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Redemption comes in the form of…a soccer ball.

Yesterday, my son’s soccer team suffered their first loss of the season. It was a 3-1 thrashing that wasn’t nearly that close.

The problem wasn’t the skill of the other team; it was the lethargy of a hot, late afternoon game and the inability to overcome adversity. The other team was definitely a good team. Good skill and good coaching. They jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first minute because we just kinda watched the first couple plays of the game. It was like we weren’t quite ready to start yet, so we just watched as the other team played without us.

The biggest problem, I think, was that we never recovered from the mental goal they had scored on us. No matter what I did, I couldn’t motivate the boys to run faster, pay better attention, move off the ball. All the same things we’ve been practicing for the last 5 weeks.

In the second half, I shook things up and pulled one of my players aside. I told him that if we were going to get back into the game, it was going to be up to him. He responded, scoring our first (and only) goal less than 2 minutes later.

But alas, it wasn’t enough. The other team (they were red dragons compared with my team’s Emerald Dragons) scored again, immediately eliminating our momentum.

I stewed over it all night and couldn’t sleep…not because we lost (we’ve lost lots of games in previous seasons)…but because of how we lost. And I prepare my speech. I put on my best Coach’s voice and warned them of the Wrath of Coach.

Today, we played the same team. But today, we played. Hard.

Each and every boy — including the sick one who probably should have stayed home and the one who took a ball to the face during warmups before the game and played with a swollen eye — played with intensity for the full 50 minutes.

Walking away with a 3-0 victory, I think I did some of my best coaching today. And I hope that this is a lesson the boys will remember as they grow…when someone knocks you down and takes advantage of you having an off day…the only way to respond is to get back up and show them who you really are the next day.

Tonight, I will sleep soundly.

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