How to Get a US Soccer Coaching License?

Youth and recreational soccer coaching require little to no experience, and it usually starts on a volunteer basis. However, as you climb the ladder up the soccer ranks, there will be a point where you will need to consider a coaching license. US Soccer Education offers the only FIFA recognized courses, licenses and educational opportunities aimed to further the development of soccer coaches around the country. 

There are six licensing levels with the US Soccer Federation (USSF) including Grassroots, D License, C License, B License, A License, and Pro License. Each level of licenses has a different set of requirements such as time investment, coaching experience, current licensing, and cost. All licenses can be booked through US Soccer Licensing Center. 

A few years back, US Soccer revamped its entire coaching licensing to improve the level of coaching countrywide. This included the elimination of the E&F licenses and the introduction of the Grassroots Pathway and Pro License. 

We will explore the basic information on licenses so you can make an educated decision on which level is the best fit for you. 

Why Get Your License?

Before we go too far, the most important question to ask what do you want out of your coaching? You might want to spend time with your child by coaching her youth team. Others love the game and have aspirations of getting to the professional level. There is no right or wrong answer but it must be true to you. This is your starting point for the rest of the article.

One of the reasons to get a US Soccer coaching license is the same reason teams have coaches. Everyone needs assistance to improve. No one figures everything out on their own. We need to continue to educate as we move up the ladder. One could make the case everyone needs a coach or mentor to get to the next level. 

As you coach more advanced teams, a soccer license becomes more necessary. Clubs and organizations will require the license before you are allowed to coach any teams. This is because each level requires more complicated drills, training sessions, coaching points to further develop players. 

Another benefit of getting a soccer license is the level of confidence and flexibility the education will give you. With each license, you will have a resource of coaches, mentors, information, and skills to go back to whenever you are working through issues. 

Furthermore, you will have a deeper understanding of the game which will translate into better training sessions, tactics, techniques, and strategies to transfer this knowledge over to your team. 

One of the best parts of getting a license is many clubs pay or partially pay for their coaches’ education. We all know soccer coaching isn’t a very lucrative career for the majority of people. It is good that organizations are willing to put money behind their coaches to develop their programs. 

I haven’t seen anyone else discuss this, but the relationships you build during soccer license courses can be invaluable. During these weekend coaching sessions, coaching from all over the surrounding areas and states, gather together to grow together. This is a great opportunity to meet others just like you and share best practices and help one another with the at-home assignments. Even better, the relationship can blossom beyond the coaching license course and turn into a great friendship. 

What Are the Different Soccer Coaching Licenses?

As mentioned above, there are six levels of soccer coaching available. Each level builds off the previous one. Below we will discuss what each license education covers, the time commitment required to complete the course, and the cost associated with each level.

Grassroots Pathway

This is the starting point of your coaching career and is required if you want to go further in the US Soccer Licensing programs. In this license, coaches are introduced to the play practice play methodology, the tasks of a coach, and the characteristics of players older than 13. In this course, you can take 11v11, 9v9, 7v7, and 4v4. Think of the Grassroots Course as the foundation for your soccer coaching education journey. 

There is an in-person and online portion of this license. Introduction to Grassroots Module must be completed before you can start the Grassroots Course. In-person courses are four hours long and are completed in one day. 

This license is recommended for recreational coaches of young children U13 (under 13). I recommend this to dip your toe in the water of coaching education. The financial and time commitment isn’t very large and the payoff can be large. 

It cost $25 to enroll in the online Grassroots licensing course. Prices are set by the hosting organization for the in-person training. 

D License

The D License improves on the fundamentals taught in the Grassroots program with a greater emphasis on training sessions and applies the principles of play to the player and group. The goal is to develop the core competencies to teach 13 and 14-year-old players and teams. 

Things to expect during a D License course:

  • Improving the Six Tasks of a Coach – coaching games, coaching training sessions, leading the team, leading the players, managing the performance environment, and communicating with players and families
  • Learning how to create, execute, and refine on a Play-practice-play session
  • Coaching an on-field practice with youth players during an in-person weekend. Real experience with feedback from instructors.

There are a few requirements to register for this course including:

  • Pass the introduction to Grassroots Module
  • Completion of two in-person Grassroots courses (11v11 required)
  • Completion of one online Grassroots course 

The D courses require two in-person meetings with one development period in between. For instance, after the first in-person meeting, a development period follows. The first meeting is three days onsite with a full group followed by a development period of 6 to 8 weeks at home with assignments and mentors. The course concludes with another course meeting of two days onsite with the original full group. The course takes two months to complete. It takes 38 hours of classroom and in-person field sessions.

