So right now I'm in Kansas City for another week of training for A senior license. It is basically the highest license coach can get in USA unless he/she doesn't coach professional (MLS, USL) team. Those who coach at pro level can get PRO license in USA.
We are in brand new USSF coaching education building which is also training ground for Sporting Kansas City pro team. So every morning we can watch SKC training and I tell you that amount of work which is going into preparation into each training is insane.
It is clear that Peter Vermes (SKC head coach) is extremely intense coach which pays huge attention to little details. He is currently longest tenured manager/head coach in the MLS and the only person who won MLS Cup as a player and as a coach with the same team.
Here are some of my notes on SKC routine - I thought it might be interesting for not only coaches but for parents and players:
- they have three full size fields which are used only by first team. Each field has zone marking - 4 vertical and 3 horizontal lines divide the field to 20 rectangles. This coaching method is well developed in Germany and Spain and it was great to see that it is used in USA as well.
- usually the team training starts at 10am, but when we come to the facility at 8am - everything is already set up! I mean all goals, mannequins, bibs, cones everything is set up!! Pro team has 3 back to back full size grass fields for training, so with that space they run every activity in different space. So for example, they finished the training yesterday with 11v11 game, so at 8am you could see one field set up for that game with corner flags set up and 20 soccer balls perfectly spread out around the pitch!
- So I know that Peter comes to the facility every day at 6:30am, and his staff probably comes at least at the same time! The staff leaves around 6pm but almost all assistant coaches also have homework - video analysis, player fitness measurements etc. I heard today that coaching at pro level is among professions with highest level of divorce... no wonder why.
- And don't think that players just come hour before training, train and go home! Players at the facility from 8am till 3 or 4pm. They are required to come at 8am and have breakfast together, then prepare for the practice and train and then stay for extra 3-4 hours (they are required to have lunch at the facility too). They do a lot of video sessions there (separate session for 1on1, groups/lines, whole team), a lot of regeneration (hot, ice baths etc.).
- the facility was designed under very careful supervision of Peter Vermes himself who would consult with his core players who has been at the club for long time (Zusi, Espinoza and Co). So the facility has everything needed for players to spend a work day there. It even has sleeping room for players to take a nap! Some players want to move there to live but that's not an option yet.
So this is a quick picture of what is happening in Kansas City and while they are clearly one of the leaders of soccer in USA they are definitely not the only ones who does it. I think most people would agree that level of MLS soccer is getting better even in comparison with 3-5 years ago. We have some good coaches, like Peter, Caleb Porter, Tata Martino, very invested owners (SKC, Atlanta, Dallas, Galaxy, LAFC) and build more and more facilities.
For me this is good demonstration of amount of work required to be a pro coach and how far I'm behind. It is not just about preparing training session and doing it - it is way more than this! This is one of the reasons I decided to focus right now completely on soccer and quit my science job - now I have no excuse and dedicate 100% of my time to soccer, so if it doesn't work out for me it is solely because of my abilities, not because of lack of opportunities or effort. AND THERE IS SO MUCH TO LEARN! - I'M VERY EXCITED!