Grassroots football coaching

Whether you’re focusing on a career in the Premier League or your local grassroots Sunday football competition, the pathway to becoming a qualified football coach in the UK is clear for anyone with the determination to succeed.

But what’s the best route into coaching these days? And which qualifications do you need to succeed? This article breaks it all down. 

Getting Started — What’s the Best Football Coaching Qualification to Start With?

Whether you’ve done a little casual coaching in the past or you’ve never kicked a ball in anger, it’s best to test the waters before you dive right into football coaching. 

A great initial course to take is one that’s offered by England Football Learning. Not only is it free, but it’s also fully available online, which means you can do it at your own pace and in your own time. 

Introduction to Coaching Football is designed for people who are keen on delving into grassroots football coaching—the entry point for most football coaches around the world. The programme blends various learning methods, including live weekly webinars, interactive e-learning modules, community support forums and various other valuable resources. It equips participants with the essential skills necessary to effectively coach players of all ages.

Official FA and UEFA Football Coaching Qualifications

Once you have a grasp of the game and the skills required to be a coach, you can move onto the formal football coaching career ladder, which begins with the FA Level 1 Coaching Football course. 

FA Level One Coaching Football

The FA Level One Football Coaching Course is the initial step on the Football Association's Coach Education Pathway. It is designed to provide aspiring coaches with fundamental knowledge and skills needed to be a grassroots football coach. 

The course covers essential topics such as coaching techniques, session planning, player development and player safeguarding. It typically includes a blend of face-to-face workshops, e-learning modules, community support and practical coaching experience. 

UEFA C Licence

The UEFA C Licence is a coaching qualification designed to enhance the skills and knowledge of football coaches — particularly those involved in developing players at grassroots and lower-level football clubs. 

The course typically covers various aspects of coaching, including tactical understanding, session planning, player assessment and communication. Coaches who hold the UEFA C Licence are better equipped to deliver effective coaching sessions and nurture grassroots talent effectively.

UEFA B Licence

The UEFA B Licence is a coaching qualification that prepares coaches to work with adult and youth football teams. It focuses on tactical and theoretical aspects of coaching, including game strategies, player development and session planning. 

Holders of the UEFA B Licence are qualified to coach amateur men's clubs, youth teams up to age 16, and they can serve as assistant coaches at higher levels of the game. 

UEFA A Licence

The UEFA A Licence is a prestigious coaching qualification that equips coaches with advanced skills and knowledge to work at a high level in football.

Holders of the UEFA A Licence are required to have a clear understanding of player and team development and coaching at the top of the amateur game. They’re also expected to demonstrate competence in a number of advanced coaching techniques. 

The course focuses on developing candidates' ability to devise, organise, conduct and evaluate coaching sessions. It is a crucial step for coaches aspiring to work in professional football environments, helping them to advance their careers and make significant contributions to the sport.

If you have aspirations of working within the professional game, the UEFA A Licence is a must. 

UEFA Pro Licence

The UEFA Pro Licence is the highest coaching qualification offered by UEFA. It is designed to develop highly skilled coaches and managers into skilled professionals capable of achieving sustained success at the very highest levels of the game.

This prestigious licence requires a substantial commitment — with a minimum of 360 hours of study plus a range of associated activities. Covering a plethora of advanced theoretical and practical coaching principles, the UEFA Pro course focuses on tactics, strategies, player management, leadership and a range of other core competencies that are essential for success in professional football.

Football Coaching Degrees

Football coaching degrees are available at various universities across the UK. This isn’t a popular route to a career in football coaching in the UK, but it can lead to some fantastic opportunities. Some notable institutions offering undergraduate degrees in football include:

St Mary's University, Twickenham

St Mary's University offers a range of undergraduate programmes in football and coaching, including one delivered in conjunction with Chelsea FC.

Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck provides opportunities for students interested in pursuing football coaching and management qualifications.

Graduates of these programs are prepared for careers in various sectors of the sports industry, including coaching, management and sports development.

Other Options to Look Out For

If you’re looking for a more unorthodox approach to a career in football coaching, there are a few options to consider.

EE Playmaker

This free online course is designed to be an introduction to football for anyone interested in becoming a grassroots football coach or organiser. 

The Greater Game Programme

This programme utilises football to enhance the health and well-being of young individuals. Contact England Football if you’re interested in helping out.

Play Phase Football Course

Designed to support the development of children aged between four and six, this free online course introduces the play phase philosophy, emphasising playful learning.

Disney-Inspired Shooting Stars

This training course immerses school staff in adventures inspired by Disney movies like Frozen, Aladdin and Toy Story. The programme is designed to promote active play through storytelling. It’s a great resource that can give you a few tips for coaching children at grassroots level.

Get Involved

As you can see, anyone can become a grassroots football coach in the UK. All you need is enthusiasm and the determination to succeed. And who knows? Excel in coaching young people at grassroots level, and you could open the door to a long and lucrative career.