'Working nearly 70 hours a week was obviously very tough, but it improved me as a person and as a coach. I was fortunate enough to have coached some of the best young talent in New England...'
Name, age, where are you based?
Callum Moss, 22, Chichester, West Sussex
Recently left Heriot-Watt University as a reserve team goalkeeper and coach, currently seeking new opportunities. Previously coaches in U.SA.
BSc in Sports Development & Coaching Sciences with Sport Biology, Health & Psychology
Completing an MSc in Management and Leadership in Sports Performance
FA Level 1, finalizing my Level 2
UK Level 2 Community Sports Leadership Award
UK Level 3 Higher Sports Leadership Award
FA Level 1 in Goalkeeping
FA Coaching Deaf, Disabled and Blind Footballers
FA Level 2 in Talent Identification
Level 2 Certificate in Football Fitness & Conditioning
UKSCA Workshop Certificate in Foundations in Strength & Conditioning
USSF Coaching Licenses in 4v4, 7v7 and 9v9
How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?
I started considering a coaching career shortly after leaving secondary school as I had done a lot of volunteering in the community and for Brighton & Hove Albion’s skills centre. I immediately did my FA Level 1 when I was 16 and followed it up with level 1’s in goalkeeping, futsal and talent ID.
I decided to go to university at age 18 because I was interested in the science behind coaching and I felt it would be a great platform to get me into more coaching opportunities whilst developing myself as an individual. At university, I had a range of coaching roles. I became the university’s football development officer, organizing and recruiting volunteers at local sporting events and coaching myself at them. I became a sports ambassador for the university as well, coaching at football events hosted by them. During this time, I was also a project officer for the Dorset FA, coaching at their annual events. All of this was great for my personal development and gave me the confidence to start to challenge myself.
My first big role was in my university industrial placement with FC Bayern Munich’s North American Technical Partner, Global Premier Soccer (GPS), the largest football club setup in the USA. I worked as a regional community manager, technical department assistant, sports performance department assistant, professional development officer and a football and futsal coach. Coaching in three different US states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine) also provided a lot of adventure into the role. I coached and managed three teams in league and tournament settings, lead player recruitment in my region, helped design technical football drills for the club website and also acted as a consultant for a local football association.
I came back from the USA and began an exchange in Norway at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences (the second best sports science institution in the world) where I studied Sports Biology, Health & Psychology. I specialized in nutrition and psychology in sports performance and was taught by some of the world’s leading experts in the field. I realized just how important psychology is to coaching and how we can use techniques to promote motivation in children which I found very interesting. I also helped play and coach some futsal every week which kept my coaching fresh.
I began an MSc at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland after completing my degree, studying Management & Leadership in Sports Performance. I initially planned to be a coach for one of the teams, but the head coach was impressed with my goalkeeping and wanted me to play for the reserve team. I figured this would be a great way to shadow UEFA A licensed coaches and although I have played two games a week at a high intensity, I have taken a great deal from these coaches and started to formulate their ideas and understand the meaning behind them. I always try and chip in when I can, occasionally acting as an assistant in some games.
Any achievements or experiences you would like to share?
I think my biggest achievement was adapting and living in the USA for a year and making the coaching and office roles I had, my own. I gave 100% every day and I still get some messages from the kids and parents I used to work with and that always boosts my confidence. Working nearly 70 hours a week was obviously very tough, but it improved me as a person and as a coach. I was fortunate enough to have coached some of the best young talent in New England, even the All-star teams and best of all the GPS national team. Working with them was a pleasure. I think the fact that I was coaching with a Bayern Munich badge on my sleeve was pretty cool as I was pretty much coaching on their behalf in the states and delivering their curriculum.
One funny story does stick out. I covered a u18 league game for another coach for GPS. However, only 9 of our players showed up so it turned into a 9v11 game. I thought we would get trounced. To minimize goals conceded, I decided to go for a 1-3-1-3-1 with the defensive midfielder acting as a sweeper, we would sit back and counter with three attacking midfielders and the striker. It worked brilliantly and we equalized in the last minute to draw 1-1. I was shocked as much as anyone but what a day it was and I will also highlight that as a huge achievement in my personal development.
How did you enjoy your time with Brighton & Hove Albion, what was the role like and what did you learn from it?
I was only 14 when I went on work experience with Brighton & Hove Albion’s skills centre for a week. But this was a magnificent eye opener into the world of community coaching. The coaches were impressed enough that they let me lead the coaching sessions. Afterwards, they offered me the chance to act as the goalkeeper coach for their next upcoming tour to Holland. I was to coach some of the best young goalkeeping talent across their development schools. Having so much responsibility at a young age was great. I learnt how important planning was and also that at a young age, reinforcing the footballing principles and fundamentals are paramount. I always explained to my goalkeepers why they were doing what they were doing, otherwise if they don’t understand, they learn nothing.
After monitoring their progress against top level European youth teams, I found that they always tried to do what I taught them. Even if they made mistakes I was proud of them because it showed I was communicating with them in a way that made them listen and take things on board. Giving continuous constructive feedback for me was the key to their development and I have since done this in the states and in the UK.
