The Importance, Role and Responsibility of Being a Coach
In a continuing series on the role of a youth soccer coach, with Alberto “AB” Bru, Program Director of Real So Cal, Colin Chesters, Director of Coaching at San Diego Surf and Christian Lavers, President of Elite Clubs National League (ECNL).
Diane Scavuzzo talks with top coaches about the important position of a coach. Youth soccer coaches have great influence over their players, and the best ones take that very seriously.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do you coach youth soccer?
Colin Chesters: I just enjoy coaching the game I grew up with and love. We as coaches are fortunate youth soccer is so well organized and in the job come across so many great families and kids.
AB: I coach because I want to help players enjoy playing and enjoy improving at soccer.
Christian Lavers: Being a coach means having the opportunity to help young players grow and achieve their goals in the sport. More importantly, it is the chance to mentor players and develop relationships with them that help them mature as people, learn how to deal with adversity and how to set ambitious goals, and then learn what it takes to achieve them.
There are few things that I can think of that are more rewarding than coaching youth players at high levels as they start to see themselves becoming successful.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the importance of being a coach?
AB: Coaches inspire players by giving them a positive experience. Then it us up to the players to take themselves as far as their drive and talent will allow them to go.
Christian Lavers: I think the answer to that question depends so much on the age of the player and the level at which they are currently playing or aspire to play. For very young players in community based leagues, probably the most important thing a coach can do is make the daily environment fun and something that the player looks forward to so that they come back the next day. At “senior” youth ages, it becomes more important for the coach to be someone that can show the path through adversity for players that are seeking to play at the highest possible level. It really depends on the players and their goals.
Colin Chesters: It is important you teach life lessons through your coaching. Life is full of ups and downs, and this can obviously be related to on the soccer field and training ground.
Ultimately, those that dedicate themselves and possess the right life skills will be the ones that move forward onto great things, both in life and in the game. There are no short cuts to the top. I hope hearing these types of messages over 10 years of youth soccer can have this type of impact.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the responsibility of a coach?
Colin Chesters: We are certainly responsible for a lot of things as coaches. I feel being a positive role model is the first place you start. We have the power to create monsters if we handle our jobs in the wrong way. We can impact lives in a much more positive way when we make ourselves, our staff and our players accountable and deliver the right message about what is right and wrong.
AB: A coach’s responsibility is to help each child to develop into the best soccer player and person they possibly can.
Colin Chesters: We try to teach “team first” here at our club, and we are fortunate that we get buy-in due to our strong reputation and history in the community. I believe, and it is our club’s philosophy, that everybody will be successful at the end of the day if they buy into the concept of team.
Christian Lavers: A coach’s responsibility is to help players get better faster than they would otherwise. At the end of the day, the player is always the person who deserves the credit for what they accomplish; as coaches we simply help them down the path quicker.
Diane Scavuzzo: Any final thoughts to share?
Christian Lavers: I think the word “inspire” is very important to remember when coaching. It is very different than motivating a player to work hard short-term. Great coaches inspire players to want to get better for the long term. To me, that is about getting players to be able to see themselves five years down the road and see themselves accomplishing some goals that seem so far away or difficult at the moment.
Inspired players train on their own more, they stay out at practice longer and they push themselves through adversity because they believe in what they can accomplish. Helping players see that they control their own fate, and that their own work rate and determination are the most important things in determining their career, is a very important message that coaches can help young players understand.
AB: I think a big challenge in coaching is dealing with an individual in a team sport. It always disappoints me when players or parents decide to quit or switch teams for all the wrong reasons.
Colin Chesters: I think it’s time to thank the pioneers who years ago kept raising the bar – people such as Mike Connerley with Surf and Surf Cup and Derek Armstrong at Nomads. Without all the hard work they put in 30 years ago, the game might not have grown and prospered here in San Diego.
It’s a great game and the standards keep rising every year. In the game of soccer the players are all the quarterback and coach, making decisions that could help or hurt our cause. Keep enjoying the game as a coach and a player, and when the going gets tough don’t point fingers, just work smarter.