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Acting Like a Maniac When Coaching Youth Football, Should You Ever?
All people are different, God made us unique for a purpose. So, no two football coaches will have the same reputation. Some trainers are funny and lively, some are quietly confident, some are aggressive and loud while others go all in and enjoy the moment. All of these definitions of who we are probably have a time and place when coaching youth soccer, but there are statements you should keep to yourself. Many of these will not do your or your team’s reputation any good.
Here are a few examples:
About 16 years ago I started coaching youth soccer as an assistant coach in the 8-10 year old expansion team. Like most teams with rookie players and rookie coaches, we struggled that first year. We knew we were going to struggle from the start, as most teams in the league often lose every game. Our main trainer was a highly respected Real Estate Executive with the largest firm in the country. He had given talks to large crowds and had many direct reports, a well-informed young man. Our first game our players were nervous as you would expect with all first year players. Before the game, I saw the Head Coach doubled over on the sidelines with a grimace on his face and a green color near his cup. I asked him if he was sick, he said his stomach was killing him and he was confused. I asked him if he had been sick this week, he replied no, that the game was the one that upset his stomach and embarrassed him. This older man, the big gun was letting the youth football game get to him.
The head coach leads by example, the players always take tips from him and our head coach was nervous and sick before our first game. This was a time when our children felt the same way, needless to say we had a blast that day. Our coach was so focused on how the team was going to do, he got sick that day and hurt his team and the joy of the game.
One youth football coach I know gets so emotional before a game that he drives around in his car, sits in a park and cries before games to get all his emotions out. Obviously, this guy could use some kind of help, and I’m not going to let a guy like that coach go with me, but a lot of football coaches let their emotions get the best of them.
Although it is normal to feel sad before sports, if you are sick or feeling very stressed before sports, you take this issue very seriously. Do some of us wake up in the morning and go to work thinking about soccer games to run or ways to improve our soccer teams? Yes. Do most of us put a lot of time and energy into our teams and improving as coaches? Of course. But thinking about youth football and becoming a better coach has nothing to do with letting your emotions get the better of you before a game.
We all want our teams to do well and our kids to have a great experience, but life won’t change much and the world won’t stop spinning if you don’t coach the perfect game. If you put in the time and learn from others and your experiences and you are a good football coach. your teams will end up playing better. Over time, if your teams are coached well and play well, the wins will take care of themselves. As the head coach of football, all you can control is the preparation of your teams and plans and adjustments, you cannot control the weather, the refs or other teams.
Does this mean you are devastated when your youth soccer team loses? Well, it means you control what you can control and as long as your team is performing and playing well, that’s all you can hope for. In the end, playing well often equates to winning games, but worrying about it accomplishes nothing and actually hurts your teams performance. If the kids see that you’re not enjoying the experience, they won’t be either and a team that doesn’t have a smile on their face is a team that’s playing poorly.
Don’t forget to get yourself a snack before the game and bring some Gatorade with you. I pray when I go to the games or on the morning of the game I ask God to give me wisdom, patience and to have a long-term attitude in my actions. I also pray that God may be glorified by my actions and the actions of my team that day. I’m not sure God takes sides in youth football, I never pray to win, but I pray for all my kids to come out and not have one from every team no one was injured that day. For those who don’t, perhaps looking at how you will be remembered 10 years after the game is over is a good perspective to guide your actions for the day. Of course I’m also mentally reviewing my game plan, key changes and plans to change the date again.
For most of us the level of discomfort in any job is inversely related to how well prepared we are for the job. The first public clinics I did I was very nervous, I was first doing big clinics in front of people I didn’t know and the lectures had new information. (I like having a new team or playing your first game) of fitting and freezing reps or even having a scrimmage). As you would expect, the first clinics were okay but could have been a lot better. Now I’m always rehearsing live broadcasts and now in front of a crowd of 190 young Boston football coaches, I’m cool and confident.
When it comes to your youth soccer team, the better your team prepares, the less nervous you will be. The more fully prepared you are with your youth soccer team, the less likely you will be. Easy to say, hard to do for others. Either way, once you’ve made the effort for yourself and your team, you have to tell yourself that’s all you can do. As the De LaSalle High Schools 151 speed book says,
“There is comfort in knowing that you gave it your all”. Finally you just have to let the game play and see the results. If you’ve done your research and put in the time, like any Endeavour, you’ll probably become a successful football coach.
This is probably best illustrated by my teams opening game results, we are always well prepared, calm and confident. Even in our first game, our football looks lively, our formations are correct, we always have 11 on the field, we block and tackle well, we also pass well and it’s not we are often punished. We almost always win our opening games by a margin, even against the best football teams in our league
Results of Previous Years
We are able to do this because of our smart use of training time, our joint projects and the kind of progressive teaching methods we use to develop our teams. We go into these games with a lot of confidence. We are usually months ahead of our competition in that first game. We have been told many times by our opponents that our children seem very carefree and self-confident. My thoughts are that we come out like that because we, the kids know that they are ready to play that first game. All our coaches are calm, cool and confident before games because as we all know, all the kids take their cues from us, that calm attitude is part of coaching youth soccer well. If your coaches are stressed and anxious, the kids will be too. Even if deep down you don’t believe that any soccer game will work that day, you should show up for your soccer players and your team.
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