The fee to participate is between $200 and $500. 

For several coaches, this is as far as you need to go. There is a lot to learn in the License D coursework. Around 4,000,000 US children play youth soccer. You can make a large impact on recreational and U13 and younger players.

It all depends on the level of player you wish to train. If you have aspirations of going to the top, a C, B A, or Pro License might be better suited for you. 

C License

The C License teaches participants concepts that are geared for players 15-18. The goal is to get coaches thinking about, discussing, and recognizing the fundamental concepts of soccer. The emphasis of this course is the connection between technique and tactics and how they are intertwined in coaching. 

Things to expect in the C License:

  • Identifying the technical and tactical aspects of a game
  • Developing training sessions to correct and reinforce the demands of the game
  • Recognizing soccer issues and resolving by offering good guidance to players
  • Reinforcing and developing the Six Tasks of a Coach

There are a few requirements to register for this course including:

  • Be 18 years old
  • Held D License for at least 12 months
  • Currently coaching
  • Or meet waiver requirements such as certain foreign licenses or have a minimum amount of professional playing experience.

The C course requires two in-person meetings with a development period in between. For instance, after each in-person meeting, a development period follows. Each in-person meeting is five days onsite with a six to eight week home assignments and mentoring. In total, it takes over 130 hours to complete all assignments and meetings. 

The fee to participate is between $1,000 and $2,000. 

B License

The B License Course is designed to introduce concepts for those coaching U17 to college-level. The course focuses on the principles of long-term player development and developing a team in 11v11 game situations.

Key elements of this course mirror the C License course but in more detail. The concepts don’t change, but the level and speed of play increase greatly. A large emphasis is put on the technical and tactical analysis in-game situations and designing appropriate training sessions to improve the team’s ability to win. 

All applicants must meet the following pre-requisites:

  • Be 18 years old
  • Held C License for at least 12 months
  • Has 3 or more years of coaching experience (any level)
  • Currently coaching in an appropriate soccer environment to course content

The B course requires three in-person meetings with two development periods in between. Each in-person meeting is five days onsite with a six to eight week home assignments and mentoring. The course takes approximately 4 to 5 months to complete. In total, it takes over 150 hours to complete all assignments and meetings. 

The fee to participate is $3,000. 

A (Youth or Senior) License

There are two levels of the A license, the youth designation focuses specifically on the development of elite youth players that are on the path to becoming professional players. While the senior designation focuses on coaching a high-performance team that consists of professional players or potential professional players.

Things to expect in the C License:

  • Understanding the Four Pillars of the Game (Technical, Tactical, Psychosocial, Physical) and creating plans to improve their team’s weaknesses
  • Learning to navigate the different methodologies to fixing team management, game management, and practice management issues
  • Utilizing video analysis to break down game concepts 

All applicants must meet the following pre-requisites:

  • Be 18 years old
  • Held B License for at least 6 months
  • Has 4 or more years of coaching experience (any level)
  • Currently coaching in an appropriate soccer environment to course content

The A course requires four in-person meetings with three development periods in between. Each in-person meeting is five days onsite, followed by a six to eight week home assignments and mentoring. The course takes approximately 5 to 6 months to complete. In total, it takes over 170 hours to complete all assignments and meetings. 

The fee to participate is $3,000. 

Pro License

Pro License is a requirement for coaches wanting to teach at a professional level. This is the highest soccer license available in North America. A pro license is unique in the fact that each participant receives a tailored approach designed to help their efforts to create a winning culture/team, develop a style of play, and utilize sports science at their organization, reflect on their growth as a coach and strengthen their leadership among players and peers.

All applicants must meet these requirements:

  • U.S. Soccer A License or UEFA PRO
    • UEFA PRO holders must be working as Head Coach in a (US) domestic professional league
  • Currently coaching as part of either the MLS, NWSL, USL, NISA (head coach) or U.S. National Team coaching staff.

The course is a year-long education featuring in-person instruction, visits by educators to participants’ club, guest speakers, webinars and a final assessment. To no surprise, this license is by invitation-only and candidate classes are extremely small between 10 and 20 coaches per year. 

The course fee is $10,000, which I would imagine is paid by the professional club. 

For any additional information regarding any of these licenses, be sure to check out the US Soccer Coaching Center. Here you will be able to learn more about the application process and clubs that will be running the courses throughout the year.

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