The Soccer Coach

I recently completed one of the most humbling experiences of my life… I coached my daughter’s U7 soccer team.

The main challenge for me was that I never played soccer growing up. As such, I had a lot of learning to do before I could expect to help the girls.

Looking back on the experience, I see many parallels to the world of continuous improvement.

Education

The first thing I had to do was educate myself as quickly and efficiently as possible. To do this I read several books and watched an intense soccer DVD training program. It took me a few weeks to get through the whole program but the information I learned really helped me.

So, if you are new to continuous improvement you must educate yourself through self study and/or formal training of some kind.

Self Practice

As I was learning things I practiced myself. There were many late nights where I stood in my living room with a soccer ball at my feet practicing different techniques I was learning about on the DVDs.

So, while reading a book or sitting through some sort of training is essential… so too is practicing. If you never try, and fail from time to time, you will never succeed over the long term.

Go to Gemba

Once I had some basic skills in mind it was time to go to gemba, or the place the work is done. Initially, the gemba was my backyard and my pupils were my kids!

Both of my daughter’s play so I was able to teach them some of the new things I learned about. I was also able to learn how to adjust my “coaching” style for young people.

Over the past few months me and my kids have spent hours and hours passing, dribbling, and shooting the ball in the backyard.

So, until you actually go to gemba and try things out you will never truly learn them.

Have a Plan

Once our team began to practice as a group I quickly learned how important it was to have our practices well planned… down to the minute in fact.

I also arrived 30 minutes early to get the practice cones laid out and to make sure we were ready to start on time.

Since I was coaching girls ranging from 5 to 7 it was important to keep things moving and to not allow them time to goof off.

So, being organized and having a plan of exactly what you want to accomplish is very important no matter if you are coaching soccer or facilitating a kaizen event.

Seek & Welcome Help

Finally, a few games into the season one of my parents volunteered to help me coach. This gentleman was an absolute blessing as he played and continues to play soccer as an adult.

Between the two of us we were really able to coach the girls up in a more effective manner.

So, it’s my opinion, that only a fool turns away help from people genuinely interested in making things better.

In other words, no matter where you are on the continuous improvement journey I’d encourage you to seek out others who might be able to help you grow as an individual and organization.

Indoor Here We Come

Our outdoor season ended a few weeks ago and most of the girls signed up to play indoor soccer. And, yes, I am coaching them.  So, the saga continues!  Stay tuned for more updates. 

What do you think?

Have you ever coached a youth sports team? If so, do you see any parallel’s to the world of continuous improvement?

7 Comments

  1. Andy Gibbons

    November 23, 2010 - 9:40 am

    What a blessing to be able to coach your children. You will remember these times for the rest of your life, as will your children.

    I also coached my kids when they were young and definitely see relationships to Lean Coaching. The having a plan concept is probably the most important. While adults may not goof off like young children you still need to be organized and know exactly what you want to accomplish.

  2. Britta Schmidt

    November 24, 2010 - 5:44 am

    My husband also coaches our son’s soccer team and I can tell how rewarding it is for him. Teaching young people is one of the most noble tasks anyone can ever do.

  3. Jay Godse

    November 25, 2010 - 9:14 pm

    I went through many similar experiences with my kids. Enjoy!

  4. art stewart

    November 30, 2010 - 6:46 am

    I too have coached children soccer and found it astoundingly rewarding. There are life lessons in almost everything we do, but seeing a child listening intently for instructions on how to succeed in the games of life…is what LIFE is all about.

  5. Mark Welch

    November 30, 2010 - 8:43 am

    I really enjoyed this post! I was left hanging at the end hoping you’d go into Spear & Bowen’s 4 rules and how they would apply so well, especially tight, direct connections (passing the ball), clearly defining all pathways with direct simple steps (setting up plays, passing, scoring), and continuously improving (practicing and playing). I coached my kids at this, too, when they were little but I didn’t have the dedication and commitment you are showing. Kudos to you, Ron!

  6. Dino Morson

    January 5, 2011 - 8:57 am

    An amazing parallel. About 10-12 years ago I started coaching baseball/softball for my kids teams. After a little more then a year of coaching, it dawned on me that the players I was coaching where not improving. So began a similar quest – learning how to coach, practicing what I learned, implementation and (as I did) conscript willing help.

    Bringing those similar techniques onto the manufacturing floor is not much different. One of my battles is trying to explain that if you continue to do the same thing over, how can you expect things to get better?

    The results: Over those remaining years that I coached, I landed in more championship finals (T-Ball, Rookie ball, Girl’s Softball and Baseball) then I could count. (some of those years I was coaching 2 teams). The best part was to watch about 5-6 of those kids grow and chase the dream of playing at the NCAA level.