U.S. Soccer Coaching Education Launches First Goalkeeper A License Pilot Course

Eight Candidates Begin Seven-Month Course
By: Marc Serber
U.S. Soccer Coaching Education
U.S. Soccer Coaching Education

CHICAGO (Sept. 17, 2018) – U.S. Soccer has launched its first Goalkeeper A License Pilot Course at the National Development Center (NDC) in Kansas City, Kansas. The seven-month course runs from September 2018-March 2019 as the highest-level course offered to goalkeeper coaches who are working in a professional environment or will be working in a professional environment.

Goalkeeper A License Candidates:
Preston Burpo (New York Red Bulls); Jon Conway (Toronto FC); Aaron Hyde (Atlanta United); Drew Keeshan (FC Dallas); Jyri Nieminen (San Jose Earthquakes); Pat Onstad (Colombus Crew SC); Paul Rogers (Houston Dynamo); Chris Sharpe (Colorado Rapids) 

In the future, the Goalkeeper A License will be the pinnacle of a series of courses offered as part of a specialist pathway that will be fully developed by 2020. The specialist pathway, which will include other specialist courses beyond the Goalkeeper Licenses, will provide top level instruction and licenses for specific staff in various specialties of coaching. The U.S. Soccer Goalkeeper A License course in particular focuses on the professional environment. 

“The Goalkeeper A License Course is performance based,” said U.S. Soccer Director of Coaching Education Barry Pauwels. “It is geared towards a coach working in a senior professional environment where winning is paramount, so you must integrate your style of play from the goalkeeper to the field players in order for your team to be successful.” In the near future, a Goalkeeper B License Course will be offered for youth and academy level coaches with a focus on teaching participants to lead goalkeepers and aid them in their individual development.”

The education pathway for the goalkeeper coach has been developed to improve the level of goalkeeper coaching from the professional level to the Development Academy and youth levels. Since the role of a goalkeeper coach is a specialist position, it needs specific attention in terms of coaching and education. U.S. Soccer continues to align its coaching courses to meet the highest national and global standards, including CONCACAF and FIFA.

To complete the U.S. Soccer Goalkeeper A License, candidates must be competent in executing the tasks of coaching professional goalkeepers. A goalkeeper coach is an assistant coach that must excel as a leader. Goalkeeper A License candidates must not only be adept at training a team’s goalkeepers, but also in-game coaching and managing the overall performance environment of all shot-stoppers on their rosters.

“In modern soccer, the goalkeeper is fully integrated in the team. Their decision making is more connected within the team concept than it ever was in the past,” U.S. Soccer coach educator Vanni Sartini [pictured above] explained. “On the same page, the goalkeeper coach must be fully connected with the head coach and needs to manage and lead the goalkeeper inside the bigger process, which is the team and its style of play.”  

The class will have five total meetings. Following the first gathering in September, the goalkeeper coaches meet again in January and March. Two small group meetings will also be conducted at home environments where candidates currently work.

Much of the course focuses on just how important the role of goalkeeper coach is in connection to the rest of the coaching staff. “They are not coaches that just stay separate from the team doing drills with the goalkeepers off to the side,” Sartini said. “They have to understand what the head coach wants from the entire team in order to help the goalkeeper be an integral part of it.”

“This kind of course is not just an education,” Sartini continued. “It is also a way to raise awareness of a goalkeeping coach’s role in the team. At the moment, it is also a way to raise the awareness of the head coach as to the importance of a goalkeeper coach. In the future, goalkeeper coaches will have a better overall understanding of the game and head coaches will know much more about goalkeeping.”

As an invitation-based opportunity, the pilot course features all MLS goalkeeper coaches. The second course, which will run from April to December 2019, will have candidates from the National Women’s’ Soccer League (NWSL), the United Soccer League (USL) and more MLS goalkeeper coaches. As the goalkeeper coaching pathway is completed with multiple levels of licensing available, the respective courses will open to all coaches who qualify.

Pauwels concluded, “At U.S. Soccer, our ultimate mission is to make soccer the preeminent sport in the United States. When you apply this to the Coaching Education department, our dream is that every participant in the sport has access to a licensed coach. We want to create positive and supportive learning environments for all players at all levels and that means including goalkeepers within this overarching goal.”

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