How To Become A Professional Football Coach in the UK
So you’re passionate about football and you’re considering a career in football coaching. You might be wondering how you can become a football coach.
To answer this question, you’ll first need to ask yourself whether football coaching is something you want to do at a local level in your spare time or if it’s something you intend to do for a living. There are different levels of skills and qualifications you will need depending on the path you decide to take. Let’s tackle this head-on.
Grassroots football coaching
Grassroots football is non-professional football. It is enjoyed by the masses where participation and a love of the game are the driving forces.
Coaching grassroots football coaching simply means coaching at a local level and it is a great way to kick start your football coaching career.
Here are the steps you should take to become a grassroots football coach:
1) Coaching Qualifications
Football coaching qualifications are issued by the Football Association (FA) which is the governing body for football in England. They run various courses for coaches at different levels.
If you’re starting out, the first thing you should do is enrol yourself on to a FA Level 1 football coaching course. This will give you an introduction to coaching the game and will provide you with the theoretical framework for all your coaching.
The course is 5 days long and can be taken in five consecutive days or split over weekends to make it more convenient for you. The fee is around £200 but this varies according to region.
To find your nearest course, just head over to the FA Level 1 Coaching page and select your county FA. This will pull up all the options for courses running in your area.
On completion of the course, you will obtain your official Level 1 coaching license which grants you authority to coach at grassroots football. You’ll also receive your Emergency First Aid certificate which is equally important when it comes to running coaching sessions for children or adults alike.
2) Get your DBS Certificate
If you want a job as a kids football coach in the UK, you will need to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to get a copy of your criminal record. You will be asked for this certificate from any organisation you chose to work with.
Filling out the form takes around 10 minutes and you will need to present certain identification evidence including proof of address and identity. Once you have submitted the form, it can take anything between 6-12 weeks to receive your certificate in the post.
If you’re unsure how to get a DBS check, you can find out more information from the government website. Bear in mind that there is a £23 fee for requesting a DBS.
3) Find the right club or coaching organisation for you
It is really important that you find the right club or organisation especially if you’re new to the industry. This is because your first experience of coaching grassroots football can shape how you feel about the industry. If you happen to start out with an unprofessional club with poor coaching, it could put you off and compromise your education.
To find the right club or organisation, you need to do your research. Learn about a club’s philosophy, playing style and values. Get a feel for their culture. As a helpful tip, you should also look out for the way they hire coaches. If they request certain documentation including your football coaching qualifications and certificates and they have a robust recruitment process, you know they mean business. But if they are hiring anyone without any checks, then they could lack standards and jeopardise your learning.
4) Get some experience
Once you have your FA coaching license, Emergency First Aid and DBS, and you’ve found the right club, it’s time to get some experience under your belt, especially if you want to work with children.
Kids football coaching can be challenging. In order to build your confidence, you need to be prepared to get out of your comfort zone. Try to gain experience with different age groups so you can learn what works and what doesn’t.
You should also be prepared for each class you deliver. Read the session plans in advance and ask your manager questions ahead of time so you can run your sessions with confidence. Don’t try to wing it on the day as your performance will never match. As the saying goes, ‘failure to prepare is preparing to fail’ (John Wooden).
5) Work with more than one club (if your organisation permits)
When starting out, it’s always a good idea to work for more than one coaching organisation. Some clubs don’t allow it but others don’t mind as they recognise that this is the only way to make a full-time wage at grassroots football.
The reason why this is important is because it will expose you to different coaching styles, methods and training plans. This will develop your experience and understanding of the game.
6) Consider your FA Level 2 license
Once you start to build your experience after a year or so, it’s time to take things up a notch. You should consider taking an FA level 2 coaching course to deepen your knowledge of football coaching.
This course is a real step up from the introductory Level 1 course. It’s roughly 75 hours of guided learning followed by an assessment.
How to become a professional football coach?
You may wish to take things further and try your hand at professional football coaching. Although it’s highly competitive and the odds may feel like they’re stacked against you, it can be done.
