Coaching youth sports is a thankless job. Well, it becomes thankless once you get into the competitive side of things. My only experience is with soccer but there is no doubt this story is common across the whole spectrum of youth sports.
Picture this. Two teams who had a stellar season. Both achieved greatness. Both finished in first place in their division. Both made it to nationals. You would think that there would be nothing but euphoria, right? Not the case. In both camps you had disgruntled parents and players. How do I know this? Well I still get information come my way from people who are still very much in the loop. I don’t have details but it always ends up being the same thing… threats by players (ie: parents) that they will leave the team if the coach doesn’t get replaced. I even heard that some players on the younger team will ‘strike’ if their current coach doesn’t get replaced for next season. That’s a new one. They must be unionized. Imagine, this on a team that lost ONE game all season long. Players. Why so serious?
From what I heard this week it appears these players will get their wish. Apparently the coach of the other disgruntled team will take over this disgruntled team. Four quarters for a dollar. Lol. That’s basically the solution the technical director of this club has for everything. As long as you are in his circle, he’ll just keep moving you from team to team until there are no other teams left for you to move to and piss off. Apparently he thinks information doesn’t get around. 😋
I really don’t know what the issues on these two successful teams are but I can assume that the major one is playing time or lack of it for some of the players. And also what is perceived as favouritism. Obviously as a parent who is spending alot of $$$ for your child to be in high level soccer you are expecting to get your moneys worth. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen for some players. In high level ⚽, that’s just the way the ball rolls (See what I did there? 😁)
You have the starting 11. Usually that means the strongest 11 on the team and then you have the bench players. These are the players that will come off the bench but in all likelihood would never start a game or play an entire game. At times, given the game situation some of these bench players may not even get playing time. It’s tough. It’s tough on that player, it’s tough on the parents but it’s also tough on the coach (something that is always overlooked). Here’s the thing though and I experienced it first hand as well. When a coach spells this out at the parents meeting before the season starts, noone says a word. No parent comes out and says that it’s an unfair practice. Why? Because each parent thinks it won’t be their kid. The shit hits the fan when it becomes their kid that is being affected. And in the end the solution is always to leave for greener pastures. It’s never about working harder to see if as a player you can become that starter. Nowadays, It all boils down to entitlement. You expect everything without working for it. Sorry but not sorry. The pattern is always the same. Instead of working harder, said player starts to miss practice more frequently. Becomes unavailable for games. Especially the away games where the travel is far. Why the hell work hard for something when there is an easier solution? Not happy? No problem. Leave for greener pastures until that pasture too no longer is green.
I know both coaches. They work hard at this. They’ve been the coach for their respective team for a few years so I am sure there have been issues in one form or another for years. The one advantage is that if you’re in the technical directors circle and are basically a ‘yes man’ you are given the heads up and the benefit of the doubt so you get to last a few years with the team. Unfortunately for one the time was up; yes man or not. I am almost sure that for the coach that is being replaced it will be played out that it was his decision to step away on a high note 😋. Doubt it.
PS: playing time isn’t the only issue facing youth coaches but if I got into it, this post would be a novel and no longer morning so I will just leave it at that as I am already pushing the whole ‘morning’ thing.
My daughters team is sandwiched between two age groups whose respective teams are having a great season. This team however is struggling. The last time this team had a stellar campaign was in 2015. I was their coach. Just putting it out there 😁. They have struggled since. As a matter of fact when the season started my daughter did not want me to go watch as they were struggling. At the half way point though we made a deal that I’d go watch only the home games. And if she felt she didn’t want me at any particular game I would not go.
Anyway, there is talent on this team. What it lacks is commitment. It doesn’t matter how good an individual player is, when there isn’t collective commitment it’s hard to succeed as a team. In a competitive environment, the biggest trigger to lack of commitment is lack of playing time. When a player doesn’t get playing time, their will to commit is nonexistent. In today’s generation it is very difficult to find young kids/young adults who are willing to fight it out and work hard toward achieving something. If they don’t get what they want, they won’t work for it. They either quit altogether or leave for ‘greener pastures’. There are very little values instilled nowadays. It’s want, want, want without working for it. It’s terrible.
