By Stephen Cochran
Note: You will feel better about coaching young players after following Steve’s venture through a season with his 6 year old son. Steve attained the highest license attainable by the United States Soccer Federation he is an “A” licensed coach.
I started coaching when my sisters’ team needed a coach. Sure, I had coached some basketball for 3rd and 4th graders, some boys water for high school age players, played some NCAA water polo, and a little semi-pro soccer, but I was not prepared for what I was about to walk into.
My first team was an under 15 girls team. I had been told that they were undefeated and had the coach quit right before the District Cup. I showed up at the first practice with all of my running drills, shooting drills, cones for dribbling around, and my whistle and clipboard. I thought I was totally prepared. 6 players showed up and I ran them to death. Actually, no one died, but it was tough to believe these girls were the best. Well, I can to find out that they won very few games in the past couple of years and were having trouble filling the roster. I was a tall, relatively good-looking 24-year-old man at the time. I found this to be a favorable for recruiting as many girls started to come out after that first practice. Needless to say, we lost the first match in District Cup (it was single elimination format), and I questioned what I was doing there.
I decided that more practice was necessary and we we started to practice five times per week during Feb/Mar to get ready for the State Cup. We ended up winning our first game and lost our second game. We then played the number one team in the state for our third game. Well, we went up one nothing on them when my weakest player shot the ball from about 60 yards out, had the wind at her back, and it bounced twice, the second time over the GKs head. They proceed to come back and tie us and then went head in the closing minutes on a bicycle kick off a corner kick.
That match hooked me. I figured there must be some way to be able to teach that level of play. They weren’t any better athletes; they were just better soccer players.
My team paid fo rme to go to the E Course. I didn’t know there was an F Course. I completed it and the instructor gave me an F License, that was 1987. Since then I completed a second E Course, and all the rest of the courses through the A License.
In 1989, I started to teach kids soccer in soccer classes in a program called Kid Love Soccer. I also started to run summer soccer camps through a church and through the recreation departments. I was coaching a Junior Varsity team as well as a club team. I started forming teams and bringing on coaches to take over the teams. It is great to see how soccer has grown in the last 15 years.
Later I was being recruited to coach the State ODP team and Varsity High School teams. I had never applied to be a coach until 2002. Prior to that, I was recruited and it seemed like fun. It is still fun. I have been involved with Class 1 programs for almost 15 years and have enjoyed it thoroughly.
My son is now six years old and I finally decided that he should play on a team. He has wanted to, but I sheltered him. I also understand the importance of loving the game and having fun, so I decided that we would play in the local recreation programs and focus on enjoying the beautiful game of soccer. I did not want a coach to mess this up, so I decided to take on the position.
Boy, they aren’t class 1, but it is a lot less stressful. I decided not to judge the teams’ performance on game results, rather on execution of items learned. For example, if we learn the Locked L Pass, then I evaluate our result on the success of our Locked L Passes. It really makes the game much more enjoyable.
FUNdamental Readers: We will follow Steve’s venture through a full season. He will give you the ins and outs of working with young children. He will let you know – that You Are Not Alone!