Can you recall a coach that has had an impact on your life? Maybe they gave you a chance when no one else would.
Perhaps they taught you a life lesson when you were having a bad time. Did a coach ever make you want to give up the game forever?
Coaches have the power to leave a lasting impact on our lives. They play an important role in the development of so many.
For many of us who love the sport of soccer, coaching is a way to make the game part of our lives.
Coaching is a roller coaster filled with highs and lows. It can be incredibly rewarding one day and totally defeating the next.
You can be a soccer coach without experience if you have the desire, a strong interest, and local youth teams. You will need need to work hard and prepare for your first training sessions.
Once you’ve had some coaching experience, you can then progress by taking coaching courses to earn licenses.
Now that your thinking about coaching or have just begun, you probably have more questions. Luckily, we have this guide to help get you on your way!
Can you be a soccer coach without playing?
It’s entirely possible for someone to become a soccer coach having never played the game themselves. If you are willing to learn and study the game, you can learn over time how to teach the game.
Of course, the higher the level you coach, the more difficult it becomes. Even then, it’s still possible.
There’re many examples of professional coaches who have little-to-no playing experience.
- Coaches like Avram Grant, Leonardo Jardim, Arrigo Sacchi, and Andre Villas-Boas are often cited as examples of coaches who did not play top-tier soccer.
Between them, they’ve managed some of the best club and national sides in history.
Sacchi, who is regarded as one of the greatest managers of all-time and led Italy to a World Cup final in 1994 was questioned about his lack of playing career.
He worked as a shoe salesman prior to coaching.
In a famous quote questioning his qualification, Sacchi said “A jockey doesn’t have to have been born a horse.”
If you’re looking to start a coaching career without playing experience, keep Sacchi’s words in mind.
Do you have to be good at soccer to coach it?
Being good at soccer is not a prerequisite to being a good coach. There’re plenty of examples of people with less than stellar playing careers going on to achieve the highest levels of success in coaching.
For each of those examples, there’re many more.
With hard work and a dedication to learning, you too can be great.
Some coaches do start after their playing career is finished. Perhaps they did not have what it takes to play at the highest level, but they do have the ability to teach the game.
Their lack of natural skill might have made them approach the game in a different way, making them an even better coach.
Jose Mourinho, one of the most decorated coaches of all time, is not what most would consider a “good player.”
He certainly was not a great one. Though he did technically have a senior career, it’s his coaching career that made him who he is today.
Mourinho was able to manage some of the world’s best clubs and players. He’s won countless trophies in the world’s top leagues.
For not being a “good soccer player,” his coaching career is one that most will only dream of.
What skills do you need to be a soccer coach?
Coaching soccer requires a wide variety of skills in order to be successful. Depending on the level you are coaching, you will have different resources available to you.
At the highest level, you will have a full staff around you to help manage the team. For the lower levels, it may just be you and maybe an assistant coach.
Regardless of the level, you’re coaching, here are some important skills you should master:
Coaches must teach players about the game. In order to develop them technically and tactically as players, you have to be able to teach players about all facets of the game.
- Every person is different and responds differently to certain situations.
- If a player has a confidence issue, the coach has to know what tactics will get a response out of them.
- Some players need to be left alone and some need to be taken aside and talked to.
- Knowing how to manage situations for each player is key.
A coach must know what’s best for their team. They are responsible for how the team sets up and ensuring players are put into the right position to have a positive impact on the game.
It’s not their job to make everyone happy, but it’s their job to get the best out of everyone – no matter their role in the team.
If you don’t have staff around you, fitness and conditioning might fall under your watch.
It’s important to understand how to keep players fit and healthy without over-exerting them and causing injuries.
Time-management and planning
Running an effective training session means planning and sticking to a schedule. Too much downtime means inefficient sessions.
Trying to do too much wears players down and will not get the best out of them. It’s all about balance and properly planned practices.
Keeping statistics from games or training can give your team a leg up. Especially if you use them the right way.
It’s hard to argue with numbers. Using them can help you pick the strongest team, put players in the right position, and win games.
How to become a soccer coach with no experience?
Becoming a soccer coach without having any experience will be extremely difficult. It will take extra time to learn everything you can about the game.
Despite that, it’s still a very possible goal.
Ultimately, everyone’s path will be vastly different. As with most things, there’re many means to get to the same end.
If you plan to become a coach without experience, here are some steps you should take:
As you meet people who do have experience, ask them questions. If you’re starting from scratch, there’re no bad questions. Ask questions about tactics, technical skills, or even rules.
Consume the game
I’ve been asked hundreds of times what the easiest way to learn soccer is. Every time, my suggestion is to watch games.
There’re many different ways to watch soccer. Pick a team and learn their style. Find a player and follow their movement through the game.
Follow a league and see how each team matches up. The more you watch, the more you’ll learn.
Surround yourself with smart people
By having people who are knowledgeable about the game around you, you have a direct resource that can help you become a better coach.
A rising tide lifts all ships and if you have a good support system around you, everyone gets better.
Be a student
There’re plenty of coaching courses for all different levels of coaching.
These courses not only teach you the fundamentals of coaching, but they also teach out about the game and give you the credibility necessary to become a coach.
They’re also great books and online resources (like this one!) that can help you along the way. Take in as much knowledge as you can. No matter what, never stop learning!
