I think the most difficult thing to write is the first sentence of the first entry. I have labored over this in my head — have told myself for months to do it (even years), but I finally decided to start. So, why am I doing this? Why is a trial lawyer from Southeast Texas, whose participation in soccer only began 6 years ago, blogging about soccer?
It all started with a uniform. My oldest child, who was 8 at the time, decided she wanted to have a neighborhood soccer team. A purple team (with some highlights). She and her friend decided the uniform first, then the idea. They needed a coach. I grew up playing the basic football (American), Basketball, Baseball, and not so basic Tennis. I always loved coaching — my basketball coach in high school allowed me freedoms there. I like organizing too — and have organized flag football in my hometown, at law school, etc. More than anything else, I like to participate, measure, evaluate, and improve. Soccer provided a great outlet and lab for such a personality. The kids were willing participants.
So, here I am 6 years later, having coached-trained, at times, 5 teams in the same season. All of the teams I organized, I trained and coached as our home town lacked a soccer club. When we started, I was aware of one other team from Vidor, by year 2, we added 3 more, then more the next and the next, etc.
|2010 Nike Rush Champs – U13G|
In the beginning, the sessions were dreadfully inefficient. I was learning the game along with the kids. In our first game, we allowed a goal in under a minute. In our first season, we scored 7 goals and won two matches. In our second season, we scored 70, allowed 5 and were undefeated. A lot of effort and examination occurred along the way (and still does). My belief is that you can and should learn from those around you. Two of the challenges to that impede most little league coaches are either (1) apathy (sometimes I wish I had it), or, more commonly in competitive sports, (2) a belief that you already know everything.
In regard to (2), I once helped organize a coaching clinic with Kyle Green, head baseball coach at Vidor High School and a wonderful teacher of the game. I encouraged all of the little league coaches to attend. Most of them informed me that it was a waste of time. At the same time, Coach Green told me the biggest problem for boys entering high school is a lack of basic fundamentals, including how to throw a baseball. So, on one hand, you have father-coaches convinced they know enough that they do not need help, while on the other a professional coach saying that the kids have not been taught the basics. Something has to give.
Back to soccer. I do not look at my lack of playing time or relatively short experience as a disadvantage. Rather, it works in my favor. I was (and still am) effectively a blank slate. I got in the trenches with the kids and learned the game form the ground up. Along the way, I asked questions, read books, watched videos and games, watched other coaches train, or whatever else I could do to help the kids. I learn something new every time I watch a game or coach a practice. While I wish I could have played growing up, I do not see that as a disadvantage coaching or teaching the game. Obviously, people that grew up and played the game their whole life can skip the growing pains I experienced, but, at the same time, those growing pains help me understand the game at a very basic level that makes it easy for me to talk to youth about.
I learned early on that the basics of coaching are (1) paying attention to your team and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses (as well as your own), (2) being flexible (“blessed are the flexible, for they won’t be bent out of shape”), and (3) develop communication channels that are understandable by your team — no sense talking over their head with a bunch of pre-packaged coach-isms. More on that later.
I look forward to posting ideas on the beautiful game and hope that it is of some interest to someone other than me. Cheers.