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Becoming a Qualified Football Coach

Opportunities are plentiful for potential coaches. A career in football coaching is no longer the exclusive domain of former professional players, or those who have been in the game for decades.

The Football Association’s strategy of educating coaches to a recognised standard, throughout all levels of the game, from primary school age upwards – ensuring the youngest footballers in the country are being taught and nurtured properly – led to the creation of a structured coaching pathway. There are three strands of coaching courses. The first, and main strand, covers Level One, the entry level qualification, and the first step on the ladder for those new to coaching, right up to the UEFA Pro Licence, which is held by top club and international managers and courses. Each course links to the other, so candidates must have passed Level Two before being able to apply for UEFA B, for example. The second strand features specialist courses, on Futsal, disability football, goalkeeping and others. The third strand focuses on age appropriate courses, such as those tailored specifically for young players.



Level One
Course duration: Maximum of 32 hours. The theory aspect includes football club administration, the laws of the game, FA Emergency Aid and FA Safeguarding Children in Football. Practical elements offer an introduction to warming up and cooling down, passing and control, shooting, dribbling and small sided games. Candidates have to deliver a 20 minute coaching session.


Level Two
Course duration: Maximum of 75 hours. The theory aspect includes the roles, skills and qualities of a football coach, developing session plans, fitness components, consideration of coaching styles. Practical elements feature the principles of attacking, including creating and exploiting space, and the principles of defending, including denying and restricting space. Candidates also undertake two observed practical coaching sessions with their tutor.


Course duration: 17 days. This course is for coaches working with teams of U14 upwards in an 11 v 11 format. The theory aspect includes player analysis, the psychological factors associated with player performance, the development of progressive coaching sessions and a philosophy of coaching. Practical elements include detailed consideration of attacking from wide and central areas, counter attacking, support play from midfield, possession in key areas, effective organisation in defending and attacking from set plays, and goalkeeping. Candidates have to deliver a 45 minute coaching session.


Course duration: 20 days, divided into two residential parts. This course is for coaches either already working in 11 v 11 football within the international, professional, semi-professional and elite girls or youth programmes, or intend to. Part 1 runs over 12 days and includes elements such as defending deep with a back three and four, pressing and transition. Part 2 is an eight-day course, which must be taken within three years of Part 1. It includes the role of the No.9, No.10, No.4 as a quarterback, attacking and defending with a sweeper, and game management. There is also a final assessment.


Course duration: 30 days/245 guided learning hours. This is the mandatory qualification for all first team managers who want to work in the Premier League; it’s for elite level coaches. It’s delivered in a number of modules over an 18 month period and combines distance learning and club visits. Applicants typically have experience in professional football at senior level, either as a player, player coach, manager or assistant manager. There are modules on Professional Communication; Leadership & Management of self and others; Performance Management and Football Business & Finance.



Alongside the FA’s Core Coaching Pathway are several other pathways, providing courses which complement a coach’s learning and education experience. These can be age specific, position specific, or specialist. These include:

  • FA Youth Award Module 1, 2, 3 & Advanced
  • FA Goalkeeping Level 1, 2, B & A
  • FA Developing Defenders
  • FA Developing Midfielders
  • FA Developing Forwards
  • FA Psychology Level 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5
  • FA Coaching Futsal: Beginners Guide
  • FA Coaching Deaf/Blind/Disabled Footballers

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