It's not easy being coach

I'm coaching both Michael and Ben's soccer teams again this year. I was going to back out of Michael's team but was convinced by some of the parents to stay on. And honestly, coaching both teams isn't so bad. Administratively, it has been easier than last year -- we got enough kids on both teams and the parents have been quite supportive, so I'm not scrambling with rosters and emails. And really, it's two consecutive hours one day a week for practice, and two Saturday games I would attend even if I wasn't coaching.

Michael's team is 0-1-3 so far, but we are playing far better than last year, and we have a lot of room for improvement. And, thankfully, we have enough players. We could easily be 3-1-0, but we the first game we started slow, the second we pooped out in the last minute and allowed the tying goal, and the fourth we had two defensive meltdowns, one of which included one of defenders trying to kick the ball and whiffing, allowing the other team to collect the ball and take an easy shot.

Ben's team has been more of a struggle with a 1-3 record. Though we lost one of our best players from last year, we picked up one just as good, but we seem daunted by the bigger field the kids moved up to. And we're small but seem to be playing humongous teams. Plus, I can't seem to coach them out of the idea that they all don't have to go for the ball at once -- they weren't even this crammed up when they were preschoolers.

As someone who has never played soccer competitively, I always feel a little overwhelmed when I coach, especially at U10 and U8 with goalkeepers and offsides in play. I like to think I'm getting better and can explain things more, but then I see the kids all swarming for the ball or playing way out of position and wonder if I'm really improving. But the biggest struggle, especially with Ben's team, is a hell of a lot of goofing off. In the last three practices, I sent four kids to spend a few minutes with their parents because they were being repeatedly disrespectful while I was trying to talk. I almost threw a ball at Michael's head last week after he joined in the goofiness (and the sight of him or Ben being disrespectful toward me sets me off even more -- the other kids are going take their cues how to act toward me from them).

I have never gotten angry with a player for not making a play. Frustrated yet, but not pissed. But I've almost had it with the disrespect. Even telling them that we will keep losing if we don't practice well doesn't seem to have an effect. I'd love to show them where they should be stationed while playing a position, but it seems that I'm losing too much time just telling them to sit down and stop goofing off so I can try to teach.

Parents have commended me for my patience, so I guess I haven't lost my marbles yet. Still, I am feeling more like a cop than a coach. The last time I felt this way a few years ago, I stopped coaching Michael's team. I really enjoy coaching these kids -- and they generally are really good kids. I'm hoping the timeouts will have the desired effect -- goof off and you won't play. I sent one of the second-graders off with his mom and he so didn't like it. That's good, because maybe, he's learning.


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