By Koach Karl & Kevin Tupper
I have a five year old son, soon to be six. We're thinking of signing him up for soccer and I'm thinking of volunteering as the coach. He has expressed interest in playing. I have a couple of concerns though.
Koach Karl: In my opinion you are taking a very sound approach to getting your boy involved. First you mention that 'he has expressed interest in playing' shows that you are including your son in the decision making process. I believe it is extremely important that it is your sons decision that he wants to play rather than your influencing him. You are also making this a family project by including your wife, 'we are thinking of signing him up.' So far so good!
Kevin: First, I've played soccer since I was eight all the way through college at a very competitive level. It's been over a decade since I've played competitively but the fire still burns.
Koach Karl: Having a playing background can only help in making you a good youth coach. Having a desire toward wanting to be coach can help in making you a very good coach. Having the determination to learn about youth development and soccer will make you a wonderful coach. So far so good!
Kevin: I'm concerned that I might not be a good coach for a bunch of 5 year old boys just learning how to play the game.
Koach Karl: If you think you 'might not be a good coach for a bunch of 5 year old boys' then you are right. If you think you 'might be a good coach for a bunch of 5 year old boys' then you are also right. The choice of you being a good coach or not a good coach to these boys is strictly your decision...!
Kevin: My son already is exhibiting some signs of frustration as I have him in the basement teaching him some fundamentals, like how to properly kick the ball.
Koach Karl: I commend you for your enthusiasm to want to help your son. He is a very lucky young boy to have a father who is willing to give of his time. I am wondering if you are including him in the decision making process in this instance? In other words, is your son asking you to take him into the cellar and work on fundamentals? Remember, it should be his decision as to what activities you both participate in.
As an aside... Kevin, can you remember 'specific things' your father taught you at the ripe age of five going on six? I honestly can't. I am sure, however, that I probably wanted to play more than I wanted to learn. Think about this!!!
Kevin: My second concern is that my son is still a little shy compared to most boys his age.
Koach Karl: Research has found that it is dangerous 'to compare' anyone to anyone else. There will always be someone smarter or dumber, faster or slower, taller or shorter, etc. Allow him to be himself and be the best himself that he can be - After all he is the best five-going-on six year old son that you have at this time - isn't he?
Kevin: In group activities he's not very aggressive.
Koach Karl: Are there standards of aggressiveness that a typical six year old Should have? If there are, I am not aware of them! Could it be possible that he does not know (yet) or is learning (still) 'how to' participate in these group activity? Could it be possible that he is still learning 'how to' socialize and is focusing on making friend rather than be good at the activity? Could it be possible that he is five years old going on six and he will become aggressive in due time?
Kevin: This may stem from him spending 13 weeks in a cast a year and half ago because he broke his tibia slipping on a book while running around. I'm not sure if he should learn in an environment where he's not really ready to get in there and mix it up.
Koach Karl: Truthfully, I was tentative in getting back into the mix after breaking a bone. But, once the action got started the fears seemed to dissipate because I wanted to play. Does your son want to play? Have you asked him if he wants to play? Have you listened to his response? Have you allowed him to give you his answer?
Kevin: Perhaps it might be better to hold him back for a year or two as he builds his strength.
Koach Karl: Perhaps!!! But then again when will he be strong enough? Who will decide that he is strong enough? How will you (both) decide he is strong enough? What criteria will you use to tell you he is strong enough? Perhaps you should ask him (now) if he thinks he is strong enough to play. Listen to his answer and respond accordingly. If he does not want to play - that is OK! If he want to play - that is even more OK - because he will make Dad happy!
Kevin, thank you for your concerns your boy is very lucky to have a father like you one who cares! Remember this will be you boys only childhood - allow him to be a five going on six year old. He will be a success in any endeavor, and it may not be sports, as long as you support his dreams...!
Your very first goal must be to have FUN while coaching/teaching these five/six year olds --to 'Love to Play Soccer.' They, in turn, will learn all other aspects of the game including 'Technique, tactics, aggressiveness...' in due time. But, only if they are still playing --soccer!
Thanks for the response. Some very worthwhile and thought provoking suggestions. I appreciate you taking the time out to make them.
One thing you nailed on the head...he sure does love to play, regardless of what it is. I'll take your comments heart and make sure that while he's playing, I exercise restraint in my desire for him to play "right" and put more effort into making sure he's having fun. I have to remember that he's five and playing soccer and not 22 working at being a world famous pianist.
Also your thoughts at on "not being aggressive enough" make sense.
Looking forward to any other comments you send my way.
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