Posts Tagged ‘coaches’

Reputations: Easy to Gain, Difficult to Change

April 18, 2010

“Well, your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation.
Aww, she never cared for me,
But did she ever say a prayer for me?

— Billy Joel, “Only the Good Die Young”

If Virginia’s mom (Virginia is the main protagonist in Billy Joel’s song) was talking about Virginia’s soccer reputation, she would have been wrong. Whether it is Virginia’s soccer reputation or yours, only you are responsible for the reputation you have earned on the field. No one else is responsible; and certainly not the young man whose words are being sung.

The same is true for coaches, teams, parents, fans, and leagues. Reputations are earned. They also precede you. Once a reputation has been established, it is difficult to change.

One area where reputations play a part, rightfully or not, is with referees. When I referee, I try to go into a game with as clear and unbiased a mind as possible. But I also like to go into each game prepared. I’ll ask fellow referees for background information on the two teams and particular players. I’ll try to find out the scores of the previous games played between the two teams. I’ll access the play and the behavior of the players before the game.

In addition, the more I referee, the more personal information I have gathered and use for upcoming games. I know who the better players are and which players are physical and sometimes overly-physical. I know whether a coach is going to question all my calls and I know if the parents and fans are knowledgeable or not. I try not to let these reputations affect my calls, but I am only human.

The beginning of a new season is a great time to work on one’s reputation. With each new season, there is usually enough turnover and enough time has lapsed, making it possible for everyone to start with a relatively clean slate. So, Virginia, if you feel like you or your soccer team has an unwarranted or unjust reputation, now is the perfect time to change it.

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Inside-of-the-Foot Soccer Fan Club

February 5, 2010

Cristiano Renaldo and David Beckham have one. So too does Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. Not to be outdone, Coca Cola, pizza, ice cream, and sour gummy worms have one as well. Even ‘The Weekend’ can be counted in this group. What do all these people and things have in common? They all have very popular Facebook pages.

After winning soccer’s inaugural 2010 MVP (most valuable part) Tournament, I felt that the inside-of-the-foot (aka ‘Inside’) was also deserving of a Facebook page. Check out Inside’s Facebook fan page called, “Inside-of-the-Foot Soccer Fan Club“.

I have always known the important role that the inside-of-the-foot has in soccer. But even the final results of the 2010 MVP Tournament surprised me. Sadly, many young players and their coaches don’t understand its significance. My hope is that if I can get enough soccer players, trainers, coaches, fans, and soccer aficionados to join this club, we will be able to generate a groundswell of support for ‘Inside’ which will result in players and coaches having no choice but to recognize and accept the importance of the inside-of-the-foot. In doing so and then getting these young players more proficient with the inside-of-the-foot, we will be one step closer to achieving my goal of improving soccer in the United States.

To achieve this goal, I am asking for your help.

  • If you understand and agree with the importance of the inside-of-the-foot, please become a fan.
  • If you are unsure, read the many posts in this blog about this part of the foot. If I am able to convince you, please become a fan.
  • Whether or not you have joined the club, please forward this post and the Inside-of-the-Foot Soccer Fan Club link to all your soccer friends and acquaintances.
  • If you disagree with my belief, I would love to hear from you and learn the reasons why.

At the time of this posting, Renaldo’s Facebook page had 3,253,043 fans. Beckham’s page had 2,538,905 fans. My goal for ‘Inside-of-the-Foot’ is less ambitious … for now. My initial goal is to sign up 1,000 fans. Once this figure is reached, I’ll add a zero to the goal total and go from there.

Join the Club and tell your friends! Thank you!

Adopt-a-High-School-Soccer-Player Program

January 11, 2010

Parents, who would you rather have train your child’s U8 soccer team? A 40-year-old ex-professional soccer player (I wish that were me) or a Senior from the local high school soccer team? While you are thinking about your answer (do you really need to think about this one), who do you think your 7-year-old child would want to be trained by?

Ten years ago if you had asked me that question, I would have asked if you were serious about giving me a choice. Without a doubt I would have insisted on the ex-professional. Who in their right mind would turn down such on offer? Today, and still in my right mind (I think), I would side with the kids and insist on the Senior high school soccer player.

The biggest reason for this change of heart is that I have learned over the years that soccer, especially at this age, is all about having fun and instilling in these kids the love of the game. While the 40-year-old ex-professional would be able to teach a child to become a better soccer player, I’m pretty sure the kids would have more fun with the high school soccer player.

I used high school players to help me with my Loopball training program. I will be the first admit that I had my challenges. But the challenges were mostly brought about by my high expectations and a curriculum that was a bit too rigid and heavy on the teaching side. But if you look at the photo on the home page of Loopball, those players will remember the young woman long after they remember me.

While there are definite challenges to having a high school soccer player play an integral role on a youth soccer team, I strongly believe that the benefits far outweigh the challenges. If done well, I believe the ‘Adopt-a-High-School-Soccer-Player’ program can be a win-win-win-win-win-win situation for all involved.

Winner #1: Youth Soccer Player

Youth players will relate much better to the high school soccer player. They are closer in age. The youth players look more like the high schooler than the 40-year-old. This player also remembers what she did not like about her youth soccer coach and what in her mind would be a fun practice. Also it is one less adult figure who is telling them what to do. After all, haven’t you and their elementary school teacher already done enough instructing and teaching for one today. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz got it right. After a while, everything coming out of adult mouths is gibberish.

Winner #2: High School Student-Players

What an excellent opportunity for a student-player to experience what it is like to coach/teach young children in a discipline they enjoy. With proper guidance and mentoring, they will have a chance to make a real and memorable difference in these youngsters’ lives. Coaching experience is excellent to have on a resume and looks great on college applications. Who knows, maybe this will inspire some high school student-player to become a teacher.

Winner #3: High School Soccer Program

Assuming a strong bond is made between the high school player and most of her youth players, I’m pretty sure that many of the players will insist they go watch at least one of Sally’s games (at least where I live this would boost attendance quite a bit). If permitted, the high school would also have an unlimited number of ball-boys and ball-girls available for home games.

Winner #4: Adult Coaches

While a coach may be responsible for the well-being and care of another player, the practices should become much easier. Also, given that many coaches have never played soccer, the adult coach will learn a lot about soccer from the high school player. The only thing a coach may have a hard time dealing with is the bruised ego when the players ask, “Where is Sally!?” when she has too much school work or, “Why can’t you be more like Sally?”

Winner #5: Youth Soccer League or Club

If done properly, the League should have many more returning youth players year after year because of the fun factor. The League should also be able to attract more coaches since the workload will be easier and the excuse of not having any soccer experience will no longer work. Because the young players are having fun, I believe more of them will stick with soccer longer and therefore, become better soccer players.

As far as the 40-year old ex-professional goes, have him/her coach an older competitive team. That will also be a win-win situation.