There are many paths to becoming a soccer coach. Most of us start with coaching our children because the soccer club needs volunteers, and because we want to be involved in our children’s activities. Those without children coach for the love of the sport, to give to the community. Very few, thankfully, coach for selfish reasons – to win, to get self worth.
For quite a few of us coaching soon becomes a hobby, perhaps a passion. We keep coaching our children or advance to coach competitive teams, whether our children are on the team or not. We just want to get the thrill of higher competition, the challenge to develop players and teams to perform at their best.
We all start from different places. Some have played soccer as children and like the sport. Some never played, the new soccer mom or dad. Some had distinguished playing careers, even at the professional level. It seems that the more playing experience some people had, the more they believe they know how to coach. I can’t count the times I have heard “I used to play semi-professional soccer, so I know how the game is played”. True, they may know how the game is played, but that doesn’t mean they know how to coach.
The interesting thing is that teams and players, regardless of age and competitive level, don’t care about what you have done or how well you think you can coach. They care about how much value you add to them, how good a coach you are for them. And this is where coaching development and education comes in.
I highly recommend that everyone who starts to coach a soccer team checks with their club to see if coaching certification programs are available. If not through the club, check the governing soccer body in your area. Coaching certification programs give you many of the basic skills and tools to coach. They should teach you on how to engage with athletes of all ages, with parents, with game officials, and with spectators. You should learn about what to practice at various ages and skill levels, and how to run a practice. They will teach you about practice, game, and season planning. You will learn the rules of the game. It is an excellent foundation. The higher the certification level, the more you learn and the more you are exposed to instructors who know their stuff.
Also, most soccer organizations have experienced coaches on staff who are responsible for developing coaches. They are a resource, they may run clinics, they may observe you and give you feedback.
But it doesn’t stop with certification. I have seen lots of highly certified coaches doing a less than stellar job running a practice or a game. Some skills are taught wrong, players stand around. So what else is needed? I suggest learning from your own experiences and from observing other coaches, good coaches. Ask for feedback from your team. Are they happy, are they learning, do you make sense to them? Check for yourself if you see in games what you practice. Walk around soccer fields and watch other coaches practice. If there are professional teams near you, observe their practice. Read other coaching material.
As you progress you will start to develop your own coaching philosophy, style, and programs. The best measure of your effectiveness is the progress your team and players make as the season progresses. Set individual player and team goals that you can measure and track them weekly.
We are here to help. Our web site offers tips and advice and our soccer practice plans and drills incorporate the best coaching techniques available.
Enjoy your journey towards becoming a better and happier soccer coach.