The hardest people you will ever have to work with in regards to your players…their parents…
-My Professor for Psychology of Coaching-
Beautiful Game: As I continue to head into the real, hands on world of soccer, both as a player and as a coach. I’ve started to make mental notes. While ‘Weekly Wrap’ focuses on women’s soccer as a whole, at a global level,
For those of you who have lives and don’t spend countless hours trying to catch up with what I’m running around with; allow me to inform you that I have more active with the real, physical soccer world as of late, then I have been in nearly my entire life. Between writing, coaching, and playing now…it’s rather…off the hook, to say the least.
While I’d love to embelish on my indoor team that I currently play for [Smurfs…I didn’t get my say on the team name…], today I’d like to focus on my beloved Peeps [U8 team] and an amazing realization that came in with one near fatal swoop, while I was rocking it with the kids this afternoon.
Please understand that I’m all about the ‘…TAKE A LAP!’ for missing a shot on goal during practice, and ’10 PUSHUPS NOW!’ when the team isn’t jogging from station to station, but that’s for older groups…
When I’m working with U8 I’m realizing something; we’re trying to get these girls excited about continuation of play. We want them to want to come back each year to keep playing. U8 is important in instilling the idea of team, working together, and most importantly…having fun.
This is exactly why, when I illustrated the concept of the Tri-County Storm I was quick to point out that this team would start with U-12 and move up; strictly because TC is going to be a competitive program. However, my Peeps [ok, their jersey’s are pastel yellow and it reminded me of the sugary Easter marshmallow candies that float around during Easter, and up not being touched again until next Easter; yes Twinkies, these could survive a nuclear fallout as well] are just a bunch of little kids that kick the ball, herd up around it, and then later tell me about the pizza and carnival they went to the night before.
I wish the parents understood that. Now, I should point out that I have no children so I have to be careful of my thoughts as I lack experience. However, I can also say that my mother was pushed to perform well when she was a child by her parents, and because of that she did not push me [until I was a teenager, and then I was ‘too smart’ to listen]. Today the Peeps played a team that probably should not have been inside the recreational league that we were in. The players were hand picked based off size, speed, and growth maturity [meaning most were 8 years old and barely in]. The Peeps on the other hand has at least four players that just turned six. Their coach shows up, I’m not making this up, in a throwback US Women’s National Team jersey; this is when I started to question what was going to take place. Her team, the Firecrackers, started off pre-game by taking their jog around the entire field…we all know that there is a level of seriousness when a game starts off that way.
I am one who does not teach positions at U8. I really don’t. We play to have fun, and everyone gets their chance. Literally, we rotated six different goal keepers today. Everyone needs a chance to play what they want. Yeah, the Firecrackers had a proper 4-1 format with a GK in the back. The players knew their positions, and one step out brought down the hammer of the coach. Honestly, it was kind of rough to watch. These are little girls that want to kick the ball, chase after it, and a few times pick up the flowers in the field; that’s U8. Anyone who has played U8 in a recreational league knows and accepts this [I had so many flowers one day…]. Unfortunately this team’s coach didn’t. I should point out that this coach did direct a great team, and a few years up she’d rock as a competitive coach. I even think that I could of handled her for the game, until the parent’s started chirping in…
“That’s a handball!”
“Get in front of her!”
“What are you doing?”
“You gotta get that!”
I can assure that nearly every parent from both teams I could walk up to afterwards and ask the final score and they’d rattle it off like a NFL score. I still don’t even know what the final score was. That is the whole point of this entire piece; the fact that their coach doesn’t know and doesn’t care what the score was, and the parents knowing exactly the stats for each player leads claim to the biggest problem in young children sports:
Parents living out their dreams through their children.
Understand, I love winning. I was ticked last night that we lost in my indoor league; ticked. However, I recognize that U8 is a program designed for teams to work together, hold hands, laugh, scream, and just enjoy themselves. Any parent or coach who is trying to play through their players AT THAT AGE should be ashamed of themselves. You had your moment, now create a atmosphere in which your players will go home talking about pizza, carnivals, and playing soccer.
Reflecting back the score was probably close to 16-0.
Looking forward though, I know at least one girl hopped in their parents car today and nearly screamed:
“I kicked the ball!”
And in this coach’s eyes…that’s all that matters.
P.S. Thoughts towards the matter? Let me know, go find me on Twitter: @CoachDaugherty