elite Playing Experience? Don’t be an Elitist In Your Job Search

As a professional athlete, you have proven yourself to be elite. But are you an elitist? To be elite is to be a select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities. To be elitist is to demonstrate a superior attitude or behavior associated with being elite.


Do you think you will be a better coach because you have played professionally?

Did you know that less than one-third of the NFL head coaches during the 2016 season played professional football? In fact, the highest level of playing by one of the league’s winningest coaches, Bill Belichick, was Division III football.

Elite playing experience is one aspect of your professional development that has taught you many transferable skills such as teamwork, perseverance, and determination.

Read the tips below to ensure that you stay elite, not elitist.

  1. Being a great coach doesn’t require elite playing experience any more than being smart requires a PhD. Elite playing experience should be accompanied by humility and grace. There are many ways that coaches become experts including experience outside of being an elite athlete. As the statistic above shows us, the majority of NFL coaches do not have elite playing experience and have developed their football IQ in other ways. Recognize that elite experience is not the only way to be a great coach. In fact, administrators are most concerned with your ability to coach and less about your playing experience.
  2. Spend time with coaches that have different professional experiences. It is important to learn from others who have different experiences and humbly accept that others may have more knowledge in some areas than you. For example, while your elite playing experience gave you a front row seat to what your players are going through, it may not have provided the opportunity to understand the importance of the administrative tasks of a coach. Build relationships with coaches that have different backgrounds so that you can have a network of diverse experience to tap into when obstacles arise.
  3. Use experience to help others without it. In sharing your wisdom learned while playing at an elite level, you can help others who are working alongside you. Coaches must help each other. As mentioned in the tip above, you can grow as a coach by learning from others so, in turn, share your insights with them. This will create a supportive and enriching environment amongst coaches that will ultimately help your players and team succeed.

Ultimately, being elite is about being your best. Your elite playing experience can help you be successful in your coaching job search along with the strategies above