Teaching Sportsmanship!

JordanL CoachCard1 Teaching Sportsmanship!(Guest Post by Coach Jordan)

I had coached the same general group of kids for a few seasons. They all knew each other well and knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This season, we had a new kid join in who had clearly played soccer before. “Andrea” wasn’t exceptionally better than any of the other kids but she could give any of them a run for their money. All the kids in the class still got along great until a few weeks into the season…

“John” and “Andrew” were best friends and pretty much the two “best” soccer players in the class. To make things fair for everyone else, I usually put them on opposite teams when it came to scrimmage. They always competed well against each other and never had a problem with the other one winning. It was sportsmanship at its finest as far as I could tell. However, a few weeks into the new season John and Andrew got paired up on the same team going up against Andrea. It was all fun, until I blew the whistle and John and Andrew’s team had lost, a lot to nothing. Of course I wasn’t keeping strict score for either team but they were a competitive group of kids and always kept pretty good track of the score on their own. After the game, Andrew handed me his jersey with the rest of the kids and was just as happy as usual. John, on the other hand, I was surprised to see still had the jersey on well after the game was over.

I walked up to him as the other kids were collecting the cones and saw tears welling up in his eyes. “John, what’s wrong” I asked, thinking maybe he got hurt and I had missed it. He took a second before he looked up and yelled, “it’s not fair! We lost! I didn’t get a turn.” I was a little confused because he had lost plenty of times in the many season’s he’d been playing. “It’s okay,” I reassured him, “we’ll still play next week and I’m sure you’ll score lots of goals then. “No it’s not fair, I don’t want to play anymore.”

I couldn’t understand why this time was so different. I tried to reassure him some more but he wasn’t having any of it. Fast-forward to the next week and John was ready to play soccer again. He had largely forgotten about the incident it appeared and was ready to play. That was, until the scrimmage was over, and neither team had scored a goal. Again, after the scrimmage, John was distraught that he hadn’t won. I asked him again what was wrong and again he told me he lost and that it wasn’t fair.

I was still confused about what made this time any different than the other times he had lost but I was prepared. “But you tied” I told him. “It’s not fair” he said insistently. This time I was ready though. “Why isn’t it fair John?” I was starting to think there wasn’t an actual reason. “Because we lost” he said keeping his reasoning in a circle. “But what if you had won, then the other team loses then is it not fair to them?” I asked him. “But I don’t want them to win.”

Finally we got to the root of the problem. John was fine with losing before because it usually meant that Andrew won. They were best friends and hugged and high-fived and were happy win or lose. But when John was on Andrew’s team and they both lost, Andrew saw no reason he should be happy the other team won. It took another week for John to really understand that it was okay to lose. I had to stress that he was still having fun and just as importantly, so were the kids on the other team.

The concept of winning and losing is hard to get across to kids. The best way I’ve found to do it, is to first really understand what their underlying meaning of winning and losing for them is. Some kids really want to win, some really don’t want to lose, some have learned that winning is good and some just have an inherent drive. It may be a cliché to say that every kids is unique but it’s true, every situation is different. The most important thing though, is to make sure the kid learns for themselves that winning and losing are both okay. It isn’t as easy as telling them. They have to experience it both ways. The thing you can do, is explain to them the best you can so that when they do win or lose, they make the choice for themselves to be a gracious winner and a gracious loser.

Soccer Shots: Coach Chris

Across the country Soccer Shots coaches positively impact girls and boys in all sorts of ways!

Through countless smiles, numerous high-fives, encouraging words, patient instruction, and caring acts our coaches make a difference in the lives of children.

Watch this short video and meet one such coach – Coach Chris. While Chris doesn’t coach for Soccer Shots Los Angeles, his story, passion, and dedication to making an impact is incredibly similar to all of the coaches on our team.

Week Five: ENCOURAGEMENT!

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Five: ENCOURAGEMENT!For this week we get to go over the word ENCOURAGEMENT. This word is important because it can unify the kids and show them care and empathy for their teammates and friends.

ENCOURAGEMENT means to inspire someone with courage or confidence to do something; to stimulate something or someone to do something by approval or help; support. This really hits the nail on the head about what we do with our children. We as coaches are constantly encouraging our kids with high fives and praise. This shows them we care for them and show them we are paying attention to what they are doing.

The best time that we can show our children ENCOURAGEMENT is during the goals time of class. It is very easy to show our kids how we can cheer for our friends by simply cheering for them. This can be done in many different ways. Saying “Go, friends, go” or inserting the name of the child for the word ‘friend’ when they are shooting a goal. Also giving them a high five after the goal and saying “great job” is showing them ENCOURAGEMENT.

