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The Canadian 'C' Licence Experience

Stephen McNab

I took my Technical Level 3 course in the spring of 1995 and fully expected to go on and attempt my 'C' in the autumn of the same year. This course was run over one weekend with the format based around the structure of the 'C' course with feedback from Staff Instructors. This feedback made me stop and think about how much work I had to do to prepare for my 'C' assessment. I took what I learned at the Level 3 technical and attempted to apply everything in my coaching for the next 3 seasons. In October 1997 I felt I was ready to attempt my 'C' assessment. I failed. I immediately signed up to try again in the spring of 1998. I passed at the second attempt. The course was similar both times with some small alterations. I'll try to outline how I approached each part of it both times and what changed between October '97 and May '98.

In Ontario the 'C' course is held twice a year with 18 candidates accepted per session (first come first served). Five candidates passed in fall '97, six in spring '98. The course is 4.5 days long (1 Friday evening, plus two weekends). The course cost $150 both times. I'd recommend that you try and attend one or two days of a course before you go through it yourself or better yet, encourage your club to get provincial staff instructors to run a pre-'C' licence workshop. This will help make you comfortable with the structure and not nervous about the idea of someone evaluating your coaching. You should also read through the Level I, II and III theory and technical manuals and I'd also recommend reading some good technical soccer books especially FA Soccer Tactics & Skills and The Winning Formula both by Charles Hughes. The first gives some excellent examples of functional training sessions and the second discusses technical and tactical elements in great detail. Also read through the Laws of the Game and make sure you understand everything. Note that Level III Technical and Level II Theory are the prerequisites for the 'C' Licence course but I'd suggest completing Theory Level III before doing the 'C'.

First Half Day Session (Friday Evening)


Review Course Format

Session Allocation

Practical sessions are assigned (Your final assessment session plus your preparation session).

There are nine sessions in all:

  1. Coach your players tracking and marking.
  2. Coach your central midfielders to switch the field of play.
  3. Coach your defenders to challenge and cover in defensive situations.
  4. Coach your strikers to receive and shield the ball with their backs to the opponents goal.
  5. Coach your defenders to play the ball out of the defensive third.
  6. Coach your goalkeeper angles.
  7. Coach your players third man runs from the midfield.
  8. Coach your players to attack (flank situations).
  9. Coach your strikers to attack.

Note that you get to perform your final assessment session topic twice. Once as a preparation and then again in your final assessment. You have one additional preparation session coaching a different topic.

Practical Coaching Discussion

Each candidate was asked to come forward and diagram their final session on a blackboard and explain the key factors of coaching that session. The other candidates and the Technical Director helped refine these until correct.

Question Period

Candidates have the chance to clear up any issues still outstanding.

What changed between '97 and '98?

Both Friday sessions were structured identically. There was some change to the course content in regards to practical sessions, with the goalkeeping session replacing one regarding strikes and midfielders combining to attack. There was a change made to the evaluation process for the practical component of the course. The grading given to the two preparation sessions now counts towards the final mark for this component however the final session is still the most important and carries the most weight.

What did I do differently the second time around?

I made sure I knew who was doing my sessions from the other group of nine candidates, I introduced myself at break time and we discussed our ideas (this was just before the blackboard sessions). During the blackboard session I took notes on every session. I took along a hand held recorder and recorded everything the TD said but I also listened a lot closer to what he was saying than I did the first time. I walked out the room confident about what I was going to be doing over the next two weekends.

First Full Day Session (Saturday)

Warm-up by Staff Coach

On the first full day of the course candidates are used as players for some demo sessions. Therefore they are led through a 30-minute warm-up by one of the staff coaches while the others stand and observe. As well as serving as a warm-up this half hour is used by the staff coaches to see where the candidates level of fitness is and what their general technical ability is like.

Practical Coaching Session Demos by Staff Coaches

The staff coaches, using candidates as players, demonstrate some of the practical sessions. Again the staff can get an idea of fitness levels and technical ability of the candidates while the candidates get to see how the staff coaches set-up and coach functional sessions.

Discussion on Sessions

Question and answer period before lunch.

Theory of Coaching Exam (Classroom)
Laws of the game Exam (Classroom)

After lunch you are given the written exams and have two hours to complete both.

