Plugging Along

I was not a good coach on Friday. Tired, short-tempered, impatient. One of my players wasn’t listening when I was talking so I stepped on his hand. I stepped on a kid’s hand. On purpose.

Lecturing and finger-pointing: a sign you're on the slippery slope.

I have another player diagnosed with ADHD.  I yelled at him to pay attention. I know the PCA and others emphasize paying attention to the 16 players who are working well, who are attentive, and who are engaged. Sometimes you just blow it.

Sometimes you lose your temper

It’s hard right now. We got blown out of the Association Cup. Five hundred miles round-trip to Lemoore, CA to get our asses handed to us three times. We don’t have a practice permit on Fridays. Weather’s not great and it’s dark at 5:30. You have to keep plugging. Which raises the question, what keeps you going when you’re in the middle of a long season?

For me, positive feedback is a great tonic. Here are some examples:

On New Year’s Day I get a message from one of the Hammer parents. Usually as a coach your first reaction is cautious alarm, like when you’re in your car and you see the SFPD in your rear-view mirror. You think back on what you might have done wrong — fortunately this was before the stepping on of hand incident. Then you click on the message and read:

“You have had a huge influence on our boys during this wonderful stage of their young lives, as they are grow from children into lanky teenagers. Patience, caring, courage and joy from doing things well are among the many things you have taught them.  We have watched with admiration as the the Team blossomed in 2010 and look forward to another exciting year. They are lucky to have you as their teacher.

(My wife) and I wanted to start out the first morning of 2011 by wishing you and your family a peaceful and happy year ahead!”

The mom of one of my captains sent this on Saturday:

“(her son) had a concussion this morning …. Very scary … He fell down stairs at a friends house in Tahoe, passed out, lost memory.

First thing he said when he came to was, ‘Will I be able to play soccer?’

Everything seems to be ok…..”

And sometimes it’s a player you’ve coached doing well elsewhere, this from the mom of a kid I did GK training with last fall. I also loaned him a pair of gloves in Lemoore after he forgot his at home:

“He wants to know how much you want for those gloves? 🙂 kidding aside, he’s grateful for the gk training *and* the gloves…he came up very big today, 2 clean sheets, *lots* of great saves, good distribution, and they’re squeaking through to next weekend on a 0-0 tie and a 1-0 win over the Cosmos…”

When things are hard, a kind voice can do a lot to tide you over. As these parents have done for me, I will remember to do the same for their kids.

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2 Responses to Plugging Along

  1. Alex says:

    Stay positive, Coach Jim, and your strategic approach will prevail. After 3 years away from coaching, I’m back to part-time (volunteer) coach for a 6th grade (girls, only) CYO team. We have a compilation of girls from 3 different schools: St. Monica’s, Star of the Sea, and St. Thomas the Apostle. We have a passionate Irishman as the head coach (a parent/volunteer). Even with practice rainouts, we continue to improve as individuals as well as a team. Current record: 3-1-1, with over half the season already complete. We have girls who have played since age 5 (that’s 7 years) while others have started only this season. We do our best to have those “teaching moments” and show them to use the width and length of the field. 14 girls coming together as a team. For me, it’s another fruitful season having an influence on a new generation of passionate soccer players. I once read an article: “Coach them like boys, but treat them like girls.” –I’ve taken that to heart. We teach them new skills (offensive and defensive), challenge them in practice, and influence them during matches. Keep the tips coming on this blog, sir, and we’ll put combined philosophies into practice. As Coach Ernie Feibusch always used to sign-off: “Yours for more soccer”, –Alex

  2. jimsakeeper1 says:

    Thanks Alex! That saying came from the USWNT and Tony DiCicco, if I remember correctly.
    (http://books.google.com/books?id=EWtswrFbnl8C&pg=PT22&lpg=PT22&dq=coach+us+like+men+treat+us+like+women&source=bl&ots=JD5Qc5rZTY&sig=FEIf6eOfSrmHFJ5n5SqwTZQ4Gu0&hl=en&ei=it80TabcBoeCsQPMtNWKBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=coach%20us%20like%20men%20treat%20us%20like%20women&f=false)

    I’m so glad you’re getting in to coaching. Every week I see teams coached by guys who aren’t soccer guys; they are undoubtedly doing th e best the can but there’s no substitute for hours on the field.

    Those girls are lucky.

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