Steve Woods

How to Become a Certified Soccer Coach

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While there is no official certification to become a soccer coach, there are a lot of agencies and organizations that can help you become certified and give you insider information about the sport and coaching in general. What type of certification you choose depends a lot on what your career goals are and whether you want this to be a one-time certification or just the first step towards a career in the field.

Learn what the regulations are for your particular state. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), the main certifying agency in the United States, offers two different types of certification, depending on what your interests and goals are. By visiting their website, you can learn more about what is required in your state and how to meet those prerequisites (see Resources below).

Choose a certification level. The most basic certification, known as non-residential, takes as little as a weekend, while others may take several weeks and include both theory and practical training. Advanced certifications will require you to either plan or demonstrate coaching skills and practical knowledge of the sport.

Get a state diploma if you want to work coaching kids under 12 or if you are just starting and want basic knowledge of the sport, coaching techniques and small games. The NSCAA offers this workshop over a single weekend to anybody interested in the sport (see Resources below).

Get a regional diploma if you want to work with high school or older players. This course can also be taken as a second step after the state diploma, since it will provide a deeper understanding of the sport, coaching in general and player development in particular.

Take an online certification if you want to get through the basics but cannot attend an in-person workshop. The International Coaches Association (ICA) offers virtual certifications that cover all aspects of soccer and coaching, including methodology, equipment, practice, communication and skill development (see Resources below).


Most teams don’t require a coach to be certified in order to become their official trainer. If you want to coach high school or college coach, you may be better off getting a degree in kinesiology or fitness rather than just obtaining a certification.