The expectations we’ve set for ourselves as a society have become unrealistic. In every aspect of our lives we demand immediate results. “Why the hell won’t this website load faster, I’ve been waiting 8 seconds”; “why haven’t I received your text message yet? It’s been 10 seconds!” Give it a second, it’s sending a signal to space you whining parasite. The same expectations have transferred into the realm of sports. We expect coaches to have immediate results, i.e. lead a team to a championship or nothing. This is not only impossible, but ineffective.
In Brazil, after a coach has obtained his/her certificate and passed the necessary exams, the first task is to lead a team of U-7 year olds. Once they’ve completed that task, they move to a slightly higher age group until eventually reaching a high-level, if that’s what they please. You might ask, what’s the point of this? Especially if it’s a coach with the intentions of leading a professional team…why would they waste their time? The answer is simple, you can’t understand the game of soccer until you understand your players and the way they think.
The way your players think is relevant? Damn right it is. When you begin to see how 7 year old’s think vs. 8 year old’s vs. 12 year old’s vs. 15 year old’s, you begin to understand the dynamics of the game. You have to first understand the players perspective before you can understand how to communicate the game to him/her. Let me repeat that point, you have to understand the way your players see the game in order to understand how to steer them in the right direction. As you move up the age-group ladder, you begin to see the different needs of players and the different dimensions of the game.
So what am I saying: you have to coach every age group before you can be a legitimate coach? No. I’m saying you need to take a step back and really examine your team. Do they truly understand the game? Do they understand their position? What are some players missing? They don’t all learn the same way, so what are you doing to address this issue? What is success? The list goes on, but the point is you have to invest time in order to obtain real results.
Change takes time. Don’t expect immediate results. Make sure your team is on board for the long haul. This is all easier than it sounds, but it can be done. A drop of water consistently falling on a rock will eventually erode it.