Players, not getting the playing time you want? Parents, coaches, friends…Listen… @kobebryant talks about the mentality it takes to get what you want. @espnsbrother https://t.co/v7looolmpC
The other issue this team is facing is the lack of support from the technical director and also the coaches below and above this team. I was in the loop for many years. I know the drill. At the beginning of every season you get the defacto email from the TD that he and his staff will support any decision you make as a coach and will be there in general to support in any capacity. Bull, Fuckin’ Shit. The TD has shown very little interest in this team. I saw this lack of support back in 2015 when I coached the team. The difference then is that I knew what I was doing and the team was immensely successful 😁👍. The other issue is the lack of support coming from the other two coaches that could be helping but are not. Both the coaches of the younger and older team have players that they can send to this team to help support but they don’t. Another thing that happens at the beginning of each season (atleast I think it still does) is that coaches are told that they must support the other teams in the club when required. That as coaches they should not refuse a request for players when it happens. Another resounding bull shit. Both these teams have players that don’t get alot of playing time with their respective teams that could be sent to help this team but the coaches refuse. Why? Because they are chasing first place. Terrible. And do you think anything gets done about it? Of course not. Who are we kidding. I feel for this teams coaching staff. It’s a terrible feeling when you don’t get support from those that ‘promised’ it would be there.
Last night as I was walking past one of our local soccer fields it got me thinking about my recent years at the soccer club I spent a good 15 years at. Could my crossing paths with the current technical director of this club who literally destroyed my passion for youth soccer and coaching have been a blessing? In a crazy way I think it was. I mean at the time the shit went down obviously I didn’t see it that way but three years have passed and so in retrospect this revelation has actually come three years too late. You see, rather than just call it a day three years ago I actually returned and last year was on the coaching staff with the technical director himself. I mean think about this. Imagine getting fired from a paying job only to return to work for free for the person that FIRED YOU!! That has to be the dumbest thing anyone could ever do and yet I managed to do that. I even had someone tell me straight to my face ‘what are you thinking?’ ..I wish he had said it differently. Like ‘what is wronggggg with youuuu?’ a la Rajesh from big bang theory. Atleast I would have gotten a kick out of that.
Anyway, leaving this toxic environment has been the best thing to happen to me. I lead a stress free life. I mean let me rephrase that. I lead a stress free soccer life. Life outside of soccer still has its stresses. However I’ll take the life stresses over this toxic environment and all the shit it brings any day of the week. Now I simply live vicariously through my daughter. I go watch her play and stay away from everything that is toxic. Including some of the parents.
A few months back I wrote about retiring from youth soccer after many, many years. During the off season I was approached to return for the 2018 season. After talking to my family I decided to go for one more season. Both my wife and daughter wanted me to. I gotta tell you it was very surprising that my wife was my biggest cheerleader since she’s been wanting me to get out for many years now. Anyway last November during a coach’s symposium I had a conversation with a coach who I consider a friend. We talked about a few things including my returning and he told me that I should return if I still have the passion for it. Otherwise I should never do it for someone else. Pretty simple, right? That really got me thinking about my last three years since I coached the U13s. I realized he was right. I returned not for me but for someone else. The fact is that since 2015 things haven’t really gone the way I thought they would go. That 2015 season was an eye opener and in the end thanks to this conversation I realize that I don’t have it in me any longer. So this past week I had a conversation with the technical director and current coach of the seniors team I was to return to and advised him that I want to stay retired. The conversation went well and he understood. Honestly, I feel so much weight lifted off my shoulders. So it was close. That expression ‘I tried to get out but they keep pulling me back in’ no longer applies to me! Phew. 😀
So i googled to find out how long a New York minute lasts… well, ok… my unretirement lasted longer but it adds to my post title, no? 😋.
The idea behind youth sports is to make it about the kids and initially that is always the case. We get our kids into recreational sports to give them a chance to learn a sport, be active, socialize, have an outlet and hopefully make some life long friendships. That’s how it always starts. Everything changes when you transition into the competitive side. A different beast altogether . As parents we all tend to lose our shit and as coaches we realize that we will never make everyone happy. I spent many years as coach of a competitive team. There are times now that I wish I could have done some things differently. I do however have no regrets. I think that dwelling on things from the past is wasted energy. One thing that I always struggled with while coaching was that dreaded moment when you had to tell a young kid that he didn’t make the team or tell a player who was on the team that they were being replaced. I’d always have so much anxiety. I don’t think I can remember one time that actually went well. As soon as the word ‘unfortunately ‘ leaves your mouth that parent who is standing there with their kid stops listening.. essentially u become the teacher from Charlie Brown.. no explanation you give them, even if it’s the best most logical explanation in the world will register. They are angry, they are formulating their comeback and nothing u say will appease them. That parent will then proceed to tell you why you are wrong. It never fails. I hated that moment so much.
