First things first, I don't really consider myself a coach yet. I know many people who are and I'm for sure not on their level yet. When I came home from college, I was at a loss for finding a summer job. To my luck, I applied to six different places and never heard back from any of them. Not one. I was fortunate enough to come into contact with the man who ran a soccer training facility and asked if I wanted to work for him. Who would pass up a job? Throughout my summer so far there and now going through the two weeks where I coach by myself, also living in the soccer community where I come into contact with coaches all the time, I can definitely say that I learned a lot already.
1. Before you know every name, all kids will have the same nickname
This is so true from day one. I'm horrible at names, always have been and probably always will be. There's always so many kids showing up and sometimes they don't show up consistently. To solve my little problem, I began to call each kid a "knuckle-head" due to the fact that they all mess around when I'm talking. It's funny to them and it makes it easier for me to get their attention until I for sure know their name.
2. One coaching style doesn't fit everyone
Not everyone will listen to the nice coach and not everyone will listen to a strict coach. Every kid is different, so they all need something a little different to either understand or make them want to cooperate. I have little girls who listen perfectly with the nice coach, I have middle schoolers and high schoolers who listen to the sarcastic coach, and I have kids overall who listen to a very strict coach. They speed you coach at too can be different. Some kids are able to understand directions with minimal explanation and some need more explanation.
3. You'll definitely want to pull your hair out
Personally, being a newer "coach," this one is so true for me. Kids are kids. There are kids who listen, kids who don't, and kids that just drive you insane. Sometimes I never know what to do with them or I'll just want to take a long break during training sessions. Coaching teaches you patience for sure.
4. Don't take things personally
Relating to the above point, kids are kids. Just because they don't listen or talk back, it doesn't mean that you're doing something wrong that they don't like. There's a lot of factors that can affect a child's behavior, from a bay day to being hangry. Coaches should never take anything personally and should keep doing what they're doing. For example, I told the kids to do a few different drills, and of course, I got a stubborn no from what seemed like an overtired six-year-old. It wasn't that he didn't like me, it was that he was tired and already in a grumpy mood.
5. Kids help you loosen up sometimes
There has been days where I've gone to work and felt stressed. Either I think too much about the lesson plan or my day was hectic with things. With their fun loving nature, kids sometimes help me unwind by realizing that we're there too also have fun. I've been dragged into play soccer tennis, going against multiple kids in obstacle courses and I've been begged into giving piggy back rides almost every day. If I don't go to work with a smile, I know for sure I'll be leaving with one.
6. Kids also say the weirdest things
The age range I coach can vary from six-year-olds to high school juniors. Of course, I expect the older kids to make a bit more sense when they say something, but the younger half of kids I've met have said the weirdest things. I always laugh from their humorous imagination, though it sometimes encourages them to keep saying more during the session. Once, I heard a young girl talk about Finding Nemo with her friends and say, "What if they called it the armpit instead of the butt?" Don't know how she thought of that.
7. Plans don't always go the way you expect
For every session, there is a plan of what we work on with the kids. Although the workout plan usually seems pretty good, they don't always go the way I need them to. In most cases, kids will finish a drill ten minutes faster than I expected them to. Because of this, I've gotten better of coming up with ideas on the spot, but it's still frustrating if the kids just want to play games since they finished early.
8. Even the most annoying kids start to grow on you
There's always a few kids in the group that will really get on your nerve. They either talk too much, don't listen at all, or encourage the other kids to practically throw a riot in the facility where I can't get control anymore. The first kid I met never listened or paid attention and always tried to rush through things without doing it right. After spending about two thirds of my summer with him, I finally understood what he needed and now even he helps me with cleaning up.
9. Starting simple can be better than starting complex
I cannot say that this isn't true. Whenever we're doing a drill of any kind, it's important to start with the basics so every kid can understand what we're doing. If you start to complex, it'll be harder for others to comprehend and no one will be one the same page. We do this for the proper sprint from where we start with having the kids land the correct way on their feet and focus showing them how their knees should be bent, we then move on and add more and more details before they're all able to sprint properly.
10. Bribing is super common
When I say bribing, I don't mean "I'll give you a dollar if you do this drill for me." It's more like "We can maybe play soccer tennis if you do this right for me." I don't know why kids are so obsessed with soccer tennis or why they're so addicted to the recovery snacks we give them at the end of a session, but bribing is the last resort for me most of the time. The only reason it is is because I believe kids should want to do things that are asked of them without expecting something in return.
11. By the end of the day, you still love it
Coaching is hard. It's frustrating and tiring, but if things go smoothly, it's totally worth the hassle and I always find myself thinking of what drills to do next. Kids can be difficult but they're also the reason I enjoy coaching. I'm helping them learn something by the end of the day.
All in all, coaching is something I really enjoy. It truly shows you how your coaching style is different than others, but the end goal is to make sure that the kids learn something while having fun...most of the time. Being a coach, beginner or not is an important position as you're making an impact on someone's life in the end.