Last night I went to bed feeling an overwhelming amount of sorrow and depression. My oldest boy, Zachary, has been struggling with soccer. He hasn’t found his niche and his personality has often put him at odds with some of his team mates. When we left practice last night he told me he was not having fun. My heart sank.

I am his coach as well as his father and I can’t help but feeling like I had failed him. I hadn’t motivated him. I hadn’t helped him find his role. I hadn’t even taught him how to enjoy the game. I talked it over with my wife and we were at a loss to understand it.

In thinking about I know Zachary is very sensitive and he takes my direction and yelling when I’m coaching personally.  I have tried to explain to him over and over again that I yell at everyone and that I’m not mad, I’m just trying to teach them how to be better soccer players.

This morning I told Zachary that I just wanted him to have fun and to listen to me without arguing. We got to the field early and spent some one on one time working on his goalie skills. He listened. He didn’t argue. It was awesome.

Game time. Zachary started in goal…and ended in goal.  It was the first game where Zachary played all four quarters when we weren’t short handed. He stayed in goal the whole game and played a monster game with a number of incredible saves including a penalty shot on goal. The team lost 3-0, but they played an awesome game. Zachary earned the respect of his team mates and the parents, but even more importantly: he had fun.

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0 thoughts on “And the Angels Sing

  1. Aj b33m3R

    I think having fun is the whole battle. As a kid I used my asthma as a crutch to get me out of every physical activity that involved other kids. Except for roller hockey, I sucked at it but I always had fun. I liked hockey because my ever absent dad liked the sport I think. It’s great that you are so involved with your sons. It’s fantastic. Goalie is a very difficult position, he kind of has a boat load of pressure on him there. Ultimately, for every goal that goes in, you can’t help but to take full responsibility. My Dad bought me goalie pads but after trying the position out a couple of times I’d let some other kid wear them, it was too much pressure. The more I think about it, I think it would be good if you gently encouraged him to overcome the pressure, in the end I kind of carried that attitude with me through life; I’m just not a competitive person, some would say a quitter.

    You could also find something he really likes. I remember when I went back to England for a summer and the kids had me play Cricket. Turned out I was really good at it, I think it had something to do with me swinging like a baseball player, I’d hit the ball 98% of the time and 90% it was out of the playground (automatic 11 runs!) Kids got so upset they even made me the suicide man (guy that stands between the bowler and the batter) turns out I was pretty good at that too! First time I ever felt “athletic.” First time I ever got picked first for a team.

    Not that you and Zach need any of this “advice,” you’re a great father, Eric.

    1. Eric Swett

      The funny thing is that putting him in as goalie seems to have been the best possible option for him. He was thriving there and didn’t let the little mistakes stop him from having fun and playing the best game of his two season career. He will never be a big athlete, just like I wasn’t, but if he learns to have fun then I am okay with that.

  2. kwove

    Ah, fatherhood! 🙂

    Definitely take time to enjoy those moments when you connect with your son. They can be difficult to come by at times! I’ve had similar struggles with my own son. In fact, I ended up backing off coaching because I actually didn’t want to impede him having a good time. He’s firstborn… hardheaded as they come. I am too, and whenever I would coach him he would absolutely go out of his way to apply as little effort as possible it seemed. Then he would turn around, some other coach would tell him the SAME thing, and bang, he’d take to it. 🙂 It got so bad that sometimes when I wanted to help him I would actually go to his coach and tell him what he needed to work on. That way he would get the help he needed without us having conflict.

    I know that sounds like conflict avoidance on an extreme level. Actually, though, we have a GREAT relationship now. I needed to back off and just let him have fun, and he needed to buck up and listen to his “old man.” Now I pick my battles, give him that little “knowing” grin every once in a while and now he can understand what’s actually important instead of every little thing seeming like it’s the end of the world.

    Sounds like you’re a great dad who is sensitive to his son’s needs. I hope he keeps enjoying soccer, and that all this ends up bringing you guys closer.

    1. Eric Swett

      Wouldn’t trade it in for the world.

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