IT'S ALL YOURS, COACH
A simple, important, sobering fact needs to be stated at the outset: as a youth soccer coach you have a huge responsibility to everyone on the team. Not only do these youngsters want to learn soccer from you, but they also want to win, want to score some goals -- and they don't want to be yelled at. Your impact is rivaled only by that of the parent, and in certain circumstances, it surpasses that influence. You will find that your kids want to please you more than anyone else, and this simple fact can place tremendous pressure on you. It should guide your every action.
We believe that your responsibilities as a youth soccer coach are easily stated:
...in that order! Let's look at each one in turn:
Fun: It may come as a surprise to some of the parents of the players, but 99 percent of the kids are playing soccer because they want to have fun playing it. Those kids in your charge, Coach, have joined the league and your team to enjoy themselves. The minute you lose sight of that as your principal motivating factor, you're in trouble.
Learning: Youth soccer coaches must be responsible, dedicated teachers -- more so than other youth league coaches -- because most kids in America don't know the sport! They grow up catching the things that are thrown or kicked at them, except for an occasional kickball. "Offside" is when the offensive guard (in football) moves before the ball is snapped. Couple player ignorance of soccer with magnified parental ignorance, Coach, and you can see why we put learning second on the list.
Individual Development: A nine-year-old should be compared with himself, not every other nine-year-old. You help a team develop by helping each individual. And if you've succeeded in helping most of your athletes become better soccer players by the last week of the season, you're a winning coach, regardless of your record.
Winning: We believe the outcome of the game yields winners and learners -- there are no losers. Winning is important and needs to be an important part of the development of soccer players. But perspective becomes the important consideration, because while winning is important and must be part of the education process of an athlete, it needs to be understood as the result of hard work and individual development. The coach who succeeds in teaching the sport -- individually and to a group -- will find success in the won/lost column. The coach who helps the team keep winning or losing in perspective will find success in the personal development column.
THE BALL STOPS HERE
Coaches in volunteer leagues are often acquired like goalies: no one wants to do the job, especially, so someone gets drafted. You may have come to your soccer duties purely out of love for the sport or, like many, out of love for your child. Any coach, regardless of experience, has two factors that must be dealt with quickly: (1) individual knowledge of the sport and (2) ability to impart that knowledge to the youngsters. If you have come to your soccer team because your child wanted to play and no one else was there to teach or lead the team, how you deal with the two factors may well determine if the players have a positive or a negative experience.
Copyright © 1987 by Jim San Marco and Kurt Aschermann