This weekend we wrapped up our soccer season at the Y. We had a fun time. It was my first time coaching my daughter, and it was also her first time playing. She is so fast and had a great season. I could see her playing more soccer in the future. I also had the best assistant coach in the history of soccer (Janell).

I’ve had some time to reflect about the season and what I learned, and I thought I’d share it here. There are some life lessons in here that I hope to remember from our first soccer season together.

Life Lessons from Coaching Soccer

1. Winning isn’t always reflected just by what’s on the scoreboard.
Since we were playing for the YMCA, there wasn’t much of an emphasis on winning. The director even reminded me at our last game that we don’t even technically keep score. The girls do, though. And the parents. For us, though, winning was just getting them to spread out or pass the ball to each other. It was about making small steps forward. It was about progress. Those things don’t reflect themselves on a normal scoreboard. Most important things in life don’t reflect themselves in a final scoreboard because most of the time we’re focused on the wrong things.

2. Some of the most difficult battles are not related to the sport itself.
Simply getting people to pay attention or even getting me to just smile and take a breath or a step back to have fun with the girls instead of being incredibly competitive are part of the battle. There are also so many things going on in each of the kids’ lives that I could see from afar. Family dynamics, parents’ personalities, etc, school schedules, vacations, and so many other things are part of life that reflect themselves in the two hours a week we spent together in soccer. People are complex, and families are complex. We have to remember that.

3. Fundamentals are important.
Multiple times during the games I would try to put someone into the game. I would tell them to “go play center midfield.” That phrase was almost always followed by, “What’s center midfield?” It didn’t matter how many times I had taught them. They didn’t have the fundamentals of the positions of the game. It was frustrating, but it was a reminder of how important the fundamentals are to anything. Don’t lose sight of the important fundamentals in whatever you are doing, or you won’t go very far.

4. Not everyone is cut out for every position.
Again, it was YMCA soccer, so the coaches rules are that everyone gets to play every position. Of course, not everyone is cut out to play every position. The flower pickers should not be put in goal because they’re not even paying attention when the ball comes toward them. However, if you do have to put them in goal, refer to lesson number one.

5. They might not remember what you say but they’ll remember about you.
I don’t know that these girls will remember much of the soccer we tried to teach them, but hopefully they will remember us as fun-loving coaches who took time to teach them soccer (and some other things along the way).

See…it was a successful season after all.