The American Experience

*Published 2nd March, 2023


While it may seem like a simple question, “Why the US?” is actually quite complex and nuanced. For me personally, it all started with a deep love for New York City. I’ve been enamoured with the iconic skyline since I was just 13 years old and knew that one day I would make my way there. But of course, it wasn’t as simple as just packing my bags and heading across the pond. I knew that I needed to accumulate more experience and qualifications before attempting to make such a big move. So, I spoke with coaches who had already coached in the US to better understand what I needed to do to prepare myself.

Along the way, I continued to develop my coaching skills at various organisations in North and South Wales, earning my coaching qualifications and diplomas from Bangor College and a degree from Cardiff Met University. Finally, the time came for me to apply to coach soccer in the US. I knew that spending each and every day on the field coaching would be invaluable for my personal and professional growth. Of course, there were challenges to overcome along the way, including personal insecurities and adapting to the different seasons of American soccer.

So while there may not be a clear-cut answer to “Why the US?”, for me it all started with a love for New York City and a deep desire to grow as a coach

Overcoming Adversity

When I first heard about a well-known company in the US offering professional soccer coaching opportunities, I was immediately intrigued. I wanted to know everything I could about the company. However, my journey was far from perfect. Unbeknownst to many, I was dealing with three slipped discs in my lower back. The pain was often unbearable, and I had to rely heavily on painkillers and rehabilitation to manage it. Doctors and specialists advised me to rest and allow my back to recover, but I was determined to keep working in my three different coaching positions while continuing my university studies.

Some may question why I even applied for the coaching opportunity in the first place given my circumstances. When I first applied to coach in the US back in 2013, unfortunately, my injury prevented me from pursuing this opportunity at the time. As such, I made the difficult decision to postpone my application and instead focus on my recovery. With determination and perseverance, I remained focused on my rehabilitation and It was then that I felt ready and prepared to apply once again for the opportunity. This experience taught me the importance of perseverance and determination in achieving one’s goals, even in the face of adversity. As a result of my hard work and determination, I was able to secure a coaching position with Youth Elite Soccer for the 2014 summer season and with Shelton Youth Organisation in Connecticut for the fall season.

Despite securing the coaching position, I was fully aware that my journey was far from over. As a young man from a small village in North Wales, I knew that stepping into the unknown would come with its fair share of obstacles and challenges.

Stepping Into The Unknown

When I first began to consider and ultimately apply for the opportunity to coach in the US, I knew that it would be a significant step outside of my comfort zone both personally and professionally. As I embarked on my journey to pursue my coaching ambition in the US, the fear of the unknown loomed large in my mind. The thought of what lay ahead was nerve-wracking and the anticipation of the experience only added to my apprehension.

As I reflect on the evening of July 3rd, 2014, driving to the airport to embark on this new journey, I vividly remember feeling a mix of nervousness and excitement. It was a moment of introspection, as I thought about the hard work I had put in both physically and mentally during my rehabilitation from multiple slipped discs. I also contemplated my strong determination to coach and grow both personally and professionally through this experience.

Stepping into the unknown can be daunting, but it is often the most rewarding and transformative experience that requires us to take that leap of faith. I knew that this coaching opportunity in the US had the potential to challenge and inspire me in ways that I had not yet imagined, and I was ready to embrace all that was to come. Despite feeling overwhelmed by the new environment, I was determined to observe and learn from experienced coaches to understand the US soccer coaching and sports culture.

Summer Camps

As I began my coaching journey in the US, I had a vague understanding of what “Summer Camps” were all about. However, my first introduction weekend clarified the situation for me – I was going to be travelling to different communities and states on the East Coast, coaching kids of different ages and abilities over a period of 8-10 weeks. Despite having previous coaching experience, I found the task of preparing for my first camp in Massachusetts both exciting and nerve-wracking. I knew I had to be prepared for anything – from not knowing the number of players to the players’ individual personalities.

Standing on the field, waiting for the players to appear, was a surreal moment for me. I realized how far I had come to reach that point, coaching in a foreign country and doing something I had always dreamed of. The whole experience was incredible, on and off the field. However, as the summer progressed, I learned that there were many variables we, as coaches, needed to consider – names, terminologies, ages, abilities, overall experience, and the temperature, to name a few. Nevertheless, every week was an amazing experience that allowed me to learn, both personally and professionally, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Fall & Spring Ball

As I reflect on my time spent coaching in Connecticut (CT), I feel incredibly fortunate to have been part of such an innovative and successful town program. The program gave hundreds of children the opportunity to participate and progressively compete in soccer, both in and out of state, and it was an honour to be a part of it for the initial fall season as well as the subsequent spring and fall seasons in 2015.

