Monday, August 17, 2009

LIFE AND SOCCER LESSONS

I wanted to get back to my soccer team. We have played some scrimmage games over the past week. We started the actual season on August 10th. After three scrimmages I can say we have improved. This Saturday, August 15th, we played a tri-scrimmage. The first game we played a very good team and beat them 4-2. We were very happy with our effort with a couple of provisos. First, we are training a new goal keeper and she is struggling. She let in both goals on shots that shouldn't have gone in. I know that sounds bad, but it's true.

But what is cool is her teammates have been very supportive of her and she is getting better very quickly. Our seniors are the best, most supportive seniors I have coached in at least 10 years. They really are great leaders and we are better because of them. We had a girl score three goals and she truly showed how gifted she is as a player. She missed at least three more shots that she should have scored, according to her, and I agree, so her upside is large.

In the second game, our Junior Varsity played a Varsity team and lost a very close game and played with a lot of heart. We scored in the last minute and the players were thrilled. They were very proud of their effort and so were we coaches.

As for the third game, we just simply pounded this team. We won 4-0, but should have scored at least twice that many. Really it was a great day. We've had our moments so far, but what stands out is the rash of injuries we've had. At the end of the scrimmage we lost two starters including our high scorer to a concussion. That is on top of the three starters who were already sitting. I'm glad it's early in the year and the real games haven't started yet. It certainly dampened the day, but I think she will only miss about two games. I told her don't worry about the games, just unscramble your brain. She's a top-notch student as well as a great player. We have a lot of time left to let her get better.

I had a parent meeting and I told them my thought is to explain to them what we are trying to do on the field. We talked to them about the formation we play, our emphasis on playing in a controlled, organized manner. I also told them that I don't yell at their children for playing badly, but I will not tolerate a lack of effort. That sets me off and the players get it. Don't be afraid to take chances and don't be afraid to fail. If that's what bothers you, you will almost certainly fail.

There is only one reason to play sports and that's to learn life lessons. Hard work pays off, teamwork accomplishes the goal, don't be selfish, sacrifice your own glory for that of your team, and above all believe in yourself. This weekend we had an epiphany.

Sorry to get technical, but one of our frontline players went on a run down the sideline. About the same time, the offensive center midfielder broke free down the middle with the ball. As she continued toward the goal, the outside player continued her run, this made the defender stay on her. It forced the defender to decide between the two and it allowed the midfielder to finish the goal and score. Most players would have stopped their run because they wouldn't get the ball back, but our player continued.

At the half, I asked the team about the goal and what they had seen on that goal. The girl who scored stated, "She made a run for me that allowed me to score." I said "Right, she gave herself up so we could score." The girl who scored looked at her teammate and said "Thank you." The other girl smiled and was thrilled that her teammate recognized her. That's teamwork and I could have walked on air.

That's why I coach.

6 comments:

Jennifer said...

My boys both play soccer and I hope they have a coach like you! It's nice to see someone that truly cares for the kids he coaches. I hope they get more out of soccer then just exercise, because I feel like the values that it teaches the kids are very important!

Law and Order Teacher said...

Jennifer,
I agree. It isn't about winning, although that is good because it validates the efforts of the players. Life lessons are far better. Good luck with your team.

Average American said...

It's so refreshing to see a coach teach sportsmanship and teamwork ahead of competition.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

You know, like you, after being a cop I'd love to teach history. I just don't know enough to teach a class. But I've always loved being an instructor. . .

BZ

PRH....... said...

30 years of coaching and 35 since I started umpiring...and I still have much to learn.

Good work Steve keep it up!

Law and Order Teacher said...

AA,
There are lessons that sports teaches and those are much more important than winning. Although winning is cool!

BZ,
I suspect you know more than you let on. Read, read, read, is my best advice. I love teaching and look forward to it everyday. I am fortunate to have a second career that I love.

Pat,
I don't think I will ever stop learning. More importantly, I look on everyone I meet as a teacher to me. I have a lot to learn also.