“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught” Oscar Wilde

Words that are too easily forgotten in this day of rush and immediate results oriented society. This past weekend our u14’s took to the pitch in a, well, less than stellar performance. As we began our warm-ups, each exercise was challenged, the work rate was sub-par and generally, we did not come to play.

This has been a trend the outset of our past couple of games where we are so happy to be there but we just want to go through the motions of play. It was so bad this past game prior to us taking the field that I quit trying to refocus the team and let them go out and play however they deemed necessary for that match. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves down in a game we had every opportunity to win.

At the half, I asked the girls if they were having fun and of course they said no so I asked if they saw any connection to our pregame attitude and our performance and no one spoke up so I reminded them that in spite of our desire and thoughts, in a soccer match there are only 2 things that we control: our work rate and our attitudes and each affects the other. We addressed how we were the better team WHEN we played within ourselves and remained connected, that there was nothing holding them back from taking charge of the game and putting forth their desire to compete. So I challenged them to go out and impress me during the next half.

Our second half was a completely different soccer match, we fought for every loose ball, we kept pressure up, shut down lanes and made good connecting runs. We scored early and kept the ball in our opponents final third but were unable to work around the numbers to get the equalizer. Of course not having any subs for our game made things fairly exhausting for the girls and in the final minute, our opponent got loose and put the 3rd ball away to end it at 3-1 them.

During the end of game talk, I told the girls that we need to find our own reasons to compete and that motivation does not need to come from the coach just to get us to go out and fight for the game. That each of us has made a choice to play soccer so we need to be wholly committed to the process and not treat it like a social club. I did remind them that it was not rec soccer and that we didn’t have snacks and juice boxes at the end of the match so it was time to step it up.

As frustrating as it was for me to watch the process, I had to remind myself that sometimes, we just need to learn our own lessons. Sometimes, the value of the lesson is something we need help in seeing and that may be where our game had merit. Each day we are faced with decisions, how many times do we make decisions based solely on our immediate feelings but are frustrated or upset because the outcome of that decision was not what we wanted but we knew it was likely? If we as adults are constantly faced with these types of challenges and we struggle to learn the lessons we are blessed to receive, how do we motivate children to think about the processes, to think about consequences of our actions? To me, as a coach, I wrestle each day to find the “right” answer for the moment I find myself in. At the end of the day, I keep coming back to the old adage of “nothing in life worth having ever comes easy” and it certainly holds true for the answers I seek.

till I see you on the pitch

j

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