Youth Coaching Chronicles: The Long Summer
Tryouts are done. Kids and parents have committed to another season. Camps are going strong. The fields are empty, most nets are removed from goals, and the equipment is sitting by itself in a corner. Yet, you still feel a sense of emptiness in the soul. It’s OK; it’s part of coaching.
The summer seems like a beautiful time for a coach. You’re coming off a long season where you practiced at least two times a week, games on during the weekend, tournaments, stress, tears, celebrations, and dealing with parents. It takes a toll. Once the spring season ends, a relief flows through your veins that can only be described as a natural high. Like most highs, you will eventually come down from that, and that’s where the long summer starts.
It’s a weird feeling. You miss everything. The players, the challenge, the sights and sounds associated with it, the normal. What you don’t realize, is how much you miss the odd things. The smell of the grass, the way the ball sounds as it is kicked, the sound of the ball hitting the net, or the ball hitting the post. No one warns you of this phenomenally strange feeling that makes you feel like you have been separated from something that has become a part of who you are.
Luckily for us coaches, the long summer only lasts for a couple months, and most full-time coaches have the option of working summer camps, so they always have something to cling to. For the rest of us, who work full-time in another industry and volunteer our time, it’s much tougher to get through.
It is for the best, regardless of how much we miss coaching. Those few months off are necessary to ensure we come back and give the kids our best. That’s what it’s all about. Wins and losses are great, and you can follow that every day, but ultimately it all comes back to the development of the kids. If they don’t progress as soccer players, and more importantly as people, then have we done our job? I don’t think so. That is priority number one.
So don’t fret fellow coaches, the long summer is almost done. Enjoy the time away. The kids deserve the best of you as a coach and a person.