Soccer & Software Development

My son’s soccer team still did not have a coach about a week before the season started and without one, the team would have been broken up and the boys added to all of the other teams.  So when asked to, I took the job mainly so my son’s team would not be split up as they are a good group of kids from his school.  I had seen some of these boys play before so I knew I was inheriting a team with some serious talent.
In fact, most of the year, what I did can’t be called "coaching" but rather "facilitating"…..I mean, sure, I attended the obligatory meeting for first time coaches where we learned the basics about how to run practices and such but my job wasn’t like the other coaches.  My son and the other boys on his team already play alot of soccer at school apparently during recess – and I mean alot.  My job was to simply balance playing time and positions and to substitute players to address needs and it ended up being a great experience for me and my son.  And I now realize that I had learned alot this year by watching them play.
Final Stats – Undefeated Season, Averaged 6 goals a game, Opponents scored only 2 goals on us all year
But these stats don’t tell the real important story
The things that mattered the most were –
  • None of this had to do with me, my 1st grade daughter could have coached them to a perfect season, I just simply had a good view – instead, I did the best thing I could do which is recognizing their talent – I got out of their way which reminds me of what our CEO has said many times which is – its very difficult to motivate unmotivated people, rather its better to hire motivated employees and then do nothing to de-motivate themhow true!
  • Next, most of the boys on my team had already learned to play as a team and knew that they would do well as a team – you see, at the 3rd and 4th grade boy level of soccer there typically isn’t a ton of teamwork going on, but on my team, the boys would pass the ball, and pass alot – even near the opponents goal – I had boys who took pride in Assists, and these boys were trying to help others get their first goal – while other teams may not see a real "intended" pass all game, my boys would pass the ball 3-4 times down the field on each drive – and at the end of the year, more than half the boys on the team had scored a goal – and again – and absolutely none of the credit was due to me – they seemed to have already learned it together at some point.  And while all boys look forward to their chances at playing Forward to try and get some scoring opportunities – many of the boys seemed to take more pride in their Defensive skills and keeping the ball away from our goalie.  A company that get employees to work as teammates and understand their destinies are intertwined and that they are not a loose association of hired agents has a huge advantage over those that don’t.
  • And finally, Winning was important for them – and people need to understand that – I didn’t say it was the most important thing but it was important which is why their teamwork meant all the more – you see, when the team wins, all players and all roles could celebrate their part – whether they had scored a goal, or protected our goal – and while I would have been just as proud of these boys had they played as they did and not won a game, teamwork which led to success underscored each of their efforts all the more.  So as coach, I did have the responsibility to facilitate that as much as I could.  I made sure they had equal playing time and equal opportunities at each position of course, but games in which I had a boy who may have struggled at certain positions, I made sure to surround them with teammates who would be strong enough to help, boys who may not be as aggressive at Forward, I would pair up with very strong Forwards so the boys could learn from each other, be right there during scoring opportunities, and get more confidence, and all of us parents would encourage all of the players and their individual efforts – we made sure to pick out very specific instances to replay for them – "that was awesome when you stopped the other team from scoring and got the ball downfield to our Midfield, or that pass to "Kevin" on that last goal was perfect, etc.  Just like in software development, I can remember some big projects and wins together that we could celebrate with pride, and genuinely be happy with coworkers who achieved some recognition for their strong efforts – and in development as well, winning is important – we can’t always guarantee it with our efforts, but strong team efforts are usually present when it does happen.
And most importantly – my son and I had great times together this season and his friends were OK with having me as coach which made our experience all the more special – my last lesson for the boys was that this year was special, other teams will improve, and to not take this for granted that this will happen next season as well.  Just like the corporate world – Competition will get stronger, and so will we need to if we are to continue to win.

About bradosterloo

.NET Software Developer working for Innovative Systems, LLC in Mitchell, SD
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