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.
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.
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?