In December 2021, a group of coaches made the long-awaited journey to Edinburgh, Scotland, as part of their United Soccer Coaches Master Coach Diploma/University of Delaware Master Coach Certificate. After the 2020 cohort experienced a travel delay due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, members of both the 2020 and 2021 cohort were able to make the journey.
As part of the program, the coaches were given the distinctive opportunity to visit the Scottish FA National Training Center and earn their Scottish FA C License. This licensure is a newer component of the Master Coach program that allows candidates to earn their Scottish FA C License, normally a 30-hour program, during their first Master Coach module through a unique agreement with the Scottish FA.
The Master Coach program has aided individuals in enhancing their skills and assisting candidates in developing their careers for roughly 15 years. In 2012, Master Coach Program Director Dr. Matt Robinson, former United Soccer Coaches Director of Coaching Education Ian Barker, and Master Coach Academic Director Andrew Donnery revamped the course, adding new curriculum, the project portion, the apprenticeship, in addition to the residential and online components.
After completing their stay in Edinburgh, coaches returned to the United States and were welcomed at the 2022 United Soccer Coaches Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. While at the convention, the 2021 candidates completed their final program module by presenting the results of their projects for jury review. While not presenting, candidates had the opportunity to explore the convention, including attending sessions and field demonstrations, browsing the exhibit hall, and partaking in post-event socials with different coaching groups. Candidates that were part of the 2020 cohort presented their final results in Scotland or online via zoom in late January 2022.
Applications are closing soon for the next cohort of the United Soccer Coaches Master Coach Diploma/University of Delaware Master Coach Certificate that begins in June 2022. Learn more about this unique opportunity at www.pcs.udel.edu/master-coach/
“To start, I will simply say that the Master Coach Diploma is something that I’d highly recommend to other coaches looking to better themselves beyond the Xs and Os of the game.
I have absolutely enjoyed the information gained from presenters and through our readings. I also want to add that I felt all work that I put into the program was recognized and actually noticed. It is very time consuming to do a course like this, but it is absolutely worth it if you know your input and thoughts are taken seriously. I have gained so much going through the Master Coach Diploma Course and I plan on sharing my added knowledge with my peers/staff as well.
After 28 years coaching, it is great to have a course devoted to a different side of the game and a great feeling to be able to add to my coaching toolbox.”
“With COVID-19, it was complicated in terms of aligning logistics to the travel requirements/restrictions in place; even with the difficult travel arrangements, it was well worth the trip. Getting to experience first-hand the structure, methodology, and educational culture of another country was well worth working around and through those obstacles.
I have always enjoyed Andrew Donnery’s approach of utilizing hypothetical situations and role-playing as a means to engage the learner. It’s fairly easy to tell if people/students know what they think they know and/or evaluate a person’s ability to think on their feet.
It is a personally and professionally challenging course that pushes you as an individual while solidifying the necessity to understand and utilize personal/professional networks to achieve your ambitions. Most of what you can gain from this program, and the most rewarding aspect relies on you putting yourself out there to work with others.”
“The facilities in Scotland were top-notch. The cohort was lodged at a business hotel across a parking lot from the Oriam training and meeting fieldhouse. Oriam is the Scottish national sports performance center located on the campus of Heriot-Watt University, a short drive from Edinburgh airport and 20 minutes from downtown. The fieldhouse contains a full-sized (120×75 yard) artificial turf field. Office space includes several meeting rooms used for classroom activities and the offices for the SFA and Hearts of Midlothian FC.
The greatest challenge and key takeaway from the course is the value of perseverance and commitment. The original intent was for the course to last 6 months—from June to December 2020. Due to COVID, the staff was forced into several changes of plan. As a participant, the need to “stick in,” maintain focus, deliver on assignments, and maintain a positive attitude throughout was essential in carrying through to the end.
My original project plan—submitted in spring 2020—involved an on-field long-term athletic development program with a youth club. Due to COVID and changes in my professional situation, it became clear in early 2021 that this project could not move forward. Working with my tutor, we agreed to repurpose work I had been doing during COVID—developing an online social media presence and self-hosted website focused on coaching education and player development—into the final project. The project became a central part of my off-field soccer activities during 2021, culminating in a successful jury presentation in Scotland.
The Master Coach program provides coaches an opportunity to challenge themselves in a collaborative environment. Talented and experienced educators expose candidates to various advanced coaching topics and viewpoints. Through self-reflection, assignments covering a range of elements of the coaching craft, and top-flight lecturers on issues spanning the spectrum of sport, the Master Coach program provides an enriching experience.
Participants in the Master Coach program should be prepared to allocate the time necessary to engage with assignments and requirements of the course. As with many aspects of life, “you get out of it what you put into it.” A willingness to share—with the tutors and with the cohort—is a necessary element of the experience to realize the most personal benefit.”
“I was immediately drawn to the Master Coach Diploma because it didn’t seem like just any coaching course. It proposed an incredible opportunity to learn from, and collaborate with professionals from United Soccer Coaches, University of Delaware, and the Scottish FA. I have never heard of a course that would be so holistic in terms of learning. I was drawn to its mission to promote soccer leaders and not just focus on the ‘x’s & o’s’ of coaching.
The Master Coach program is challenging, enjoyable, intentional. Everything you learn has its purpose and it goes beyond the technical and tactical aspects of soccer. You have the opportunity to learn from ‘masters’ in the sport, business, and educational fields. It is also a great opportunity to network and meet coaches and professionals across the country as fellow candidates.
No matter your background you will gain something from this course. I have grown and developed more as a coach through this course, and therefore my program is in a better place because of it. Be open-minded and adaptable and you will find immense value in this course. It lends a great opportunity to network, learn from masters in multiple fields, and gain a license from one of the most impressive coach education platforms in the Scottish FA.”
“It was one of the best experiences of my life. The way the Scottish FA welcomed us and took us in as part of their own was amazing. They provided so many amazing presenters and I gained a significant amount of knowledge in all realms, not just soccer. It was amazing to meet and learn from coaches from all different levels. in addition, I was able to learn more about the culture and the people from Scotland are so nice and welcoming. I will definitely be going back.
The learning environment was completely different. The course is Scotland has been the most beneficial and the course where I learned the most. In this course, we were all considered equal no matter what level we coached. The instructors were so engaged and answer any questions we had. It would be rare to have ONE professional coach come talk to us, we had three professional coaches come to talk to us within a week!
I would describe the Master Coach course to be a very engaging and interactive course filled with amazing speakers that helped you learn about various topics that are involved with coaching and developing players of all ages. The amount of information that this course provides is like no other. The course will push you to think outside of the box and help you become a Master Coach. It is also a fantastic way to learn from other coaches within your course and build relationships that will last a lifetime.”