I am always on a quest for football knowledge. I believe that a coach who isn’t always striving to learn will, ultimately, be ineffective as the game is ever-changing and will pass him or her by. The main pattern I have seen from my observation of youth coaches is that there is a lot of rah-rah motivation and technical correction, but not a lot of substance. Tactical ability is one of the most underdeveloped aspects of the youth player. I believe it is, in large part, due to a lack of understanding of tactics by most youth coaches. It’s not necessarily their fault. In other sports, there is no system of education or licensing. Once you put a whistle around your neck, you automatically receive the title “Coach”. We do have a system of education in soccer (see below the post for more info), but it is not always practical for all coaches (please find time if you can, it is extremely beneficial.) If this is your case, let me recommend that you ask ask ask questions. Find a mentor coach and shadow them. Try to find the rationale into why they do what they do. Do not just copy the same session and use it with your team! I find that a lot of coaches are good at copying sessions, but horrible at watching their team play and identifying what the team needs. Also, the answer is not always on the surface. For example: Your team is not scoring a lot of goals. The Barnes and Noble coach (a term I got from my good friend Phil Rose describing a coach who just runs sessions that he or she saw in a book) would just do a session on finishing and think that they have addressed the team’s needs. Maybe finishing is not the problem at all. Maybe the team is not creating a lot of chances and needs some work on transitioning into attack or attacking patterns. Maybe the team is settling for shots from 30 yards or more when they have the ability to walk it in and create chances closer to goal. My point is that the answer is not always on the surface. When you watch the game, ask yourself, “Is every correction I want to make a technical error.” This is true for most of the youth coaches I have come in contact with. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to put down any coach. Match analysis is one of the toughest parts of coaching. It takes a lot of practice. When I was just starting my college coaching career, I spent a good amount of time every day with the men’s coach, Aron, at the university I was coaching for at the time. We would talk about each other’s teams and the problems that they were having, analyze an EPL game that we had watched on the weekend, or even critique each other’s sessions. That time was so valuable because we constantly challenged each other to think more and get better. We both moved on to other universities, but still hash it out to this day. I would recommend to any coach that you find your “Aron” and challenge each other to get better.
Below is an equivalency chart that I got from the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association:

There is always a debate about whether to take the NSCAA or USSF courses. I personally have taken more courses than almost everybody in the US (my friends bust on me for being such a coaching licenses gatherer) and must say, “Do both.” I would recommend that you start with the NSCAA and then do the USSF. The best quote I heard about this issue is that, “The USSF are graders, but the NSCAA are teachers.” Though I find this comment a bit harsh to the USSF, I do think the NSCAA courses to be a bit more friendly for a coach’s first soiree with licensing. The State Diploma is a one day course, as are the US Youth Soccer Modules. The E License, Regional Diploma and Advanced Regional Diploma can be done in three days (Friday night, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday). The D License can usually be completed over two weekends (similar to the E, but with two Friday nights, two Saturdays, and two Sundays). All of the remaining courses are residential and usually take about eight days. There are a few other licenses worth mentioning that are not in the chart above. The US Youth Soccer National Youth License is a six day course that focuses on U6, U8, U10, and U12. The NSCAA’s version, called the National Youth Diploma, is a three day course. The NSCAA offers different levels of goalkeeping licenses: State (1 day), Regional (1 day), National (3 days), And Advanced National (8 days). USSF offers a residential course called the National Goalkeeping License (8 days). My favorite course that I ever took was the NSCAA Director of Coaching Diploma. It is a three day course that examined all that comes with being a DOC of a club in the US. The NSCAA also offers a High School Coaches’ Diploma. You can also request the NSCAA to come to your club for a one night Special Topics Diploma to discuss an array of topics, like Zonal Defending or Attacking Concepts. You can write me for more questions or visit www.nscaa.com and www.ussoccer.com  p.s. Make sure you read each course’s prerequisites.


One response to “Becoming a Better Coach”

  1. Ben says:

    this’ very good advice. thank you

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