The Coaching Profession

Posted: March 18, 2013 in Coaching Philosophy
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This time of year I’m used to seeing a lot of coaches moving in and out of jobs.  In recent years the turnover has been less and less as coaches are hanging onto the jobs that they value in an uncertain economy.  And every spring I stand by and watch graduate assistant coaches struggle to find the next step for their careers.  Some have been fortunate and had the right doors open up for them, others I have to watch try and try and resign themselves to another career path.

It seems to me that the job market for soccer coaches has become extremely tough though in recent years.  One that is becoming very hard for entry level coaches to find their way up in a crowded job market.  With the recent hiring of Ryan Nelson at Toronto FC this past winter there seems to be a lot of questions about what young coaches need to do to break into the market.  Here was a player who had zero years of coaching experience, no coaching education to speak of, and spent zero hours getting acclimated to the league before diving in.

Then we watch a coach like Caleb Porter who came through the USA college system, played in the MLS for a couple of years, spent time as an assistant college coach, and then made a name for himself at Akron.  He worked his way through the USSF coaching license structure, ODP and U-23 National team coaching ranks, and finally landed a head job at the professional level.

Martin Rennie is another great example of a coach who worked his way up from a Premier Development League team, to the United Soccer Leagues, he made a stop in the North American Soccer League, and finally to the MLS.  He has his UEFA coaching badges and progressed as a coach through the ranks as he proved himself.

So what can my graduate assistant coaches, and many young coaches, take from these examples?  As the old expression goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”  There isn’t a right answer, and it probably comes down to the individual creating and preparing for the right circumstance to arrive.  John Wooden has been credited with saying, “Luck is when preparation and opportunity intersect.”  People need to be ready, they need to be working and preparing themselves, because someday that opportunity will present itself.  The only question is will the individual be ready to rise to the occasion and grasp what is in front of them.

Some very qualified people are being overlooked for positions, and some very under-qualified coaches are being hired.  Ultimately it comes down to what you do.  There is no “right” answer, or magic formula, that will work for everyone.  It can be frustrating to watch, and it can be even more pain staking to endure.

In the end though I have to believe that the men and women who really feel led or called to be in this profession will find a way to coach and make an impact in this country for the beautiful game.

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