The National "A" License course is designed to introduce concepts that are targeted toward coaching older players (older junior level and senior level players). The National "A" License focuses on recognizing the principles of the game and its technical applications in 11v11 game format and how these principles influence positional, group and team organization. The course also examines player, team and game management issues as they relate to the senior level player.
Key Elements of the National "A" License Course:
- Candidates are encouraged to understand the "Four Pillars of the Game" (Technical, Tactical, Psychological & Physical) and to devise plans for and effectively improve those areas with their team
- Candidates are encouraged to explore the variety of methodologies open to them and to solve coaching problems in the 11v11 game format. This varies in task from team management, game management, and practice management issues.
- Much attention is given to breaking down the principles of play and the various systems by watching games played (video analysis) and playing in the games themselves.
Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and have held the National "B" License for a minimum of 12 months, and meets the 3.2 rule requirement.
Absolutely no waivers will be considered for entrance into the National "A" License course.
- The National "A" License course is a nine-day program and the physical and mental demands of the course are great. Candidates are encouraged to participate in the sessions in order to maximize learning. Therefore, attention should be given by each candidate to arrive at the course in good physical condition.
- Each candidate is required to research and write a paper prior to the start of the course. This assignment is an integral part of the course and must be successfully completed to pass the National "A" License.
- Pre-course reading material is expected to be completed prior to arrival to the course. U.S. Soccer's Best Practices for Coaching in the United States manual is available online and candidates should become comfortable with the information.
During the Course:
- The National "A" License course consists of approximately 30 classroom hours and 40 field sessions hours.
- Lectures rely heavily on the use of video analysis of game situations and footage. Candidates spend time breaking down the principles of play and the various systems by watching games played and playing in games themselves.
- Great attention is given to the candidate's ability to read and understand the game accurately and to be able to transfer that understanding to their players.
- U.S. National Instructional Staff conduct realistic training sessions throughout the course using methodology recognized and used by U.S. Soccer.
- Candidates are given opportunities to run practice coaching sessions and provided feedback from U.S. National Instructional Staff.
- Candidates will learn how to properly step in at the right time to make coaching points during training sessions and in 11v11 game situations.
- Candidates are tested on their ability to articulate their ideas effectively and affect positive change on those people who they are managing.
- Candidates are responsible for reading the FIFA Laws of the Game Booklet and completing the corresponding written examination.
- Candidates are encouraged to be an ambassador for the game, to treat the game, and those involved with the game with respect and dignity.
Recommendations Prior to Attending:
- Candidate has experience coaching older players (older junior level and senior level players).
- Review National "B" License course materials.
- Spend time watching and analyzing high level senior games (ex: Advanced Under-17 teams and higher).
- Observe training sessions put on by coaches of high level college programs and professional teams.
The curriculum for the National "A" License course is based upon modern methods of coaching soccer. The curriculum is divided into Theory and Practical areas of coaching.
- Reading the Game
- Methods of Coaching
- Video Analysis
- Game Analysis and Model Training Session Review
- Goalkeeping in the Modern Game
- Systems of Play and Restarts
- Laws of the Game
- 11v11 Review
- Technical/Tactical Functional Training
- Speed of Play
- Low Pressure
- Counter Attack
- Zonal Defending
- Off Sides Tactics
- Systems and Restarts
- Observation Topics
- Game for Analysis
- Model Training Session
Candidates undergo a challenging series of written, oral and practical examinations on a variety of subjects in the National "A" License course.
- Field Examination
- Psychology/Team Management Examination
- Physiology of Exercise Examination
- Oral Examination
- FIFA Laws of the Game Examination
National "A" License candidates are graded on a scale of 1 (high) to 5 (fail), candidates must receive passing scores in all test areas in order to become licensed. A single failing score in a theoretical subject qualifies for a re-test in that subject. All re-tests will take place at the conclusion of the course. A single failing score in either of the methodology subjects will result in a failing grade for the course with no re-testing. If a candidate is found deficient in only Game Awareness, they may still pass the course. Candidates are not graded upon playing ability, but are required to fully participate.
If an applicant misses any of the course sessions, they must return to a future school to participate in that session/lecture, even if the candidate has passed all of the testing areas. License will be withheld until this requirement is fulfilled.