Line Up At The Half-way Line And When I Blow The Whistle ................  

Fallic40 53M
3214 posts
7/23/2006 4:59 pm
Line Up At The Half-way Line And When I Blow The Whistle ................

"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

Bill Shankly: Liverpool FC manager (and one of the greatest managers of all time).


I had not planned on coaching a soccer team this year. Due to my traveling a decent distance to work each day, the ability to run daily doubles was gone and so I had decided not to coach the freshman girl’s team that I had enjoyed coaching for several years for one of my closest and long time friends.

He had been pretty adamant that if I wasn’t going to coach for him this year, then would I at least help by putting a developmental program together for him, and perhaps, help out with the afternoon practices since I usually get home by 4 pm.

When I answered the phone last week when he called, I figured that he was looking for some answers on when the plan would be completed. That was not what he was wanting. It seems that his 12 year old daughter and my 12 year old daughter are going to play on the same U13 team this fall: since he will be completely involved with coaching a power house girl’s varsity team, would I agree to coach the U13 girl’s team.

Now let us consider my qualifications as a coach. I played competitive football from the time I was 6 until I was 41. I played school football in England and moved to schoolboy level with a professional team and was looking to move into their reserve team when we moved to the US. I worked with the NASL Portland Timbers for two years while I was finishing high school. I also played college soccer before playing some semi-pro football locally.

After I blew my knee apart at 21, I began attending coaching courses just in case my playing days were over. (Fortunately, they were not: but my game was never the same after the injury.) I went through the Oregon courses and then moved onto national courses. I have finally achieved my goal of owning a FIFA professional coaching certification. In short, I can coach any team in the world and the US National Team is looking right now!

So, with all of my experience and qualifications, why would I even contemplate coaching a team of 12 year old girls complete with pony tails, a budding interest in the boys playing on the next field, and the ability to hold three conversations at once? It’s really simple: these players at this age should get the best coaching. My buddy is not an idiot. He knows that I will be preparing these girls to play the style of football that he delights in his teams playing. This is the same style of play that he and I worked out by playing together on several teams. Our daughters have been kicking soccer balls back and forth since they were three.

My dad delights in my football coaching. This is because I was truly a coaching nightmare as a player due to an incredibly vicious playing demeanor. And yet, I coach a totally different emotional context of play to what I used. My dad is waiting for me to get a very talented, very skilled, headstrong player with a foul mouth and a love of violence.

First of all, and most important, playing the game and practicing for the game MUST BE FUN. The day it stopped being fun for me to play, I stopped playing. My job as a coach is to always provide a fun afternoon for my charges. I want them to learn to love the game the way that I do. Players leave one of my practices enthused, uplifted and physically and mentally drained.

Secondly, and to me this is crucial in coaching girls, self respect has to be worked on at all times. I have run into so many female players who just do not believe in themselves the way that they should. It has been the number one item that I have had to teach at the high school level. From dealing with my own girls and their friends, then this is a universal problem in all walks of life for girls.

The third element for me is to teach the girls teamwork and respect for each other. I have likened getting eighteen 12 year old girls running in the same direction to herding cats. My philosophy of coaching at any level is that a team is only as fast as its slowest player and is only as capable as its least skilled player.

In order to succeed in my three tasks, there will have to be rules. On those I am pretty much set and use a benevolent dictatorship approach. Parents are kept a minimum of 20 yards from the bench at all times. No player talks to the referee except for the captain. No player will use profanity on the field. (My dad laughs his arse off at that one.) No player will attempt to injure another player. (Much to the delight of my mirthful father, once again.)

When I speak to my team, I speak quietly so they are forced to listen attentively. I also ask questions about what we are going to do. I run drills that are a blast to take part in, but I do not run them for very long. Fitness work is conducted as a team exercise and I do try to make it fun with all kinds of games…….and with lots of music. I like to use techno. Players start to perform drills to the beat: it’s kind of like the Brazilian players playing to a samba beat.

I have a meeting with the parents next week in which all of the above topics will be talked about. The hardest thing for the parents to understand will be the fact that winning is going to be secondary to teaching for this team since it feeds into a top notch high school program. However, if all of the girls approach playing in my system the way that I hope they will, then we will win.

One father and one mother are going to be assistant coaches: which is great. The mother has never played soccer so she will be doing a lot of work with the girls. (She is also single and is an absolute MILF.)

So now I have Tuesday and Thursday nights all taken care of, as well as Monday and Wednesday nights given over to teaching math. I think that pretty much accounts for all of my spare time this fall! Oh well, finding that perfect lady for me will just have to wait a further three months.


"No one was asked to do more than anyone else...we were a team. We shared the ball, we shared the game, we shared the worries."

also by Bill Shankly, and an absolute for how I create a team: whether it is 12 year old girls or grown men (usually without the maturity of the 12 year old girls).

impish_pixie 54F
6867 posts
7/23/2006 7:02 pm

Wish you could have been my son's coach when he was little and played soccer. His coach was only interested in having the "winning" matter what. This of course was a team of 11 year olds... Lucky are the kids who find themselves under your tutelage...

I make mistakes, I am out of control & at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best. ~Marilyn

Fallic40 53M
1858 posts
7/23/2006 7:33 pm

imp, some of the best practices I have ever "conducted" consisted of throwing a ball up in the air and issuing the command to play and then sitting back and watching all of the players have fun.

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