It’s wild how often we fail to empathize with persons we should so readily be able to identify with. In the world of coaching youth sports, we adults often forget what it’s like to be a kid. Even though, like our students, adults spend most of our day locked in a prison like facility, being barked at by our superiors while we follow directives that may make little sense.
Kids come to practice wound up after being held captive for hours – aren’t we adults wound up after being mind numbingly sedentary in our work environment?
We show up at practice and the kids are out of control, is it because –
A) These kids just don’t comprehend the value of the skills you are imparting to them?
B) These kids have terrible parents who have no discipline and therefore have low thresholds for paying attention or valuing your unpaid investment in their futures?
C) The education system is failing these kids because…Obama or Bush or whomever you like to blame for our nations current conditions?
D) Your practice is boring…
Coaching kids is no easy assignment. But if you passed the rigorous requirements of being the only one brave enough to volunteer, you have committed yourself to doing your best with what you have to help these kids learn and enjoy the sport.
For every youth sport team there are 1) the kids that want to be there, 2) the kids that have a mild interest, and 3) the kids that their parents just signed him up for something to get them out of the house. Regardless of where they are coming from it’s your job as the coach to find creative ways to engage them to commit in some level to the team. Unfortunately the same approach won’t work for all kids.
A few tips we have learned through years of experience coaching youth of all ages and skills:
1) Get as much help as you can.
Draft other parents to assist with practice or even components in practice. Enlist their help and give them assignments, especially if they are vocal at games about what is going wrong. “Thank you for your passion and input, since you know so much about this sport why don’t you come and assist.”
Empower your stars to assist in teaching their teammates core skills.
Often kids that are the most challenging need to be challenged, give them opportunities to assist you with the team.
As you solicit assistants, keep control by giving helpers specific assignments or areas of oversight.
The kid has a mild interest your goal here is primarily to make it fun especially at the younger ages then they can fall in love with the sport or activity and see the value in what you are trying to do. These kids for the most part if you can show them how to win or score they will engage more fully in the process. Often you can make a challenge to get them engaged.
2) Have a plan.
Reading accounts from successful coaches they all come to practice prepared to maximize the time and efforts of all involved. We like to break our practices into 10 minute segments so that practice is structured and keeps a tempo.
When you have a plan as a coach you are mentally organized, you can enable people to assist you and the kids will better respond to the structure (See more on constructing a practice plan in our Dyojo Article – Yes, Practice).
An important aspect of the plan is to mix the fun of tea sport with the skills of the sport. As a youth coach your goal is to make the memory of your sport a good one, to progressively teach your team core skills (they won’t get them all at once) and to be a physical outlet for kids. If the kids are having fun and learning something, you are doing your job right.
3) Remember to have fun.
In most sports kids need to be fit enough to play, which usually involves running, find creative ways to get their lungs burning. For basketball and soccer, a simple running drill is to have two players on the line, throw a ball as far as you can and have them scrimmage 1 v 1 back to the starting point. Running + skills + competition = good drill.
For those kids that mom and dad just dropped them off and they want nothing to do with your activity, you are fighting an uphill battle. Find a means to challenge them to engage – for example some kids respond to pointing out that another kid is better than them and you want them to see if they can beat the one who is excelling. Some kids respond to challenges related to certain benchmarks, determine if you can help them set achievable goals that will boost their confidence in the sport. At some point if the kid is just relentless and will not listen you need to engage the support of the parents and or your activities supervisor because having them in that environment isn’t fair to you as a volunteer to the other kids who are working hard. This should be a last resort, not your first option.
Coaching, like many things in life, can be fun or frustrating. Much of your experience has to do with your perspective and how you approach the challenge. Start by setting aside some time to prepare yourself, get your bearings and stick to the plan. Get yourself some help and try to have fun. Remember that these kids, much like you, have been penned in for most of the day, your time at practice is an opportunity to get some of those physical and mental frustrations worked out in through a positive medium.
At the end of the season if each kid had fun and made some progress in their skills, your efforts were successful. Good job coach.
If you are an adult looking to burn off some steam from work or coaching, check out our article on adding competition to your fitness routine.
The ol’ gut isn’t as firm as it used to be and you know you need some exercise but there are so many obstacles to getting into a regimen. First, you struggle with time, whether it’s overloaded while at work or running kids around for activities once you clock out, the amount of time available for personal exercise is limited for most adults. Secondly, like the rest of humanity, you struggle with motivation. The stress of trying to wake up early or to squeeze a quick work out in between the commute from the office to home seem to be the most common options but many working parents struggle to create openings in their packed calendars. Should you do decide to join a gym, you soon find yourself out of place in the politics of waiting for an exercise bike that isn’t designated as the property of the Armstrong wannabe or getting a few reps in on the weight bench from the semi-semi-pro that looks like they could compress you like a tin can. Statistics show that as high as 80% of persons who join a gym in January, the New Years Resolution folks, will drop off within five months (Lake 2014). Many adults are finding fulfillment and success with league based sports such as indoor soccer as they provided a fun way to exercise in a structured, exciting and competitive environment.
