WORDS FROM W.W. September 1, 2014
I entered a new phase of my coaching career this past Saturday. I had the first soccer practice with a new team of three year olds!
Three year olds! A three year old has been alive five percent of my life!
Why three year olds? My granddaughter is on the team…her first team experience ever…so Granddad and Grammy are the coaches.
The practice did not involve soccer ball juggling or players getting to open space, as we say. There was no instruction on defending or setting off-sides traps. No…the practice included asking each player what their favorite lunch food items were.
“Macaroni and cheese!”
“Peanut butter and jelly!”
Notice I put exclamation marks after each favorite lunch. That’s because each was said with enthusiasm…especially my granddaughter’s pepperoni pizza.
We transitioned to stretching.
“Okay! See if you can touch your toes without bending your knees (I can’t!).” One three year old boy fell over and concluded that stretching was not his strong point. He looked with a pained facial expression at his mom and dad. A couple of the girls thought stretching was fun.
“Okay! Let’s take our soccer balls and put them between our feet.” Two kids with limited coordination fell down just taking steps. Two others put the soccer ball between their feet and sat on them. It’s about at this time that I decided it would be good to get a water break. We had been hard at it for almost five minutes.
I crossed off the slide tackling drill we were going to do!
“Okay! Let’s learn how to dribble. Everybody look down at your soccer ball and say “Hi!”
They all thought that was cool…talking to soccer balls was now on the same level of excitement as favorite lunch choices.
“Now, let’s use the inside of our foot and kick the ball all the way to the white line.”
Ever seen one of those crawling baby races where the babies are released and they head in a dozen different directions? Our first attempt at dribbling a soccer ball was like that. It brought back memories of my old electric football game when I was growing up that no one ever figured out. How was a tackle ever made in electric football? It wasn’t!
“Okay! Say hello to your soccer ball again, and let’s go take shots on the goal!”
One thing I learned about three year olds is that they are scared that they will hurt their precious soccer ball. One of the girls had Barbie or some pink character on hers, and now I’m telling them to kick it hard!
Dainty and gentle would be better descriptions of our foot to ball contact at the first practice.
A couple of the boys were reaching the end of their attention span. They spotted the swings and slide in the back of the park. I lost them!
In all, I think we had a good thirty-five minutes of practice. Take away the favorite lunch conversation, water breaks, and getting to know their soccer ball on a casual conservation basis…okay, maybe twenty minutes, but it was a hard twenty!
And I was exhausted!