How to become a football coach
Football is the most popular sport in the UK so it is unsurprising that thousands of children are competing for their local clubs each year.
While football’s popularity continues, coaches are needed to guide and teach these young enthusiasts. For the aspiring football coach, it couldn’t be easier to get involved, with both official and unofficial UK coaching qualifications available.
This guide to kick-start your football coaching career.
Communication and interaction with your players is a huge part of coaching, even more important than a sound knowledge of the sport, and the courses and qualifications listed here aim to provide their pupils with the knowledge, skills and approaches needed to successfully coach a football team.
For the relatively inexperienced coach, the FA offers a four-tiered programme that can take you from a foundation to elite level: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and UEFA A Licence. As a new coach, you would need to begin at Level 1. Once this level is completed, you can progress through the levels according to your team’s demands and abilities.
FA Learning recommends that all of their new coaches ensure they have a solid knowledge of football theory before they enrol on these courses because previous participants with background knowledge took away a lot more from the formal training than those who didn’t.
The FA Level 1 Coaching Course (which is associated with 1st4sport) is the most popular course of its kind in the UK, with roughly 17,000 new coaches taking part every year. Almost every coach begins their coaching career at this foundation level, seeing it as an entry point onto the FA Coaching Ladder. The certificate will allow you to coach grass root club teams for children and young adults (though under qualified coach supervision).
Level 1 takes between 24 and 40 hours to complete. Points covered include:
• The safe organisation of small-sided activities and mini soccer.
• How to maintain good relationships between coaches, parents, players and officials.
• How to coach young players and ensure that training sessions are age group appropriate.
There is no experience required to enrol, however, participants must hold an FA Emergency Aid Certificate (or equivalent First Aid Certificate) and have attended FA workshop on Child Protection and Best Practice. Candidates must also be aged 16 or over.
The course is assessed by various means:
• Oral and written projects
• Assessments of practical training
• A 20 minute practical session on a randomly chosen topic, assessed by an external examiner
It should be easy to find a course near you, either at your County Football Association or local national sports centre.
Once this level has been completed, you can proceed to Level 2, and onwards, if you wish to further develop your coaching skills.
This is a full-time 2 year course which can be taken at many colleges across the UK. Once completed, you will not only have acquired a BTEC Level 3 Diploma, but also the FA Level 1 Football Coaching qualification, FA Level 2 Football Coaching, FA Child Protection and FA First Aid as well as various Multi Sport qualifications.
This qualification opens the door to several university foundation sports degrees and jobs in community coaching.
The only entry requirements are:
• Four GCSEs at grades A-C (English Language at grade C)
• or Level 2 Diploma (normally Merit overall)
• or Subsidiary Diploma or BTEC Level 2 Certificate (Merit overall) plus two GCSEs grades A-C or other Level 2 Qualifications.
• Some establishments may prefer you to have played at a county or semi-professional level.
The programme covers 2 full academic years and, as such, equates to A-level study, requiring participants to study at home and undergo assessments such as public examinations, practical observation and coursework.