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My son is in soccer, and he’s pretty good at it. Probably a large part of that is his birthday — he was born very shortly after the cutoff, so he’s the oldest kid on the team. Also, Uncle Cody plays soccer and Nonna coaches soccer and my wife loves soccer and no, he’s not ever going to play T-ball or whatever. Soccer.

(Interestingly, while he was born just after the cutoff in soccer, he was born one day before the cutoff in school, so he’s the oldest on his team, but the youngest in his class.)

My wife and I are the loudest parents on the sideline, by far. To the point where I wonder what’s wrong with the other parents, and how they can sit there and watch their son or daughter play a sport and be quiet. I’m constantly yelling things, mostly at my son, unless he’s not on the field — then I’ll yell at the other kids, too.

But as my wife pointed out to me today — his 2nd-to-last soccer game of the season — I’m a crappy coach. I only have three settings: “good job,” “run faster,” and “what the hell was that?!?” It’s not that I don’t understand the game — given a moment, I can come up with a good explanation of what’s supposed to happen next. It’s that I’m not really focusing on how to improve my son’s performance; just on how he’s currently performing.

Coaching — teaching, really — is a learned skill, and it’s one I am entirely lacking. And that’s not a good place for a parent to be in…like at all. So long story short, I’m about to go over to the local library’s website and reserve a book or two on how to coach a kid. I largely remember my stepfather as ‘that guy who yelled at me every time I did something wrong.’ I’m absolutely determined not to be that guy. I’ve backed off on the yelling as a knee-jerk response: time to learn something better to do from the sidelines as well.

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