The team that I am coaching this season is a group of Under 11 boys with varying degrees of skills and athletic abilities. They are a brand new team formed after the try outs this past May with a mixture of players from different walks of life and backgrounds. They played their first game today under my tutelage. It was only a scrimmage but it gave both myself and the team an insight on what needs to be worked on at the next training session.
We have just come off a full week of training that is known as Boot Camp. At our club, we work the kids very hard from Monday through Thursday with all kinds of drills played at a very fast pace in order to help condition the kids for the upcoming season. On Friday, we shorten the session and end up with a Party that always consists of Pizza, Watermelon and Sno-cones, generally in the reverse order. I don’t know what it is about flavored ice that has the kids waiting patiently in line. We have learned over the years that we need to release the kids by age so that the younger kids get to the head of the line at least for the first go round. After that, it is every kid for themselves. I have to say, that in all fairness to the kids and to the Parents, the kids do wait patiently in line with some semblance of order and with only minor scuffles on the way to the prize. I wonder if the person who invented sno-cones made a fortune or if the idea is so simple that everyone cashed in? As for the kids choice of flavors, who would have thought that pickle juice would be so popular.
One of the beauties of soccer or as us Brit’s (and the rest of the World) call it, FOOTBALL, is its capacity to absorb players with varying degrees of skill, any shape or size, with or without athletic ability, from any nationality and background, speaking many different languages and with the right coaching, take this mismatched group and turn it into a “Team”. The players very quickly learn that regardless of their own God-given abilities, they cannot do it alone and need the other players to help them.
Maybe that’s not entirely true. The coaches hope that they very quickly learn as this is not always the case. With some players, it takes a little longer than the others either due to their own inherent beliefs that they are that good or that they just don’t learn as quickly as their coaches would like them to.
Over the years, I have coached literally hundreds of players. Some I can still recal because of their special abilities. most are like ships passing in the night as we have briefly spent time together. Then of course, the “memory” thing is always popping up.
For those of you who have never experienced coaching kids, it is indeed a truly wonderful experience. Each and every one is an individual and even at the youngest age groups, have already formed their own character which as coaches, you hope to be able to mould to the Coaches way of thinking. Coaching is more than just teaching kids how to play a game. It is more about teaching the younger kids how to work together, have some discipline in playing in their position and above all, to rely and trust the others around them. It requires patience, lots of patience and the ability to communicate with the young minds remembering all the time that the Coach may have played the game for any number of years while the kids, the ones that you are trying to teach, have only just started. The Coach has already had many experiences in his or her life but the pupils have not had any in comparison. The Coaches mind has already grasped the principles but the student, the kids, have young brains that sometimes don’t even understand the language of the sport let alone the movement and the action.
It is this wonderment of opening up a whole new world that makes us coach. For us as Coaches, we get our rewards from watching the kids do something on the field that we have worked on in training. Or for the kids to work an intricate passing movement or to set up defensively without being told from the sidelines. Or to see that kid that really has little athletic ability or enthusiasm for the sport suddenly produce a move of sheer magic. It is things like this that makes it all worth while. Those special moments are like the elixir of life that fuel the passion that every quality coach has. This is what stokes the fire and makes it all worth while.
As a coach, we are always cajoling the players to do better. We are never satisfied with what we see, We always want more because in our hearts, we know there is more and that the players are capable of better things. And, it is our job to unlock the secrets of their minds so that they perform both on and off the fields in the way we expect and hope we have taught them to do.
I am often asked why I am willing to give up so much of my time, sometimes in blazing heat or freezing cold, to teach a bunch of kids that I will probably only have for 2 years. Or to put up with irate parents who think their kid is getting the short end or that the team is not winning enough games. My answer is always the same. I love what I do, I love the kids I work with, I respect the Parents and above all, God gave me a gift that I can share.
Ah, the joys of coaching…