The USSF A-Senior license: a coach’s first-hand experience

USSF course v United Soccer Coaches course

USSF concentrates on how you teach and goes into a lot of oth- er areas such as periodization, leading the player and game analysis for example.

I’m sure the USC methods have evolved since I last took a course with them, as it was more based on systems of play and lots of discussions which I enjoyed.

I honestly think a lot of it comes down to your instructor and what environment they create.

I was blessed with Lesle Gallimore on my A and Vince Ganzburg on my advanced national who helped create a culture where you could be yourself and didn’t feel like you were walking on egg shells, asking “am I doing this right?”


The A-License consisted of three in-person meetings in Kansas City (the national development center) and Florida (the IMG Academy).

After the first week in Kansas City, I headed back to Nebraska to work on my development period, which consisted of three or four assignments before we met again in February.

The second meeting at the IMG Academy, FL, was over another six days. Our final meeting was due to be in Kansas City in May, but COVID-19 hit so we did it virtually through April, May and June.

The candidates’ final assessments were supposed to be in their own environment, but this had to be virtual as well, consisting of video presentations and a two to three-hour interview with our instructor.



There were many key takeaways with every meeting as I gained knowledge in the areas I’m weakest in – leadership and periodization.

As I’m only 18 months into being a head coach, it was great to be surrounded by coaches who are in the professional game and an instructor with 30- plus years coaching a program at NCAA D1 level.

When you are there each week, you try to soak in as much information as possible but you don’t really digest it all until you go through your develop- mental months, back in your own environment.

When planning a session, the biggest takeaway for me is the five elements – Organized > Game- like > Repetition > Challenge > Coaching. If it’s not organized, then you have no chance getting to the next four elements.


Tom, in his monogrammed Bellevue Bruins track top, poses for a selfie alongside some of the other coaches on his USSF A-Senior License course, prior to the Covid-related social distancing rules


The biggest stand out for me, after doing my A and B license, is there must always be a WHY.

Everyone within our game loves giving their opinion on what they would do but asking why and then understanding the consequences of their actions helps players and coaches to have a better understanding with each other moving forward.

Moreover, being in an environment with top candidates and instructors helped me self-reflect even more – for example, breaking down a 90-minute game into sections and assigning my assistant tasks so they look for trends as well as structuring my half-time team-talk.

Being with all the other candidates 24/7, you have some superb conversations as you’re stealing each other’s ideas and methods and thinking how you could use that in your environment to enhance it.


I think all of us wanted to coach more as we only got to go once, but we understood there were 30 of us and the organization to bring teams in when club, high school and college is going on is difficult.

From doing the old licenses, when it was 10 days straight, to the new methodology where the environment is so much more professional is like night and day.

The development periods are crucial in my opinion as you can take time to process from meeting to meeting. Furthermore, we got to create our own game model as well as analyse and develop principles and sub-principles. I thought that was a great tool to build on and evolve throughout my coaching career but wanted to see more examples and direction.

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