BeanQuest

May 16, 2006

Soccer and the Bean

Filed under: beanquest, soccer — Brian @ 7:28 pm

Our final game will be Saturday, and the last practice was yesterday. Six of the original 12 showed up for the practice. One has quit, and another has mono, so he’s out. So, out of the ten remaining, just over half showed. Our past three games we’ve had only 7 or 8 guys show — there’s supposed to be 8 on the field at once, so everyone’s been playing the whole game, which is tiring. There are eight games in the season, and it’s looking like we’ll be stretched thin for half of them.

I can understand missing a game now and then – I missed two myself – but one of them missed because he had a conflict with swimming, and chose swimming. One of the key things to instill at this age (I think) is the idea of a “team.” Choosing to go swimming meant choosing to not be there for the team. That was OK with his parents, but I don’t think it should have been.

The same kid missed another game later because his father’s golf game was running late and couldn’t be interrupted. *sigh*

We have a few excellent players on the team. One who was marginal at the outset has improved remarkably. Another was very good at first and is even better now. Probably half of those still participating are not very interested in the game or the practices. Yes, Gwynne, I have one who routinely stops what he’s doing to pick grass and clover. Another who is afraid of the flying insects near the goal.

I have learned a lot through this:

– Being a volunteer coach is a significant commitment. Apart from the time (probably 4 – 5 hours per week), you get wrapped up in the kids and their progress. It’s hard to push the ones who want to be pushed without knocking over the ones who aren’t interested.

– A shout of, “Thanks, coach!” and a high-five from a 6-year-old is sufficient payment for the time invested.

– You need to know a little about soccer to coach 6 year-olds. But not much.

– You need to know a little more about soccer to appease the parents.

– The hardest part during games is keeping track of who hasn’t yet gotten to do a throw-in. If you let one guy do it twice before everyone else has done it once, they *will* tell you.

– The most important part is pointing out during games when you see one of them try something from practice, or avoid a mistake they’ve made before. A shout of “good eye, Joe!” or “well done, Pat!” puts a little grin on a little face.

– Kindergarten teachers are underappreciated. However much they’re appreciated, it’s not enough. I don’t know how they keep control of so many distractible and distracting little people at once for so long.

It has been a lot of fun, and I am so very glad I did it. Partly for the experience and partly so that these 12 boys could have a chance to try soccer out and see if they like it this year. Remember that I volunteered only when I heard there were not enough coaches – I think kids should get a chance to try stuff, and I’m glad to have been able to help that happen for a few.

I’m not quite of the right mindset, though, to work with that age. I don’t know what to do with the grass-pickers and chit-chatters and ball-ignorers. Not in a large group. One-on-one I can get into their heads, but in a group, I can’t focus that much on one without losing all the others. And once they’re lost, man are they tough to get back! At the last practice, when I looked up from one boy recovering from a ball to the face, I found that three others were off, about 80 yards away from me (and about 70 of those away from the practice area) just kind of wandering around…

Maybe it’s a combination of the age and the sport. I’m not a big soccer person. I don’t have anything like a “love for the game,” and that works against me. I do like the idea of working with kids – just ones that are a little bit older (I’m thinking Jr. High and High School) and on something I have more personal interest in.

I’ll have to keep an eye out for opportunities to work with older kids.

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