High School Sports
Coaching is where the rubber meets the road. The best curriculum in the world is only as useful as the effectiveness of the coach to teach. Yes teach, and there is a big difference between teaching and coaching. A majority of the coach’s time should be spent teaching the technical skills necessary for players to develop into good soccer players. This includes teaching the right mindset and the mental skills necessary for effective practice and continued development.
Teaching is part science (what to teach) and part art (how to teach). Let me explain. Most clubs have a curriculum that is well thought out and designed so that players are learning all the important technical skills progressively over certain periods of time. How each individual coach within a club teaches the curriculum is an art form. Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, “You haven’t taught until they have learned.” What’s implied in his statement is that both the coach and player share the responsibility for learning. Effective coaches are great teachers. They know how to establish good relationships with their players and how to determine what kind of learner each player is.
Life Skills™ Soccer Program
The Life Skills™ Soccer Program is designed to help the coach teach the important mental skills that lead to skill development. Each week or two, the coach introduces a new positive character strength and talks briefly about what it is, gives practical examples of what it looks like (demonstrates if possible) and connects it to soccer. Throughout the week (or two) the coach looks to reinforce the positive character strength throughout practice and games by recognizing a player demonstrating it.
Coach – Parent Relationship
One of the added benefits of the Life Skills™ Soccer Program is that because the coach and parents are all focused on the weekly or bi-weekly positive character strength this puts the coach and parents on the same team teaching/reinforcing the character strength. This implies that the coach should focus on the soccer and the parents can focus on reinforcing the positive character strengths. Imagine the ride home after a game. Instead of talking about how the player should have made better passes or taken more shots, now the parents can talk about things like, “Did you give your best effort today?” or “What can you do to make sure you are totally focused when the game begins?” Ultimately this gives the player more control because these are things they do have control over and they should take responsibility for.