The biggest thing I learned while coaching is that although youth sports is meant to create friendships, it doesn’t. As coach I am everyone’s ‘friend’ because they need something from me. If you also have a son on the team you coach, he unfortunately becomes collateral damage in this as he too will have ‘friends’. As long as you choose a person’s kid you are the best coach in the world. If you cut this player down the road, you are the scum of the earth.
I thought i had this one parent who was a true friend. Turns out I was wrong. At one point, I was not coach of the team and his son was cut by the then current coach. I was there acting as assistant coach but had no say in his decision. That didn’t stop this parent from sending me a scathing email. As perplexed as I was to receive this email, It was hard to read. He made a point of telling me that almost noone liked me in the west island. Ouch. On the positive side atleast it wasn’t everyone ;). Also, in all likelihood those that didn’t like me, I didn’t like back. So even. Now what’s interesting about this parent is that while I coached his son not only was he one of my favorite players, he played quite a bit for me and eventually I chose him as captain. I treated him like my own son but in the end that meant nothing.
I am finding out now from my wife that my brother in law is going through the same thing in hockey. He coaches his young son’s team and he’s going through difficult years. He’s been vilified, hated and lost many friends. I had to remind my wife that these people are not true friends. I do feel for him. I can say that although I don’t have regrets, that I learned from the past, that I don’t dwell over it… if I could turn back time and restart I would choose not to be a coach. Not for what I went through but for the collateral damage that occurred for my son.
Hilarious video.. and so true.. god almighty!!! Jesus help today’s youth!
At the beginning of the 2015 season I got a phone call from the technical director of our soccer club. He wanted me to take my daughter’s team for the 2015 season. Quite frankly I was incredibly surprised. So much so that I didn’t give him an answer right then and there. The fact is I was actually looking to move away from coaching altogether.. I had been doing it for so many years. Anyway, the first thing I needed to do was ask my daughter if she would be ok with it. The other reason I found this phone call to be surprising is that this TD’s main mandate and what he always preaches about is that he wants to eliminate (where he can) having parents coaching their own kid. So again imagine my surprise when he called, offered me my daughter’s team and told me it would be a good experience for me AND my daughter. A bit contradictory to his philosophy, no?
Anyway, my daughter was ecstatic about the idea so I jumped on board. I was still apprehensive because I had some big shoes to fill but I decided to take it on. Almost immediately I found out I would lose our two top players to the older age group and that I would not have access to them whatsoever during our season. I won’t lie. I wasn’t too happy with that but that anger lasted a split second. I realized I had a great challenge and opportunity at my hands. Teach this team how to play like a team.
Long story short, I did just that. I got them to believe in themselves individually. I got them to believe that every time they stepped on the field any of the 10 players could score. In fact, unlike previous years it was difficult for our opponents to shut down any one player because at any given match it could be someone else who did the scoring. The proof was in how well the goals were distributed.
I honestly don’t think anyone, including the TD, thought this team would succeed considering the loss of the 2 stronger players. Not only did we succeed, we actually surpassed expectations.. undefeated, 2 goals against, first place and championship. I will go as far as saying that it actually irked some people.
The girls got accolades for their efforts from anyone and everyone… and rightfully so.. I was blessed with being told I was being replaced for the 2016 season. The reasons? As hypocritical as they can get. Pure manure being tossed in my direction. Garbage. I kept reminding the TD that I was a parent on this team before being coach and long enough to see all kinds of shit happen and to boot I was on the board for many years where I heard all kinds of stories about coaches and the nonsense that occurred.. coaches that still coach today..it fell on deaf ears. HYPOCRITE !!! From the club President I got the ‘it’s a thankless job’ email.. ya.. it should be thankless because of the parents .. i mean, let’s face it you will never make EVERY parent happy.. that’s par for the course..it should however, not be a thankless job because of the technical director who should be there to support volunteer coaches and all we do.
The bottom line is that there is this circle that exists.. and I get that this exists everywhere but if you are not in this circle forget about it. It doesn’t matter what u do, how good u do it, how hard you work, if u’re not in, u’re not in. Plain and simple.
Take a look at this nonsense…
One of the things I stressed with the teams over the years of my coaching is the need to respect your opponent. To the girls I always told them that when they stepped on the field, their opponent needed to understand very quickly that they would not be successful in beating us. However, there always had to be respect. When I knew that our opponent was weak I would tell the girls that after a certain amount of goals we’d stop scoring. We would work instead on the areas of our game. That’s how things should be done. A 16-0 score line? That’s how things shouldn’t be done. I wasn’t at the match so maybe i shouldn’t pass judgment but I am sure things could have been handled differently. I am sure. This garbage of course is acceptable and you know why??? That circle I wrote of. That circle.