AYSO Coaching Program
Volunteer Coaches are the Heart of the Program
AYSO is an all-volunteer organization. You see that statement all over the website and hear it in conversations all the time. The National Board of Directors, Section Staff, Area Staff, Regional Board and Staff, Coaches, Referees, Field Markers, Team Parents, and others all volunteer their time to bring the game of soccer alive for the thousands who play in Albuquerque and the hundreds of thousands who play nationwide. Of all those volunteers, the coaches are the most visible and have the greatest impact on the lives of the players.
Our region has over 400 volunteer coaches. About 90% of them coach one team and the remaining intrepid souls coach two teams. Most of the coaches are parents or relatives of the players they coach. Some of them are professional coaches in their day jobs, either in soccer or some other sport. Many of them are current or former players, some of whom played AYSO soccer here in Albuquerque "back in the day" when the uniforms consisted of reversible orange and white jerseys. But many others are just parents who wanted to share something with their children. Those coaches may have had no soccer experience at all before their children began soccer at somewhere between U5 and U14. So, while the coaches come with a wide range of backgrounds, almost any of them will tell you coaching the kids has been a great part of their lives and given them a chance to enjoy a fun activity with their children.
Child Centered Program
All youth sports programs should be child-centered. That is, the purpose of the sports program is to allow children to play, learn, and grow into good people. Too often the adults' need to win takes away from the child's opportunity to be a child. In AYSO, we train our coaches that coaching is not about them. It's about the children and about the game. We want the children to have fun playing a game we love. We want them to develop skill, because it's a lot more fun to play a game you are good at than to play a game where you have little control over the outcome. And we want them to learn to be good sports and good teammates. Learning respect for yourself, your teammates, the opponents, and the officials helps them grow into good people.
How do I get Started?
Many coaches start when their children start at U5 or U6. This is a great place to start, because while the children learn the sport gradually, so do the coaches (and the referees for that matter). Others start when their children are older and hit the ground running. Still others start as an assistant coach and decide that they want to coach a team of their own. How ever you start, AYSO has training, support, and development to help you be successful.
All coaches must be registered volunteers. Go to eAYSO, log in, and click on the AYSO Volunteers button. Fill out the volunteer form, print it, and take it to a training class. You will be asked to sign the form in front of an AYSO staff member who will check your picture ID and take your form.
AYSO Coach Training Program
The AYSO Coaching Program includes two facets: Coach Safe Haven Certification and discipline-specific training. All AYSO Coaches are required to take the Coach Safe Haven course once before their first season coaching. After that we strongly encourage coaches to take the Coach Safe Haven refresher at the Annual Coach and Referee Meeting at the start of each fall. If you can't make the annual meeting for some reason, you can contact you Division Commissioner or the Regional CVP Advocate for updates on changes to the Safe Haven and coaching programs.
The discipline-specific training consists of the coaching courses listed below. Coaches are required to take a coaching course every two years.
AYSO has a U5/U6 Coaching Course, which includes a two-hour classroom session (taught online) and a two-hour field session during which you will learn how to teach soccer to very young players. This is a special class that every coach must take before coaching U5 and U6 players. If you are an AYSO National Coach or have a USYSA National "A" license, you are still required to take the U5/U6 course. Why? Because coaching four year olds is different from coaching older kids and young adults, and we want to make sure the volunteers coaching our youngest players have the proper philosophy and mindset for this joyous task.
Because the youngest teams have only five players, there are 136 U5/U6 teams this year. Some of the coaches are coaching a second or third child, but many are coaching for the first time. To be able to train all these coaches, AYSO has made the classroom portion of the U5/U6 class available online. Go to the onling training page for all the details.
U5 and U6 soccer consists of a 3v3 game on a small field so everyone gets lots of touches on the ball and gets a chance to play and have fun. At this age, practice consists of a short 30-minute practice immediately before the game; there are no weekday practices.
The U7/U8 Coaching Course includes a two-hour classroom session (taught online) and a two-hour field session. The focus of the U7/U8 course is on age-appropriate training. Elements of the training include the following:
- AYSO Philosophy
- Overview of the AYSO Coaching Program
- Coaching U7 and U8 Players
- Age Appropriate Techniques
- Soccer Knowledge
- Practices and Learning Games
At the U7/U8 level, the players play a 5v5 game without goalkeepers. U7 is the first age group to have weeknight practices, but those are limited to once a week for one hour.
AYSO has made the classroom portion of the U7/U8 class available online. Go to the onling training page for all the details.
The U9/U10 Coaching Course includes a two-hour classroom session and a two-hour field session. The focus of the U9/U10 course continues to be on age-appropriate training.
At the U9/U10 level, the players play a 7v7 game with goalkeepers. U9 is the first age group to have goalkeepers and to have two 1-hour practices a week.
The U12 Coaching Course is training for experienced coaches at U11 and U12, and for new coaches at the older age groups. The U12 Course includes a two-hour classroom session and three-hour field session. Elements of the training include the following:
- Coaching Overview
- Team Management
- The Game of Soccer
- Coaching Practices
- Coaching Games
- The Laws
- Injury Prevention
The Intermediate Coaching Course is for coaches at U14 and up. The Intermediate Course is 15 hours long and includes four hours of classroom and 11 hours of practical coaching on the field.
The Intermediate Course gets into the technical details of coaching the game, such as the technical aspects of dribbling, passing, and controlling, so that the Intermediate Coach can break down techniques for the players and understand what the player is doing well and what needs improvement.
You must complete the U12 course before you may take the Intermediate Course.
The Advanced Coaching Course is for coaches who have coached for a couple of years after completing the Intermediate Coaching Course. The Advanced Course includes a four-hour classroom session typically on a Friday night, a seven-hour field session on a Saturday, and another four-hour field session on Sunday.
The primary focus on the Advanced course is honing the coaches' skills of observation. Building on the technical knowledge the coaches have developed through the Intermediate Course and their years of coaching, the coaches have an opportunity to watch kids play, compare notes on their observations, and provide the payers with specific, actionable instruction to improve their play. You must complete the Intermediate Course before you may take the Advanced Course.
Advanced coach recertification course se are offered twice a year before the Advanced Course so that Advanced Coaches can continue their education and fulfill their requirement for training every two years.
The National Coaching Course is for coaches who have coached for a couple of years after completing the Advanced Course and, preferably, have volunteered as coach instructors for a couple of years. The National Course is generally held once a year in Southern California. This is a residential course lasting seven days. You will live in a dormitory and receive 56 hours of instruction on the field and in the classroom. If you are interested in attending, contact the chief coach for a recommendation.