Showing our kids ENCOURAGEMENT, no matter what we are doing in soccer is important. As is encouraging our kids to encourage each other.

Week Four: APPRECIATION!

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Four: APPRECIATION! This week’s word of the day is APPRECIATION. APPRECIATION is a great word and ironically enough, even though it is a long and hard word to say it is one of the most remembered words we have. In the older curriculum and other seasons it is usually one of our last words, which means we don’t get to go over it as much as we could, so I am glad that it comes earlier in the Summer Season.

APPRECIATION is defined as thanks, gratitude, or an assessment of the true worth or value of persons or things. I like this definition because it truly shows how important this word is. A basic human need in all of us is to feel valued and at this stage in the children’s life it is important that we get this across to them. 

I love the easy way that this word can be shown to our kids as well. It can easily be explained as showing thanks. The easiest way APPRECIATION can be shown is during water break, as well as when we are passing out the soccer balls. Since APPRECIATION means thanks, as a coach I like to praise the children who say thank you by telling them: “by saying thanks you are showing coach APPRECIATION” or “look how Billy showed Coach Kim APPRECIATION by saying thank you.”

It is easy to remind the children how you can show you appreciate someone. Showing the children our APPRECIATION for them is important too. Making sure we are always showing them their value and importance is paramount because this may be the only APPRECIATION they are receiving all day.

Week Three: COURAGE!

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Three: COURAGE! Welcome to Week 3 of the Word of the Day blog! This week is all about COURAGE. What’s great about this word is that it can be explained in many different ways. The dictionary defines COURAGE as: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. But what I like better than this definition is the second definition, which is: the heart as the source of emotion. That one really hits home with me because as a coach we really are touching these kids hearts and emotions each and every day. 

The way that I went about explaining COURAGE to these kids was by telling a story. Some of the words of the day are easy to explain by just explaining the definition. However, I feel that COURAGE is a little harder to explain so I use a story that demonstrates how characters the kids know have been brave.

I talk about how the characters Woody and Buzz from the Disney film Toy Story get lost at the arcade. They were scared, but they showed COURAGE, and even though they were scared they stuck together and found their way home. Now of course any story will work, whatever you think your kids can relate to and provides an easy way to explain COURAGE.

What I love is that after the story, the kids who understand what you mean, eyes will get big and they say “ohhh,” and you know that you got through to them. To me, that is the most important thing. At the end of the day those moments make everything we do just that more impactful.

Week Two: CONFIDENCE!

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Two: CONFIDENCE! Welcome to Week 2 of the Word of the Day blog! This week is all about CONFIDENCE. This is definitely a harder word for some of our children to say and to remember, but for me it isn’t as important that they necessarily remember the word but that they remember the meaning and feeling behind the word.

CONFIDENCE means belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities or self-assurance. This is something that the children we are coaching are just starting to recognize in themselves. Also our children are very impressionable at this age and it is crucial that they are learning how to have self-CONFIDENCE. The best that we, as coaches, can do this is by constant praise. More important than just praise is specific praise. So for example not just saying great job to a child, but pointing out an exact thing they are doing, such as: “Great stop position Sally” or ” That was a great pull back Billy”. Being specific is important because is show the children that you are paying attention and care about them.

We always want to be modeling the behavior we want our children to have so modeling CONFIDENCE is very important. Seeing us being confident in what we are teaching them helps them be more confident in themselves and their abilities. At the end of the day self-CONFIDENCE is very important and we, as coaches, need to do what we can to set these children up in the right direction for them to continue to build their CONFIDENCE for the future.

One family’s Soccer Shots story…

We received this message from a parent in one of our park programs, and it filled our hearts with so much joy, we just had to share! Truly, this is why we do what we do, and we couldn’t be more proud of our team and the impact they have on kids and families in Los Angeles every day!

I have so much to say!!!!!!!! This group, has touched my heart in so many ways! It’s sometimes hard to find the words. We are faced with putting our trust into those who are mentors, teachers, coaches, and friends. We place our trust and depend on them as we start and continue to build our village, because I do STRONGLY believe it takes a village to raise my special lil guy!! 

