The Importance Of Having Fun

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Matt)

Matt The Importance Of Having Fun

This seems obvious. After all it’s the first rule of Soccer Shots. But it’s amazing how much truly having fun with my classes can change everything. First and foremost the kids will always respond and feed off of my energy. So if I’m genuinely and truly having fun with a class then they feel that and can’t help but have the time of their lives.

By having fun with my classes I know I’m truly present. I’m engaged in each moment and listening and observing my kids closely.

In my free time I do improv comedy and in improv, when you’re not sure what to do with a scene we’re always told to “follow the fun.” The same can always apply to my soccer classes. If a kid gets distracted by an airplane flying overhead my instinct is to stop them and redirect them back to whatever I’m trying to teach. But let’s face it, airplanes are AWESOME! They’re a marvel of science and technology. I’m a grown man and I still can’t fully comprehend how a giant metal bird can take off from the ground, maintain flight and hurtle through the air at hundreds of miles and hour then land relatively gracefully back on the ground. So there’s no reason a child shouldn’t stop what they’re doing whenever they see one, point and shout, “AIRPLANE!” If I’m having fun with my class I’m going to embrace that moment and say “Let’s all be airplanes!” and run around the field with our arms outstretched before I steer the kids back to focusing on our lesson.

 The Importance Of Having Fun

Perhaps most importantly for me, play leads to creativity. By playing with the kids and following what they naturally find fun I’m constantly discovering new games to add to the Soccer Shots repertoire. The most recent of which is my new game Marching Band. In this game we take a break from soccer to have some fun and make some noise. I let the boys and girls choose an instrument; either a drum (a soccer ball), a pair of cymbals (two flat cones), or a horn (a tall cone). This introduces the concept of choice to the children (which is especially great for the 2­ year­ olds). It can take the craziest or laziest of classes and really get them engaged. It started when some kids in Coach Alyssa’s class began using two flat cones as “clappers” to cheer on their teammates while doing one­ on­ ones. I took that concept and ran with it. Already my kids are following the fun with this game and taking it to the next level. I’ve already had children beat a “drum” with a “cymbal” and even had a 2­ year­ old delight me with his air guitar skills on a tall cone.

Whether you’re an educator, a parent, or a caregiver I urge you to try to take the time to leave your grown­ up stressors and inhibitions at the door when you spend time with your kids. It can be tough for an adult to play on the level of a toddler especially when other people are watching or when you’re overworked or you’ve under slept. Do your best though. Make a real effort to dive right in and be fully engaged and I guarantee that by truly having fun with your children you will reach a new level of connectedness with them and open new doors of creativity, learning, and love.

Confessions of a former Pre-K Teacher

– Guest post by Coach Kim

 Confessions of a former Pre K Teacher

As a new coach and as a former teacher I just wanted to take some time and share my unique experience with Soccer Shots.

My first impression, having seen the program at the school where I used to teach, was that it was just another soccer program, but the more I saw the more I realized it was so much more.

Every week I saw how all the kids that were signed up were so excited to go. They even made sure that mom or dad did not forget to bring their orange Soccer Shots shirt to wear. I also saw how full of energy and excitement the coach was every week when he/she came to pick the children up from class. When I witnessed the children at a class, I saw all the skills they were learning and all the fun they were having with the games, that I became intrigued. It made me want to learn more about what Soccer Shots was all about. I went online and read all about the program, the age specific curriculum, and how well rounded the program is.

At this point I was looking for something different in a job, and I felt that not only could I still work with kids as a coach with Soccer Shots, I could also incorporate my other passion which is exercise. I loved the fact that I could still teach the kids a lot of important life lessons such as sharing, teamwork, respect and so much more. I also believed that since I have worked in two different states and a total of five years with children, and hold two different Personal Training certificates that I could bring a lot of knowledge with me to help support these kids.

I was also excited to see how different it would be working with children out on the field instead of in the classroom. I realized that coaches deal with a lot of the same things that teachers do. Each child is unique and each learns differently and as a coach I needed to see how I could relate to each individual child and how I could teach them. I’ve had the chance to shadow and work with so many great Soccer Shots coaches so far and I see how they are able to do that almost effortlessly as they get to know each class and each child.

I feel that working with children is so rewarding, whether it is in a classroom, out on the field, or wherever else learning and fun can happen, and I feel so privileged that Soccer Shots made my transition so smooth.

I also wanted to say thank you to all the coaches out there. You really don’t know how much joy you bring to these children every week. Its really all they would talk about, so remember that every time you go out there. For that half hour to an hour you are their whole world and I’m proud to say that I am now a part of that world.

The Mentoring Effect + Soccer Shots

Mentoring Works The Mentoring Effect + Soccer ShotsJanuary was first designated National Mentoring Month in 2002, and while the concept of mentoring has been around pretty much forever, researchers and educators have since made it a priority to back up the idea with evidence.

This month, 12 years after the Inaugural National Mentoring Month, MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership, has released some impressive, encouraging, and profound research.