What changed between '97 and '98?

The number of sessions demonstrated changed. In '97 the three sessions shown were "Switching the field of play", "Strikers attacking" and "Attacking from flank situations" in '98 "Receiving and Shielding" was also shown. The Laws of the game exam changed slightly. The Theory exam was changed completely.

What did I do differently the second time around?

I took no part in the demo sessions in the '97 course. In '98 I made sure I was involved as a player in three out of the four sessions demonstrated. Make sure the staff coaches get to know you and what you can do with a ball. The session I didn't participate in was the shielding one and that was my prep. session topic so I took full notes of the entire session, listening closely to every point brought out by the staff coach. Something else I did differently in '98 was I made use of the resources on hand. Other candidates, staff coaches, general observers and the Technical Director. Ask them everything you can to make it clear to yourself what you need to do in your practical session. I also continued to work closely with my "partner" from the second group of nine candidates. In '97 I was a bit overwhelmed with it all and I was nervous about getting involved and approaching others.

Second Full Day Session (Sunday)

Practical Coaching Sessions with On-Field Critique

Each candidate performs a 30-minute practical coaching session. This is the first run through of the "final assessment" topic. Staff coaches give their assessment of the session and will jump in to take over the sessions and get them back on track if necessary. The players used were from the provincial girl's U15 team. Candidates can be used as players in sessions too.

What changed between '97 and '98?

Two of the assessors were different. In '98 the session counted toward the overall practical component grade.

What did I do differently the second time around?

I was just a lot more comfortable and relaxed the second time around. This was the same for all the practical session days. I did make sure I saw my "partner" perform his session and also paid close attention to the candidate who was doing the same topic that I had for my next practical session on the third day.

Third Full Day Session (Second Saturday)

Practical Coaching Sessions with On-Field Critique

Same as the previous Sunday except the candidates now perform their "prep. Session topic". Players used were Provincial boys U15 and girls U17.

Final Day (Second Sunday)

Final Practical Coaching Assessment (No Feedback)

Candidates go out and perform the same session that they did on the first Sunday. No staff coach feedback. This is the session weighted the most for the practical component grade. Candidates must hand in a written outline of session prior to this session. Players used were Provincial boys U17.

What did I do differently the second time around?

More demos (making sure they were done correctly and always with a ball). Made coaching points with little talking then got out again. Made sure the session progressed properly. (Tip: If a player is not performing for you, change them, pause the session and try another player. The negative aspect of pausing the session is much less than if you don't get progression. Make sure you have an extra player waiting if you run into this problem so you can change quickly). Made sure I didn't miss any coaching points, observing and correcting is key. Again I was just more comfortable and confident the second time around, I was sure of myself and determined to be successful. Because of this the session was more relaxed and the players enjoyed themselves more, get them on your side and they will perform for you. Afterwards, when I thanked all the players, a couple commented on how much fun the session had been and that they had enjoyed it. When I got my results though one assessor noted I'd been a bit too nice to the players, so you have to strike a balance.

Evaluation Forms

The following is the evaluation form used to assess 'C' Licence candidates' practical sessions. It is reproduced with the permission of the CSA.

This HTML version was prepared from a scanned and proof-read copy of the printed material, whose format is obviously a little different. The form (called 'Evaluation standards') is a single-page sheet with 15 points identified by the letters A through O and a horizontal assessment scale with the 'highpoint' being at the left and the 'low point' being at the right, followed by a one-sentence explanation of what the assessors are looking for. The remaining material (called 'Assessment form' in what follows) comes in the shape of a 2 1/2 page typed document which expands somewhat on each of the assessment criteria.