How was your experiences abroad and what challenges were you faced with
In the states, I had a lot of roles and I worked very long days 7 days a week. I would normally leave at 7:30am and get home for about 9pm. There were times when I felt why am I doing this. I lived with three host families in the states and I was constantly being given newer roles and responsibilities so I was always having to adapt. But what overcame these challenges was being able to coach my teams from u8 to u11 and sometimes u14 up to u18 and seeing them always strive to improve themselves. Our performances reflected this and I had a lot of support from senior management in how I managed my workload.
Living in America, Norway and Scotland also provided some great experiences on a personal note. I have lived with people all over the world and shared a lot of ideas. From shoveling a drive way to be able to get to work, playing with and against some of Scotland’s most talented university players, watching football around Scandinavia and driving overnight across the US states to coach provide some great memories. Personal challenges is adapting to a new environment wherever you go but it’s so rewarding when you overcome them and I have now made friends for life and made some great contacts in the world of football which will hopefully stand me in good stead for the future.
What things could you take away from your time in Europe and in the U.S.A, which would be useful to implement in the U.K?
The USA has a very different developmental pathway compared to the UK. It is very money-oriented over there and whilst I don’t agree with it, the amount of games children of young ages play there are much higher compared to here. On some days, the age groups up to u13 would play up to six games in a day! They played in loads of tournaments and against teams from everywhere and this was handled very strongly in terms of logistics. In Norway, from what I learnt, it’s all about promoting a positive motivational climate and the coach is a contextual factor. In other words, the coach is seen as an integral part in the child’s perception of the footballing environment so much so that I myself am seen as a pivotal point in their development.
I think personally we need to try and ignore the focus of winning in younger age groups and improve their technical ability. Even if I see a minimal improvement and they are trying their best, that was what I cared about. Carefully monitoring the individual another thing I learnt on my travels as every child is different. Making the effort with them can sometimes be a huge difference. I’m not saying coaches don’t do these things but reinforcing it in my opinion is a key component in best coaching practice in younger age groups.
What’s been best for your development so far and what main improvements have you made as a coach?
Trial and error in my coaching is certainly one but I think the best tool is CPD (continuous professional development). As a coach I am a student of the game and I will keep learning until I call it a day. I have read a lot of books such as Raymond Verheijen’s handbook for conditioning for soccer and football periodization which were fantastic.
I have also done some extra coaching courses such as SAQ (speed, agility and quickness) training and strength & conditioning courses. I have realized that if I want to coach at a higher level, fitness needs to be implemented because being a good coach is also making sure my players don’t pick up unnecessary injuries and that they are fit for match day.
I remember I had a long conversation in Edinburgh with the university head coach, we both shared the philosophy that teams need to have their training hours carefully monitored, that they are nutritionally optimized, psychologically primed and onside with eachother (this enforces non-verbal communication) and importantly that they are able to play for 90 minutes whilst minimizing accumulation of fatigue.
I have also started watching games from a tactical perspective and I have since compiled a range of tactical articles for my personal website which I am developing. By immersing myself in the game and by watching as many games as I can, it only adds to my football library if that makes sense. I am an advocate that teams need to be able to play more than one formation and the more I understand that, the more flexible my teams become and that is what I am striving to do.
Is there anything that has developed you more overseas than if you were working back home in the U.K?
Probably just exposure to coaching in general. Over here, there are a lot of part time roles and it’s very difficult to have a good regular income at the start of the coaching ladder. In America, there are so many full time coaching roles for beginners with so many hours available. It requires sacrifice but ultimately you have more of an opportunity to again immerse yourself in the game.
Plus football in the states is still developing and there is a great opportunity to potentially coach the next Christian Pulisic or Giovanni Reyna as the talent over there is incredible. The dedication levels of the players are outstanding and it makes for a perfect environment to hone your skills.
How could your current Sports Performance studies compliment coaching roles and what has been some interesting learnings for you so far?
It was the only course of it’s kind in the UK. As I previously mentioned I wanted to incorporate the sciences behind coaching because I think a lot is underutilized. I recently came across the concept of tactical periodization and to me this was like finding gold dust. It basically states how we can use data from GPS monitoring and how we can use this to make decisions on our next coaching practice.
For example, some players may be training with a higher workload and producing a higher force as a result. This produces more stress on the body (such as the ankles) and this can lead to injury. We can look at this data and work with players individually to alter their workload through individualized conditioning protocols. The idea is to steadily increase their workload in 6 week cycles to a level of match fitness where they can run for a full 90 minutes. Planning for weeks in advance is critical.
Another interesting thing I have learnt is the type of training players do. When a team trains the day before a game or within 48 hours of a game, they should never do high intensity training because come game day, their body is still recovering and not able to meet game demands. In the future I will take this into account and make my sessions within this time frame strictly tactical and this is where I hope my tactical understanding will come into play.
I also learnt that football involves actions and we need to improve explosiveness within these actions. This is when I started learning about SAQ training as it can greatly improve the movement dynamics of players in certain footballing situations. At a high level this can sometimes be the difference between winning and losing. So monitoring this within tactical periodization and data collection is another good thing I have learnt and again this can be optimized with positive psychological underpinning and nutrition to develop our energy systems.
What’s next for you, any thoughts on the future?
Due to the current situation I have left university in Edinburgh and now currently seeking new opportunities. What I do I don’t mind as long as I am doing something that I love and that it’s involved in football in some capacity. I can finally finish my Level 2 and move onto my UEFA ‘B’ License and I am not ruling out working abroad again. If anything my dream is to coach all over the world in one form or another.