The first soccer session, I ended up at the wrong park, drove around in circles, once I got to the right park, I literally walked around not knowing really who to look for. I see a guy and assume he is a coach with Soccer Shots so I ask, ” Is this the group my son is registered in?” He replies .. “Yes..hi, I am Coach Stewart..” I immediately start explaining and apologizing for being 30 minutes late, explaining that I went to wrong park, drove around in circles and here we are!! Kinda expecting a “you’re too late response.” Team One familys Soccer Shots story...
Coach Stewart immediately comforted us, introduced himself to me and D, got him a Soccer Shots shirt, and walked D over to his team, his group of new friends!!! He then said to me, “no worries!!!” Little did he know I was tearing up, I was so worried and mad at myself; worried that I messed up D’s first day, his first soccer experience!! 
Instead, I realized that was not the case at all!! Coach Andy immediately embraced D and gently threaded him into the group seamlessly!! This moment was huge for me!! As a parent I love experiencing those first time moments, that I’ve so come to realize as much as it is a HUGE deal for our little one…it’s just as HUGE for us too!! 
Watching my son merge in with people he had never seen before… a moment I so wanted to call my mom … That, mom to mom moment, sharing D’s first day of soccer..I know in her way, she was there with us!!! 

When the class was over, I walked over to introduce myself to Coach Andy. He reached out to me, shook my hand and said Hi. I was again apologetic for being so late..and had a million questions .. “Do you need me to fill out anything, forms? Did we miss an introduction.. Blah blah blah” 
Coach Andy, with the sweetest smile said.. “No no no don’t worry, your son D is awesome and welcome!!” 
I was like, “really, no lecture, you know that coach talk on the importance of being here on time?!” He was completely the opposite and said your son is great! Balboa Park One familys Soccer Shots story...

From that day forward here is what I see every Saturday… Character building, sitting together, for what I would love to be a lil fly and listen .. But I do love watching them sit together building trust and relationships!! Learning about how to respect, appreciate, encourage, and mostly how to have FUN with each other! With much thoughtfulness Coach Andy and Coach Geo embrace the kiddos with lots of happiness, fun, smiles, and an amazing amount of genuine authentic love for the them!! 
D has just graduated from his second season, he has more confidence in everything he does from school work, to now swimming and jumping into a pool, to taking those first steps into things that before felt too scary..believing in himself.
Coach Andy guides and coaches in a way that allows them to have freedom .. He gives them the space, allowing the learning process to be natural, comfortable and at their own pace!! His teaching skills build self confidence and his ability to be so IN THE MOMENT with each kiddo, individually and as a group of friends is incredible!!

Example: just about to practice the hocus pocus move.. But then you hear one child say to another .. “Hey that’s my ball, he took my ball, that’s my ball!!” Coach Andy immediately responded.. “Ok boys and girls let’s practice how we share with our friends”, and immediately had them practicing on sharing the soccer ball with one another , teammates, playing, shouting with laughter and having so much fun in sharing the soccer ball!! What could have turned into a melt down on someone took my ball, was brilliantly turned into laughter and sharing!!! 

I love this group so much!! You all have become a great friends, and have made my son’s first sport an amazing, very positive experience! When its time, any new coach that comes into D’s life will have VERY VERY big shoes to fill. I am ever so greatful to each and every one of you!!! 


From my heart, from D’s heart, 
We thank you so much Soccer Shots team. A huge blessing to have you all be part of “our village.” Xoxoxo

 

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.

Happy New Year Updates for 2014

As we enter a new year (our 7th here in Los Angeles!) we are grateful for the thousands of families that participate in our program each year. We also realize that this could not be done without a dedicated and unique team of individuals who all share a common vision for Soccer Shots. I wanted to share a couple of important things that will be new to our organization in 2014.

Happy New Year 2014 1 1 Happy New Year Updates for 2014

1) Full Time Coaches. We have begun transitioning and will continue to do so in 2014 from part time coaches to primarily full time coaches. This is a big step for us and one that we feel truly makes us unique among other children’s enrichment programs. We believe this move will further improve the quality and reliability of our coaches and provide a program that in the end is an extremely high value for the families and schools that we serve.

2) Group Health Insurance. All eligible full time employees will have the opportunity to enroll in our group health insurance. The plan has been set up and as of today five members of our team are taking advantage of this benefit. By the end of the year I expect that we will have over ten employees participating in our group health insurance. We believe this will make for a healthier and happier team of directors and coaches! And as a company we feel really good about being able to offer this benefit.

In addition to these two updates there will be others as well throughout the year. All in an effort to improve on a program which is already loved and appreciated by more than 5,000 families and over 100 schools in Los Angeles each year.

Happy New Year!

We look forward to seeing you out on the field in 2014!

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.