U.S. Soccer Youth Task Force Announces First Wave of Coaching Working Group Initiatives

Pilot Coaching Education Courses Aim to Remove Barriers, Test New Formats to Expand Reach of U.S. Soccer Courses

Nov. 25, 2019 (CHICAGO)—The U.S. Soccer Youth Task Force’s Coaching Working Group has announced its first wave of initiatives focused on increasing access to coaching education. The main objectives of three pilot programs are to reduce barriers to coaching education courses and expand the instructor pool.

The new Coaching Working Group pilot programs will:

  • Modify the requirements to take the Grassroots Instructor License course by opening it to all C-License coaches. Previously, the prerequisite to take the course was a B-License.

  • Modify the C-License course format from two, five-day commitments to five, two-day commitments, and the D-License course format from two, three-day commitments to four, day-and-a-half commitments.

  • Expand the In-Person Grassroots courses from a 12:1 candidate to instructor ratio, to an 18:1 ratio.

All three pilot programs have already launched or will begin in the coming weeks.

The concepts for the programs were developed by the Youth Task Force Coaching Working Group, which is chaired by U.S. Soccer Board of Directors member Mike Cullina and includes support from U.S. Soccer Director of Coaching Education Barry Pauwels and Grassroots Coach Educator Zac Crawford. The Coaching Working Group consists of 11 individuals who each represent a U.S. Soccer Member organization.

“The three pilot programs were put together after collaboration with all of our member organizations across the country with the aim of finding ways to increase access to our coaching courses and hopefully expand our instructor pool for the future,” said Pauwels. “We’re looking forward to conducting these programs and then reviewing their effectiveness in detail as we look to find ways to better cater to needs of coaches across the country.”


The Goal:

The changes to the Grassroots Instructor course seek to grow the pool of licensed coach educators, allowing for more courses nationwide.

The Change:

Previously, these courses required candidates to have at least a B-License.

The new standard expands the pool of potential instructors by 78 percent with the addition of 3,800 C-License coaches, many of whom are already working in the grassroots landscape.

The Coaching Working Group listened to Member organizations that pointed out there are numerous quality instructors with a C-License who are currently working in the Grassroots landscape and don’t have the time or resources to pursue a B-License.

Additionally, the Grassroots Instructor course will be altered to focus solely on instructing the four-hour, in-person Grassroots Courses, rather than also licensing instructors for D-License courses. With this change, the course can be reduced to two meetings of three days, rather than two meetings of four days, allowing it to be completed over two weekends with a complete focus on improving the quality of the grassroots in-person courses.

Separate D-License Instructor courses will still be available, but the change comes with the finding that the majority of Grassroots Instructors will solely be focused on instructing the in-person courses while rarely instructing a D-License course. Since its inception in April of 2017, U.S. Soccer has funded the licensing of almost 500 Grassroots Instructors.


The first pilot course meetings will take place later this month, coupled with the second meeting in late January. Another pilot course will meet in March and April.

After gathering feedback from candidates, instructors and the Youth Task Force, any lasting changes would be implemented in the second half of 2020.

U.S. Soccer will continue to run four additional Grassroots Instructor License Courses in their current format of two meetings of four days each with the B License as the pre-requisite.


The Goal:

The altered formats of C- and D-License courses responds to the needs of both members and coaches. The aim is to make each course more accessible across the country, requiring less consecutive time away from their home environments.

The Change:

Currently, C-License courses are centered around two, five-day experiences and D-License courses around two, three-day experiences. The pilot program will build the C-License course around five, two-day meetings and the D-License around four, one-and-a-half-day meetings.

Coaches will still be able to take advantage of these educational opportunities, but the meetings will be more spread out over time. The new meeting format will be more manageable compared to a full five- or three-day commitment, allowing courses to be completed over a series of weekends.

In this new format, the in-person interaction between candidate and instructor will be spread out with multiple development periods between meetings to allow candidates to work on reality-based assignments in their own environment.

The first pilot C-License course with this format starts this month (November) and will run through February 2020, while the pilot D-License course will kick off later this winter.


The Goal:

Expanding the number of candidates in each Grassroots In-Person course will grow the number of licensed coaches nationwide.

The Change:

In the past, U.S. Soccer has recommended a 12:1 candidate-to-instructor ratio in all courses to ensure that the candidate is at the center of the experience.

The pilot program would allow members the flexibility to increase the ratios of the four-hour Grassroots In-Person courses. According to demand in their market, Member organizations will be able to expand the number of candidates in each course up to 18. They would also have the choice to lower that ratio, depending on evaluation by their technical leadership on each individual instructional staff member. U.S. Soccer still plans to use a 12:1 or small ratio in all other courses.


The first pilot course is set for later this winter.

About the U.S. Soccer Youth Task Force

The Youth Task Force was formed with last year with U.S. Soccer Membership to specifically address youth soccer matters so as to create significant and lasting improvement in the youth soccer landscape. With a council comprised of the leadership from AYSO, SAY Soccer, US Club Soccer, USSSA, US Youth Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation, a number of Working Groups were created to focus on areas U.S. Soccer believes can be worked on collaboratively with a shared sense of purpose and a common belief in supporting the development of players, coaches and referees.

The Working Groups include Coaching, Diversity and Inclusion, Referee, Member Growth, Risk Management and Standards & Certification.

Along with Cullina and Staff Liasons from U.S. Soccer, the Coaching Working Group consists of the following members:

Working Group



Coaching Chair:
Mike Cullina

Staff Support:

Barry Pauwels

Zac Crawford

Scott Snyder - AYSO


Scott Armstrong - USSSA


Erika True - SAYSoccer


Adam Howarth - Illinois Youth Soccer Association


Colette Montgomery - US Club Soccer


Ian Barker - United Soccer Coaches


Karla Thompson - U.S. Soccer


Yael Averbuch - Athlete Representative


Tom Turner - Ohio North Youth Soccer Association


Tom Condone - U.S. Youth Soccer


Carlos Juarez - Arizona Youth Soccer


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