You could start your career as an assistant coach first before learning the ropes and taking the lead. You as an athlete will have been coached every day of your competitive life, so you have been subject to a lot of the skills required to be a good coach. Many of them are similar to an athlete, in fact a lot of experts see coaches as performers themselves.
To go in to coaching you need to understand your sport and the coaching pathway. What is the grassroots structure? What age groups are there? What is the pyramid from grassroots through to professional?
You also need to identify what level of coaching would suit you. Are you someone who wants to help develop skills and nurture young talent? In which case you may want to think about working with younger age groups. Or are you someone who is obsessed with winning? In which case you will want to target a career at the more senior end of your sport.
Some things are critical.
1. You need to be qualified. Find out exactly what coaching qualifications are required for the level you want to coach at, and get on the courses. Often your player association will be able to provide you with grants and funding to help with this stage.
2. You need experience. Playing is often not enough, as coaching is a whole new set of skills. So find someone you can shadow or assist. This will probably need to be voluntary in the first instance. But this experience is key to helping you build credibility as a coach.
3. Get your name out there. Get a CV set up that is specific for coaching and send it out to your network and let them know you are taking this step in your career.
4. Reach out to your old coaches – They are usually always keen to help past athletes, and they can often give you great advice