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Title: How To Tell if Your Kid's Coach is a Schmuck
Well, it's easy in traffic. And the grocery store. And congress.
But when your kid gets a soccer coach, it's not exactly the first thing they tell you as parents.
"Hello, I'm Cornelius, your kid's soccer coach," he'd open with. "And I've earned certification as a third-level schmuck."
No, you have to find out all on your own.
I'm a soccer coach. I'm not a certified schmuck. I speak with authority on this, because I have never, ever said or done anything in my capacity as a soccer coach that I would regret.
I get angry at the Denver Broncos and yell at the TV. I grit my teeth while I watch others coach my kids. Somehow I believe that clenched dentition will keep the curse words from audibility. (They don't). Once, in the heat of battle in a championship match, I accidentally split my clipboard in two.
My teams don't always win.
But we're hell in cleats in tournaments. And the kids love to play. They'll take care of each other, think for themselves, and give their all, all the time. That's all I ask. I'm there to help them get better, love the game, and learn something about things that have nothing to do with soccer.
Back to the schmucks.
Whether you're turning your preschooler over to a skills academy program or your kid plays on the high school team, here are the surefire signs of schmuckdom on your sideline.
1. He makes your kid run – a lotThe three sins of soccer coaching: Lines, lectures and laps. Laps are the worst. Lap running is not soccer running. The games I choose for my teams in practice, the ones that involve kicking a ball – involve lots of running. Soccer running. Sprint, stop, struggle, repeat.
If your kid's team is running – it probably means the coach needs time to get his act together.
2. He rides the refsI can't officiate. I have enough trouble trying to coach. If your coach is on the refs for every call and non-call, he's modeling badly for his kids, who will gripe and complain, too. Watch how your first date treats your restaurant server; that's how he or she will eventually treat you.
Similarly, watch how your coach treats the officials.
3. He loses patienceDon't confuse this with raising his voice for a little discipline. I love my players. They sometimes talk when I do, and when the silent treatment doesn't work, it's time to yell. (Check out my favorite Vince Lombardi quote.) If you turn up without a pouch of patience, you're doing the kids a disservice.
Kids will remember what you did more than what you said.
4. He punishes lossesThis isn't Parris Island. You needn't break a kid down to build him up. There are lessons in losses. I hate to lose. The kids do too. But they get over it. The last thing I want is for my team to think losing is bad, like, stealing cookies bad. Kids flourish when they play with passion, not fear of losing.
Ever notice it's always the kids' fault, never the coach's, when they lose? Which brings me to …
5. He believes the kids are there for him – not the other way aroundYou've got it backwards, brother. Listen close: We are there for the kids. We're there to teach, guide, encourage, protect. Every brilliant save or deft pass or gnarly shot on goal, that's the kids. I give them the tools, and get to watch them build something great on Saturdays.
It's our job to foster their love for the game, and meet them where they love the game.
If you can do that … you can conquer anything.
When he isn't answering questions about dust mites, Eli writes a blog about fatherhood, food and futbol called Coach Daddy. Follow him on Twitter.