How to get a job coaching in Europe

Last week, I signed my contract to coach a club in Europe next season. One question that I am asked frequently is how to get a job coaching in Europe. My go to answer is generally “persistence” or “know someone.” Of course, knowing someone sometimes is not enough – a friend who coaches in Europe has twice recommended me for jobs with his hometown club, and I missed out to a local both times. His reply after finding out that I had signed for next season was “it’s best just to get over here.” 

The process of landing this job started in February. I received an email about my Playmakers Basketball Development League from a father in Maine. I sent my standard reply about how the PBDL works and what it takes to start one’s own franchise. Generally, I never hear back from 60% of people after this email (business is not my strong suit).

In this case, the father replied and gave some of his background and what he was doing, while also saying that he did not think the local community would go for the PBDL, regardless of how great he thought that it was. This is common. Through my site, I get at least one email per week that continues like this with the coach explaining his situation and asking for or fishing for a little help or guidance.

I replied about a future blog that I was going to write, as it fit with our discussion and his frustrations, and he had referenced a previous blog entry.  He replied with some strategy stuff and asked if I had crossed paths with a coach from California who I knew by name, but not personally. He also divulged where he had played in Europe.

Around this time (late March), I saw an advertisement on a Linkedin site for a job coaching in Europe. This job happened to be in the country where he had played. When I replied, I commented on the strategy stuff (essentially my preference for pick-and-rolls) and added some of the basic things that I like to teach. I also asked if he happened to know anyone with the club in Europe.

He replied, added to the discussion, and said that he had never heard of the club. After a couple more emails back and forth, he offered to help in any way that he could and offered to make a post on a Facebook site for basketball coaches in the country. I figured nothing would come of it, but I also figured that it couldn’t hurt to have my name in those circles.

The next day, I received an email. I do not have a Facebook account, so people could not connect with me via Facebook, and I did not see whether he had posted anything. The email was not from the club to which I had applied, but a different club. The General Manager explained that their season was still going, but they may be in need of a coach at the end of the season. This occurred in the last week of March.

Throughout April, we exchanged emails back and forth with him asking about my philosophy, background, etc. Despite sending my book and a development plan to the original club, they never replied. However, this second club replied with emails on a daily basis, sometimes multiple emails per day. Finally, at the beginning of May, he offered a job, and last week, the club sent the formal contract.

One thing in my favor is that I have coached in two other European countries, and I have conducted clinics in several others as well, so my adaptation to a new country would not be as difficult as it might be for some. I also was able to articulate the good and bad of past situations, as well as things that I liked and disliked about the management or board from my previous jobs, so he could get a sense of how I would fit with their club.

Whereas not all hires occur like this (though it is my second hire that transpired in a fairly similar manner, minus Facebook – it was 2002), every hire has a certain amount of luck and timing involved.

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice

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