Youth Soccer on yet another Saturday

This is my second season coaching the kids. It’s a short 8 week season with a game each Saturday. This is our second week of games. I was looking forward to this weekend because both games were later, which is nice. I needed to sleep in just a bit because I am so unrested lately. Unfortunately I needed my assistant coach for my son’s team to take over when I went to coach my daughter’s team. I have no assistant coach for her team, so I have to leave the other team.

And now I am drained. Although I thoroughly enjoy coaching their teams, it’s two practices and two games a week. I don’t think I’m giving myself enough credit for the emotional aspect of coaching and how much it takes out of me. My older team is pretty calm, with a few unruly boys that whip themselves up, mine included. But all in all, they will take direction and it’s nice to have an assistant to help make that practice a little easier. My younger team has 13 kids and is a mess. I love them all, but they need a lot of direction and a lot of instruction, and they turn wild very, very quickly. And their emotions are all over the place. There’s one kid who just can’t handle it if he doesn’t score a goal. He has poor sportsmanship often. He blows up. His father has threatened to pull him from soccer for his attitude problem. I think he should. I grow tired of his attitude during games. He’s been great during practice, much better than last season, but today he was a mess. He refused to high five the other team and I wasn’t going to push it. But next game he won’t start. I am done with his attitude.

I have another kid who starts to panic. He also happens to play goalie. I have another kid that play goalie and he’s great. But the kid who panics, I understand him and I have learned his body language these last two seasons enough to know when he’s in his own head and is about to have a panic attack. I pulled him out just before it started today and when I asked him if he was ok, he started crying and said “I’m having a terrible weekend.” I pointed out all the amazing things he had done to try and get him out of his own head. It was starting to work when I saw that I had an injured player I needed to go check on out on the field. I never did make it back to him, but he hugged me after the game. He was still sad and dejected. He’s the oldest of five kids and I wonder if there’s just so much pressure on him to be the leader of his siblings. He’s always worried about letting the team down and not doing as well as everyone else. He is a sweet kid, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t take a lot of energy to keep him afloat. His brother plays on the team too and he’s carefree and sometimes a bit of a behavior problem, like he will kick the ball to the next field for fun. It’s annoying, but I don’t have to invest a ton of emotional energy into keeping him from panicking over recreational youth soccer.

I have another kid who is super talented, has a great attitude during games, sometimes is a behavior problem at practice, but works hard to not act like a brat when it really counts. He’s a supportive teammate and he is a good kid for sure. His dad is also on the board on the soccer club and is a wonderful, supportive father. He’s more worried about sportsmanship and being a good person than being the best on the team. It’s so refreshing and I understand why he doesn’t do any coaching with all that he’s doing for the board, but I’d love to have his help.

On the other team I have one player who is awesome. He’s just the right amount of aggressive and good, he takes direction, and he wants to play hard. I have no problem with him. His dad though…the first game this player came to the sideline in tears because he could hear his dad being mean to him from the sideline. How do you tell a parent to stop talking trash at the kid? His son didn’t want to play anymore but we made the compromise to play him on the other sideline so that his dad wasn’t so close. Then the assistant coach told me that her daughter was on that other sideline and did hear the dad yelling very mean things. Why put your son in recreational soccer to scream at him and hurt his feelings? Why treat him so poorly over something that is supposed to be fun? Sign him up for something much more competitive if that’s how seriously you want him to take it. I’m not saying just lounge around and don’t take recreational soccer seriously, but come on, these are just kids. Let them have a good time and enjoy playing with new and old friends. Don’t make them take life so seriously so young.

I feel like I have such a different parenting outlook than most people. I got to try a few things, but I don’t feel like I was exposed to things that I would’ve been good at, like engineering. The more I let myself explore projects and house things to fix, the more I realize that my brain works more in an engineering pattern. It zeroes in and can concentrate on those kinds of projects. But I never went to science camps or took engineering classes or even considered that I might like engineering. So my quest with my kids has always been to expose them to all kinds of things and not waste time specializing in any one thing unless they love it so much that they want to do it. If they loved something and then one day they didn’t, I let them quit when the school year, season, or class ended. There was no need to force them into anything they didn’t want to do anymore. And as a result, they are well-rounded, they don’t take themselves too seriously, and they aren’t afraid to try new things. That is so much more important to me than being a high school soccer player who might get a full-ride college scholarship or a devoted art student who could get into a fancy art school. Those are just skills, not personality development that will serve a person for the rest of his/her life. The experiences of being on a team or pushing yourself in art can help you develop all kinds of skills, so there’s nothing wrong with doing those things; it’s just that I never wanted that type of childhood for my kids. Nor could I spend my entire free time carting them around when I was in the military.

Now I just refuse to do that. You can sign up for all the things you want in school, but there is a limit for things outside of school between all three of the kids. I want them to have free time they must fill themselves so that they all know how to entertain themselves AND have downtime to reset themselves mentally. I think if kids have too much to do, they don’t know how to enjoy time when they are unscheduled.

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