Friday, January 26, 2007

Cedar On Coaching Soccer

It's that time of year when football coaches get the axe. NASCAR shuffles teams and drivers and even a few basketball coaches are let go.

I've coached mostly youth soccer, where I've coached with good coaches and horrid coaches. Though I've never heard of one being fired, and hope that no one though that maybe I should have been the first. There have been some.... but enough of that this is my blog and so I'll tell you my view on coaching.

I'm a quiet coach during a game and the coach who runs laps with his team, goes through the workouts by example rather than standing there with a clip board and whistle. I run and block my players shots and darn near kill myself trying to keep up. But they seem to have fun and I have a great time.

I'll always go out of my way to help those kids who maybe should be at home in front of the playstation rather than playing soccer.

One year I took on a new coach James.

The first day James was quick to point out that one of our kids was considerably over weight. It was true this kid would break a sweat just tying his shoes.

So James asked me what were we going to do about the fat kid, and added what in the world are we supposed to accomplish with kids like that?

I told James that our mission was not to win games but to be sure every kid learned something about soccer. That I would consider the season a success if on the last day Kenneth (the fat kid) walked off that field with a big smile on his chubby little face, picked up his trophy and went home feeling like a part of the team. That to me and to Kenneth, feeling like a part of the team was the most important thing.

As it turned out Kenneth had played soccer since he was five, six seasons of playing in the full back (defense) position. Where his past coaches taught him only one thing, that if the ball came near him all he had to do was to kick the ball out of bounds. Kenneth was very good a kicking the ball out of bounds.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen this in young players who were less talented. The idea being that by booting the ball OB the other team would have to throw in and the better players could steal the ball and go back down field.

It took a while but I finally convinced him that he could do more on the soccer field that just "get it out of there".

As it turned out what he lacked in skill he made up for in brut force. His lack of speed was not a factor because his size coming down the field scared the bejezzus out of the other team.

We had a great team that season so most of the games were so lop sided that I always put Kenneth in as a striker in last ten minutes of the game.

Kenneth made quite a few shots on goal. He was so close so many times. He'd get within a yard or two on each attempt but never did he make a goal.

The last game of the season with the score 6 - 1, I signaled the referee for a substitution. I called Kenneth over and told him to run straight down the middle and not to stop until he got in the goal. I promised him the ball would be there and all he had to do was kick it in.

I quickly pulled two other players and sent both right and left wings in with the instructions to get the ball to Kenneth but only after he was in the box.

The ball went in play and Kenneth started to lumber towards the goal. Time stood still as I watched the painfully slow process of my red faced sweat covered player move down the field.

The rest of my team passed the ball with lighting quick efficiency, stalling, waiting for Kenneth to get into the box, for what seemed like eternity. Finally with only 30 seconds left Kenneth made it to the box. The pass came and he more or less just kinda tripped over the ball stumbling in a massive pile of blubbering flesh and a thud that could be heard across the field.

And by some divine intervention the keeper of the other team missed the ball and it trickled into the goal.


It wasn't pretty, it wasn't the spectacular finish I had hoped for but it COUNTED!

Kenneth got his first goal!

A smile on his face, and a trophy made the season complete.

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