By @jambrones, Guest Contributor
So, when I took my 7 year old son to his U8 Soccer game a couple Saturdays ago and they told me our team had NO COACH for the day and would I please coach THREE 15 minute games, I shuddered.
“All you have to do is keep telling them to spread out and stuff like that," they said. As I heard the Bill Conti bell ring inside my head, my fear turned to determination.
“Oh. Ok. I know kids. I teach kids band lessons all day, every day. I preach about how sports and music are the same thing. Prove it! I know coaching. I have read several books on Bob Knight. So this will be fine. “
They told me their names 39 seconds prior, but I couldn’t remember. I was fucked. By the time I mustered a measly “Go get it!” and a lame ass “Run! Pass it.” or the predictably Beatles-esque “Get Back!” we were already down 2-0. The game was only 2 minutes old. My boys were hanging their heads. I needed a time out badly, but there are no time outs. Shit. After the 2nd goal, the ball sat there like a grenade, the 4 of them afraid to touch it as they knew it would only lead to another embarrassing goal. I stood there; horrified, wondering “which kid’s name was Ethan? Or was it Evan?”
We lost the first game, 3-0. Now, no official score is kept in these games but the kids knew exactly what the score was. However…I was actually pretty psyched for the second game.
1. LEARN THEIR NAMES
2. TELL THEM ONE THING THEY CAN DO BETTER.
3. LINE CHANGES--- FASTER KIDS ON OFFENSE.
When I put on concerts with kids, my big rule is to make sure they feel successful (even when they’re not). So I don’t put them on stage and ask them to do something they can’t do. When I yelled “spread out” to the soccer team, they all spread out, (waaay out) and the tiny little kid with the ball tried to pass it, but it got intercepted… every time. So my ONE thing to improve was to tell them to only spread out a little bit, and try to dribble first. I explained that the defense will follow you if you dribble and THEN you can pass. I thought this would be more aggressive. I had no real fucking idea what I was talking about. I was just trying to make them more successful in the game.
I think it worked. I am obviously an amazing coach. We tied the 2nd game 2-2. Yep, now, we’re cooking.
I started getting warm in game 2 and needed to take off my sweatshirt. Earlier, upon arriving at the park, I was expecting to be chillin' in my camping chair, not coaching. So, naturally, the shirt I was wearing underneath was my “Italian Stallion” T. Of course. Jesus Christ. So yea, I’m that skinny non-Italian guy in the Rocky t-shirt coaching the shitty U8 soccer team of kids whose names I don’t really know nor do I really know soccer. This kinda rules.
I loved this. This little prima donna was our opportunity. My tenacious team was grating on this kid. And in a moment of weakness, as #10 had the ball, I yelled:
“Guys- everyone GET ON #10…He’s NOT GONNA PASS IT!!!”
Worked like a charm, though, the kid was so pissed off and we weathered his storm to preserve the tie. Our kids felt successful, I think. Well, I did , anyway.
I dunno…Ask Apollo.