It would be easy to be *that* coach

This weekend we had two soccer games, one for the under 6 year olds and one for the under 8 year olds. My teams kicked butt and therein lies the problem. First, a little background.

I’ve already written that I don’t actually know how to play soccer. Along with that I don’t really take soccer very seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’m intentionally doing a poor job of coaching. I take the *kids* very seriously but soccer really takes second place in my list of priorities. So I care if the kids have fun and feel good about each game and each practice. I ask the parents to be ridiculously and foolishly enthusiastic about the kids on our teams and I try to compliment/thank every one of the kids after each practice or game. It’s a very big deal for me. I just don’t get all that wrapped up in how well they did on a given throw-in or whether we scored many goals. With one exception.

I don’t like getting killed so badly in a game that the kids know they’re getting killed. That happened in one game last year where the opposing team scored on us every 30 seconds or so. We didn’t score once and rarely was the ball not in front of our goal. We got creamed and the kids knew it. What was worse, from my standpoint anyway, was that the opposing coach saw it happening and didn’t do anything to try to balance things out. When the season was over the coaches all got together and we talked about how the season went. It turned out that every other team also got blown out by that team. And we all felt a little annoyed at *that* coach.

So now fast-forward to this past weekend. My under 6’s were creaming the other team. We took shot after shot at their goal and either we scored or the ball went out, the other team did a goal kick and then we scored. It was awful. I started pulling the kids back to the half-way line on the goal kicks to give the other team a chance to get some momentum up. We were still creaming them. I sat the best players down and we were still creaming them. I put in the girls who just want to pick flowers and hold hands rather than play the game and, you guessed it, we creamed them. My only consolation is that the other coach and parents seemed to see what was going on and I don’t think they’ll hold it against me. I hope.

Now it was time for the under 8’s. We were working over the other team pretty badly but at least I could manage the kids a bit better. I stuck my best players in the goal or as backfielders and the the other team managed to spend some time out of their own goal box and threatened us quite a bit in that quarter. But I couldn’t leave those kids out of the action for the whole game and when the cousins went to work on the other team they took that team apart.

The worst part of it was that it was really fun. And I can see how easy it would be to start caring more about the goals than the encouragement. Winning is fun, even when you’re not keeping score. Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they know they’re winning is fun. The parents are complimentary when you’re winning. And if I wanted to be *that* coach I can see how I’d go about it. I know which boys would rarely play foward and would never be goal keeper. I know which boys need to run more in practice so they wouldn’t get tired playing forward for all four quarters. And I know which boys can be trusted to guard our goal even when the other team is pressing us.

But I’m not going to do any of those things. I’ve already talked about this with my wife, who is *really* good at holding me accountable. But I can see now how hooligan parents and coaches get *that* way. It’d be easy. You just gotta stop caring about the kids.

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2 Comments on “It would be easy to be *that* coach”

  1. Erika Says:

    When my sisters played soccer, they really preferred hanging upside-down by their knees from the goal. I suppose they could have accidentally blocked a shot, but no one would have been more surprised than them!

  2. Tina Underwood Says:

    My 12 year-old son has played soccer since Kindergarten. He’s a decent player (even though my husband and I know almost nothing about soccer) and he has had the good fortune to play on some pretty good teams. On several of his AYSO teams over the years, our son had *fabulous* coaches. Whenever my son’s team would get 4 or 5 goals ahead in a game, these coaches would start instituting new scoring rules like “You can only score a goal if you use your non-dominant foot to kick it in”, or “You can only score if it’s a header”, or “Zora is not allowed to score at all”. These rules seriously limit the team’s ability to score and makes it more of a challenge.

    No one likes to get creamed and leaning NOT to cream your opponent is certainly something that AYSO trys to instill.

    In AYSO soccer tournaments, scoring is a little complicated. You get points for goals, one point for a shutout, etc… AND you get points taken away if you beat your opponent by more than 6 goals. I think it’s one point off for every goal above 6.


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