Skip to main content

Coaching Youth Soccer is Like Herding Yellow Jackets

Coaching Youth Soccer is Like Herding Yellow Jackets

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

I just made what may be one of my craziest decisions since, well, three days ago when I ordered serrano chilés on a hamburger: I became the coach of my son's soccer team.

My son's kindergarten and first grade soccer team.

It's not that I don't like soccer. I love soccer. I played soccer for years, and still watch it on occasion. And I love my son dearly. I want to introduce him to the sport I loved for years. I just think I'm going to go crazy trying to teach a bunch of 6- and 7-year-olds about a sport you play with your feet, when we live in basketball country.

"No, Jacob, don't dribble with your hands, dribble with your feet."

"Because that's what they call it. Now put the ball down."

"Tyler, the ball is not an egg. Please don't sit on it."

"I'm not worried about the ladybug, Josh. She'll move if we ever make it that far down the field."

I don't know how much of this I'll be able to take.

If you've never watched young children play soccer, try this. Go outside on a warm summer day, and start eating a sucker, until it gets good and sticky. Then, hold the sucker in your hand until a bunch of yellow jackets start swarming around it. Now, run around trying to get the yellow jackets away from you. Tell them to pass the sucker, or at least kick it out of the swarm.

You know in your heart that if you were to sit the yellow jackets down and explain what they needed to do to win the sucker, they would all nod their heads and say they understood. But when you held the sucker up again, they would just all swarm around it, and your cries of "Pass it! Pass it!" would go unheeded, until one of the yellow jackets kicked the sucker, and it hit another yellow jacket in the face, and you had to deal with wailing and sobbing and hoping the yellow jacket's parents understood that getting hit in the face with a sucker is all just part of life.

Such is the life of the youth soccer coach. You try to teach a bunch of young kids about the skills needed in soccer without them kicking each other in the face.

I think the coaches of this age group are better off teaching them how to pass and dribble, and letting the rest of the season just sort of play itself out.

That's been my plan for the past few weeks. Show them the basics, explain how the game is played, and then unleash them on the field to face down another group of boys with exactly the same level of skill, swarming instinct, and face kicking.

I was a decent soccer player when I was younger. I played for nearly 14 years, from elementary school all the way through college and grad school. I understand strategy, I know the drills, and everything I need to do to make these boys a top-notch, tournament grade soccer team, if they were 10 years older.

When I was in college, we played European style soccer, which meant you beat the bejeezus out of the other guy. None of this namby-pamby passing the ball around to stay out of trouble. European-style soccer meant you crushed your enemies, saw them driven before you, and heard the lamentations of the women.

Needless to say, this is NOT how I'm teaching my team to play. They're learning basic skills, like passing and dribbling, because the last thing I need is for some kid to be carried off the field, sobbing, because his coach has delusions of Conan the Barbarian.

At this age, the boys just need to be left alone, to buzz around the field, swarming around the ball like yellow jackets on a sucker. They just want to play and have fun and goof around and not listen to some grownup tell them not to pick a ball up with their hands.

So I'm not going to worry about whether the other team scores a goal. I'm not going to be one of those coaches who screams "Pass it! Pass it!" at the swarming mass of skinny legs and kicking feet. I'm just going to let them buzz around the field for the duration of the game.

And I'll wait until they're in second grade before I teach them the sliding tackle.


---
Like this post? Leave a comment, Digg it, or Stumble it.

Comments

  1. I recently started coaching youth wrestling, I know what you mean! I love working with kids but they can be a hand full some times. Their attention spans are very very slim. Great post!

    Jacob
    Indianapolis Document Management

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Jacob. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    I was reminded of how hard it is to get a bunch of boys to pay attention when I had all 7 of them together for the first time this week.

    Still, we had a great time.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I am accepting comments from people with Google accounts to cut down on spam.
Otherwise, spam comments will be deleted with malicious glee.

Popular posts from this blog

AYFKMWTS?! FBI Creates 88 Page Twitter Slang Guide

TFBIHCAEEPTSD.

Did you get that? It's an acronym. Web slang. It's how all the teens and young people are texting with their tweeters and Facer-books on their cellular doodads.

It stands for "The FBI has created an eighty-eight page Twitter slang dictionary."

See, you would have known that if you had the FBI's 88 page Twitter slang dictionary.

Eighty-eight pages! Of slang! AYFKMWTS?! (Are you f***ing kidding me with this s***?! That's actually how they spell it in the guide, asterisks and everything. You know, in case the gun-toting agents who catch mobsters and international terrorists get offended by salty language.)

I didn't even know there were 88 Twitter acronyms, let alone enough acronyms to fill 88 pieces of paper.

The FBI needs to be good at Twitter because they're reading everyone's tweets to see if anyone is planning any illegal activities. Because that's what terrorists do — plan their terroristic activities publicly, as if they were…

Understanding 7 Different Types of Humor

One of my pet peeves is when people say they have a "dry" sense of humor, without actually understanding what it actually means.

"Dry" humor is not just any old type of humor. It's not violent, not off-color, not macabre or dark.

Basically, dry humor is that deadpan style of humor. It's the not-very-funny joke your uncle the cost analysis accountant tells. It's Bob Newhart, Steven Wright, or Jason Bateman in Arrested Development.

It is not, for the love of GOD, people, the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I swear, if anyone says Monty Python is "dry humor" is going to get a smack.

Here are some other types of comedy you may have heard and are just tossing around, willy-nilly.

Farce: Exaggerated comedy. Characters in a farce get themselves in an unlikely or improbable situation that takes a lot of footwork and fast talking to get out of. The play "The Foreigner" is an example of a farce, as are many of the Jeeves &…

What Are They Thinking? The Beloit College Mindset List

Every year at this time, the staff at Beloit College send out their new student Mindset List as a way to make everyone clutch their chest and feel the cold hand of death.

This list was originally created and shared with their faculty each year, so the faculty would understand what some of their own cultural touchstones might mean, or not mean, to the incoming freshmen. They also wanted the freshmen to know it was not cool to refer to '80s music as "Oldies."

This year's incoming Beloit freshmen are typically 18 years old, born in 1999. John F. Kennedy Jr. died that year, as did Stanley Kubrick and Gene Siskel. And so did my hope for a society that sought artistic and intellectual pursuits for the betterment of all humanity. Although it may have actually died when I heard about this year's Emoji Movie.

Before I throw my hands up in despair, here are a few items from the Mindset list for the class of 2021.

They're the last class to be born in the 1900s, and are t…