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 defeating the next.
You can be a soccer coach without experience if you have the desire, a strong interest, and local youth teams. You must work hard and prepare for your first training sessions.
Once you’ve had some coaching experience, you can progress by taking coaching courses to earn licenses.
Now that you thinking about coaching or have just begun, you probably have more questions. We will answer them here so you can take the next step.
Can you be a soccer coach without playing?
Someone can 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 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 often did not play top-tier soccer.
They’ve managed some of the best club and national sides in history.
Sacchi, 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 before coaching. Sacchi said in a famous quote questioning his qualification, “A jockey doesn’t have to have been born a horse.”
Keep Sacchi’s words in mind if you’re looking to start a coaching career without playing experience.
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 coaching success levels.
For each of those examples, there’re many more. You can also be great with hard work and a dedication to learning. 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 differently, making them an even better coach.
Jose Mourinho, one of the most decorated coaches of all time, is not what most consider a “good player.”
He certainly was not a great one. Though he technically had a senior career, his coaching career made him who he is today. Mourinho managed 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 to be successful. Depending on your coaching level, you will have different resources available. You will have a full staff to help manage the team at the highest level.
It may just be you and maybe an assistant coach for the lower levels. Regardless of the level you’re coaching, here are some important skills you should master:
Coaches must teach players about the game. 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 must know what tactics will get a response from 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 impact the game positively.
It’s not their job to make everyone happy, but their job to get the best out of everyone – no matter their role in the team.
Fitness and conditioning might fall under your watch if you don’t have staff around you. Understanding how to keep players fit and healthy without over-exerting them and causing injuries is important.
Time-management and planning
Running an effective training session means planning and sticking to a schedule. Too much downtime means inefficient sessions. Trying 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 correctly. 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 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
Hundreds of times, I’ve been asked the easiest way to learn soccer. Every time, my suggestion is to watch games.
Follow a league and see how each team matches up. The more you watch, the more you’ll learn.
Surround yourself with smart people
Having knowledgeable people about the game around you gives you a direct resource that can help you become a better coach.
A rising tide lifts all ships, and everyone gets better if you have a good support system around you.
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 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. Only a handful of opportunities worldwide 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. They are starting at the youth level and growing their career that way.
Other former players may have had different degrees of success and eventually became head coaches.
If you 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 will likely depend on where you are starting. Let’s assume you have at least some base knowledge of the game.
Maybe you played or have some ability and know the game’s rules. 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 the best coaches will reference coaches who taught them what they know.
As an assistant coach, you can start to develop your 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.”
Teaching other coaches can also benefit you if you want to become a better coach. 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 depend on the level you are coaching. At some levels, you will need the highest possible license.
If you want to start coaching your kid’s recreational team, you likely don’t need any specific qualifications outside of some desire and ability to work with kids.
It does not hurt to start working towards some licenses to build up to a higher level. 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.
To see what qualifications you need, start by reaching out to someone within the organization.
They would be able to give you the necessary information to ensure you have the appropriate qualifications.
What are the good qualities of a soccer coach?
There’re certain qualities that coaches need to have 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 say but also how they behave. As the coach, you must show that you hear and value the players’ opinions.
After all, if the players don’t feel heard, you won’t get their best effort.
Understanding players’ emotions 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 change how the game is played to be a good coach, but you should understand how it’s played.
You can’t explain it well to your players if you don’t.
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 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. There’s even more pressure if you rely on coaching for your livelihood.
You could lose everything at any moment. A willingness to learn and keep working hard can set you apart from the competitive soccer coaching field.
Your longevity in the sport largely depends 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 how you learn the game, you will quickly be 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 every day, you will be well to becoming a soccer coach!