What is success? The answer depends upon who you pose the question to. It is also one of the most fluid, ever-changing quantifiers a coach must face season in and season out. Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a match between a well established side and one with a good many new players. It was quite obvious that one side outmatched the other but it became clear that both coaches were setting objectives for their players during the course of the match. Was the less experienced sides goal to win the match? Not likely, but it did give them the opportunity to work on staying connected with each other and getting a good read on the transitional plays. For the deeper side, they knew early that they could press the play and run the score up but it appeared that the coach was encouraging the side to find new combinations in play and to work on how to hold the play in the third they won the ball. At the end of the game, both sides had played a decent match and both had successes in their objectives for that game.
Each season, our pool of players is not guaranteed and we must look to see what our vision of the upcoming season should be based upon the players that wish to play for us. In a discussion with a couple of coaches after the game, we touched upon the topic of success and what each of us felt it meant to us. Everyone had different views and the comments ranged from the expected, “get through the season without injury”, ” teach some players how to …..” to some such as ” I want them to develop some sense of passion for the game” and ” we have to learn how to compete”. I left thinking about what a wonderful game soccer is and how it can be so diverse for all of us in that we can each have unique goals and ideas of what success means to us.
For me personally, success is an ever-changing, ever evolving concept that I would be hard pressed to articulate. I have goals for players, for sides and for myself and they tend to remain steady, but success is often found in the little victories I see everyday. A player that has repeatedly stated “I can’t” suddenly says “hey coach, look at what I can do” when the player that constantly hangs their head after a mistake in play, sets their jaw and bears down, when we collectively recognise where we are struggling and determination becomes a mind-set, these are the successes I seek daily.
After the game I watched Friday, a previous player of mine that is now playing ODP as well as on the State Champion team, came up and told me that she could tell how much one of the opposing players had developed in their time with me during the fall on our club team. Later that evening, the coach of the State Championship team called and asked if he could take my player to Region. Both of these events, while unrelated, were in my mind, a measure of success for what my time was about. Each day, I want to push for the best option players need to reach their goals and to define what they see as success.
I will leave you with this as it defines the mindset I try to keep everyday-It’s easy to coach kids with a burning desire and the willingness to do what it takes. The challenge (and reward) is to create a consistent environment where such a burning desire is generated in players where previously that fire was unlit.
till I see you on the pitch