In their research, published as The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspective on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring (2014), MENTOR concludes the following:

  •  There are two types of mentoring relationships, Informal/Unstructured and Formal/Structured. Informal mentoring relationships usually form between a young person and a family friend, a teacher, or a coach. Formal mentoring relationships are developed and matched with a purpose, often through schools and community groups.
  • Young people with mentors are more likely to report positive behaviors, like graduating from college, participating in sports and extracurricular activities, and often hold leadership positions in the activities they engage in.
  • Youth believe mentoring provides them with the guidance and support they need to live productively. More specifically, young people in informal mentoring relationships often stated that their mentor provided developmental support, over academic support, talking with them more often about making good decisions and staying motivated in life.
  • One in three young people, and even more at-risk youth, report that they never had a mentor growing up. That means, nationwide, today approximately 16 million youth, including 9 million at-risk youth, will reach age 19 without ever having a mentor.

Coach Andy Charles1 e1390524464198 The Mentoring Effect + Soccer Shots

MENTOR (2014) goes on to identify mentoring as a critical link in the chain of outcomes for youth today, that ultimately produces more active citizens and stronger leaders, better schools and healthier communities. 

So… as our Soccer Shots Coaches head out onto the soccer field and talk about our character words each week, we like to think we are planting the seeds for many, or at the very least, one, meaningful mentor in each child’s life. It’s not just about developing young soccer players, but developing stronger youth, beyond the game.

Reference: The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring. (2014). MENTOR: Expanding the world of quality mentoring. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/mentoringeffect

The Process

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Jorge)

Jorge The Process

When I first started working for Soccer Shots I was very excited, but nervous. With a coaching background I felt more than capable. The only differences I found with Soccer Shots were the younger age groups and the focus on the non-competitive side of soccer.

Before, for me, coaching was about trophies and accomplishments… However, through my time with Soccer Shots I’ve seen how a smile and the feeling of pride for a child is 1,000 times more rewarding than a piece of hardware that will eventually just collect dust.

As coaches, we are these children’s real life super heroes. From seeing them trying to master every soccer move I show them, to hearing stories from parents about how their child pretends to coach like me when they’re at home. It’s honestly one of the best feelings anyone can have. Those high fives before and after class just give you that extra push in your every day agenda. They remind you why you are doing this, they keep you humbled and always excited to look for new ways to make class that much better for each child.

Before I became the coach you see at parks and schools, I had a lot of help along the way. I cannot begin to think about what my classes would be like without the help I received from other coaches and directors. From shadowing coaches and picking up on their coaching techniques, to seeing how they address certain situations, our coaches and directors are part a never ending learning process. Its amazing knowing that the sky is the limit for making every family’s experience extra special, and also making Soccer Shots the best youth soccer program out there.

As we get into the winter session, I can’t begin to imagine all the fun I’m going to have, not only coaching, but beginning to write for the blog and share my experiences with all of you! 🙂

The New Girl

(Guest Post from Coach Taylor Fowler)

Taylor3 The New Girl

As I complete my first season with our Soccer Shots family, I felt it was only right to write a reflective piece that would explain what it’s like to join a new program.

WEEKS 1-4

Like most of our little friends it took me a couple of weeks to get the hang of things. Traveling to my first class week 1 seemed to be the most nerve racking. Although I knew that I wouldn’t be coaching alone, I had a serious case of the “What if questions” …

“What if the kids don’t like me?”  “What if the parents think I’m a horrible teacher?” “What if I forget to give the children a water break?” “What if they think girls can’t coach soccer?” 

As I shut off the ignition and shyly walked over to soccer island I was greeted with lots of smiles and plenty of high fives and welcomes from all of the parents; I started to loosen up a bit. Before I knew my first day had come and gone along with my apprehension.

For me weeks 2-4 were my developing stages, I was still nervous every time I would walk into a school or drive up to a park, but with each smile and high five and “great job,” the nervousness I had, began to fade and a new feeling started. It was a feeling of confidence.

Coach Taylor coaching The New Girl

Week 6

My favorite week has to be week 6! During my own development, I had progressed from an assistant coach to leading classes of my very own. Leading classes meant higher expectations. As a coach I am responsible for the development of my little friends, like mastering a move. And as most coaches will tell you, there is nothing better than having your whole class master a move.

For me this happened during week 6, one of my classes seemed to really struggle with a particular move during week 4.  Knowing this, I didn’t put too much pressure on my little friends to get the move down. Instead I made up a game that would cause them to repeatedly have to try the move. By week 6, I simply asked the class “who remembers hocus pocus?” (step-over move), and to my surprise all of my friends stood up and started doing the step-over move.  I was so elated I even called my mom and dad to tell them about my breakthrough at work. 

WEEKS 7-10

I no longer had the feeling of anxiousness. It had been replaced fully with confidence. I started incorporating concepts from my very own soccer experiences into my classes. Not only did I see the progression within myself, but more and more of the children in my classes were greeting me with “Coach Taylor look at what I can do” or “Coach Taylor I have been working on this move.” Many of my little friends had grown confident in their own abilities too.

As with all great things that come to an end, the conclusion of my first season was a bitter/sweet moment for me. I knew I would miss all of smiling faces and numerous adventures we had on Soccer Island. But I also felt a sense of assurance. I know that I have all of the tools to not only be a great coach, and to also aspire to be a REMARKABLE one as well.