For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of coaching youth soccer, you may not know that there is a nationally coordinated program of coaching education run by the United States Soccer Federation. Coaches are licensed initially at the state level (E & D) and can pursue higher national licenses at Levels D, C, B, and A. The E license is the starting point for coaches looking to get certified, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s easy.

Here is an overview of what is covered in the course:


  • This course is designed for the parent/coach who may or may not have any previous soccer playing or coaching experience.
  • The curriculum focuses on the development of the player, both individually and as part of the team. The emphasis will be to build on the player’s technical development by applying tactical concepts within game situations.


  • To prepare coaches working with players ages 9-12 years old by expanding their knowledge and understanding of the technical and tactical demands of the game and the developmental processes necessary for players of these ages.
  • To provide an understanding of practical coaching methodology and the framework necessary to prepare players and a team for competition.
  • To prepare coaches for continuing education in soccer

They cover a lot of ground in 18 hours and it was a very informative course. Our instructors were very experienced and in addition to covering the USSF curriculum, they had a lot of stories and anecdotes to build out the material. You don’t sit in a classroom for two days either. We spent a lot of time out on the pitch practicing what we would soon preach in some intensive drills (they’re called ‘exercises’ or ‘activities’ now) The instructors started out with very cool drill demonstrations. After the first day you had to develop and execute a practice plan for an assigned tactic and technique as well as complete a take home exam.

Of course during some of the early drill participation on the first day I managed to sprain my ankle in a 1v1 drill. I’ve played injury free every week with other coaches in our league in some pretty intense pickup games and manage to sprain the ankle during a class drill. Sigh. Hopefully I’ll be off the crutches in a couple of weeks.

But besides the injury, it was a great experience. I learned a lot of new ideas about coaching and a few unconventional techniques. The course has just been revamped and we were one of the first groups in NC to use the new curriculum. If you coach youth soccer, I highly recommend that you get your E certification, especially if you coach U10 or higher. Your state soccer association should also have Youth Modules for U6 (Youth I) and U8 (Youth II) coaching.

While intense, you aren’t graded in the E course. But next year I plan to try to get my D License where you are graded not only on your classwork but also your ability to craft and execute practice plans. Scary stuff!

Overall it was a great experience and I’m very excited about trying out some new things with my team this fall! Have any of you gotten your E license (or higher?) What were your experiences? Did you find it worthwhile?