Coaching For More Than TheWin It’s Really About The People, Not The Final Score
When we signed up our 5-year-old son for soccer, his teamwas in need of a coach. I had personally never played soccer, but having watched his older sisters throughout their tenure in the sport, I had a good feel for the game. So, I thought,“Well, I could coach 5-year-olds.” Still, I never meant for my new title to become a permanent designation; I figured another parent who had played soccer —or a former coach— would swoop in and take the reins. Until that time, I tried to showmy son’s teammates what courage and leadership looked like, hoping to toe the delicate line between tweaking their technique while not crushing their passion for the sport. Then, something strange happened: I liked coaching. I’m not very good at giving half my effort to something, so if coaching was something I was going to keep doing, I knew I had to learn more about the craft. I bought more books, read about the psychology of coaching, and asked for advice. Subsequently, the kids got better as I learned more about the art of coaching. To cement my new position, I became a certified coach with the United States Soccer Federation. Soon enough, my youngest daughter began playing soccer too, and I thought,“There’s no way I can coach two teams.”I figured I had some limits. I wasn’t a soccer expert, and this had all
started out of necessity. Despite enjoying it, I never thought it was something that would become a permanent part of my life.
Then I began coaching two teams.
I had all the gear I needed from coaching my son, and I really was enjoying teaching young players. Even my children’s teammates’parents — some of whom had played soccer at a collegiate level —were encouraging me to continue. They were satisfied with the level of coaching I was giving their kids, and that’s when I finally relented: I became a full-blown coach. As of now, I am a coach with the Spokane Sounders Development Teams, which is an offshoot of the Seattle Sounders Youth Development Program. My son has since moved on to wrestling—which was actually my sport growing up— and while my daughter still plays, I’ve already decided to continue coaching soccer when she ages out. The most important lessons for me to teach the girls on my team are the value of leadership, patience, perseverance, and teamwork. I often remove myself from the equation and give them the agency to lead their teammates in stretches and drills. I want them to find their voices as leaders. That’s the same reason I’ll often watch quietly during games even when I see them struggling— the lesson learned on your own is often the one that stays the longest. As I tell parents many times (and also clients), it’s not just about any one win in any one game (or case). It’s about helping people grow and seeing them become the best version of themselves. When I see the girls gathering themselves up to start warmups even before I’m there, gathering up on their own to cheer, or encouraging
A real win is a strong daughter with a full heart, heading off to accomplish great things on her own.
teammates who made mistakes without being told, that’s a win for a coach. Same goes for our legal cases. Often a“win”at trial might cost more of a personal, emotional toll for a client than they can foresee. We’ve always got at the front of mind what is the true win— the one that grows, heals, and strengthens the people on our teams for the long run. When the players I coach age out of the league or my team, it won’t mean that much to hear later that they ended up playing in college or professionally or even just high school varsity. What I’d love to hear is that they became leaders in whatever they chose to do in life, and that the life lessons they learned on the field helped them get there.
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