I have been a volunteer coach at our local club for well over three years now. I have coached 17 teams, and my daughter plays for one of those teams. Recently, she moved up to the U12 level. It is mesmerizing to see her grow both as a father and as a coach. The most popular sport on the planet allows me to have this fantastic opportunity, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
But you know what else is a beautiful opportunity? Becoming a soccer coach or manager.
Yes, the sport keeps getting popular all over the planet. With that, it opens up a flurry of opportunities for people who love the game. If you think you have a passion for soccer to make it big, you will absolutely make it big.
I love soccer. I thoroughly enjoy every moment I spend on the field, whether playing or coaching. If you do, too, let me walk you through the path to becoming a soccer coach.
Tasks and Responsibilities
Before we embark on this journey, I want to make you aware of all the tasks and responsibilities you will be expected to undertake as a soccer coach.
As a coach, you’ll be shouldering a lot of the responsibilities. Here’s a list of some more –
- Plan and execute training drills, sessions.
- Work on the team’s overall physical conditioning.
- Prepare team’s tactics.
- Prepare formations, strategies for upcoming games.
- Pre-match, Halftime, and Post-match pep talks.
- Strategy and tactics evaluation.
- Communicate with the players about improvements.
- Analyzing the opposition.
- Communicating with the player’s parents.
- The overall organization of training and matches.
That’s a lot, isn’t it? But trust me, this list will only go bigger based on the level you’re coaching at. A U12 team’s responsibilities will be different from what they would be for an MLS club.
As you rise in seniority, the job keeps becoming more demanding. Don’t let that scare you. It becomes more rewarding too!
Skills A Soccer Coach Must Have
The previous section demonstrated the tasks you’d have to undertake.
And if you’ve paid attention, you already know that you’re going to have to display a lot of different skills.
Let’s talk about that now. To briefly summarise, as a coach you’ll have to develop these skills –
- Leadership skills
- Organization skills
- Communication skills
- Strategizing skills
It doesn’t seem like a lot yet, right? But it is. Because as a soccer coach, you’ll have to –
- Effectively communicate with the players and staff (if any)
- Develop trust and respect
- Mentor the young players
- Get the squad to gel together
- Create an enjoyable atmosphere
- Understand each player
- Judge each player’s strength and weakness
- Enhance each player’s skills, confidence, overall game.
- Keep up with best practices and new developments across the world of soccer.
And the list goes on and on. But I hope you get the gist.
The Preliminary Path
Now that you know about the different tasks and skills involved, let’s take a broad look at the path to becoming a soccer coach.
Your first should be to learn the game and get playing experience. There’s no better way to learn to manage the players than to live in their shoes. Therefore, if you have some field experience already, you’ll be at a good advantage.
As a coach, you must know the rules of the game very well. If you haven’t yet read the official laws of the game, you can read it here. There are only 17 rules. It won’t take a lot of your time. A point to be noted here is that every league will have a rulebook of its own. But all of them will use FIFA’s rulebook as a base. So, if tomorrow you find yourself applying to manage a team that plays in the MLS, read their rulebook at least once.
The next step is pretty obvious, but I must state it nonetheless. Watch a lot of soccer games from different parts of the world, at all levels. This is the fastest way to understand how managers at various levels go about their duties. You must study the way successful coaches make decisions in pressure situations. If possible, also learn how they manage things off the field too.
If you’re yet to graduate from college, getting a degree in sports management can put you two steps ahead on this journey. It will make your certification process easier and smoother as you’ll have started developing the right skills very early on. Through your degree, you’ll learn how to manage players, the money side of things, and the marketing as well.
Note that every country will have different provisions from the degree and the relevant certifications. It will help you a lot if you look up the procedures for your region.
How To Get Certified
Before you can manage the big teams in big leagues in your country or abroad, you will need relevant certifications. Depending on the country you want to work in, rules and regulations vary.
But all of these things are secondary to the knowledge you possess about the game. You will need to have real-life experience managing teams at some level to truly succeed in this industry.
Start with the local youth teams or volunteering at a college team. You won’t need any certifications to get started. Work your way up from there. This will not only allow you to deal with real problems but also give you a glimpse of what life can be like when you’re a soccer coach.
