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U.S. Soccer’s Coaching Department Improves “D” License Course; Completes Second Phase of License Upgrades

CHICAGO (April 9, 2013) – This past January, the U.S. Soccer Coaching Department held a conference in Indianapolis, Ind., with over 100 coaches in attendance from across the country. This gathering followed four workshops U.S. Soccer held in the fall of 2012, which 100 instructors attended. These conferences, held in conjunction with U.S. Youth Soccer Regional Workshops, were organized to introduce instructors to recent changes the Coaching Department made to the “D” license coaching course.

The one-day workshop in Indianapolis, led by Director of Coaching Development Dave Chesler, focused on the new protocols and revisions to the U.S. Soccer "D" license course. The workshop was also the culmination of a yearlong study on the "D" license led by Dr. Lew Atkinson, Neil Ellis, Vince Ganzberg, Adrian Parrish, Mike Smith and Dr. Tom Turner. The appointed study group was instrumental in gathering data, speaking with coaches across the country and making recommendations that helped form the new “D” course.

“Ultimately the “D” license will touch more coaches than all of our other coaching education opportunities combined. It was important that we designed a course that helps our coaches address realistic soccer problems,” said study group leader and Delaware Director of Coaching, Dr. Lew Atkinson.

In 2012, over 14,000 coaches attended a U.S. Soccer “E” or “D” license course.

The upgraded “D” course is in line with the U.S. Soccer Curriculum launched in April 2011. The 36-hour long course covers the principles of coaching 13–14 year olds. It introduces coaches to the fundamentals of planning weekly training sessions, gives primary examples of what 13–14 year old athletes should focus on and offers coaches individual feedback from on-field coaching.  

“Each of our courses are broken into specific target outcomes that we want our coaches to master. These target outcomes are carefully sequenced in order to match the courses with team and developmental age-appropriate coaching methods.  Our target is for the coach to gain a better understanding of Principles of Play and how to plan a sequence of training and weekly cycles to complete a season plan,” said U.S. Soccer Director of Coaching Development Dave Chesler.

“D” License Target Outcomes

  • Learn how to effectively teach the 13–14 year old athlete and team. 
  • Understand the characteristics and needs of an athlete in the Intermediate Stage of our Athlete Development Model.
  • Teach the Principles of Play in a training environment (7 vs. 7 to 9 vs. 9).
  • Apply the Principles of Play to functional group roles in a full team system.
  • Plan a sequence of training and weekly cycles to complete a season plan.

While the “D” license still maintains the foundation of 36 course hours spread out over two weekends, the course will introduce a new concept to U.S. Soccer courses. Coaches will be required to prepare and run a set of pre-determined training sessions prior to the first weekend, now called the “Instructional Phase”. After completing the first weekend, coaches will then take what they learned into practice with their clubs, teams and players. Coaches will be required to wait a minimum of ten weeks or a season before returning for the second weekend, now called the “Performance Review”.

“Highly effective learning environments always include significant practice time. This deliberate and focused practice provides the learner with an opportunity to; experiment with new ideas, digest and process new concepts, self-reflect and ultimately gain confidence with new coaching competencies,” said Chesler.

Beginning in July 2013, all State Youth Soccer Associations will be required to implement these new changes. In addition, U.S. Soccer and the State Associations implemented a “no waiver” policy for the “D” license course. Coaches must begin with the 18-hour “E” course before proceeding to take a “D” course.

“The new coaching license pathway being established by U.S. Soccer is vital to producing the next generation of top coaches.  It establishes a legacy of progressive thinking and lays a solid foundation for years to come.  By elevating the status of the U.S. Soccer “D” license and asking coaches to think more about developmentally appropriate methodology, all players will benefit,” said Mike Smith, study group member and current Portland Timbers Academy Director of Major League Soccer.    

The modifications are meant to create a more uniform “D” license course across the country so that coaches in every state receive a similar education. The updates will improve the overall quality of the course so that coaches will receive crucial knowledge that they can then pass on to players. 

"The new pathway for the “D” license will not only elevate the level of coaches, but most importantly our players.  While the new “D” license will provide challenges, the long term benefits will provide a solid foundation for many more soccer generations. The impetus for reform is an indication that U.S. Soccer is on its way to be the leading education provider for coaches worldwide," says study group member and National Instructor Vince Ganzberg.

The U.S. Soccer Coaching Education Department intends to host national and regional training workshops annually to educate the state instructors on these changes. It also plans to communicate revisions through a variety of online resources.

“Detailed planning is in progress to ensure that the “D” content and competencies are compatible with the subsequent licensing levels,” explained Chesler. “All courses will be re-constructed to reflect higher expectations and increased detail in all aspects.”

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