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What Coaches and Scouts Do

Coaches teach amateur and professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport. Scouts look for new players, evaluating athletes’ strengths and weaknesses as possible recruits. Many coaches also scout out new talent.


Coaches typically do the following:

Scouts typically do the following:

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Coaches teach professional and amateur athletes the fundamental skills of individual and team sports. They hold training and practice sessions to improve the athletes' form, technique, skills, and stamina. Along with refining athletes’ individual skills, coaches also are responsible for instilling in their players the importance of good sportsmanship, a competitive spirit, and teamwork.

Many coaches evaluate their opponents to determine game strategies and to establish specific plays to practice. During competition, coaches may call specific plays intended to surprise or overpower the opponent, and they may substitute players for optimum team chemistry and success.

Many high school coaches are primarily teachers of academic subjects who supplement their income by coaching part time. For more information, see the profile on high school teachers.  

Coaches who work with athletes in individual sports are often called sports instructors rather than coaches.

Sports instructors teach professional and nonprofessional athletes individually. They instruct and train athletes in sports such as bowling, tennis, and golf. Because of the diversity of individual sports, instructors usually specialize in a single activity, such as weightlifting, scuba diving, or karate. Like coaches, sports instructors also hold daily practice sessions, assign specific drills, correct athletes' techniques, and devise a competitive game strategy.

Coaches and sports instructors sometimes differ in their approaches to athletes because of the focus of their work. For example, coaches manage the team during a game to optimize its chance for victory, while sports instructors often are not permitted to instruct their athletes during competition. Sports instructors spend more of their time with athletes working one-on-one, which permits them to design customized training programs for each individual.

Scouts evaluate the skills of both amateur and professional athletes. The scout acts as a sports intelligence agent, primarily seeking out top athletic candidates for the team he or she represents. At the professional level, scouts typically work for scouting organizations or as self-employed scouts. At the college level, the head scout often is an assistant coach, although freelance scouts may help colleges by reporting to coaches about exceptional players. They often seek talent by reading newspapers, contacting coaches and alumni, attending games, and studying videotapes of prospects' performances.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition