I’m coaching my oldest son’s soccer team – U08 (6-7 year olds) – for a couple of reasons. I enjoy coaching. Like anything new, I wasn’t sure if I’d do well a few years ago when I got into coaching 3 year old at T-ball. But there are many resources on how to work with kids of all ages and abilities and attitudes. Mostly you just have to simplify communication, make it fun for the kids with games instead of drills, and let them be kids. Also, work on their listening skills and encourage their effort instead of their results. So, you know, like being a parent.
It’s also extremely rare that a parent jumps right in and volunteers to coach. We work in and out of the house, there’s laundry (daily), meals, lunches, calls, work, family, parties, LIFE, it’s all our time, all the time. How can I possibly fit in some coaching? Well, here’s how… Like anything else in my life, it gets a spot. It gets about 5 hours a week, 3 for practice and games, 2 for planning practices and communicating. 5 hours. That’s it. I am positive I have more time for bettering my coaching self, but I’m also the General Manager and Head Coach of a Fantasy Football team, the Kirkland QuietHours, so that needs its own attention. Volunteering is hard when you don’t realize how much time you actually have.
I waited a few weeks after the notice of the roster and email list came out. Nobody jumped in. Part of me knew I’d probably do it, but also I’m not a soccer whiz so I just hung near the back of the room. Then I hopped in. I’ll hop forward now a bit, to last Saturday’s game, a “win” over the Jets (6-2, but we don’t keep score officially), running our scoring tally to 20-6 this season. But we have fast players and talented dribblers, so I have to just keep them passing and moving.
One of the parents behind me was yelling at their son to get more involved during the game. It’s distracting for the player because I’m getting them in one area, and their parent is yelling at them to do something else. So that’s where the title of this blog came from. If you’re a parent with a kid on a team and you’re not a coach, which is to say you haven’t gone to every practice and meeting and planning session and huddle, and you haven’t taken on the efforts of:
- Planning 2 hours of practices a week that keep kids interested, learning, and having fun
- Signed up the whole team’s parents for 10 weeks of snacks after games
- Communicated on a weekly basis with parents as a group and individually to make sure we know when practices are happening, and if their sons are enjoying it
- Placed orders for uniforms, then made 2 trips to the manufacturers offices when they screwed things up
- Talked with the league office about weird rules and changes to those
- Managing 8 family schedules for the best possible practice time and location against the league’s approved fields
- Had a background check
- Taken 2 hours of coaching clinics
- Watch a few hours of videos to find fun games for the kids to run instead of drilling them on repetitive, boring stuff
- Conduct practices with 8 boys who are jumping, yelling, burping, eating boogers, drawing faces in the dirt, and being BOYS!!!
- Getting the kids excited to play on a day when they could be home staring at tablets or cartoons, and managing their requests for playing time on a minute-by-minute basis…
… then just yell for your player from the sidelines and let the coaches coach. We’ve earned the right to do supercede any parent telling their kid what to do over our shoulders. Some kids already know where to go and what to do. Some need a little redirection. And some are just gonna need more encouragement. Parent them and coach them off the field. We’re gonna do the rest, with the intent that we’re having fun, getting better, working hard, and respecting each other. If that’s not good enough, go back through those 11 items and see how many of them you’ll happily do for the sake of kids having a good experience. If it’s less than 10, just focus on washing the uniform and bringing some allergy-friendly snacks one time.