Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Soccer Coaching, Day One

Short version: The girls were great, the parents bailed.

My vision of Heaven includes coaching a Little League team. The three years I managed were some of the best times of my life. After this year, I might just include coaching soccer.

Yes, I know it's only one practice, but we had fun! Not knowing any better, I decided to eschew the endless warm up drills and we had only enough of those to make sure the girls were loose and ready to go. We went right to teaching simple concepts and running game-simulations to drive the points home. After that, a couple of the girls taugh us how to play World Cup and we all had a great time.

Since my daughter showed herself to be a natural defender (read: Team Goon), I decided to focus on defense for the first practice. When I watched her games in the rec league she just finished, I saw her teammates do silly things on defense, like center the ball perfectly for opposing forwards. One little girl even managed to stop the ball in front of our goal and then abandon it there as her momentum carried her past it. It ended up the equivalent of a penalty kick as an opposing forward swooped in and just blasted it past our goalie.

I've decided that this season, I want the girls to know why we ask them to do things and to understand some basic tactical concepts. Yesterday I taught them about pushing the opposing forwards to the sidelines and delaying them so their teammates had a chance to swarm in on the ball. We also taught them about communicating with each other. We ran lots of very short game simulations where we rotated everyone through the positions and then we had the girls who were experienced forwards tell everyone what it felt like to be forced to the side and then double teamed once defensive help arrived. Having them discuss it among themselves got everyone involved in teaching.

The other thing I did was to lay out the goal for the team. I did not say the plan for the season was to "have fun." I said it was to be the best soccer team we could be. The girls loved that. Nobody asked about having fun, because they all know it's more fun to win.

Finally, the parents totally disappointed me. I had told everyone there would be a parent meeting at the end of practice, but the parents just showed up, grabbed their daughters and bailed, calling out some scheduling excuse or another over their shoulders as they ran off. I had to laugh, because it reminded me what a waste of time the parent meetings usually are.

Coach: And the goal this year (Susie, stop that!) is to have fun. We will try to (can you girls keep it quiet over there?) play everyone in the positions they like, but (OK, now go get that ball you kicked) we won't put girls in positions to be embarassed (yes, go ahead, but just take this flyer as you leave) because we don't (no, that's OK, I'll pick up the cones later, dear) want to...where was I?

It's gonna be a great year.

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