A dozen or so girls or boys at “U8” are a bit of an intimidating group as a parent standing there with a clipboard of names and no idea what to do when a player asks, “coach, what are we doing first?”. As a coach, you have a different opportunity. Many or all of them are there in cleats and shin guards for the first time and they are ready to play a game. They aren’t there to smash rocks and count blades of grass, although some will try. This is supposed to be fun! The first player that addresses you as “Coach” will help you understand the role you have with them. Show them the game is fun and challenging. Not all of these kids will love it. There will be a few that just dread coming to practice and games. You’ll see their parent standing in the doorway of a car’s rear seats negotiating with them to get out. It doesn’t matter to you as the coach. Find something in the team, game, or even the shape of the blades of grass, that helps that player get something from being there with you. They will remember something about you coaching them.
Why is this the best invitation I’ve received? The coaching relationships built with many of the players over 2-9 years are priceless. They put something of themselves into the game, take risks on your lead, and build a bit of “who they are” on their experiences. This isn’t trivial, but it also shouldn’t be intimidating for a coach. It’s one of the great privileges of being a Parent Coach. On top of it, "the coach" turns out to get a "thank you" from his daughter, 7 years into the timeline.
How do you get to this point? Check the next post. Until then, consider being a coach. One season is completely survivable and may turn out to be one of the great things you do with your child and their friends for years to come.