My first coaching job was as an Assistant High School Soccer Coach. Our local high school was beginning soccer as a club sport. My best friend and I applied and both got the jobs.
We were both graduates from this high school. He played soccer in college. I had never played the game, although I had played many other sports. This was going to be the start of a GREAT coaching ride for both of us.
We got together in the summer before our first season to discuss why we are coaching. Up until then, I had never put much thought into it. Here are some of the questions we asked ourselves to help us think through the kind of coaches we wanted to become.
Think back to your former coaches and teachers. They are our role models, and you will become a role model for the next generation. HUM? Never thought of that, did you!
- What did you like about them?
- What did you not like?
- Did they know their stuff?
- How did they try to motivate you? Did they yell, encourage, or a bit of both?
- Did they “practice what they preached” when you saw them in action or away from the sport?
- Did all players show improvement over the course of the season?
- Where practices and games fun for everyone, regardless of skill level?
WOW? Now I was not so sure that I even wanted to be a coach. The responsibility of molding young lives for the future became, for a moment anyway, a scary thought.
Then we put some action steps into our observations and, over time, massaged it into the way we coach. It looks like this:
Mission: To provide players, parents, coaches, and referees a fun atmosphere to enjoy the game of soccer.
Focus: Fun, fitness and skill development.
We will help each player improve during the course of the season by:
- Providing a safe environment for players to play and enjoy the game of soccer
- Playing everyone equally (except on Varsity – all Varsity players will play significant time each game, but it may not be equal. Certainly though, none of this “put them in for the last minute.”)
- Building self-control, which builds character
- Encouraging through positive reinforcement to achieve positive self-esteem
- Providing skill development at our practices and games
- Showing respect to yourself, your opponents and the referees
- As adults, providing a positive model from our lives
- Having FUN!
Our game philosophy then became simple.
- Commit first to doing your best, second to team loyalty and third to the highest total on the scoreboard.
- Respect the contest, yourself, your opponents and the referees.
- Determine to enjoy the competition; doing whatever it takes for you and your opponents to have fun at what you are doing.
It’s been 40 years since we first sat down to figure out what we were going to do that initial fall season. We started as a couple of guys who had a heart for teaching kids and a desire to help positively advance into adulthood. We chose to coach soccer as the vehicle. We continued our education (both of us are USSF “B” Licensed Coaches) so we could be the best soccer coaches we could be. But I think the key was molding our time together with the players in such a way that they knew we were more concerned about them than anything else.
You may just coach for a season, or a few seasons as your child grows up, or coaching may become a life adventure. Wherever you are at, we all begin the same. Take some time to consider, now that you are a coach, what your coaching philosophy will be.
Coaching is a GREAT adventure!
I joined MOTI Sports in January to help in a sales consulting capacity during our USC Annual Conference show in Chicago in 2018. I am the former Coach of Orono High School for 35 years and hold a USSF Class B License. My professional background is 40 years in the capacity of manager of a retail grocery store and extensive experience with accounting and book-keeping.