career in football

How to be a football coach

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What does it take to be a football coach? Here, children’s and non-league coach Jamie Shepherd explains how to be a football coach and what makes a good coach.

Explain your role as a children’s coach, and as a amateur men’s coach?
My role is to make sure that children enjoy being active through football in a safe environment. In an amateur setting, it’s all about enjoyment rather than results and progress.

How did you get into football coaching?
Football has always been a passion of mine and from the age of 6–17 years of age I played in a team, though not really at a high level. I suffered with injuries quite a bit and have always had a passion for wanting to help others and share my passion and knowledge.

What qualifications/experience did you need to be a football coach?
To coach for an FA Chartered club you need to have completed a minimum of a FA level 1, which includes FA safeguarding children and a FA First Aid Course. I have obtained my level two football coaching qualification, as that is sufficient for the level I want to partake in.

How do you continue to improve your coaching?
Watch others coach and read. Watching others is a great tool for learning as there are always different styles of coaching. My specific style when coaching young children is more a question and answer style coaching while trying to keep them active and engaged throughout the whole session.

What do you enjoy most about coaching?
Sharing my knowledge with others but also watching players progress and see their parents amazed when they see the progression.

Biggest challenges?
Getting the support off parents e.g. young children are governed by their parents in everything they do. E.g. if their parents can arrive on time for the sessions it will help the child’s confidence rather than arriving late missing the warm up and the child feel like they have missed out.

What are the biggest differences between coaching children and adults?
Adults listen but children want to learn. I can sometimes put on the same session for 2 year olds as 30 year olds just with different objectives for the session.

What makes a good coach?
Someone who is willing to listen, learn and take on board feedback both from players and fellow coaches, but also someone who is able to differentiate during their sessions.

What advice would you offer to someone keen on coaching either kids or at an amateur level?
Get as much experience as possible, also watch as many football matches to get an understanding of how football works. It’s very much an industry where you need to put the time in. I have been coaching Wokingham & Emmbrook since 2011, putting in a minimum of 4/5 hours a week voluntarily. I started with the under 10s and now I work with the senior team.

Interested in a career in football? Check out our dedicated football section on Careers in Sport. Interviews and career profiles with professionals working in the football industry and also the latest jobs in football.