Last weekend we ran across yet another coach behaving badly. This time though, the coach was carded for his behavior. Did I mention that this was U9 soccer? Two years ago we ran across a crazy bad coach that was over the top. Last weekend we ran into a coach that was arguing with the referee about some calls that were against his team. He told the ref that perhaps she needed to go back and reread the rules, that it was OK to commit this one particular type of (dangerous) play, and that she was simply wrong. We've had this ref before and she's a pretty decent ref - calling fouls and keeping play safe. That's her job - to keep the kids safe and control the game. It's her field, and as we tell the kids, even if she or his is he worst referee on the planet, it's their field and they are in charge. He was not only arguing with the ref, but he was wrong. Our kids were confused, his kids were confused, and the parents were just about done with them. This time, unlike the indoor game that I blogged about below, the coach was called out for his bad behavior. It was a teachable moment though, and Tom took full advantage of it to tell our players once again that it's the ref's field, and she's in charge - even for the grown ups. We didn't end up winning the game, but our kids sure did learn a good lesson. The rules are in place and they are enforced, and there are no excuses for behaving in the way he was behaving. This game was in stark contrast to the previous game where the much younger coach was gracious, pleasant, and polite. Hopefully we face more like him in the future. It is U9 soccer after all.
March 31, 2010
"Coach" Behaving Badly
Dear Rabid Soccer Dad,
Your son plays recreational soccer and I am pretty sure that you enjoy watching him play soccer. You have gone step further and you also coach his team. While this is an admirable thing for you to do (community service always gets high marks in my book), YOU are the reason that some kids quit playing group sports. You turn what should be a fun game (regardless of who wins or loses) and a learning experience (that's part of what the coach is there for) into a caged match battle brawl. These kids are 8 and 9 years old. Maximum participation in youth sports is at age 10, and by age 13, 70% of kids stop playing. The number one reason for them quitting is that "It's not fun anymore."
Last week we played your team for the second time this winter, and while we knew going in that you coached your kids to push, to body check, to foul, and to trip, there was no way to really prepare our kids for this other than to tell them to walk away if that happened, and to go score another goal. At halftime our coach had to remind our kids not to hit back, not to push, not to retaliate at all. What a waste of a game. Instead of making this game a learning experience, our coach spent his time picking his players up off of the field, having them shift around so that the same kids weren't getting body checked all game, and telling them to change their game so that they didn't get kicked so much. And in frustration, mid-way through the second half of the game, your players started calling our players names in order to knock them off of their game. They were losing and getting frustrated, and instead of telling them to play good soccer, and beat us on the field, you encouraged them in your own way and the abuse continued. The ref can only call what he sees, and while he did an admirable job, he doesn't see it all.
We walked away from that game thankful that it was over, not really caring about the score one way or another. We did beat your team squarely, and would have beat them by more if there weren't so many fouls committed. I haven't seen a game stopped so many times at this age level ever.
So imagine my surprise when I saw your kid, and a handful of your players walk onto the field for this weekend's game. We were playing a team from your club, and apparently they borrowed a few players from your team. Common occurrence - we did the same thing on our end. But instead of sitting back enjoying the game as a spectator parent, you had to jump in and start coaching. These kids were having fun, and it was a good game until you arrived. The coach was doing a great job, and their squad was actually ahead by one goal. But as your kids arrived, and as our players saw what was happening, they stepped up their game. Then, from behind I heard "Pass the ball W." W happens to be a player on OUR team. You were attempting to coach (incorrectly I might add) a player on OUR team. Then you came to the sidelines - apparently you weren't getting the response from "your" team that you wanted, and you started coaching right next to the other coach. Up until this point few parents on our squad realized what was going on. I saw you early on and didn't say anything except to our coach so he could be aware of potential problems. Problems did occur.
Instead of standing on the sidelines watching and cheering good soccer (our coach and our parents award good soccer moves from any player on either team with cheers and clapping), you leaned in and "coached." You made cracks about our players, and yelled at the players on your kid's team. Right away our parents asked you to pipe down and let the kids play - like I said the kids were doing fine before your arrival. Instead of backing off or piping down, you actually became confrontational. Our coach had to stop coaching the gameand deal with you and one of our parents so it didn't come to blows. You just wouldn't let the coach on their team coach, and once again the types of things you were encouraging the kids to do were dangerous, not to mention bad soccer.
You are teaching your kids, and the kids that they play against that it's OK to be abusive and that soccer skills are secondary to winning the game. Clearly other teams will beat you, and as you get older you will lose players and will wonder why the team doesn't continue. At some point a kid will get very hurt by one of your players, and you will finally be held responsible for your irresponsible coaching. Until then, I hope that you understand that YOU are the reason that kids stop playing soccer.