When my son was young he played several sports, Soccer, baseball, basketball. I was asked to coach baseball and when he played K-league soccer I watched. K-league was 1 day 1 hour of practice a week with a 1 hour game on Saturday, they shuffled the times so a team played at 8 am, or 9am and so on. The first day of practice the coach says, don't worry if you miss practice you can always go to another day, it will all be the same thing. When he said that I figured, hey, why not let Alex go to every practice for the 4 days. My wife was worried, isn't that too much she said? I said, are you kidding, when I grew up in the 60s we played after school until the sun went down! This is just 1 hour a day. So he did it. And then we got the idea to not just play 1 game on Saturday, we tried 2 games in a row which led to 3 and finally one weekend he played all 4. It was a funny site, all the other kids after the game would dive to the snack table and my son would run to the next group doing jumping jacks warming up for the next game. he got really good at jumping jacks and really good at soccer since he was practicing and playing 4X more than the other kids. They always let him play because since they always saw him at their practice they thought he belonged to their day.
The only downside was I didn't realize about the end of season coaching gifts, how could I refuse, I ponied up for ever coach of every day. Anyway, I met a lot of great parents but there was one who I knew from t-ball coaching who's son was also a top athlete, he was the biggest strongest kid in baseball. We decided to coach a soccer team the next year. Unfortunately what I didn't realize was that at the end of a soccer season all the AYSO coaches get together and evaluate and rank every player. Each player gets a score which is then databased and fed into a computer which then spits out the teams for next year to equalize the talent. well, at that meeting they are discussing my son and his. They are both ranked highest in the age group so the result is next season I get a team which has 2 superstars but the rest of the boys are problematic.
The first practices were chaos, I had boys that weren't motivated to run (bad for soccer) or total freelancers, or seemingly not very athletic. Practices were like herding cats. I found myself almost yelling and that's not me. I was trying to enforce a level of discipline that I never even did with my own sons.
About this time I saw the movie Hunt for Red October, and in the movie Jack Ryan is pondering how to get the crew off the russian sub. He says, they have to want to get off and then he figures out how..
I said to myself, how do I get the boys to do what I want them to do. My conclusion was, they have to want to do it. My job was to convince them all to want to play soccer as a team.
I looked on Craigslist and then I saw it, a yellow Brazil jersey with the word Pele on the back. For those that are too young, Pele was probably the finest soccer player ever on the best team in the world, Brazil.
So i came up with this idea. Each week I told the boys I would evaluate how well they were learning to dribble, pass, defend in practice and games. And the most improved player in those areas would get to wear the Pele jersey in practice and take it home with them, but only for 1 week. They had to return the jersey for the next guy that earned the distinction. It worked like a charm. Now every boy was cooperating and pulling the same direction, we were growing and getting better as a team. I went ahead and bought 4 more jerseys from Britain, Netherlands, Mexiico and each had a distinction for the kind of play I wanted to see. When all the other teams in the league were practicing on the same day with their drab AYSO gear, my boys were sporting authentic pro soccer jerseys at practice looking if World Cup participants.
At the end of the season during the team party the moms were returning the jerseys o me for the last time and they kept saying I can't believe this worked. Another dad thanked me because his son now showed so much interest in soccer that he decided to join the higher level soccer teams.
I leaned a lot that season, I realized the value of making every kids experience wonderful. My goal as a coach was that they always wanted to come back the next year....
Edited by jollysammy, 04 May 2018 - 02:55 PM.