During this time of the year, we reflect on goals we set for the previous year or years past and set new goals. I want everyone to consider taking a different approach when setting goals for the New Year.
From a coach’s perspective, setting goals that are not based on the results of matches are better for players and ourselves. Get players to challenge themselves as individuals and as a team and listen to players talk about those challenges. Listen to understand the goals and not just respond to them. If you, as a coach, can learn that in working with your players, it will go a long way in developing their communications skills on and off the field, as well as your own. But more important, it will get players to believe they are more than just players; they are valuable future adults.
If you set this as a long-term goal as a coach, you can elicit support from other team members: the parents. Based on their responses towards you as a coach, you can communicate the players’ challenges you want to set. You can encourage the parents to encourage their kids to share with the coach because you all have one thing in common: the best intentions for the child. Empower your players to be effective communicators by showing them you are there to talk to them, not down at them. You can be a better coach over a long season if players and parents understand why you do what you do.
As a coach, remember this: It should be fun for everybody. That includes you, the players, and their parents. If you feel you are getting burnt out as a coach, revitalize by going back to the beginning. I have coached kids for 20 years, from U8s to high school. I have had the privilege of coaching players who have played in college. It is wonderful to see them passing the sport on to the next generation.
To be honest, I recently believed it might be time to embrace new challenges, so I went back to the beginning. I coached U8 girls this past fall, and they kept me on my toes. They also made it fun for me to go to practice. I employed goals with my players and their parents, and I believe we had an outstanding season. They wanted to continue doing homework: daily foot skills for 30 minutes at the end of the fall season. I almost teared at the awards presentation, something I haven’t done in nearly 10 years.
I became reenergized because of them, and I thank them for that experience. Most importantly, I can’t wait to hear their next goals so we can work on them together. Someone told me that they thought that was an excellent way to reflect on a season. I responded by saying, “I fill out the same goals sheet as the kids.”
In working on resolutions for this year and beyond, try employing these thoughts in determining goals, individually and as a team: Reflect, reenergize and reload…
Success isn’t about a win/loss record; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.
Michael Hodges National D License Coach
D7/ CYSA Coaching Instructor