October 27, 2011
Youth Soccer News: Creating Real Winners
How Coaches can Influence Success in Soccer and Beyond
We are getting late into the soccer season, with some wins and some losses. We have watched young players demonstrate a new move and advanced players elevate their level of play on the field. We have created new relationships with the families who sit next to us each Saturday morning to cheer on our children. This is a perfect time to ask our children how they are feeling about soccer: asking them what they have learned, inquiring about their favorite soccer activities, and finding out what they are learning from their coaches.
The Power of Coaches
A parent whom I was trying to encourage to volunteer to coach told me he would never consider coaching a youth team. The reason was simple: he did not want to be the one to influence players’ decisions to stop playing a sport. This parent was very concerned with how coaches can negatively impact a team, which led me to think about all of the positive influences coaches can trigger in youth sport.
Last weekend my daughter won a game of knockout at a basketball clinic. I asked her how that made her feel and she said like a “winner.” It made me think about the same games and activities we use at our practices that can create winners on our team. This small level experience at a two-hour basketball clinic made my daughter feel confident and also created a desire within her to continue to play basketball. I asked my 6 year old daughter if she thought that everyone she knows feels like a winner like she did at that clinic. She really did pause and think about the question. In the end we had a nice discussion about how coaches can make everyone feel good about themselves through these enriching experiences.
At that same clinic the following week, my daughter was not partnered with any other player for a dribbling activity. It took a while for the coach to notice that my daughter was standing with her hand held high and some tears starting to form in her eyes. The key is that the coach did notice and quickly responded by becoming her partner. The coach was sensitive enough to realize the player was getting emotional and savvy enough to recognize the best partner at that time was her (the coach). In the end my daughter got some one-on-one attention from the coach. The coach turned an almost sad/negative moment into a winning moment for that athlete. What she remembered about that clinic session was not that she was without a partner, but rather that the coach picked her to be her partner.