Not too long after I learned to drive I took up my first coaching position. My friend and I volunteered to coach an 11 and 12 year old boys basketball team.
At first, the organizers of the league refused our attempts at leading a group of young men. They were afraid that we would not take it seriously and the boys would be led astray. After some serious begging and pleading, we were handed the clipboards.
It’s amazing to think that a couple of teenagers drafted a team of kids that we had scouted. Prior to the draft we planned our strategy and who we would build around. We had seen this tall kid who we thought we could be our “5” and like Shaq, we believed he could dominate the paint. Another young man would play the role of Penny Hardaway and handle the ball up-court. From there we had others to fill in the roles.
All our plans and plots faded in the first practice . Our big man played more like Gheorghe Muresan and our point wanted to take three point shots every time he came down court. The role players weren’t happy being just side kicks in our experiment and even though we laughed and joked in practice it blew up on game day. We often wondered why that happened. We had planned so well, scouted and kept practice light but we did work them.
After years of coaching soccer I think about the first time I struggled with coaching defeat. How much it bothers me. I know no matter what happened we took it seriously and we wanted to win. However we had no idea that we were never going to be successful. In fact I’m not sure if I have the ability to be successful as a head coach.
The role of a head coach is to not just be a leader but to be a strong individual who dictates terms. Barking out orders or standing firm in the face of adversity- that’s what I think a head coach should do.
But when I think about myself I think of someone who wears his emotions on his sleeve and doesn’t yell much if at all. As a ref I let my whistle do the screaming for me. Sure I try to learn my players strengths and weaknesses but at the same time I want to give them the courage to grow. I don’t know that there’s a lot of fire in my belly. I’m certainly not going to scream at you for missing a pass. I will do my best to applaud you for your hard work – don’t think I don’t notice you because I do. Sadly I’m just naturally quiet. I don’t have a good voice. That hinders my development.
I do study your play and I can tell you what is going on. Maybe I’m just not suitable coaching material. No hall of fame directors will ever call me nor will any teams for that matter. I may be lucky to make it through this season much less this week. I can’t say I haven’t earned the right to wonder about my ability. I guess the mere fact I’m still out on the field means I’m not horrible but in a volunteer organization they always need coaches- hell some poor sap let me coach at 16, imagine the disappointment that was.