How to Become an Esports Coach

Coaching is a relatively new job in the world of sports. Starting in the early 1900s, the job of a team coach has evolved the world of sports into what it is today. Esports coaches today have several jobs depending on the esport title that they are coaching. Ultimately, coaching is a people-to-person job that fosters team relationships to improve individual performance.

To become an esports coach, begin by taking a strategic approach to the game. Next, volunteer for teams and build a portfolio. While doing so, actively learn and improve your skills while searching for coaching opportunities. Finally, apply for paid positions or land a paid job or use your network.

A step by step breakout of becoming an esports coach would look like this:

  1. Find a game you’re passionate about
  2. Familiarize yourself with the esports scene of the game
  3. Begin studying the strategic side of the game
  4. Look for volunteer opportunities as a coach for amateur teams
  5. Build your portfolio and connections in the scene
  6. Actively continue to take opportunities to learn and expand your skillset
  7. Search for better teams or paid positions to begin your professional coaching career

I’ll cover the details of each step throughout the article while explaining what an esports coach is and what they do.

What is an Esports Coach?

Like regular sports coaches, esports coaches are people who coach a person or a team in a specific video game within the competitive environment.

Coaches are involved in the direction, instruction and training of a team or person. While a coaches’ impact on a team can be seen as irrelevant as they aren’t the ones playing the actual game, the coaching role has been proven to be a vital part of a team’s successes and downfalls.

For instance, in the popular MOBA game League of Legends,  coaching has been a significant success factor for the Korean league teams (LCK), who are known to be the first region to take coaching seriously and are now the most prosperous region internationally.

What Does an Esports Coach do?

While the responsibilities of a coach can differ based on their role on the team, we can derive some general duties that carry over from game to game.

The responsibilities of an esports coach are:

  • Analyze the current meta to draft up robust strategies that play to the team’s strengths.
  • Enhance internal communication of the players.
  • Resolve a player’s issues and provide consulting on personal matters to remove mental baggage from the player to ensure they perform at their max potential.
  • Ensure the players are prepared when travelling and that nothing important is being forgotten. 
  • Work with managers to determine specific competitions to be involved in and, if the coach is an employee of the team, to ensure the players the team desires to resign have received a service from the team to justify resigning.
  • Work with the team analyst/s (if there is one) to look at the team’s play-by-play specific game stats and determine critical flaws of the group. 

If you’re interested in the responsibilities and how to become an esports analyst, check out our article on the topic.

These responsibilities can be expanded and sorted into several roles within a team, each set having a different coach. The coaching staff of the top teams consist of a head coach and several assistant coaches assisting in specialized sections like:

Team Strategy Development and Analysis

As the coach of the team, your goal is to assist your team in improving team play to win as many games as possible. With popular competitive games having a high level of strategy, one of the primary sections of a coach’s job is to develop the team’s strategic play. This concept isn’t as easy as it sounds. Games today are incredibly complicated at high-level play.

One prominent example of this is League of Legends, the most popular esports globally with over 150 unique champions (characters) and an evolving map and meta, making the game strategically complicated.

Individual Coaching

To have a strong team, every member needs to perform on form and improve with time. The role of an individual coach is to focus on the play of a specific player and their impact on the game. They will need to create a positive learning environment for the coaching player. Individual coaches often focus on areas of improvement within a player’s gameplay working through them slowly.

An esports team often has several individual coaches. If you’re looking to break into personal coaching, there are several platforms for free-agent coaches to gain clients.

The #1 Platform For Esports Coaches. Become A Certified Coach.

Team Mentality and Focus

This type of coach ensures that the team has a healthy mentality towards the game, resolving any and all conflicts. The responsibilities of this type of coach include:

  • Dealing with organizational pressure
  • Injuries
  • Performance blocks
  • Managing emotions inside and outside of the game
  • Team conflict resolution
  • Communication

What Makes a Great Coach?

Sports coaches and esports coaches are similar in many ways. Therefore, esports coaches can apply many qualities of a sports coach to an esports coach. According to the International Olympic Committee, there are 10 essential characteristics to a great coach.

  1. Positive
  2. Enthusiastic
  3. Supportive
  4. Trusting
  5. Focused
  6. Goal-oriented
  7. Knowledgeable
  8. Observant
  9. Respectful
  10. Patient
  11. Clear communicator

In the same document, the committee included 10 essential qualities that can be related to esports.

Understands the Game and Leads by Example

The coach must have an in-depth understanding of the game. Not all former athletes can be good coaches. Coaches need to plan and adapt as the game evolves.

Sponge for Knowledge / Profound Thinker / Visionary

A good coach already knows about the game they are coaching, but they must be hungry to continue to learn more. They must keep up with the current meta in all regions, experiment with new ideas and be open to new thoughts from other players or coaches.

Shares the Knowledge / Educates Others

Being willing to share your ideas and knowledge is an integral part of growth. Coaches should be open to sharing and receiving criticism from other coaches and players.

An essential part of coaching is teaching. A good coach must have the patience and understanding of a good coach.

Highly Energised and a Motivator

Good coaches are energized and enthusiastic about the game. They should have a positive attitude towards getting athletes to believe in themselves and achieve greatness. Coaches often need to find ways to motivate their players to generate a desire to excel at the game.

Knows the Athlete, Values and Respects that Relationship

A great coach is aware of the differences between the players. Whether that would be cultural differences or different goals, a coach must respect others’ values and maintain a professional relationship.

An Effective Communicator

A good coach must communicate well with their players and supporting staff. They must remain credible to maintain a high level of trust. The coach should be able to share ideas clearly by setting defined goals, giving direct feedback, and reinforcing key messages.

