We’ve all had that feeling of wanting to play, whatever sport it may be. Standing on the sideline isn’t as fun as getting in the game. We long to be part of the action.
I recently started coaching my kids’ soccer team, and it has brought on a rush of memories. I never expected to be a coach; my wife mentioned that the AYSO league was looking for coaches and it sounded like it could be fun.
On the first day of practice while driving to the field, I was feeling nervous about this new experience. Would the kids like me? Would I know what I was talking about? My son reassured me that it was going to be fine, and he was so right.
We’re a couple of months into the season now, and each practice and every game has been a barrel of fun. Of course as the coach I have to shout words of encouragement from the sideline (which I never really did before because I was leaving that to the coach), but I’ve been happy to see that coaching is very much like teaching.
I’ve been trying to get to know each kid on the team so I can learn about their strengths, both in life and on the field. This allows me to cater the practices to what each individual wants and needs, and it also helps me know what to say when it comes time for compliments.
The kids are between 10 and 14 years old, which is a great age for soccer. It can be funny to watch the younger kids; they look like a group of bumblebees buzzing all around the field. But the league my kids are in is a dramatic leap forward. They all pass well, shoot nicely, know how to communicate and take feedback.
I’ve taught kids before, mostly stop-motion animation projects, which is why I signed up for this opportunity. I knew it would be fun because kids are awesome and it’s always great to watch them grow and learn. But this teaching job comes with the added benefit of getting to work out with the kids. I do all of the practice drills with the kids, so I get my bit of recreation for the week.
I used to think that the coach’s job was to get the team to win games. Yes, the coach manual that I received confirms the opposite, that it’s all about the fun. Now that I see how much fun each kid has during every scrimmage and every game, always saying, “Put me in coach,” I see that what they really want to do is run around with a team of friends.
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