I advise you to start local and at the youth level because it will be easier to land a volunteering position there. Yes, you won’t be paid, but don’t let that become a problem. You will need this experience to land positions with senior teams and bigger clubs.
The General Roadmap
With all the preliminary stuff aside, here’s a general roadmap of how things will progress. Following this, I will share some country-specific information in this article.
The Roadmap To Become A Soccer Coach
- Search for the certification process you live in.
As I’ve already said, the process and certification authority differs from region to region. It is imperative to know what your area follows. Also, note that this doesn’t have to be a country where you see yourself in the future. Get this initial certification where you are going to get experience initially.
- Sign up for the most basic course or level 1 course.
Depending on the region, the initial course may be named differently. This will usually take 6-12 hours of learning. Due to COVID, more and more of these classes have become online. So, make sure you take advantage and get signed up as soon as possible.
99% of the time, every certification will require you to pay for it. But once you start moving up the ranks, you can get your club to pay for it.
- Complete the certification and get some experience.
Sincerely attend these classes, start forming your notes and pass the exams. This is where you’re into competition with thousands of other coaches, even if it may not seem like it yet. Treat this like an expert tip – from the first day, start applying your unique perspective to things and develop your own solutions and tactics. Make this a process for yourself, and you’ll zoom ahead of your competition by miles.
- Find youth teams around you and volunteer.
Once you have that certification, start at your local youth club and apply your newly gained knowledge. That is the most crucial part. Take on as many as you can to further strengthen your fundamental knowledge.
Also, be prepared for a background check. You won’t be allowed near kids without it. Also, enjoy the game more than anything. Don’t run behind win rates. You’ll be judged by what kind of character you can develop in yourself and your players, more than anything else.
- Level up to high school, college, and amateur clubs.
Keep your certification instructor in close contacts and keep updating yourself with new classes, tests, and certifications needed.
When leveling up to college or amateur levels, you may have to start from assistant manager positions. And some of these positions can also be voluntary or part-time.
The key to success here is to know the players well, develop rapport and get the squad to perform together. You will be astonished by what your players can do when they are in the right mindset.
It is all about how you play your cards and get the right certifications from this level on. Get the relevant certificates and apply to places that allow you to level up and keep going ahead until you’re a professional head coach.
With a clear roadmap, let’s talk about some country-specific information.
How To Become A Professional Soccer Coach In The USA
The US has laid out an extensive path to becoming a professional soccer coach. You can find a lot of courses offered by US Soccer on their website. It lays out a clear roadmap to becoming a pro soccer coach.
Most of these courses can be taken online, but some require you to be present in-person. There are seven levels of certification and courses, with each becoming more and more advanced. The topmost ‘PRO’ certification requires you to complete all D to A levels as a prerequisite. For more information, head over to www.ussoccer.com.
How To Become A Professional Soccer Coach In Europe
Soccer (Football in Europe) is immensely popular in Europe. Winning the UEFA Champions League is every coach’s dream as it is the biggest honor you can win on the planet in club soccer.
If you plan to coach the biggest names in soccer, Europe is the place to be. UEFA is the governing body for soccer in Europe. They offer qualifications for coaches in three levels. They are –
- UEFA B License – This certification aims to help upcoming coaches develop fundamental skills demanded by the game.
- UEFA A License – At this level, you are expected to further develop your technical and tactical skills with a 11v11 professional setup in mind.
- UEFA Pro License – The highest level of certification. This is what you need to coach professional clubs in the top leagues across Europe.
One thing to note here is that UEFA themselves do not run the courses for these. They are outsourced to national associations of football in countries throughout Europe.
How To Become A Professional Soccer Coach In Canada
Two central bodies in Canada offer soccer coaching. One of them is the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC), which runs the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). The other is the Canadian Soccer Association’s Coaching Program. You can read more about them on their websites – www.coach.ca & www.canadasoccer.com.
The license follows a hierarchy system much like the other countries we talked about before. You go from ‘C License to ‘A License’ to coach at the professional level. You can find courses for different tiers on the respective association’s website. They are conducted throughout the year at times in all several parts of the country.
A Word Of Advice
Keep in mind that it will take years before you get your big break. Becoming a soccer coach is not an easy path, and you’ll find yourself working for free in the initial years. Make sure you have a way to support your journey. Otherwise, things can get more challenging than they should be, and you will lose motivation.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below.