Did I let him down?
February 7, 2011 8 Comments
I had an interesting situation at training last week which I found a bit awkward and it’s had me thinking about it ever since. I’ve been coaching the under 7s at this club since the start of the season and there’s been one child in particular who stands out a bit from the rest, primarily because he doesn’t really take any interest in the football part of the session (or in fact, any part of the session).
He’s quite reserved and will generally take part in the warm-up only to end up sitting away from the kids and either doing his own thing or standing on the sides as the session progresses. Both of us (the manager and I) have encouraged him to be more involved in the games we’ve played in the past but ultimately if he’s not interested then as a coach you revert to focussing on the other 15-20 kids who’re there to play football.
In the past I’ve noticed that he loses interested when he’s had shots saved during a shooting game (for example) so I’ve tried to improve his chances of success but he still ended up sitting on the periphery of the session. Which is kind of what happened last week…
We’d split in to two groups and this child had started with the other group. I’d set up a SSG (Small Sided Game) for the players I had with me and was watching and coaching from the side of the pitch when he came over and stood next to me. He didn’t say anything at first and then grabbed my hand and asked if he could join in with the SSG I was running. I asked him why he wasn’t with the others anymore and he stated that “X kept saving all my shots” (with X being a boy who was playing in goal) so immediately I’m aware that once again the failure-factor has steered him away from the game he was involved with.
I told him that I couldn’t add him in to the SSG I was running at that point because the teams were even – note to self: I should have just let him join one of the teams, not sure why I didn’t. So he just held my hand and started to ask me what were (I assume) the maths questions he’d been taught that day/week. From talking to the manager of our team about this boy in the past I understand that he’s very bright for his age but where his intellect is clearly good (I could tell this from the maths questions he was asking) he’s obviously struggling with his social development.
So, apart from the fact that I should have just allowed him to join our game it begs the question – is there anything I should be doing with this boy to help him enjoy his football training more? And, ideally, incorporate him with the others? It strikes me as being a classic example of what the Level 1 course teaches you – you’re not just a soccer coach when you’re working with children of this age.
(P.S Aware that blog posts such as this might verge on the border of being a bit too personal but I wanted to share it as it’s relevant to challenges coaches have to overcome).