Is it hard to become a professional soccer coach?
Becoming a professional soccer coach is incredibly difficult. There’re only a handful of opportunities worldwide that are given to the best minds in the game.
Getting into one of these roles takes time and patience, but the path will vary for everyone.
Some professional coaches work their way up through the system. Starting at the youth level and growing their career that way.
Others are former players who may have had different degrees of success and eventually became head coaches.
If you have a desire to become a professional coach, you must dedicate your life to the game. If you are willing to do that, it’s possible. Every step in your journey gets you closer to that goal!
How do I start a soccer coaching career?
Starting a soccer coaching career is going to likely depend on where you are starting from. Let’s assume you have at least some base knowledge of the game.
Maybe you played or at least have some ability, and you know the rules of the game.
There’re a few different ways that you could get started;
Working with players individually is an important skill coach must-have.
If you can find a player to work with and develop, it can benefit the player, but also be a great experience for a coach
Running training sessions for other teams can help everyone involved. Another trainer provides another set of eyes for the coaching staff.
It can also give players information from a new perspective.
For you, this experience can introduce you to coaches, help you work with teams, and is a great learning experience.
Become an assistant
If you want to learn something, it’s helpful to have a mentor. All of the best coaches will reference coaches who taught them what they know.
As an assistant coach, you can start to develop your own coaching philosophies and be part of the entire process.
Teach the game
- Albert Einstein once said, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
If you want to become a better coach, teaching other coaches can benefit you as well. By teaching the game to others, you will learn as well.
Eventually, you can build credibility and start charging for your expertise. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to a career in coaching.
What qualifications do you need to be a soccer coach?
The qualifications needed to become a soccer coach will be dependent on the level at which you are coaching. At some levels, you will need the highest possible license.
If you want to start out coaching your kid’s recreational team, you likely don’t need any specific qualifications outside of some desire and ability to work with kids.
To build up to the higher level, it does not hurt to start by working towards some licenses. They give you credibility and make it easier to find work.
When I coached at the high school level, we were required to take a state coaching education course, plus be CPR and first aid certified.
They did not require any specific coaching license for this specific role. That’s something that will differ from team to team.
In order to see what qualifications you need, start by reaching out to someone within the organization.
They would be able to give you the information necessary to make sure you have the appropriate qualifications.
What are the good qualities of a soccer coach?
There’re certain qualities that coaches need to have in order to be successful.
The most impactful coaches are also great leaders. They get the best out of their players by getting them to buy into their vision.
Servant leadership is about the leader (coach) serving the players, not acting strictly as their boss.
In the book Leading written by Sir Alex Furgeson, the former Manchester United boss discusses his leadership values.
It’s no coincidence that the very first chapter is titled “Listening.”
Listening is not just about hearing what your players have to say, but also how they behave. In turn, as the coach, you need to show that you hear and value the opinions of the players.
After all, if the players don’t feel heard, you won’t get their best effort.
Understanding the emotions of players will go a long way in their ability to trust you. It will improve your connection with them and make you a better coach.
Understanding the game
Players expect their coaches to be able to teach them about the game.
- You don’t need to be changing the way the game is played to be a good coach, but you should understand the game and how it’s played.
If you don’t, you can’t explain it well to your players.
Being an effective communicator can make or break your success as a coach. You must be able to tell your players clearly what you expect from them.
Learning how to communicate well will show confidence and instill trust.
Your team will lose games. The referee will make bad decisions. How you respond to these types of things impacts your standing with the team.
Constantly yelling and being angry with players can harm them mentally and teaches them bad habits.
It’s not easy to become a coach. If you rely on coaching for your livelihood, there’s even more pressure.
You could lose everything at any moment. Having a willingness to learn and keep working hard can set you apart from the competitive field that’s soccer coaching.
Your longevity in the sport depends in large part on your ability to evolve. The game is always changing.
Coaches develop new tactics. Players change how they play. Even rules change over time.
If you only coach the way you learn the game, you will be quickly left behind.
What are the qualities of a bad soccer coach?
As you learn the qualities of good coaches, you should also understand the qualities that make a bad coach.
Bad qualities in a coach will trickle down to the players and make for a bad environment. Some of those qualities are:
- Win-at-all costs attitude – nobody enjoys losing, but it’s going to happen. As a coach, if you are only driven by winning, you will likely be too distraught by the losses to move on and your team won’t develop.
- Know-it-all – no one has all of the answers. The “know-it-all” coach doesn’t listen to their team and has no interest in evolving. They think their way is the only way and are too stubborn to change their ways. While they might have some success early on, it will undoubtedly dwindle over time.
- Favoritism – coaches will connect with some players more than others. It’s human nature. Maybe you have a kid on the team or a player who you believe is miles better than everyone else. Having a favorite player gives you an unrealistic sense of their ability and clouds your judgment of the player. Treating some players differently than others hurts the whole team.
Start your journey!
Someone once told me “if you want to do something for a living, you better start doing it now.” It’s never too late to follow your passion.
Start by asking yourself what you can do today that will make you a better coach tomorrow.
If you focus on that and improve just a little bit every day, you will be well on your way to becoming a soccer coach!
I’ve played soccer across the U.S.A, Europe and I’ve coached many teams. Soccer is life for me, and with my experience in the game, I want to share my insights into this beautiful game with you.
Joel Powel – Soccer Blade