The Winning Monster Bites Again

Like I always say, if you aren’t learning every time you step on the field then you aren’t really coaching…

When I lost my talented holding midfielder on my U9 girls team, it immediately threw my team into a tailspin…

Why?

Because I had allowed her to be the fulcrum of the team and be the player that all of the other girls would depend on.  So not only did we lose a talented player, but we lost our little general or leader…

And I have nobody to blame for that but myself…I swayed away from my principles…I relied too heavily on the players that start and not enough on the support players…I left my team ill-equipped to deal with play at the level they were accustomed to…

So with that said, I made a decision to really take a step back and reevaluate what I really wanted out of these young girls…first and foremost it was for them to be little girls and have fun…and although they were having fun, I could see that burden of winning starting to overcome them…

At this point in the juncture my team had only lost 2 games since June of 2013…and yes, that was against all of the top teams in Southern California…We had 2 tournament wins, 2 second places and a quarter final loss all summer…a stint of about 15 wins in a row at one time…

But for me, it was all for nothing, as I had sacrificed my principles to a degree I wasn’t ok with….

So again, I took a step back and focused on team development as a whole…the concept where a whole is only as good as the sum of its parts…and there were parts that needed a bit more attention….

So step 1 was to let the girls know the game wasn’t about winning or losing….at the end of the day they are going to go home, eat, shower, play, sleep and go to school…regardless of if they win or lose…there is no one outcome on the field right now that is going to affect their lives any more than the other…and I really wanted to drill that home to them…

Step 2 was to let them know that all girls would play at least 20 minutes a game…this hadn’t been so in the past…I wanted them to know that whatever the score or the situation, it wasn’t going to affect the fact that all players were going to play…

To shed more light on this…we play in what is called the Southern California Developmental Soccer League…now, I was like you before….”Developmental, what is development about a soccer league”…but now I see the light…in the U8 age group they don’t even post scores…at U9 and U10 they post scores but there are no tables and results until U11…

What they have done is allowed coaches like myself a platform where we can carry out our philosophies without the pressures of tables, results and trophies…and that is huge!

These past two weeks we have lost two out of our last four games to two the top 5 teams in So Cal…After the second loss parents started to question my decisions…the “Winning Monster” had consumed them…they had completely lost sight of the situation…for me, there are 3 things I value for my players….

  1. Have fun
  2. Develop age appropriate skills
  3. They can compete at the age appropriate level

My girls were doing all three of those things so I was golden…nowhere in that philosophy does it say to win…

The problem with winning is that it will never be enough…a 15 game win streak wasn’t enough…winning 2 top tournaments in a row wasn’t enough…only losing 2 games since June up until those last two loses wasn’t enough…

I had to remind my parents why their kids are here with me…If you just want to win, there are a ton of coaches that play kickball at these ages that win…their kids don’t learn a damn thing, but they win!

I won’t sacrifice style of play for wins…if we played kickball we’d probably be undefeated right now…

But that won’t happen…

Doing the right thing as a coach in American Sporting Culture is tough, if not damn near impossible…the Winning Monster is out there and sure to surface…

When it does, hold strong and stick to your principles…you kids will be better for it, and so will you…And ten years down the road even the parents will realize it…

Let me know what you think,

Coach Randle

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