One of the harder but more necessary things you have to learn as a coach is when to put your arm around a player and when to give him a good kick in the butt.
Some think get deluded by Hollywood movies into thinking that coaching no more complicated than giving a Herb Brooks/Miracle or Win One For the Gipper speech. There’s a lot more to it than that. Progress on a team is rarely a straight line.
Heard a great compliment from one of my seniors last fall. He’d recently transferred from our school to another, so this was his first year on our soccer team. The coach of his previous team is well-known for yelling and swearing every fifth word. The kid said to me, “Thanks for a great season, coach. This is the first time I actually enjoyed playing soccer.”
It was very gratifying to hear. Definitely made me feel like I was doing something right. He was a first-team league all-star too, which further illustrates that enjoying a sport and being successful at it are not mutually exclusive, as some coaches seem to think.
On the other hand, it’s kind of sad that an awesome kid like him could play soccer his whole life but have to wait until he’s 17 years old to finally enjoy it. It’s amazing he didn’t quit the sport years ago.
Many other kids quit for exactly that reason.
I read an interesting article in The Oregonian recently about sports parenting. It began:
A Southwest Portland mom last week finished her first Little League postseason tournament and found it a stressful experience, especially when she saw umpires calling strikes and everyone keeping score at her 8-year-old son’s games.
The first thing the lady (and the other parents) should tell herself repeatedly is that the game she is watching involves EIGHT-YEAR OLDS. The only reasons for anyone to get stressed are if the coaches are being abusive or her son’s physical safety is at risk. Otherwise, relax and don’t ruin it for the EIGHT-YEAR OLDS.
Have any of you coaches every noticed this? A good chunk of the lectures US Youth Soccer gives to coaches and clubs is about the importance of player development and how winning should be de-emphasized… while most of the emails they send out are pimping the results of their various youth championships?
One of the coolest things about coaching is when you bump into a kid you used to coach and he’s an adult and he still calls you “coach.” It may seem like a small thing but it really shows the respect you’ve earned, the impact you’ve made on them.
So I’ve received a few comments from a set of parents whose two kids play on my U12 team. They were expressing the concern that their kids were getting frustrated at how things were going. They keep imploring me to work more on “teamwork”… to help the rest of the lugs keep up with their talented progeny. Now bear in mind that we’ve scored 16 goals in 6 games – not amazing but fairly decent – and that 14 of those 16 goals were true team goals (13 assisted and 1 the rebound of a shot that developed from a nice combination play). Still, I know at least one of them stays and watches most of the practices and I’m left to wonder if they actually watch. I work on aspects of “teamwork” every practice. Not to the extent I work on technical development – it’s U12 after all – but a fair bit. The team I have is very young and inexperienced. Tactical training is largely pointless is players can’t properly make or receive a 10 yard pass.
Anyways, one of the parents was explaining her kids’ frustration. She’s not criticizing my coaching style, she insisted (a stone called guarantee that she was going to do just that) but… for example, one practice we spent part of it emphasizing getting the ball wide and the next game, we did that and no goals resulted.
Wait so you work on something in practice once for 20 minutes, and the 10-12 year olds absorb it immediately and implement perfectly… that’s how it always works? That this wasn’t the result must mean I’m a bad coach, right?
All these years, I’ve assumed learning was based on repetition over time. Who knew that had nothing to do with it!