Coach Soccer

Basic Guide to the Coaching License Pathway in US Soccer

A short-form guide to the progression of coaching licenses necessary to climb the ranks in US soccer.

by Griffin Lloyd

Former college athlete and video editor. Current content creator, sports enthusiast and dog dad.

Regardless of your experience in the sport, arguably the best part of coaching is that you get to continue to grow in the game you love. Coaching is a rewarding experience for many as they look to give back to the soccer community and inspire the next generation of young athletes in the sport.

Not only are coaches motivated to remain involved in the sport for the love of the game, but also to continue living in the competitive environment they’re accustomed to. Previous players can find comfort in remaining on the field and striving for team and individual success in this new role. While most of you wish you were out on the field with your team, this is a great alternative.

That being said, there are many different coaching options available no matter your motivation. From recreation to professional soccer, it’s all about finding the right fit for you. If you’re looking to coach at the higher levels, there are some qualifications and requirements that you’ll need to meet. Ultimately, it’s up to you to set the goals and commitment level that you want as a coach. In the US, you have the opportunity to pursue the highest level of coaching that you want regardless of your previous experience or playing career. Here is a basic progression of every license available to acquire from the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).

coaching license pathway


Where everything starts. Every coach starts with a free, 20-minute Introduction to Grassroots Coaching video. Once this is completed, coaches can begin in-person or online modules, but must complete 2 in-person or blended modules to be eligible for the D license and advance their career.

D License:

The goal of this license is to prepare coaches to lead teams from U6-U19 in a participation environment. The level of play associated with the need for this license is beginner to intermediate and typically enjoy playing but could be multi-sport athletes. Coaches are expected to be coaching an active team with 1-2 training sessions a week in order to qualify. Here are the additional requirements to obtain your D license.

C License:

After holding your D license for a full year, you will be eligible to obtain your C license. This license is designed to prepare you to work with teams from U11-U19 with a slightly higher level of commitment and skill level. The expectation is that each coach runs 2-3 training sessions a week with more self-motivated athletes. Here are the additional requirements to obtain your C license.

B License:

Once you’ve held your C license for another entire year and have at least three years of coaching under your belt, you’ll be eligible to apply for your B license. This license is designed for coaches looking to lead U13 or higher level teams in a competitive environment with a more intermediate to advanced skill set. Any coach with their B license will be able to apply and evaluate player development within the game and optimize the learning environment for their team. Among other requirements, coaches will be required to run three training sessions per week and perform thorough video analysis throughout the process. Make sure your team has a proper video solution, such as Trace to offer a simple, easy way to analyze and breakdown game film. Here are the additional requirements to obtain your B license.

A Youth License:

Again, after holding this previous license for at least a full year, you are eligible to apply and aim for your A Youth license. This license’s main purpose is to develop youth (U13-U19) players in a high performance environment. At this point, you’ll have at least four years of coaching experience and be involved with a competitive club or academy team with at least four training sessions per week. This is a ten month long program; here are the additional requirements to obtain your A Youth license.

A Senior License:

The A Senior license differentiates itself from the A Youth license in that most who put their attention towards this are aiming to coach a senior level team, rather than a youth squad. The primary age of this level team is 19+ with an elite pathway in which many players will be looking to make it to the professional level. You’ll need at least 4 training sessions a week with your team and will again be required to effectively show your expertise with the help of video and GPS technology. Not only does Trace cover your video requirements for the licenses above, but it also uses a GPS sensor technology to provide performance metrics for each player in every game. Now, you can get the most out of your players and understand how to work with them efficiently. Here are the additional requirements to obtain this high-level license.

Pro License:

The final and most difficult license to earn is to prepare coaches pursuing head coaching responsibilities for a senior team. This includes the highest levels of national and international professional soccer. After holding your A license for a full year, you must be a head or assistant coach at an MLS or NWSL club, a head coach for a USL or similar level club, or a head coach of a U17 or older national team. Seeing as this is the highest level of coaching, here is the final list of requirements to obtain your professional coaching license.

Coaching youth soccer in the United States can be a very rewarding experience for any motivated coach. The level of competition may vary depending on your location, but one thing is for sure – there are many passionate young players who want to learn and improve their skills. Be sure to stay up-to-date with changes in the licensing process and your local state-specific regulations, as requirements may change over time . Finally, remember that being a great coach isn’t about having all the answers – it’s about being patient, positive, and supportive.

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