Mark Heffernan

Assistant Coach at University of Virginia (USA)

Mark Heffernan

Assistant Coach at University of Virginia (USA)


Mine is an unusual application in that I did not start soccer coaching until I was into my 40’s. At that point I was already a very successful business man in the financial world so why did I gradually make the shift towards coaching? The answer is that I found coaching to be the most interesting, stimulating, challenging thing I have ever done. Over the last decade I have worked tirelessly to acquire knowledge related to all aspects of coaching and player development.

Looking at the 4 pillars of soccer coaching:

  1. I have had a great deal of experience teaching technique to players of all ages and I am very familiar with much of the academic research as to how players really learn most effectively eg varied as opposed to block practice, myelination processes etc.
  2. Thinking about tactics has become something of an obsession. My tactical knowledge has been enhanced by the coaching courses I have taken but has mostly developed as a result of my own reasoning and analysis as well as watching thousands of games from a tactical perspective.
  3. I am familiar with most of the research sports science research as it relates to soccer. I have completed and passed the NSCA Strength and Conditioning exam as well as having taken many courses such as Raymond Verheijans soccer periodization courses. I would estimate that I read between 5 and 10 scientific articles or studies every week. Working with the renowned sports scientist Jens Bangsbo I created a sports science curriculum where the type and load of various elements of conditioning (for instance high intensity aerobic conditioning or agility) is built into every training session for all players from 10 through to 18.
  4. In my role as an investor and as the manager of many other traders and investors I have worked extensively with performance psychologists for the last 20 years. The benefits of this are obvious to me and I have been able to use these techniques with the players that I coach and to help other coaches think about this topic.

Having worked to acquire as much knowledge as I can I have put it to use in a number of ways.

  • I founded with the intention of bringing some of the best coaching video content to (mostly non-professional) coaches all over the world at a minimal cost. Inside Soccer has become one of the worlds premier coaching sites.
  • In conjunction with Claudio Reyna I created the New York Soccer Club which is a youth soccer club coaching boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 18. Despite the fact that this is an amateur club with limited facilities, 13 of our players have been selected to US Youth National squads over the last 6 years. I have personally coached 7 of these players. As well as coaching at the club I have been responsible for helping the education of other coaches as well as creating a full technical and tactical curriculum where all the activities are related specifically to our particular game model.

I would very much like to be considered for this course for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have a thirst for knowledge and I know I would learn a huge amount from the course. Secondly, I believe that in my prior life (inside and outside of sports) that I have demonstrated a track record of success that suggest that I can put this knowledge to good use. Thirdly, I would leverage the knowledge gained by taking it home to United States with me and sharing it with other coaches both at my club and elsewhere. Fourthly, I need qualifications such as this to advance my career and to allow me to coach at the level I know that I am capable of. Mine is not the typical soccer resume and because of that I have reached something of an impasse in my personal career despite the face that I work harder at improving myself than almost anyone I know.

I understand that I do not possess an undergraduate degree in sports science but I believe that my other qualifications and experiences in this field demonstrate that I have the knowledge required for this part of the course. I have also enclosed a reference from Jens Bangsbo who would be happy to attest to my knowledge in this area of coaching.