The Athlete and the er… Not-So-Athlete

My son has decided to take it upon himself to get me into shape. I am about 3 or 4 lbs over my ideal weight (give or take a few tens of pounds), and have dodgy knees (legit, I had a torn meniscus fixed last year). Not only that but I can’t remember the last time I would say I was in shape, maybe 25 years ago? He has taken on quite the challenge.

Anyway, so this is the other side of a post I wrote a while back about people encouraging each other and accountability. This crazy kid wants me to run 2 miles tomorrow. I haven’t run 2 miles for probably 25 years. The only explanation I have for this is that I just grabbed some mushrooms to eat and they definitely tasted a bit off. I can only assume my boy has been munching on them all day and is a little out of his mind.

So what’s the plan? Well, we’re going to work on a couch to 5k thing and maybe get a 5k done at some point this year. It’s not exactly the pace he wants. He plays soccer, he can run all day, and he’s probably one of the healthiest people I have met in my entire life. Then again, my life is going to be ruled by a Couch to Heart Attack Inducement app for the next few weeks, so not exactly anything for me to look forward to either. However, knowing I am going to be holding him back he is still prepared to be my running coach. What a kid.

This got me thinking to coaching. As coaches how often do we want people to perform at a level they simply aren’t ready for? Let’s say you are coaching a team and a whole bunch of new players come in, how do you find balance between integrating the new and challenging the core? Do you expect the new players to get up to speed with the existing core, or do you slow down the existing team and try to bring the new players up to speed?

Based on where I am right now, with my athletic kid trying to drive me to standards that will probably kill me, I am trying to evaluate how much burden is on the people at the higher level to work together to integrate the others into the team. Does development in a team sport always have to be about the game, or can we also help our kids develop by encouraging them to help develop others? Personally, as a coach I would rather have a team of kids who help, support, and encourage each other at the expense of a few wins on the field, than have a collection of individuals who can win games, but never understand what it means to be in a team, or help others.

There are many lessons a coach can teach about life through the medium of soccer, and understanding how to support others for the good of the whole is surely the most important of them. Sir Alex Ferguson built an entire empire of success on the idea that no individual would ever be bigger than the team.

On a final note, please take a moment to check out an amazing group of people who do exactly this, using soccer as a platform to teach life lessons. Coaches Across Continents uses sport as a vehicle to create Self Directed Learners who can identify, address and solve problems specific to their community. Check out their facebook page here: Coaches Across Continents

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Categories: Development, Performance, Sport

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