Good Listener

Part of communication is listening. The coach should be a compassionate ear and should welcome input from the team. A good coach uses information to flexibly alter and adapt for the better.

Disciplined, Strong in Character and Integrity

While being compassionate is essential, the coach’s primary goal is for the team to perform the best it can. Athletes are expected to adhere to a set of reasonable rules on and off the field, and if they ignore the rules, the coach must discipline them accordingly.

Leads by example with very High Attitude to Hard Work

The effective coach leads by example. That means that the coach must adhere to the same rules as the players. They must be good at speaking and listening. They must show respect if they demand it.

Displays Commitment and Clear Passion for the Game

A good coach must show their love and commitment towards the game. Coaching is a full-time job to master. The coach must show their devotion towards the team with hard work and passion.

How Much Does an Esports Coach Make?

The average salary for an esports coach is USD 62,813. However, this salary is only representative of 5% of the jobs in the industry. Most coaching salaries lie between the $32,000 – $41,499 range (24%). Salaries above $100,000 are outliers and extremely uncommon. Many coaches in esports use build a more personal brand and create a side income through social media.

Steps to Becoming an Esports Coach

As we discussed earlier, the steps to becoming an esports coach are:

  1. Find a game you’re passionate about
  2. Familiarize yourself with the esports scene of the game
  3. Begin studying the strategic side of the game
  4. Look for volunteer opportunities as a coach for amateur teams
  5. Build your portfolio and connections in the scene
  6. Actively continue to take opportunities to learn and expand your skillset
  7. Search for better teams or paid positions to begin your professional coaching career

1. Find a Game You’re Passionate About

Coaching a game at a competitive level is very time-consuming and can be draining at times. It is vital that the game you decide to coach is a game that drives you and that you don’t tire quickly from. This means that you can play and watch the game at the highest level for hours at a time.

Passion is important for any project to succeed. Success comes from hard work, perseverance and dedication to your goal. An article on Stunning Motivation lists seven reasons passion is important for success. They are:

  1. Passion fuels your motivation
  2. Passion boosts your focus
  3. Passion allows you to be more creative
  4. Passion makes you happier
  5. Passion attracts other passionate people
  6. You will have less stress
  7. Passion equips you with positive attitudes

However you put it, passion is important and can be the factor that makes the difference towards your success.

2. Familiarize Yourself With the Esports Scene of the Game

It is important to familiarize them with the scene of the game you’ve chosen. Some things to take note of while doing your research are:

How large is the esports scene?

While the size of the esport doesn’t directly translate to how much success you can have, a large esports scene can mean a thriving competitive community which increases your chances of finding other passionate players to work with from the ground up.

How old is the game?

A game’s age can be an indicator of the quality of the game. For example, a game like CS: GO, which has been around for decades and still is experiencing growing numbers in the esports scene, is a huge plus. Older games generally have a more developed amateur path towards professional play.

On the other hand, newer games can have more opportunities for entering esports staff as organizations enter the scene.

What are the basics?

Watch the professional play and ask yourself what commonalities you see between teams are. What kind of meta is there? How are the top teams playing around it?

3. Begin Studying the Game

After becoming familiar with the scene, it is important to build your knowledge of the game. You need to dive deep into the game’s strategy and apply your theories to test and improve upon them. Now, this can be done by playing ranked or competitively yourself for some time. Many successful coaches came from being pro or semi-pro players themselves.

When talking with current amateur coach Drew McNamara, he mentioned that having that experience as a coach can be a major advantage for coaches as they fully understand their needs and wants from a good coach in the team environment.

4. Look for Volunteer Opportunities as a Coach for Amateur Teams

Steps 4 and 5 are often the longest and most challenging. Esports organizations and teams have a high focus on experience when recruiting, and as a new entrant in the industry, the only way to gain that experience is to work for free.

With work, there must be a trade-in value given from each side. Working for free doesn’t mean that you should not get anything out of the position. When looking for volunteer positions, try to look for the following:

  • A more experienced member of the team that you can learn from
  • A new environment that you can learn from
  • A learning environment

You can find platforms to look for volunteer positions through Discord and Twitter.

Below, you can find a chart of amateur resources for some of today’s top esports scenes.

Game Twitter /FA Discord F/A Scrim Servers
VALORANT HitBox Hiros Valorant Hangouts Discord Valorant Hangouts Discord
League of Legends N/A LOL Scrims LOL Scrims
CS: GO N/A ESL CS: GO ESL CS: GO
Overwatch LFT OW LFT OW LFT OW
Rainbow 6 Siege T3scrims T3scrims T3scrims

5. Build Your Portfolio and Connections in the scene

While volunteering, you must build connections and build your portfolio with relevant experiences. Something as simple as maintaining professionalism while interacting with others can help develop a professional image for yourself.

According to this Indeed article, here are five vital tips for building professional relationships:

  1. Develop trust with your colleagues
  2. Maintain consistent communication
  3. Show appreciation and respect for others
  4. Speak well of your team members
  5. Be positive

While building your portfolio, look for new relevant experiences and skills that you can learn.

6. Actively Continue to Take Opportunities to Learn and Expand Your Skillset

To continue and grow your portfolio, you should consistently look for new learning opportunities. Whether that means taking on new jobs or reaching out to potential mentors, stepping out of your comfort zone can be extremely rewarding.

7. Search for Better Teams or Paid Positions to Begin Your Professional Coaching Career

The final step is to gain a paid position as a coach to begin your professional career. This last step is where every other step comes together. Use your built-up portfolio or apply for positions, or use the connections you gained while working for free to get yourself a referral.