It was interesting to learn about the differences between soccer seasons in the UK and the US. In the UK, the season typically runs from September until late April, depending on the age group. However, in the US, children typically participate in soccer during the Fall (April-June) and Spring (Sept-Nov) seasons (approx). I found it fascinating to learn about the three levels of participation available in the US, including Recreation, Travel, and Premier. Each level had its own unique challenges and rewards, and it was a great learning experience to work with players at all levels.

Each level offers its own set of benefits and challenges, and it’s important for parents and players to understand what each level entails.

Recreation soccer is typically the entry-level option for young players. It’s often run by local parks and recreation departments or community organisations and is designed to be a fun and low-pressure environment for kids to learn the basics of the game. The emphasis is on participation rather than competition, and games are usually played on weekends. One of the main positives of recreational soccer is that it’s relatively affordable and accessible, making it a great option for families who are new to the sport. However, one of the downsides is that the level of coaching and training can be variable, which may impact a player’s development.

Travel soccer is the next step up from recreation soccer. It’s typically more competitive and requires a greater commitment from players and families. Teams often play against other teams in their region or state, and games may require travel to different locations. The level of coaching and training is usually higher than in recreational soccer, and players are expected to attend practices and games regularly. One of the main benefits of travel soccer is that it provides a higher level of competition. However, the increased time commitment and travel can be a challenge for families, and the cost of participation may be higher than in recreation soccer.

Premier soccer is the highest level of youth soccer in the United States, and it’s typically reserved for the most talented and committed players. Premier teams can be affiliated with professional clubs and may travel nationally or even internationally to compete in tournaments. The level of coaching and training is usually higher, and players are expected to be fully committed to the team. One of the main benefits of premier soccer is that it offers the highest level of competition and provides players with the opportunity to showcase their talents to college coaches and professional scouts. However, the level of commitment required is very high, and the cost of participation can be prohibitive for many families.

In summary, recreation, travel, and premier soccer all have their own pros and cons. Parents and players should consider their goals, budget, and time constraints when deciding which level of participation is right for them. While it’s important to strive for success and development in soccer, it’s also important to remember that the ultimate goal is to have fun and enjoy the game.


It is certainly true that children in the US are encouraged to participate in a wide range of sports, and it’s not uncommon for families to prioritise multiple sports throughout the year. On the one hand, this can be seen as a positive thing, as it exposes children to a variety of physical activities, and helps them develop a range of different skills and abilities. Moreover, it can help children avoid burnout from focusing on a single sport year-round, and may even lead them to discover new passions that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

However, there are also potential downsides to this approach. For one thing, participating in multiple sports can lead to scheduling conflicts, which can put a strain on families and children alike. Additionally, playing multiple sports can sometimes mean that children are spread too thin, and may not be able to devote the necessary time and attention to developing their skills in any one sport. This can lead to frustration and burnout, as children may feel like they are not making progress in any of their activities.

As a coach, it’s important to be mindful of these issues and to work with players and families to develop a plan that balances their interests and abilities with their overall well-being. This may mean encouraging players to focus on a single sport during a given season, or working with them to find ways to balance multiple activities in a way that is sustainable and healthy. By prioritizing the well-being of each player, coaches can help ensure that children have a positive and fulfilling experience with sports, regardless of how many they choose to participate in

Key Lessons:

  1. The blog post highlights the importance of perseverance and determination in achieving one’s goals, even in the face of adversity but looking after one’s health first and foremost.
  2. The experience of stepping into the unknown can be both daunting and rewarding. It’s crucial to gather information about the new environment, culture, and people.
  3. Coaching at summer camps and how was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, with the awareness to be both flexible and adaptable.
  4. The Fall & Spring Ball program in Connecticut and how it was innovative and successful. It’s crucial to keep learning and seeking new knowledge to improve coaching skills continually.
  5. Coaching in the US is a highly rewarding and transformative experience. While this may be true for the author, it’s important to note that everyone’s experience may differ. Also, mention the potential challenges and difficulties that one may face while coaching in the US, such as cultural differences, language barriers, and homesickness. It’s important to be prepared for such challenges and have a support system in place.

*These are solely based on my personal experience. My aim is to offer some valuable insights that may assist you as an individual and as a professional if you plan to embark on a similar journey in the United States.

Thank you – Diolch yn fawr

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