03 September 2011


I'm coaching my son's soccer team this year. It's the first time I've ever been head coach of anything my son's been involved in. I was assistant coach for a few years, sure, but that's very different. I ran a chess club in my son's school, but we didn't compete against other schools, so I was more a teacher than coach in that capacity. The only other time I was ever a coach for anything was in my first two years out of undergrad, when I was teaching in slower lower Delaware and I coached the middle school track and field team. You could tell it was a high pressure job, because my previous experience with track and field was that I had dated someone who ran track and cross country.

She didn't really like the way I coached, either.

However, I'm no longer 23 years old and I know more about soccer than I ever did about track and field, despite the fact that my own high school didn't have a soccer team until three years after I left and the first time outside of gym class I ever touched a soccer ball was to play intramural soccer in college. I do, however, understand how the game should be played. I can talk about defensive position and dribbling far more than I could ever tell someone about how to clear a hurdle.

Besides, it's recreational soccer.

The most difficult task I have is making the line-up to ensure equal playing time. I'm committed to giving the players equal time, no matter how much their skill levels differ, and playing them in every position so they can learn the game, unless of course they're absolutely averse to one position or another. For instance, I won't make everyone play keeper. I have a few players who only want to play in the backline. I have a few players who simply can't keep up with the running in midfield.

We're 3-2 or 4-2. I can't remember how many games we've played. Interestingly, I remember the losses.

It's odd coaching my son, because I'm very cognizant of playing favorites. My son plays baseball, and it's not a big shock to see all the coaches' kids playing the infield and playing all game, while my son (among others) is relegated to the outfield and spending a few innings on the bench.

Sure, I could play my best players all game, putting two very good travel players in forward positions and two others in midfield and reserve two others for backs, then shuffle the weaker players in as need be, but let me repeat...it's recreational soccer. The travel players get their time on their travel teams. Even my son, who is not a travel player, would play more often than not, because he's quick and he clears the ball out decisively when he plays back.

It's been great watching some of the kids develop from the first practice. We have a game today and we'll be missing four of our top players. I think it'll be good for the other players to have to step up.

We'll see what happens.

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