If you are passionate about football, you might want to consider a career as a football coach. Playing the game itself is very rewarding and is how many people express their passion and enjoyment for what is referred to as the “beautiful game.” But coaching the game has its own rewards too. In fact, some people think it is more rewarding because you are helping others to realise their own footballing joys and ambitions.
But what does it take to become a coach, and what is the difference between coaching and managing? If you care to read on, the answers to these and other questions will be revealed.
The Difference Between Coaching and Managing
A football manager has total control over the team and squad. He/she can select their own staff and can choose, in conjunction with the Board and chairperson, which players to buy and sell.
A football coach, on the other hand, has more limited involvement in this side of the club. Their responsibility is to choose, construct, and oversee player training, pick the squad of players for each game, decide the strategy to be employed, and ensure that the players interpret that strategy and play to the best of their abilities.
The coach’s role is purely to do with playing the game and the team’s performance. They are not burdened with ancillary, off-the-pitch problems and decisions, although their opinion in such matters may often be sought.
At What Level Do You Aspire to Coach?
Whether you aim to coach children’s soccer, be the coach of an amateur team in one of the many small local soccer leagues in the UK or aspire to coach a team in the National Football League or in the English Football League, the levels of skills and qualification you need to acquire, differ.
Let’s begin with grassroots coaching.
Coaching at the Grassroots Level
When we talk about grassroots football, we refer to the non-professional game that is played en-masse at a local level for the sheer love of the game. It’s the perfect way to get your coaching aspirations underway. Here’s what you will need to coach at grassroots level.
The Coaching Qualifications You Will Need
A lot of football coaches start coaching children’s soccer. Many of these men and women are pure amateurs with time-consuming jobs but who desire to get involved with teaching kids the basics of the game. Of course, you need a good understanding of football and its rules and how to go about coaching young players.
You can enrol for online courses like the “Coaching Kids Soccer Course” on the playerdevelopmentproject.com website. The great thing about these sorts of courses is that you can study as and when you like, and at your own pace.
Obtaining a DBS Certificate
If you want to get involved with coaching kids, you will have to go through the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) procedure. It’s not just best practice. Any organisation you approach will need to see a copy of your DBS certificate to ensure you don’t have a criminal record that could affect your application.
The application fee is £23, and completing the form only takes about 10 minutes or so. Once it’s been submitted, you will have to wait between 6 to 12 weeks to receive your certificate.
The FA (Football Association) also runs courses for wannabe coaches at various levels, beginning with the FA Introduction to Coaching Football. The course runs for five days and can either be taken on consecutive days or alternatively be split over weekends to make it more convenient. The course costs approximately £160, but this may vary depending on the region in which you live.
The course comprises five modules, finishing with an assessment. You have up to 12 months from starting the course to completion.
Choosing the Right Club for You
All football clubs are run slightly differently, some more professional than others. At a grassroots level, it’s important to choose a club that is professionally managed rather than a poorly managed club with poor coaching standards. Learning best practice from the ground up is always the best way to go.
Choosing the right club means doing your research properly. You should check into the club’s philosophy, ethics and playing style. Become familiar with their culture. The club hiring process will give you an indication as to whether or not you’re on the right path.
If the club hire’s coaching staff without bothering to check their qualifications and credentials, it’s bad news. If, on the other hand, they demand to see your coaching qualifications (they may also ask you for your UEFA level B licence), it’s a good indicator that it’s a well-run club.
There Is No Substitute for Experience
There is no substitute for experience, and coaching kids’ football is quite challenging. It’s a good idea to gain some experience working with different age levels so that you can come to terms with the strategies that get the best results.
Always plan your training sessions in advance, and if you have any concerns, it’s best to check these out with your manager beforehand. It always pays to be prepared. It’s best for those you are coaching and will also make you look more competent and help you to feel at ease.
If you can, it’s also a good idea to work with different clubs. That way, you can get exposure to various coaching styles and training plans. The more you can absorb, the better the coach you will become.
Taking the Next Step
If you’re serious about progressing your football coaching career further, you will need to obtain your UEFA Level C Licence. The course costs £500, but if you are already associated with a grassroots affiliated club, you will be able to claim a £140 discount.
The licences you can apply for now are with:
- The Birmingham FA
- The Cumberland FA
- The Huntingdonshire FA
- The Cornwall FA
- The Lincolnshire FA
You can find out more about the UEFA Level C Licence, including other areas that will be posted before the start of next season, by visiting the bootroom.thefa.com.