Evaluation Standards
Area/Groupings Correct Incorrect The coach organised the coaching area, equipment and grouping of athletes appropriately for the practice.
Activity Level High Low The coach gets the players moving quickly and maintains a good activity level throughout the practice.
Practice Realistic Unrealistic The practice has the appropriate elements of realism which relate the activity to the "game". The appropriate area of the field is used for functional activities
Organisation Simple & clear Unclear The organisation is easy to understand. Equipment is used appropriately. "Demos" are used to explain the activity.
Key Factors Identified Not identified The coach understands basic key factors and highlighted them when dealing with faults common to the group.
Individual Faults Identified Not identified The coach recognises faults in individual performances and takes time to work on specific individuals.
Communication Clear/Constructive Not Clear / Negative The coach gives clear instruction using demonstrations to highlight the organisation and the technical points made.
Demonstration Simple/Correct Complicated/Incorrect The coach gave, or set up, good technical demonstrations of the key factors and allowed players to rehearse them.
Key Factors Coached Not Coached The coach attended to common faults by stressing key factors through the correct use of demonstrations.
Individual Factors Coached Not Coached The coach attended to individual faults by stressing key factors through the correct use of demonstrations.
General Impression

Looks the Part Poor Impression The coach creates a good impression by the manner in which he/she works and in his/her appearance.

Demanding & purposeful Low Key The coach establishes an appropriate standard of performance and gets the players to work towards it.
Voice Inspiring Dull The coach uses the pitch of his/her voice to control and motivate the practice.
Practice Enjoyable Not enjoyable The coach created and maintained an enjoyable and productive practice.
Technical Performance
Technique Excellent Poor Excellent = pro/national team. Good = semi-pro/prov. team. Satisfactory = senior amateur.

Key to a good session:

A realistic practice has opposition, supporting players, direction and targets. Demonstrate with a ball, let the players rehearse the skill and resume the practice. Coach what you see...not your session!


Line A Correct area/group size. The coach has players grouped so that they get enough opportunity to practice the technique, skill, movement and improve. The group is in an area that allows players to be successful while at the same time being challenged.
Line B High activity level. The coach gets the players working quickly without talking to the group for long periods of time while they stand around getting bored. The coach is allowing enough time for players to practice between coaching points and progressions.
Line C Realistic practice. The practice has as many of the four elements of realism as possible to help players relate the activity to "the game" (i.e. opposition, supporting players, direction, targets). Functional activities take place in appropriate areas of the field and recreate "game" conditions.
Line D Simple and clear. The practice organisation is easy to understand and does not require the unnecessary use of markers. The coach uses "walk throughs" and demonstrations to explain the organisation.
Line E Key factors identified. The coach understands basic key factors required for the technique, skill or task and recognises faults that are common to the group. The coach makes corrections with the group where needed.
Line F Individual faults identified. The coach recognises the faults in individual performances and takes action to correct specific individuals.
Line G Communication clear/constructive. The coach explains the practice organisation and the progressions using "walk throughs" and demonstrations for clarity. The coach allows time to see if the practice organisation is understood by the players before making the first coaching point. If it is not understand the coach will do another "walk through" or demonstration as required. Feedback is focused on how to improve and not on players making mistakes.
Line H Demonstrations simple/correct. All demonstrations must involve recreating the scene followed by the use of a ball in a "walk through". A coach may use a player to demonstrate the action required but make sure it is correct. The coach uses basic demonstrations to make coaching points and allows the player(s) to rehearse the correction before continuing the practice (i.e. demo/rehearse/practice). The basic demonstration is correct but if the coach or player(s) make a mistake it is repeated correctly.
Line I Key factors coached. The coach emphasises the key factors when making corrections in order to establish a standard within the group. Specifically when there is a mistake being made which is common throughout the group. Each correction is made using demonstrations (demo/rehearse/practice).
Line J Individual factors coached. The coach makes corrections to individual performances which are not common throughout the group or which help to fine tune individual performance. Usually while the rest of the group is working. Each correction is made using demonstrations (demo/rehearse/practice).
General Impression
Line K Looks the part. The coach is dressed appropriately (i e. looks like a coach) and is obviously in charge of the session.
Line L Demanding and purposeful. The coach demands the best efforts from the players, establishes a standard of performance and gets players to work towards that standard.
Line M Voice inspiring. The couch uses his/her voice for impact by varying the pitch and adding emphasis where needed (uses the voice to enthuse, motivate, inspire, etc..)
Line N Practice enjoyable. The coach makes the practice demanding but enjoyable with lots of activity, practice and enthusiasm.

Updated 24 November 1998
Overview | Principles | Resources | Guidelines | Practices | Game Day | Very Young | More Reading