How Long Does It Take To Become a Soccer Coach?

In the UK and USA, soccer coaching is a popular sport and many people are interested in coaching young players. You can get started in Grassroots soccer coaching, in a relatively short period. In article, we will discuss the levels of soccer coach and the time to become a good soccer coach.


How long does it take to become a soccer coach?

To be in a position to officially coach an u8, u7, or u6 team at the grassroots level takes around 2 – 4 hours of online learning. The coach would need to be 14 – 16 years old depending if they were from the UK or USA. They would need to complete the 4 v 4 courses or the playmaker course dependent on which country they reside in. On top of this, a basic first aid and welfare course would also be needed. The coach could only work under the supervision of a more experienced and qualified coach.

THE COACHING PATHWAY IN THE USA

Coaches are not allowed to lead a team alone, off the back of one of these courses, especially if you have never done any coaching or watched much soccer. It will take so much more than this to lead and teach young soccer players.

The detail in this post is just the basic knowledge and qualifications to get your foot in the door and be in a position to coach soccer. I would suggest a period of one to two years in some sort of support role with a mentor, as opposed to going it alone. 

Both the UK and the USA courses suggest the same thing. The learning curve is so much quicker when you have help and guidance from another more experienced coach.

One to two years seems like a long time, but if you want to develop a basic understanding of the player’s needs, the technical detail to support learning, and the implementation of tactics, then this is time well spent. Many coaches are in a hurry to get to the older age groups, the 11 v 11 game, etc. without understanding the technical detail, timing, and experience required to effectively coach players to dominate duels as individuals, pairs, and groups.

I must stress that the learning curve is different for each person, so what one person can achieve in months may take another person a year, depending on skill level, experience, and knowledge of the game. The journey is very much individualized because there are so many different factors that influence the learning process.

Prerequisites for starting the coaching journey

I will cover the basic prerequisites for the USA and the UK. A prerequisite is a set of non-negotiable things that must be in place before starting a course.

To get started in the USA the following things must be in place:

  • Minimum Age: 16
  • Create a coaching profile in the US Soccer Digital Coaching Center
  • Complete the US Soccer Introduction To Grassroots Coaching Module
  • Complete the 2-Hour Online 11v11 License (Must complete before attending in-person courses)
  • A basic first aid or emergency aid certification to deal with emergency situations such as Concussion, CPR is usually required
  • Some sort of safeguarding the welfare of children course to help recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse

It should be noted that if you are working with young players then completing the 4 v 4 or 7 v 7 versions would be another prerequisite to getting started. The completion of this course would allow a coach to lead sessions in a grassroots setting.

The US soccer qualifications have the same structure throughout all of their courses they work on 6 main themes that are built upon as the coaches progress through their licenses, the 6 modules are:

  • Coaching Training Sessions
  • Leading the Team
  • Managing the Performance Environment
  • Coaching Games
  • Leading the Player
  • Leadership

How long to become a football coach in the UK?

How long does it take to become a soccer coach
CURRENT UK COACHING PATHWAY

The entry-level qualification to coach football in the UK is the football playmaker qualification, this is a four-hour course that comprises five modules and is designed for people who are starting their football journey. 

The course is for people who are interested in being a volunteer, helpers, or assistants for a grassroots team. Coaches must complete this prerequisite course before they can apply for the main introduction to football coaching qualification.

The playmaker course along with the introduction to coaching football course will be the level 1 stage as shown by the diagram.


The prerequisite to getting started in football would be the completion of the playmaker course, people who complete this qualification must:

  • Be a minimum age of 14 years old
  • Complete an application for an FA FAN number, which is an ID that stays with you for any FA coaching course you chose to do
  • Compete the 5 modules of the playmaker course

By the end of this playmaker course, you should feel confident to support, fun, safe and inclusive football sessions. You will be able to respond to concussion or cardiac arrest emergencies as well as embed emergency action plans into your grassroots team.    The course will help with your session planning and your ability to communicate and motivate the players you work with. The five modules of the playmaker course are as follows:

  • Make football for all: Helps you make the game inclusive
  • Connect with your players: Helps you communicate and motivate the players
  • Create fun sessions: Using the STEP framework
  • Keep football safe: Covers first aid and child protection
  • Take your next step: Covers your progression to the next level

Once the player maker course is completed the person will have the knowledge and skills to help a lead coach in a youth football team setting.  This means you can help the lead coach make fun, inclusive sessions but you are not yet permitted to lead the sessions yourself.

It should also be noted that if a person is 14 years old and taking the playmaker course they would have to wait until they were 16 or above to work with children as this is the minimum age a DBS (police record) check can be made to assess their suitability to work with children.

In Summary

It is clear from the article that it does not take too much time to put yourself into a position to become a soccer/football coach. The actual entry criteria in both the US and the UK are very much attainable for the majority of the population.

Any budding coaches reading this should note that there is a huge difference between having a qualification and applying it professionally and practically. The process of application requires a vested interest in continuous professional development, time on the field of play to practice and implement your ideas, and a willingness to study the physical, technical and tactical demands of the game.

I would highly recommend seeking out a more qualified coach whom you trust and who you feel has a good track record in the sport, playing and teaching the game in line with your views and opinions. Ideally, you would take up a support or assistant role initially to learn and develop your skillset, then once you have developed at least a year or two’s experience, consider becoming a leadership coach.

Whichever country you reside, there are rules around the qualifications you must have to lead a team, so please check these out before leading a team as you do not want to put yourself in a difficult situation legally or even get yourself into a situation that is currently out of your depth as a coach.

Invest the time into your self-development and be willing to listen and learn from others. do not discard any coach’s detail. You lend information to others and make it your own.

Related Questions

What if I want to take a lead role? Additional qualifications would be recommended so in the USA the coach could complete the C license whereas in the UK the coach would need to complete the introduction to football coaching qualification alongside a first aid and safeguarding qualification in both countries coaches require DBS clearance (criminal records check) to be in a position to lead sessions for u18’s

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