If you’re a new soccer parent and your kids start getting involved in ‘the beautiful game,’ you’ll probably have a lot of questions to ask – like if you have to volunteer to be the soccer coach.
In recreational soccer leagues, coaching is done by volunteers. There are usually enough parents willing to volunteer to fill all the coaching vacancies. If the league is short of coaches, they will contact parents to fill spots.
However, many parents also feel some obligation, particularly in recreational-level soccer, to get involved with coaching their kids’ teams. Here’s a handy guide to whether you actually need to get involved, and if you do then how to go about becoming the next great soccer coach!
Parents Do Not Have to Volunteer as Coach
However, if your organization is short of coaches, you may find yourself receiving a sign-up email. While you may be new to the idea of being a soccer coach (and maybe even the game itself), it can be fun to get involved and a great way to get involved with your kids, doing something they love!
Other ways to volunteer in soccer are as the assistant coach or as the snack coordinator.
How do I Volunteer as a Soccer Coach?
Parents and adults can volunteer as youth soccer coaches by letting your soccer group know you’re willing to help. You can also volunteer as a coach when you’re signing your child up for the season during registration, or by chatting with the other volunteers and staff informally.
Amateur and just-for-fun soccer programs such as recreational soccer will almost always be happy to have extra volunteers sign up to help with coaching. If this is something that piques your interest, then why not get involved?
Bear in mind that all organizations are different, so may have different processes to get involved. The one thing they all have in common though is that they love the game, so I’m sure any soccer organization will be more than happy to get you on board with their program!
What Requirements Are There to Be a Soccer Coach?
The good news is that to get started as a soccer coach (at the USA soccer E level, the beginning point for coaching), you won’t need to fulfill any requirements. However, the more you know about soccer, the more useful you will be to your team.
You’ll definitely need to familiarize yourself with the ‘laws’ (not rules!) of soccer, including the notorious offside law.
You’ll generally pick these up pretty quickly if you play a bit yourself, as there aren’t too many, but if you’re looking for a clear and concise guide to the game then check out the comprehensive and up-to-date list on the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) website here.
You’ll also want to learn some drills that can be useful to teach your players core skills, whether individual skills such as passing and shooting or team skills such as defensive and attacking strategies.
One of the best ways to do this is to actually play a little soccer yourself and replicate the drills that work best for you in your own training sessions.
There’s also a wealth of specific soccer training drills available both on websites and Youtube tutorials, so with a little research, you’ll have plenty of ideas about how to get your team into top shape.
As you get more into the game, it’s also a good idea to take up an interest in the club and international soccer. Soccer is considered one of, if not the biggest sport in most of Europe, South America, and Africa, so you have a whole host of teams in different leagues to follow.
If you’re not sure who to start with, try following a team from the Premier League (in the UK, where famous teams include Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea) or La Liga (in Spain, where teams include Real Madrid and Barcelona).
These teams don’t just play in highly competitive internationally televised leagues, but also often compete against each other in a pan-European knockout tournament known as the Champions League.
Following a team will teach you a lot about how the game is played at the highest levels, and give you some idea of the different tactics and styles different teams play internationally. Choose wisely though, as switching teams is looked down on by soccer fans, especially between those clubs with fierce rivalries such as Manchester United and Manchester City!
At the beginning of your career as a coach, don’t be afraid to ask others for the advice! The other coaches in your organization are very likely to have been at your level at some point and will be some of your most useful sources of information on how to get your team up and running.
Do you Need any Schooling to be a Soccer Coach?
For youth and recreational level soccer, you don’t need any formal schooling or qualifications to get involved. At the club level, where most coaches are at least semi-professional, people generally get into coaching after some kind of soccer career of their own.
You’ll notice in the professional clubs in Europe that it is extremely rare for a club to have a manager who hasn’t played at the highest level (although there are some notable exceptions such as Arsene Wenger, long-time manager of Arsenal FC in London, who played just at an amateur level before taking up coaching).
However, if you want to bring your coaching up to a higher level, it’s definitely a good idea to get some kind of schooling. US Soccer offers a whole series of courses in coaching that can take you all the way from teaching little kids how to kick the ball to get seasoned professionals to master complex tactical formations.
There’s even a free intro course that you can dip your toes into before getting more invested in your coaching education! Check out USA Soccer’s resources here.
Key Takeaways on Coaching Soccer
In my experience with all four of our kids playing soccer, you won’t have to be the coach unless you want to. And if the thought of being the head coach terrifies you, many of the rec leagues actually ask for a head coach and an assistant coach.
So if you’d like to dip your toes into the pool without diving in, start by volunteering as an assistant coach. That way, you’ll get some time to learn without being the head coach. And you’ll still get to spend some great time playing soccer with your child (or children!).
And if you need some space? There’s no shame in not coaching your child. The team’s going to need plenty of spectators who cheer appropriately for the players. So go on out there and enjoy spending time on the field with your family – or just playing in the backyard together.
Learning from your own experiences is important, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as a family of sports nuts wannabes.
- “Coaching Resources.” US Youth Soccer, www.usyouthsoccer.org/coaching-resources/.
- FIFA.com. “What We Do – Education & Technical.” Www.fifa.com, www.fifa.com/what-we-do/education-and-technical/.
- “Laws of the Game 20/21.” IFAB, resources.fifa.com/image/upload/ifab-laws-of-the-game-2020-21.pdf?cloudid=d6g1medsi8jrrd3e4imp.
- “Soccer Drills, Games & Coaching Advice.” Soccer Coach Weekly, 10 Oct. 2019, www.soccercoachweekly.net/.
- U.S. Soccer Learning Center, learning.ussoccer.com/coach.
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