Much of what we’ve already discussed will apply. However, when it comes to obtaining your football coaching license at the professional level, you will need to obtain your UEFA B license and UEFA A License. Both courses are delivered by the FA and are much longer than the Level 1 and 2 courses. The fee is up there too (in some regions it’s as high as £4k).
Whilst you’re completing your course, you should also look to make contact with professional football clubs. It is advisable to start with voluntary coaching for professional clubs if they permit and then work your way up.
If you’re one of the lucky ones to make it into professional football coaching, it will likely start with coaching for one of the younger academy teams. As you build your experience and demonstrate your worth, more opportunities can open up for you.
You’ll also find that it’s helpful to network well in the football coaching community. As with most areas of life, it’s sometimes about who you know to get to places. What professional football coaching clubs will not allow you to do is work for other clubs at the same time.
Football coaching is a worthwhile profession to pursue if you are passionate about football. But it’s extremely important to note that playing football is different from coaching the game. Some people think that just because they are talented footballers, they will automatically be great at coaching. That is not the case.
Football coaching is a craft in its own right. It can take years to master it.
For those starting out, a good place to start is to take your introductory qualification with the FA. From there, you should look to build your experience so you can find your feet in the industry.
And for those who dream of making it as a professional football coach, be prepared to invest more of your time and money into honing your skills.
If you’re looking for a football coaching job and wish to explore different styles of coaching, you may be interested in our method of football coaching at Samba Soccer Schools.
We teach children aged 4-11 the skills and mentality needed to play attractive winning football. We show them how to play with flair and zest and how to inject some creativity into the English game.
You can find out more information on our jobs page.
Football Coach FAQs:
What is a Football Coach?
In a nutshell, a football coach helps develop the skills and techniques of individual football players and teams. More broadly a coach is somebody who is a teacher, a mentor, an advisor, counsellor, motivator and leader all rolled into one.
What Are the Key Football Coach Qualifications in the UK?
Apart from the personal attributes which a coach needs, to properly call yourself a football coach you need to have attended one or more of the courses operated by the Football Association (FA), who are responsible for the game in England.
How many courses you take depends on how far you want to go in the game. If you just want to coach at a local level or work with children, then passing the Level One course is enough. However, if you want to go further, and are interested in further developing your professional skills, then you may want to go further and take the Level Two and Three courses.
To get paid for coaching, you need to hold at least a level 1 coaching qualification.
And for those who have ambitions to go to the very top, then you can apply for a UEFA license, which has two elements to them – the “A” and the “B” license.
What Are The Vital Football Coach Skills?
To be a successful football coach, you need to be passionate about the game and dedicated, ready to give everything to the individuals and teams that you work with in order to help them reach their true potential.
You also need to be a people person because you will be interacting with people from all walks of life, from children to adults, with different backgrounds and aspirations.
The best coaches are also motivators – they know how to get the best out of people and what makes them tick.
What is a Football Coach’s Salary in the UK?
Unfortunately, being a football coach is not the path to instant riches with a recent survey suggesting that the average salary for a coach is less than £22,000 a year. This is a benchmark only – those who coach professional teams will undoubtedly earn more, and those who decide to choose the franchise route rather than going into the business for themselves also have the opportunity to boost their earnings further.
How much do football coaches earn in the UK?
The average salary for a football coach is less than £22,000 based on a recent survey of job ads across the UK. However, investing in a football coaching franchise can earn you considerably more than that.
How To Become a Kids’ Football Coach in the UK?
To begin coaching in the UK you need to enrol on the required FA courses. In addition, anybody working with young people in the UK may have to submit themselves to a criminal records background check and have attended an FA Safeguarding Children Workshop, which is designed to teach you how to look out for signs of abuse and identify other behaviours which might be a cause of concern.
Patience and perseverance are also useful qualities to have, especially when dealing with younger children. Not everybody learns at the same pace, and you may have to tailor your style to get the best out of some of the kids in your charge.