How to become a soccer coach? [STEP-BY-STEP Guide]

Why do you want to become a soccer coach?

Before you start coaching, you should do some soul-searching. You should think about the impact you will have on these young people if you see them every week, but also if you end up leaving and stopping your commitment to be their coach. If your reason to be a coach is not correct, then both the quality (how much effort you put in) and the quantity (how long you will keep coaching) will be less than your potential. I have seen many bad reasons for becoming a soccer coach. For amusement, let me list out my favorite 3:

  1. “I love soccer and this also pays me”. The money is worse than almost anything else, but if you are not okay with that, then you are probably in the wrong niche. Soccer coaches are teachers and mentors first, then soccer people. You will get gifts by your soccer players that have huge sentimental and very small monetary value. If you are doing it for the money, switch to being a referee, it’s much better.
  2. “I have seen my daughter’s/son’s coach and I can definitely do better”. Are you going to become their dentist if you are not happy with their latest teeth cleaning? No, just take them to another club where the quality is higher.
  3. “It is so fun to play with the kids”. At best, you play with them, they love soccer more and they might learn something by looking at you. At worst, you have a need to show your power and dominance. Either way, it has nothing to do with coaching. Just play with them outside of practice and let other coaches do their work.

The real reason why somebody should become a soccer coach is because they want to transmit the values and the skills to their players, through the game of soccer. Obviously, I am focusing on coaching younger players, not peers.

Coaching path

I will focus on becoming a soccer coach in the US, which always start at the grassroots level.

  1. Find a local club to volunteer in as an assistant coach. All clubs would like to have a passionate assistant coach that doesn’t cost them anything. They will usually get you a basic coaching license which is very simple and cheap, consisting of a background check and a simple safety training. They might even give you basic gear.
  2. Start your education with US Soccer. It’s a non-profit organization that provides education and license badging for both coaches and referees. See the big picture of license badges that you can get and how they progress over time. As you get higher licenses, there are higher requirements to qualify for the next badge.
  3. Find a good mentor, ideally the head coach of the team you are assisting with. If you are doing this voluntarily, then you might have the leverage to pick virtually any team in that club. So figure out who you want to emulate and be a learning machine by observing them regularly. When I was starting my coaching career, I would hold practices of the U10 boys times a week, which would allow me at least 4 days a week to shadow practices of other teams (older and younger, boys and girls). Sometimes I would help out and run a drill when the head coach of that team would need me, or even if I needed to make up the numbers and be an extra player or just a ball boy.
  4. Consume anything about soccer coaching you can find. Much of the content is in written form, sites like this one, or books. There is ample content through videos, but it is not easy to find quality ones. I have gone through an ungodly amount of material to find the quality, both in written and in video formats, and will share them over time. Note that much of it is subjective and is often too context-dependent.
  5. Never stop learning. There are so many aspects of soccer coaching and it’s a never-ending process of improving yourself. Ask for feedback and evaluations from players, parents, and fellow coaches. To be a good soccer coach, you need to experience winning double digits and losing double digits, working with great potential and commitment players and with low potential and commitment players, experience losing your best player to another club, experience releasing players that don’t behave well or don’t perform well, learn better recruiting, learn better communication with players and their families.