Soccer starts up again next week, after a long winter, and I'm preparing the first weeks lesson plans. Each season when I get my coaches equipment ready and go through lesson plans, its good reminder of US Soccer's player-centered approach.
To me, a player centered approach is:
- Coming well-prepared to practice with plans on how each session will go.
- Being ready to throw out the plans on a dime if the kids aren't feeling it.
- Showing up early to inspect the area where the kids will be playing, making sure its in acceptable shape.
- Giving the kids as much time with a ball as possible, learning and in "real game" situations; no lines or waiting.
- My sunglasses come off once practice or games start; the kids need to see my eyes, and I need to get on a knee, on their level, to communicate.
- Plenty of breath mints for me (they don't need to know what I had for lunch!); all the equipment they need (or might need) to be do their best.
Each year, coaching a team of a dozen 9 and 10 year old girls is a great opportunity to grow as a leader, and a great lesson in humility.