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Becoming an ESPORTS Coach: A Comprehensive Overview

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

(ESI Illustration) Image credit: Michal Konkol/Riot Games via Flickr

The rise of ESPORTS has given birth to numerous opportunities, and among these, the role of an ESPORTS coach has become particularly significant in the competitive gaming landscape. With both professional and amateur ESPORTS athletes seeking coaching to refine their skills and progress in their careers, the coaching domain in ESPORTS is now more relevant than ever.

The Evolution of the Coaching Pathway in ESPORTS

Unlike traditional sports that have well-defined criteria for coaching qualifications, the ESPORTS world doesn’t have such stringent regulations. While some ESPORTS games, like VALORANT, have established pathways to become professionals, the journey of becoming an ESPORTS coach remains somewhat enigmatic. With the role being relatively new, it demands self-discipline, personal development, and a proactive approach to navigate the ESPORTS coaching terrain.

What's in the Role?

Esports coaches play a pivotal role in ensuring that teams or individual players consistently perform at their best. Analogous to coaches in traditional sports, they:

  • Build skills, communication, and strategies.

  • Foster healthy relationships within the team.

  • Enhance a player's critical thinking and initiative.

JLINGZ ESPORTS Apex Legends Pro-League Analytics Coach, Alex ‘coldjyn’ Nicholls, emphasizes the analytical aspect, mentioning that his role revolves around strategizing, preparation, and game analysis, including evaluating characters, weapons, and in-game positioning.

The coaching realm is vast. Beyond head coaches, there are positions like draft coaches focusing on specific performance metrics. Some coaches even prioritize well-being and mental health, collaborating with sports psychologists.

Interestingly, expertise in the game is not always a prerequisite. As Chrisophe ‘Kaas’ van Oudheusden from EXCEL ESPORTS points out, the strategic essence of coaching remains consistent across games, whether it's League of Legends or FPS games like CSGO and VALORANT.

Qualifications: Are they Mandatory?

Currently, there's no rigid requirement for esports coaches to possess specific qualifications. However, there’s a budding consensus that coaches aiming to join top-tier teams should have relevant experience or training. Institutions such as the International Federation of Esports Coaches and the Esports Coaching Academy have emerged, offering structured learning avenues and credentials for aspiring coaches. These bodies concentrate on essential coaching areas, including non-ESPORTS specific facets like safeguarding.

Key skills for an ESPORTS coach encompass:

  • Profound knowledge of the respective game.

  • A knack for motivating and backing players.

  • Stellar interpersonal skills.

Coldjyn emphasizes the significance of effective communication: "The best ideas remain ineffective if not communicated properly." Additionally, understanding different communication styles based on player personalities can significantly boost coaching efficacy.

For those looking to delve deeper into coaching core competencies, organizations like SIDO offer research and insights on topics ranging from communication analysis to performance models.

Do Coaches Need a Pro ESPORTS Background?

A common misconception is that only former pro players can become coaches. Coldjyn debunks this, stating that while an understanding of the game is indispensable, professional competitive experience isn't obligatory. What's essential is networking and climbing the ladder from grassroots levels to more established organizations.

Stepping Stones to ESPORTS Coaching

Networking stands out as a paramount factor in the ESPORTS coaching journey. Establishing a prominent online presence is crucial, given that many grassroots coaching positions are predominantly online-based. Associating with entities like the International Federation of ESPORTS Coaching can provide invaluable learning and networking opportunities.

Concluding with advice from Kaas: aspiring coaches should harbor genuine passion for both the game and the art of coaching. If the joy is lacking, it's best not to embark on the journey.

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