I think I may finally be starting to understand why people teach. I decided this summer that I would coach soccer; I’ve played the game since I was four-years-old, and without an adult league in town I feared that I may suffer some kind of withdrawal if I wasn’t involved in some way shape or form.
This is not my first foray into the world of coaching; I’ve coached my younger brother before when he was around nine or 10 years old. This year I elected to go with the older age group, as I felt I would be able to impart more knowledge in them than the younger age groups. Not to say that the younger children are impervious to learning, but from experience I know that coaching in younger age groups is more limited to tying shoes and making sure the kids kick the ball towards the right net.
So off I went, thinking to myself that with my years of playing high-level soccer and receiving top notch coaching for much of my life, that I was going to turn around and relay that and mold the next generation of soccer stars.
I may have been a bit ignorant at first to the fact that like students, athletes (soccer players) all learn at a different pace, and respond differently to different methods of coaching. On a few occasions I stood on the sidelines nearly pulling my own hair out, thinking, “that’s not at all what I explained, where did you come up with that?”
What this has done however is it’s forced me to analyze myself and the methods I employ; to understand that none of these kids are going to be at the top level of understanding the game yet, and that I need to find different ways of explaining the game to them so that they can be successful.
Through some trial and error, mixed with yelling on the sidelines until my voice is hoarse and repeating some of the same messages I’ve been trying to instill from day one in the players, I think I may be starting to reach them.
I’ve gained a newfound respect for all of my teachers I had while I was growing up; for putting up with all of my class clown behaviour and sticking with me to make sure that I was successful.
I think I know now why they do it, it’s for that moment when you see something click with the person you’re teaching and they start to “get” it. It’s almost a high on pride when you see one of your players go out and apply something that you have taught them, or when they come running up to you after a game smiling and saying, “coach, did you see me do that move you showed me?”
For all the frustration, and feelings that your words are falling on deaf ears, those small victories make it worthwhile, and make you want to keep coming back every week.