Most people thrive with some sort of structured activity. While we may be motivated to get healthy we may not know where to start. Unless you can afford the expense of gym membership and a personal trainer, your willingness to pursue your goals may be uprooted by your lack of experience in devising a realistic plan for success. Indoor soccer provides youth and adults with an opportunity to exercise within the structure of an organized activity. The objective is simple enough that all skill levels can immediately engage in the sport. Indoor soccer league play provides non-stop physical activity that engages the mind, challenges the body and activates that competitive spirit.
When compared to running on a treadmill or other static cardio workouts, soccer provides a more complete workout. Soccer places positive stress on your muscles, heart and lungs within the structure of an activity that is fun to participate in. Depending on your body composition and intensity in the activity, 30 minutes of soccer can burn an average of 300 calories, whereas running an average pace of 6 miles per hour or 1 mile every 10 minutes burns roughly 135 calories for an averaged size person (many variables to both). Indoor soccer provides year round opportunities to engage in a higher intensity cardio activity that challenges the whole body. Thirty minutes of soccer will test your body and engage you in physical activity that would otherwise be rather mundane if that same amount of time were spent on a single piece of exercise equipment.
The primary objective for soccer is to work with your teammates to kick a ball down the field (aka pitch) and into a net (the goal) while stopping the other team from trying to kick that same ball into your team’s net. Like many organized activities, as participants engage in the sport they often develop a desire to progress in the essential skills. Many parents are recognizing that soccer provides a fun introductory sport for children of all ages and skills and there are few sports as fast paced as soccer for young ones to enlist in. Rather than enduring long periods of inactivity or the potential to participate in an entire game without having ever touched the ball, children and adults will enjoy constant action through competitive soccer. In this way, competitive sports can also serve as a supplement to a fitness routine as the testing of cardio health, endurance, physical skill, coordination, flexibility and friendly competition are all positive enhancements in building overall health. Indoor soccer adds the convenience of being sheltered from weather conditions enabling year round participation and allowing parents to enjoy a snack or get some work done while children participate. Many indoor facilities such as Kick City Sports Park in Springfield, Oregon have a full pub onsite with warm food and cool drinks (Kick City in particular hosts 20 taps of local craft beers and ciders). Indoor soccer adds opportunities for connection with other players, friends and family as the indoor facilities has shelter and amenities which other sports programs cannot provide.
As an adult your first time on the pitch for an indoor soccer game will confirm just how out of shape you are, as there is constant running combined with non-stop activity that will thoroughly test your endurance. The good news for indoor soccer league participants is that you can substitute as often and as many times as needed, again allowing persons who aren’t where they would like to be physically to engage and build their stamina. If you stay with the sport you will soon notice a hunger developing to be fit enough to complete (meeting your exercise goals) as well as the growing thirst to progress in your soccer skills (activating your competitive spirit). Exercising the body while challenging the minds through coordination of skills, the competitive nature of the sport of soccer becomes a fun means of keeping all ages focused in the setting and reaching of goals. Indoor soccer leagues provide opportunities to develop or deepen relationships with persons that will challenge as well as encourage you. Soccer provides a host of physical, mental and developmental challenges including cardio fitness, muscular dexterity, coordination, respect and teamwork.
Whether you are an individual seeking an activity to help you get healthy or a parent who needs an activity for your children, you will find that soccer meets your needs and more. For the health conscious adult, as you consider your fitness goals for the following year, grab some friends and start an adult indoor soccer team or register with your local sports park and join a house team with the opportunity to meet new friends. If you are a parent looking for an activity to help your children burn off their energy, indoor soccer is about as good as it gets with regards to a fun activity to observe, has no bad weather days and provides opportunities to network or get some work done while your children participate. All ages and skill levels will find that indoor competitive soccer provides a fun way to exercise in a structured, exciting and competitive environment.
Lake, Rebecca (2014, December 28) 23 Gym Membership Statistics That Will Astound You. Credit Donkey. Retrieved from https://www.creditdonkey.com/gym-membership-statistics.html
Thoughts on personal and professional development.
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a contractor, author, and host of The DYOJO Podcast. The goal of The DYOJO is to help growth-minded restoration professionals shorten their DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. You can watch The DYOJO Podcast on YouTube on Thursdays or listen on your favorite podcast platform.