USSF B License Course: an Unfolding Experience

So, made the trip to IMG Academy in Bradenton for the ongoing USSF “B” License course — one of the first under the revamped system.

Thoughts? A myriad, really.

  • Diversity is everything. Not too many young bucks (when compared to the C course), and way more professional coaches. Guys with national team caps, college coaches, club DOCs and more. These are folks that it is impossible not to learn from, and the discourse has been fantastic.
  • Engaging material… for the most part. There is only so much you can make the theory of coaching soccer sexy, but it feels like US Soccer really, really refined the process. For the better. Peer review and self-reflection work well.
  • IMG Academy is almost perfect for these advanced courses. Those beds though…
  • Stretching out the course (three meetings over half a year) does not make the course less intensive, at least not at the onset.
  • Not having to play is a double-edged sword. We are not exhausted or near death, but most of  us were hoping for that. I know I was hoping to play more.
  • The enhanced use of technology is positive. The DCC is a massive step in the right direction. Next? Maybe real-time collaborative tools.
  • These are some of the funniest folks I have met in a long time: “I didn’t pay $x, 000 dollars for that!
  • Again, it is a humbling course. Some of these cats are seriously accomplished. Forget the instructors — did that guy say 1978? — the candidates are impressive, including at least one guy I have watched on TV between the pipes for LA Galaxy and Jamaica.
  • I miss my family.

More to come!

Coaching Wish List

Every soccer coach has a wish list… a list of coaching tools that he/she would dearly love to have if cost was no object.

My latest one is a camera setup:

Oh my… this setup comes from SVT Advantage; the company carries different packages starting from $600+. Not chump change, but relatively cheap when compared to other solutions I have checked out.

See, I believe video analysis is something that has been somewhat slow to come to youth soccer. A lot of the other sports are using video. I believe showing a kid about an occurrence — versus “telling” them — can be an invaluable enhanced teaching/correction tool.

Definitely something a club could look at investing in.


So… are NSCAA courses still worth it?


Till very recently, U.S.-based soccer coaches were blessed with two well-recognized homegrown certification tracks: US Soccer’s licensing and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s diploma path. Both provided excellent educational opportunities for coaches, and even allowed for approximate equivalency processes that allowed them, in essence, to be interchangeable. It wasn’t uncommon to see coaches use an earned designation as a prerequisite to attain one from the other.

Then, in 2014, USSF changed its track a bit. Now, coaches looking to get USSF licensure cannot waiver into higher coaches (there are exemptions); they must start with the entry-level USSF “F” License, and it is no longer possible to waiver in with NSCAA courses. This all but makes the FIFA-affiliated US Soccer the de facto source for trainer licensing in the U.S.

In practice, that means a coach who might have an opportunity to take an NSCAA course because, say, there isn’t a USSF course nearby might think twice about investing in said NSCAA course, especially if he/she determines that his/her soccer path requires eventual USSF licensure.

Darn, darn, darn.

So, the question has been asked: why invest in an NSCAA course?

As one who has received education from both sources, it’s an interesting time. See, I get what US Soccer is doing. Streamlining the process makes sense, and while I am/was quite disappointed with the NSCAA decoupling, I think it is a move it had to make, especially if it wants its badges to be as prestigious as, say, UEFA ones.

For it’s part, the NSCAA acted appropriately, I believe. It was fairly open about the new developments, allowing its membership to become aware of the process, and reaffirmed its mission to continue to educate coaches.

At the end of the day, the NSCAA is the biggest professional group for Stateside practitioners of the world’s most popular sport, and one cannot put a price tag on that. It’s curriculum continues to evolve, and, in my opinion, offers several complementary courses to US Soccer’s classes. Taking an NSCAA class also invariably includes a membership, and the extras — discounts, free insurance, etc — are great to have as well.

One important role the NSCAA has taken is providing educational tracks that teach management. The Director of Coaching course, for instance, provides and opportunity for administrators to listen to professionals in an effort to become better soccer ambassadors. The goalkeeping track is fantastic, too.

I think there is still a place for the NSCAA. Scratch that… there is even a bigger role for it to fill. Soccer coaches (and the kids they coach) benefit from professional variety.

Image courtesy of Michelle Milla via Flickr Creative Commons.


Why do it? (1/13th of the reason why)

It’s a new season

Anyone who has coached youth sports for more than a season can relate. It’s all roses and golden sunbeams. Yessir.

But the cynicism is an undercurrent, underscored by the rueful coachism: the search for that “perfect team of orphans” is endless.

El Oh El.

New season, new team, new-ish parents and kids. Everything is mostly cool. Hold on Rambo. Not so fast.

He’s the reason she doesn’t know how to play positions.

“Cry me a river,” said the youth soccer coach to the other youth soccer coach. Seriously… you have to develop a thick skin in this business. Whine in private, smile in public, make those kids better. That’s what it’s about. Soccer coaches are some of the cockiest folks around, but even the best have doubts from time to time. Is it really worth risking a loss to ensure that little Jane gets some playing time to build up her confidence for future endeavors?

Is it?

Do we  go for wins, or develop at the younger ages? Is it about the technical development and the tactical learning, or the trophies? No, really… is it?

My daughter has gotten worse this season.

When it’s all said and done, it’s what we chose. Nah, for every coach making 6 figures in the Bay Area and Sunshine states, there are thousands doing it for free. You have to love this to do this. Simple. Ask the rec coaches who do it week to week for a thank you card and hugs a the end of the season.

It is so easy to develop a righteous indignation when coaching youth sports. Youth soccer is an interesting powder keg. I mean, you have parents paying a lot for a sport which, in a lot of cases, they may not have played. Plus, we live in a results-oriented society. It’s tough to compare the ability to do a pullback against the heft of shiny, gold-plated trophy.

Again, cry me a river.

Well, I think the playing time should be equal.

Losing, for lack of a better term, sucks. I wish I could claim to be on a higher plane, but I HATE losing. I brood for days. When I tell my ladies to shake it off and look for the positives, I admittedly struggle with doing the same.

Sometimes, the pullback is not enough. That late consolation goal we scored that resulted from us doing some great passing after conceding 6? I admit, it feels hollow at times. When the grumbling starts, it can be disconcerting, even for folks like me who have supposedly learned to tune it out.

Academy ages (8-12) are some of the hardest to fill, and with good reason. Heck, give me 11 v 11. That natural. Plus, by the time you pick up the older teams, the parents are a bit more tenured… maybe even realistic… and the coach is probably not seen as the sole stumbling block to soccer stardom.

Yes, it can suck. But we all (mostly) come back. We know it’s coming, and work to avoid, but deep down, we know.

And through it all, through those tough times, when Jimmy’s dad is trying to take a harried picture of you so as to use your face for a dart board, when Jill casually mentions at practice that her mom thinks the team sucks because you (the coach) don’t use enough cones AND don’t run enough, you have to remember why you do this.


Why? This is one of thirteen reasons:


You do it because you find out how cool 13 young people can be. You find out that try as you might, you can pretend not to adore each and every one of them… and the little ruffians know it. You begin to look forward to practice days, because you know that no matter how rough the preceding day was, it will be absolutely fine for and hour and a half stretch twice a weak.

You do it because even though you coach them for only a year, you develop lifelong friendships with the players… and their families. You begin to hate May, because you can’t imagine your players moving on to other teams and adventures, and are forever respectfully jealous of their new coaches.

I do it because I’m selfish, and look forward to the special moments, which don’t always happen on the field. I do it because I’m an old ex-player that looks best when hanging out with the coolest people in the world: My team.