The sun shined bright, and our sweatshirts and jackets warmed us from the brisk air. It wasn’t too cold though, especially if you were a four or five-year old running around chasing a soccer ball. I had about ten of them on my mini-field. Parents lined the sidelines to help keep the ball in play. They were on two different teams, but the other coach and I were “coaching up” all ten of them regardless of Royal Blue or Navy Blue team.
The players constantly surrounded the ball like they would the ice cream truck on a steamy summer evening. Some of them tripped over their own feet. Some of them tripped each other. Some of them lasted a minute on the field, then ran over to Mom or Dad too shy to play or worried or anxious. Some scored goals. Some stayed clear of the ball confusion, wary of being toppled.
Parents and coaches called out things like, “Nice shot. Good job. Okay, okay, let’s help her up. Go Navy Blue. Good hustle. Just keep playing. Try to pass. Go Royal Blue. Nice block.”
Basically, we all offered lots of encouragement. There was no concern about score- score wasn’t even kept. There was no concern about winning. We were just wanting everyone to be involved, get exercise, and have some fun.
During my best teaching this also happens. There is no pressure to perform, just encouragement, letting them explore/discover, and acknowledging what they are doing. The key to the soccer success was probably low expectations, high hopes for a positive experience, nice weather, time to focus on their positives, and knowing there would be time in their future for other stressful parts to learning soccer. I should remember this when teaching.