The easiest and most official route to professional soccer coaching is via US Soccer’s official Coaching License Pathway. This is the starting point for anybody considering a career in coaching, whether amateur or advanced in skill.
For coaching in your local area - also known as grassroots - you’ll begin with the Introduction To Grassroots Coaching, a free course that takes you through the new and improved process of obtaining your coaching license.
It only takes twenty minutes, but its completion will allow you to complete any of US Soccer’s Grassroots Licensing Courses, as well as receiving four complimentary Play-Practice-Play sessions for finishing successfully.
After this, you’ll work your way through seven different course levels, which begin with the absolute basics and then moves up from Level D through to Level A, becoming more advanced and targeting more skilled players as you go.
Every course comes with its own license - the final and seventh level is reserved for coaches who are looking to work with professional teams, requiring you to have completed A-D already before beginning and costing a whopping $10,000!
In order to coach youth soccer, you’ll only require certification up to level A to be hired by a reputable kindergarten, school, recreational club, or other professional body, so don’t worry too much about the professional level.
How do you become a kindergarten soccer coach?
You probably won’t require any skills if you’re teaching kindergarten soccer, though it will certainly work to your benefit if you have them!
Working with kids this little requires three things, primarily: enthusiasm, patience, and the ability to have fun.
In terms of licensing, you probably won’t need an official coaching license to get hired - depending on the school or funding body in charge - for coaching kids this young, though you’ll definitely need to get background checked before you can.
It’s possible you might be required to have other qualifications for working with such young children, however, and you’ll need to have first aid training that’s specific to kids as well. This varies depending on where you are in the US.
Besides a few incredibly talented exceptions, you’ll never be able to teach a toddler to perform a free-kick, so you’re not exactly focusing on technical skills and exercises here. Most of your work will revolve around running and kicking!
Some kindergartens won’t accept teachers without official qualifications, though, or will prioritize coaches that do have them. In this case, it’s probably in your best interest to get certified if you can afford to and have the time.
How do you coach soccer for the first time?
Doing anything for the first time is daunting, especially if you’re a volunteer with no experience rather than a qualified professional. If you’ve been asked to sub in and have no idea what you’re doing, don’t despair!
There is in fact a complete guide to coaching soccer for first time coaches, courtesy of US Youth Soccer’s official website. They have lots of tips and tricks for communication with players, interacting with parents, and more.
Their quick tips for coaching successfully and ensuring your kids enjoy themselves are as follows:
- Focus on coaching: you don’t need to get involved in interpersonal squabbles with your players!
- Be punctual, polite, and available for conversation before and after practice - but don’t let anyone walk all over you!
- Set and maintain high standards for play and following the rules, especially with regards to offense and tackling
- Offer up a good list of guidelines for expected behaviors and make sure both parents and players are aware of these rules
- Stay firm yet fair with parents: often sports moms and dads are some of the pushiest and will try to pressure you, but remember you’re in charge!
- Try to stay positive and calm throughout, remaining a good role model even in difficult or frustrating situations
- Communicate clearly and effectively, with the right language for your age group
- Try not to yell! Kids respond better to positive reinforcement, plus it encourages them to shout at each other and in general
- Be enthusiastic and enjoy yourself! It’s obvious to your players immediately if their coach doesn’t want to be there, and they’ll stop trying too
How do you coach little kids?
As you can imagine, teaching a child aged five to play soccer is a lot different from trying to teach a ten year old.
In some ways, it’s a lot easier, because the number of qualifications and amount of training you’ll require to work as a kid’s coach is cheaper the younger the kids are.
However, in other ways, it’s a lot more difficult.
Prioritizing fun is your easiest way to success when coaching kids. The minute they get bored and distracted, it’s over - no matter how many times you call their name, whatever has stolen their attention is going to take precedence over a soccer ball.
Mixing up the activities you perform on a weekly basis is one way to keep them interested, rather than focusing on the same drills and routines every time. It’ll quickly become clear which games and activities they enjoy most!
Don’t just assume that because they’re young, they’ll do as they are told and won’t misbehave. Though they’re more likely to listen to grown ups, they’re also less used to being told what to do, and more susceptible to peer pressure.
Also, remember that all kids are different, and this applies especially to little kids. What one enjoys and responds to, another could completely hate!
You can’t please everybody at once, but you can try and make everyone happy at some point!
It’s important to remember that the younger a kid is, the more sensitive they are likely to be. Expect tears, arguing, refusals to share and having to wipe up a lot of snotty noses because there will be disagreements and squabbles to manage.
As long as you keep everyone happy and entertained, your job is done. It’s not about skills here, it’s about enjoyment and encouraging an interest in soccer that will grow as they get older!