Both the u15s and the u17s took to the pitch this past weekend to play their 1st games. Both teams walked away with the wins in games that really did not stretch their abilities. As we tried to help the players understand that yes, it was good to begin with a win, but we really need to understand where our weaknesses and strengths are and the games we played just did not serve our best interest. We stressed the facts that we were just more ready than our opponents this past weekend but that we need to be focused on looking ahead so that we can be prepared for what we may face down the road this season.
Both teams struggled to find purpose in their 1st training sessions this week. They repeatedly made comments to the effect that they won this past weekend so why did they need to work on the specific topics we were covering in training. The group focus was just not what it should or could have been and I was to be honest, very disappointed. In our discussions, I told some of them that they were 1 maybe 2 seasons away from the end of their soccer days unless they were planning on playing in college. For those that expressed a desire to play at college, I challenged them to ask themselves how many players are preparing and doing all that they can for the chance to possibly win one of those roster spots at college? How many training opportunities can they afford to take lightly before they are not as sharp, not as technical, or not as solid as the player who puts in the extra 10, 20 mins a day to be her best? Is their attitude towards training a mentality that is going to prepare them to win one of the spots on a roster that they want?
The flip side of this whole issue is the coach and what can they do to bring the team to where we all wish it to be? What do I do to help these athletes stay focused on the game they say is so much a part of who they are? Have I done my homework and made the correct analysis of our performance and built training sessions that encompass our shortcomings. Have I reinforced the things we do well and helped the players to have the confidence they need to move on to the next step and be ok with the failures that next step will have before they master that aspect of their game too? Sometimes the mirror is a bit too bright and at those times it is easy to feel that maybe it is time to hand it off to someone else who may have a new perspective, who may be able to get that last spark out of the players when it is needed. It is in these moments that we all should question what we are doing and why we are doing it.
For me, the week began with a lot of those type questions, so much so, that I was at the moment of a decision to re-evaluate what it was that I was doing. Training came and with it , I began to have doubts about the progressions and whether or not the session was having any value to the players or was I just wasting their time as well as mine. Thankfully, we managed to get through the session and stay fairly well engaged for the most part.
It is interesting how in the midst of all this doubt and reflection about purpose, how just a word or two from a player gave me such a feeling of clarity and helped redefine what I am doing. In speaking with the player after our session and expressing some concern I had about a moment in our game, the player looked at me, smiled and said “it’s ok coach”. Funny how the weight of those 3 words helped transport me to solid ground once again. I don’t know if she reads this but I do know she will never understand the power of her words at that particular moment.
Everyday, we all face mirrors and we have to decide if we want to use what we see to grow or to turn away. I feel we each have something we can offer to one another, some bit of encouragement that may be just what some one is seeking at that moment. What are your 3 words today?
till I see you on the pitch