I'm actually nervous for my upcoming soccer coaching courses but why? It is completely normal to feel that way, after all nobody likes to be put on the spot, present in front of a group and have your knowledge tested around the clock. After you get over that initial feeling of nerves you need to start thinking about all the great things that are going to come out of your first of many soccer coaching courses in the future. Meeting new people, trying new things, gathering new ideas along with some drinks and some laughs along the way.
Coaching courses are actually a lot of fun and the longer they go the more comfortable you start feeling and the more you start getting out of it but it will only be that way if you open up and push yourself to grow. The person that locks themselves in their room for the week doesn't develop the relationships, different ways of thinking and enjoyment of the week like the others so first piece of advice is don't be that person. We'll get to more advice later but for now it's important to know what to bring, what to expect and how to deal with certain situation that will definitely come up, most people go into it unprepared and hoping to role with the punches when there is a lot to prepare even before you go.
Most courses have you do a tone of work before you even get there so if you haven't started that don't leave it to the last minute because you are going to be scrambling and overwhelmed with the amount of pre-course work there is. For now grab a snack and listen closely as I give you the ins and outs of the wonderful world of coaching courses.
1. It's All About Networking - The most valuable thing you will get out of these courses are the connections and networks you will build. Everyone in this course will always be that "hey I did my D, C, B, A coaching license with them" to you and visa versa so it's really important to make a real intentional effort to get to know everyone a little. The best advice I can give is to be friendly to everyone, try and get to know everyones name and then try and collect everyones email address before you leave if you don't already have it. These connections will serve you well in your career for jobs, exhibition games and who knows what else as you all embark down your coaching journeys.
2. Get Ready for the Amount of Work! - If you haven't started with any of the pre-course work yet just buckle up and get ready for the avalanche of work that's about to come your way. The pre-course work will take you hours upon hours to complete not to mention the filming of some of your practices the courses require you to take and send in. These soccer coaching courses now a days are detailed, comprehensive and pages and pages of work both on paper and on the laptop.
3. Master Online Practice Planner Software - The game moves more to analytics and video analysis each and every year and part of the requirement for soccer coaching courses now a days is to design your practice plans with online practice planner software that they provide you. As soon as you get it start messing around with it and getting used to it because you will be living on that thing for the weeks prior, during and post your coaching course. You don't want to be learning on the job when you have one hour to draw up a possession practice so make sure you are well versed in whichever practice software they provide you with. For USA coaching courses the Digital Coaching Center (DCC) will be your new best friend.
4. Come Physically Fit - 90% of the time the players doing the actual drills and games for you to teach are the course participants themselves! If you've ever been to a week long pre-season with one of your club, college or pro teams that's exactly how it's going to feel in your body. I can't tell you how many coaches come to these courses out of shape and either get injured on the first day or can't stand on their feet after two days of playing. Make sure you're in good physical condition, no joke!
5. Ask Questions - You have three high level coaches who are running your coaching course and you have literally paid for access to that wealth of knowledge so don't be afraid to ask them questions and have them explain things you aren't sure about. Whether it's on the pitch publicly or a private conversation at any point throughout the week make sure to get all your answers to all the questions you may have about the course, your own team or anything else you've always wondered about.
1. Thinking You Know It All - If you come into the soccer coaching course thinking your Pep Guardiola and aren't open to new ideas or people challenging yours then you are in the wrong place. Go into it as if you're a student of the game (which we all are) and have an open mind with every topic and when you go back to your own environment you can do as you wish but be a team player and be open to everyones thoughts not just your own.
2. Arguing with the Assessors - I've seen this go very badly for many coaches trying to get their licenses. This is not the time to puff your chest out and challenge one of the coaches who make the decision whether or not you get your license. Even if you disagree with one of their coaching points or corrections of you just nod your head and say okay. Later on in the night in private if you want to go up to them and ask (not challenge) in a respectful manner more about that coaching point then feel free to. The last thing you want to do is correct or challenge them in public in the training environment, it will be a long week for you if you do.
3. Going Too Hard When Playing - There's always that one coach that thinks they're playing in the world cup final and are over aggressive and taking things too seriously on the pitch. This is supposed to be nice and easy kick about where we learn different exercises and most importantly nobody leaves the pitch hurt. If you're that person remember it's about developing as a coach and your playing ability doesn't mean much at these courses.
4. Locking Yourself In Your Room - For the week of the course the worst thing you can do is by a hermit and stay in your room every chance you get and separate yourself from the group. Your room should only be for sleeping at night and maybe a nap here or there but the most important thing you can do is be out and about building your coaches contact list and mingling with everyone. Having an extensive coaches network is important in your career and you never know who is in your group so get nice and friendly with everyone, the next Pep Guardiola might be sitting right beside you.
5. Not Asking for Help/Asking Questions - You didn't come all this way to not get all of your soccer questions answered. Ask about the different systems, formations, philosophies, culture building you name it that others have used and you can try when you go back to your own team. The worst thing you can do is spend all that money for these soccer coaching courses then leave them without squeezing every last bit of info out of the lemon tree.
1. Length - Coaching courses vary in length from a weekend course spread over a few weekends to a week long course where you need to come back three or four different times. Each time has an assessment period at some point during the week with different work you need to submit between the different meeting weeks. The last A license course I took in the USA we had to go to Carolina three different times for a week and for the final assessment the course assessor came to my environment to watch me run a practice session, pretty nerve wracking to say the least.
2. Accommodation - There is usually a host hotel that the course is affiliated with that gives you a cheaper rate and where everyone stays. These are usually mandatory unless you're a local who lives in the area, I would highly recommend you stay at the host hotel in case yo do have an option for network and convenience reasons.
3. Food - Three meals a day are provided at the host hotel and are pretty decent to be honest. They are all buffet style and have a wide range of food options made by quality chefs.
4. Welcome Package - When you get to the host hotel and register that you've arrived you will typically get a training shirt with the logo of the coaching governing body on it, a string bag, a blank coaches notebook and all the details about the schedule for the week including times, addresses and meeting rooms.
5. Cost - Soccer coaching courses are getting more expensive by the week. The last course I took which was the A license cost $3000 USD and that wasn't including flight costs either. Luckily the accommodation price was included with that and the school I worked with help fund half of it through their professional development fund.
1. Notebook & Pens - Good old trusty pen and paper, that's right nothing like a blank notebook to take down all the little nuggets of info you'll be picking up throughout the week. Bring more than few pens as well those things will go missing out on the pitch and in different hotel meeting rooms. I started at one end fo the notebook for all serious note taking and session plans and I took down notes on the other end of the book of crazy ideas that would pop into my head that I could try with my own team when I got back to my hometown.
2. Laptop - You will need your laptop just as much if not more than your notebook where you're copying down all the session plans and class lecture notes. Not only will you be creating session plans on your laptop almost nightly there will be different group assignments and individual ones where you'll need access to the internet and power point presentations. Make sure you have a quality laptop because it is going to be put into overdrive during these soccer coaching courses.
3. Extra Clothes - Think of this as a pre-season camp, you'll be running around and sweating just as much. Bring two sets of training shirts per day that you will be there and that much underwear and socks too, it may sound excessive but believe me you'll thank me for enlightening you on what to bring to these soccer coaching courses later.
4. Sunscreen - Bring a few bottles and apply generously, those long days outside will get the best of you and your skin.
5. Footwear - Pack a pair of running shoes, sandals and at least one pair of soccer cleats. Your feet are going to be barking after the hours and hours out on the pitch under the sun. Avoid bringing any fashionable shoes you may have, it's all about comfort for this week, you'll thank me later.