Musings from a first time soccer coach

A couple of happy Royal City Youth Soccer players. Photo: Tayfun Ozdemir.

A couple of happy Royal City Youth Soccer players. Photo: Tayfun Ozdemir.

I don’t edit emails for content as often as I should. At least I didn’t when I contacted RCYSC (Royal City Youth Soccer Club) looking to help out with my son’s soccer team. When I offered to volunteer as a coach, I meant to write that I could volunteer as an assistant coach. Needless to say, I was surprised when the coordinator emailed me back with my very own team roster. I have never so much as coached an ant farm, never mind a gaggle of six-year-old-boys with varying attention spans. I knew this would be an adventure.

RCYSC as an organization makes a good first impression. There are a lot of solid people volunteering in the background to make things run smoothly. About the only thing they don’t provide is coaches, so that’s were lucky dads (and moms) like me come in. The club offered a couple of coaching clinics, free of charge, with instructors provided by BC Soccer. I spent a half a Saturday in a classroom, and the other half on the field doing drills, sprints and learning technique.

The first thing they teach you is to keep things fun and to keep the kids interested. I think I’ve done pretty well on both accounts. You quickly learn that over-coaching is a mistakes; explain something for too long and you’ll soon have eight kids digging for worms or talking Pokémon.  Basically the kids are there to get their beans out and it’s my job as coach to channel that energy into what should resemble some soccer skills. At first I had no idea how my team would respond to Coach Matt. My Italian-Hungarian background has blessed, or cursed me, with a rather booming voice; getting their attention without yelling was no problem. I have yet to cave and resort to using a whistle.

How did our team do? While no records are kept in terms of wins, losses, and goals scored, the kids make sure you don’t forget. We did well, and the boys all seemed to enjoy themselves.

The best part of the whole experience was watching kids improve their skills and build their confidence. It’s easy to coach the natural athlete who excels no matter what the sport, but much more rewarding with the one who isn’t so sure of himself.

Update: This blog entry has been a long time in the making. I have since signed up for another year of coaching. The first thing I noticed with my new team is:

  1. They are much more skilled than they were a year ago.
  2. They also have a lot more sass than they did a year ago.

I guess you can’t have one without the other. It should be another good year.

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5 thoughts on “Musings from a first time soccer coach”

  1. Good for you for getting involved Matt! I remember playing Royal City Youth Soccer in 1988 for the West End Green Geckos. My Dad was the coach, and like you, he had no soccer or coaching experience at all.
    And also like yourself he got such a kick out of his first experience he continued to coach for years after that… until the talent level of the kids started to surpass the coach (which I've been told doesn't actually take as long as you'd like to think).
    RCYSC is a fantastic organization and just recently through working with KidSport I've realized how many volunteers they really have working in the background to make sure everything runs smoothly so that the kids get the most out of their time on the field.
    Kudos to you for getting involved and hopefully your positive experience will encourage others to get involved too!

  2. Thanks for the comments Jorden. I have another son, 2 1/2 that may wish to do soccer as well. I can always pick-up where I leave off with my older boy. I am glad my novice skill-set is not a hindrance, if anything at this level it might be a benefit. It's easy to want to skip over simple stuff like passing, dribbling through cones, kicking properly, etc. Some of these kids can already make me look pretty foolish…

  3. Great to read about the coaches in my son's future…and I applaud you! My dad volunteered as a coach for all of my teams and he loved it…can't wait to do the same for my son! I'm a new New West resident and I've been looking for somewhere for my son to play…he's only three and it looks like RCYS does U5 only…any tips or do I need to wait another year:)

  4. Awesome, Matt. I applaud you! I once coached tween girls and that was "challenging" but loads of fun. My mom was the treasurer of my youth soccer league for years when I was growing up – I am amazed at how many volunteers it takes to make a league work. Great job!

  5. Hi Erin,
    Just start kicking the ball around with your son. There may also be drop-in sessions offered by Parks and Rec. I waited until U7 with my son. I don't think he would have been mentally ready much before that age. At U5 and U6 the parents are expected to do a lot of work "on field", as it's just a bit too much to ask a coach to keep those little minds occupied. But for sure, the earlier you can start the better. Other sports work too; just getting him used to having a schedule is good habit to get into as well.

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