Whether a coach is teaching kids in a recreational league or guiding professionals at the highest levels of the game, U.S. Soccer’s Coaching Department offers the only FIFA recognized courses, licenses and educational opportunities tailor-made for coaches at every level who aim to further the development of players in the United States.
The U.S. Soccer Coaching Pathway consists of a series of certifications designed around coaching profiles and the related tasks a soccer coach is expected to carry out in his or her team environment. Differentiated by course level, the tasks are: coaching games, coaching training sessions, leading the player, leading the team and managing a performance environment, and leadership.
The road from grassroots to professional coaching consists of eight national licenses, each becoming more in-depth as the level of the player to be coached increases. The pathway begins with the National F License, which is designed for coaches of kids 5-8 years old and ends with the Pro License, targeted toward professional coaches.
Experiential learning is a recurring theme throughout the pathway. Coaches undergo development periods between course meetings to allow for practical implementation of what has been learned away from their team environments. These periods of development also exist between course levels to allow for additional experiences to emphasize the continuation of the learning process.
The eight license opportunities – which are completed in sequence (with limited exceptions) – are briefly described below. Additional information on each is available through the links provided.
NATIONAL F: The National F License, available exclusively online through U.S. Soccer’s Digital Coaching Center, is a grassroots-type course tailored for parents and coaches (16 years of age or older) of five to eight-year-old players. The two-hour course teaches best practices for creating a fun, activity-centered and age-appropriate environment for youth players who typically play four-versus-four (4v4). Over 70,000 individuals have obtained their F License since U.S. Soccer’s state-of-the-art online educational platform was launched in 2015. The license is also available in Spanish. Those interested can enroll in the course here.
NATIONAL E: The 18-hour E course consists of a series of in-person lectures and field sessions and is typically held over one weekend. The primary objective of the National E Course is to develop coaches to effectively teach nine to 12 year olds. The course is administered by U.S. Soccer affiliate members, such as state soccer associations, of which a full list is available here. There is no development period required between completion of the F License and registering for the E.
NATIONAL D: Once an individual has held the E License for six months, they may register for the D course, which is geared for those coaching 13 to 14 year olds. The course is broken down into four parts and takes 40+ hours to complete. Phases include online assignments, face-to-face meetings with instructors, training sessions over a minimum of 10 weeks, and a final on-field exam. This course is also administered by affiliate organizations.
NATIONAL C: An individual must have held the D License for 12 months to register for the C License. Designed to focus on core coaching competencies for those leading competitive youth soccer, the C course takes 130 or more hours and consists of two meetings separated by a development period, usually lasting two to three months. All licenses at the C level and above are administered and approved by U.S. Soccer Coaching Department instructors.
NATIONAL B: The U.S. Soccer B License requires a comprehensive application from all eligible candidates who are at least 18 years of age. Each applicant must have held the C License for at least 12 months and be working with an 11v11 youth team. To complete the course, candidates dedicate more than 150 hours with three meetings separated by two development periods over four to five months. The National B License is the minimum standard for coaches in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
NATIONAL A-YOUTH: The A-Youth License also requires a comprehensive application from all eligible candidates who must have held the B License for at least six months, and have access to a team of elite youth players in a high-performance environment. The course focuses on the development of the potential professional player. The course includes four meetings separated by three development periods and takes approximately five to six months to complete.
NATIONAL A-SENIOR: The A-Senior License requires a comprehensive application from all interested candidates who must have held the B License for at least six months, and have experiences and access to a team of senior players in a high-performance, result driven environment. Coaches in this course should be working with professional players or potential professional players. The course consists of four meetings separated by three development periods and takes approximately five to six months to complete.
PRO: The Pro License course is currently an invitation-based course and is the highest level license offered in North America recognized by FIFA. Thirteen professional coaches completed the first Pro License in December 2016. Those interested can learn more about the journey of the course’s first graduating cohort here.
Follow the U.S. Soccer Coaching Education Department on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about the various course opportunities through a series of feature articles over the coming months.