Understanding Club Soccer Coaches: A Perspective

You see that’s it. They are people.  Some good, some not, all screwed up in their own way…just like us. But as parents we expect them to be something out of the frames of a Disney movie to our kids.  Just relax…your kid is not starting for Manchester United or playing on the US Women’s National Team. Even in the best clubs, you’ll find a few that are not your cup of tea but that doesn’t mean your kid can’t learn something from them. Thinking coaches are the enemy is wrong. That is a Foul.

I’ve seen soccer coaches show up to baptisms, ask to see report cards, give a kid going through extreme family issues an outlet to laugh and cry. I’ve seen many coaches elevate and prepare kids for high school success, higher-level club success and yes, college success (on and off the field). Soccer, like many other sports, has become a year-round endeavor and that means your kid is spending huge time with these coaches.  Some coaches are using that to teach, in their own way, more than just soccer.  I’ve seen it and it’s beautiful.  I’ve had coaches like this.  At the end of the day, the ones that genuinely love the kids cannot do anything other than provide a good experience for you. Will that make them the best soccer player all the time…maybe not..but if they are learning about things on and/or off the pitch (that means field to all the unwashed) it’s all good.

On the field, if coaches are more focused on developing your kid than winning the 11-year-old world championship (which doesn’t exist) that is VERY good.  No one is more competitive than me. At times I loath the “development over winning” thing.  But it is the right thing. “Why can’t they just put “Sally” on top so we can get that goal and win this thing?”  “OMG, why are they putting him in the goal?” Things I’ve thought and said. Save your lectures, so have most of you.

But coaches really looking to build great soccer players are teaching decision making and exposing them to different situations and ideas. That makes soccer unique compared to most sports. My coaches were on the sideline instructing almost every action at youth ages.  Soccer doesn’t work that way.  Many coaches will sit in a chair and barely utter a word during the game.  Drives parents out of their mind. It’s not bad. Again it’s kind of an experiment to them.  They are looking for who is thinking, creating, innovating, working hard, etc. Who is using the skill taught at practice and how are they “developing”. THIS IS VERY FOREIGN TO US.  Many of us want the screaming coach barking order after order.  If that’s what you have in soccer, you may be happy but your kid probably won’t learn as much.  There are exceptions of course, but rare.

If your child is interested in the possibility of college soccer, your coach relationship is going to be integral to success. Best you start to understand your role now and keep in mind that almost all of them are educated in the game, the good ones believe in building or “developing” your kid step by step and the great ones do that while loving your kid.  I’ve seen it…they’re out there.  Just maybe not as common as we’d like.

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