The Difference a Coach Makes

Zach’s team tied their game the other night.

And we celebrated!!

Yes, we celebrated a tie! It was a 1-1 tie, no less.

This was the first non-loss all season. They have come to expect losing. Big losses. Like 11-0, or 7-1. Crushing, defeating, big losses.

This is especially tough because Josh’s team is always a “winning” team. Even if they lose, it’s not a big deal because it is an anomaly. Zach has always been supportive of Josh, celebrating with him, but I can imagine it is hard.

It’s hard for me! It breaks my heart when I see them work so hard, and come out broken and defeated. Yes, losing teaches you a lot about “real life”, but maybe not so many “real life lessons” are needed for 12 year olds?!?!

About two weeks ago I sat at yet another crushing game. The score was about 8-0 when another parent said to me, “Maybe our boys just don’t have what it takes. Maybe they just aren’t good enough.”

Well, maybe that is what he wants to think about his kid, but not mine!!

For sure, there are some kids who perhaps should not be playing at this level of soccer. But, there are a lot of good kids.

My take on it was different.

I replied to this parent, “No, they just need some leadership. They need to be taught. They need to be supported. They need to be encouraged. They need to be coached differently.”

That night, the coach quit.

And we celebrated by going to get milkshakes.

I’m a big believer in respect for everyone, but I’m not a big believer in blindly following someone simply because of their role and authoritative status. As much as I have encouraged Zach to listen to his coach, I have also taught the lesson “sometimes people are in your life so you can learn how you don’t want to be in the future.”

I was not a fan of this coach at all. ‘Personality disorder’ is the first thing I think of when I think of him. However, Zach has respected him,  put up with him, endured him, and bit his tongue around him for 2 years.

It was time to celebrate him leaving, so we did.

A new coach was brought in the next day.

He has worked with the same team for 2 weeks.

Last week, the team lost, but the score was close.

This week they tied.

(Next game, they win)

The kids are more confident, they are more positive, they are playing better, they are understanding better, and yet, they are still the same kids.

The difference is the coach and the coaching.

Zach told me the other morning, “You know Mom, this coach is like in the movies and on TV. You know, the kind of coach that you want to listen to and have a conversation with.”


Josh has had this kind of coach for 2 years, and what a difference it makes.

This got me to thinking of “coaches” in real life.

I am a coach to each of my five kids. If a coach makes that much difference to a soccer team, imagine the difference a coach makes in real life.

When my kids are not performing well, or are feeling defeated and beaten down, is there something that I can do to help them more?

I work with many young adults (especially young men) following a head injury. They often have so many issues, and so many challenges – and many of these challenges existed before their injuries. Their parents often look to the team to “make their kid right”. Our goal, however, is to try to get someone back to their pre-existing life. Parents often get upset, and I am often so tempted to say to them, “What you want me to do now was your job years ago.” Ouch.

Yes, kids can be messed up. Yes, kids can be rotten. Yes, kids have their own free agency to make their own choices and we, as parents, can not make those choices for them.

But, we do have the responsibility to assess our coaching every once in a while (ok, often) and see what is working. If our team is always losing, and always defeated, maybe there is something that we can be doing differently in how we are coaching. Maybe we need to coach more, or coach less, or ask for the assistant to step in, or give more encouragement, or give more guidance.

Maybe our same child can do a bit better with a different kind of coaching.

Because the coach really does make all the difference.

Side note:  We won our next game last night! I’m telling you – the coach makes the difference!!!


The Difference a Coach Makes — 29 Comments

  1. Oh I’m so glad for the side note!! I was waiting for it here or in another post. I always celebrate things with milkshakes too. I love your point of view. Your kids are so lucky. And they do have what it takes.

  2. This is a wonderful post and a great reminder.
    so happy for Zach!!! and I agree coaching makes all the difference in the world. Especially for kids.
    Curious to hear why he quit??? Sick of losing??? lol
    I like the part about how we as parents are coaches and the reminder of the difference we can make. It is SO huge. Scary.

  3. As parents we are the biggest coach in our child’s lives, but teachers, sports, etc are the next important step. I’m glad your son has a better coach and can see the difference. Talk about a life lesson right there!

  4. YES the coach makes a difference as does the captain once you get into a little bit more mature sports (H.S. and college). We all need to know our roles and work together. If you don’t have a good leader, you’re destined for failure because there will be no order. I applaud you taking up for your child. Some parents don’t know any better and maybe you helped open his eyes.

    I like how you compared it to any instance. A good coach is needed for all endeavors.

  5. A good coach makes a huge difference! Positive reinforcement, believing in the kids…it makes a world of difference! We have been lucky for the most part but it is amazing what a change you see in your children when they have a positive coach vs a negative one! So glad for Zach!

    • Yes, I love a good coach! They can make or break a spirit. It was hard to watch one son have a great one, and another son with a negative one.

  6. Our Scoutmaster is like that. He has been leading our Troop for 20 years and I admire him so much. When we walked in, the first thing he told my son was to stand up straight and tuck in his shirt and I immediately thought “That’s exactly what I want for my son” He can be tough on the boys sometimes, but never harsh and he has a big soft spot for them, although it took me a while to see it. I feel like we are so blessed to be a part of this Troop and it has done wonders for my son.

    • A good leader makes all the difference! I love it when someone is strict and disciplines, but compassionate and loving. Isn’t that what we strive for? Thanks for stopping by!

  7. We have struggled with a negative coach all year. We recently learned he would not be removed by the board of our youth organization even though 9 out of 11 families asked for that. So I hold on to your lesson “sometimes people are in your life so you can learn how you don’t want to be in the future.” And we’ll see how next year goes! Coming by thanks to Michelle at Dish of Daily life.

  8. I really love this post Leah. It’s so true that a good coach makes all the difference, especially for our kids. I know that I would have a hard time and feel the same way – that my kids need some life lessons but maybe not that many life lessons! But I think that your point that we are all coaches in one form or another and that we all need to assess our coaching skills is so important. I think that a lot of people don’t always realize that they are in a position of being a coach because they don’t have that official title. And so happy for the side note too!

  9. First of all, I can’t believe what that parent said to you – but I do, because I’ve seen it in my town. I’ve also seen coaches yell at my kids and make it about them and get nothing and I’ve seen coaches nurture my kids and get everything. It never fails. We always get what we give – and we thrive when we’re nurtured. So glad that Zach and his team are thriving with their new coach!

  10. Kids sports really shine a light on a person’s true character. The coach, the child and the parents all experience a range of emotions throughout the season but how each person reacts is so telling. I’d love to say we’ve only had positive experiences but that just wouldn’t be true. Instead, I’ll say we’ve had some fantastic experiences and met and learned from some great coaches. We’ve also had some fantastic opportunities to learn from not-so-great coaches. Albeit what they taught us is not what they meant to, I’m sure. Coaching is much, much deeper than a win or a loss.

  11. Coaching makes a huge difference, in sports and in life, as you noted. I think it’s so important to constantly assess how we’re doing as coaches for our kids. Just like in professional sports, sometimes you’ve got to make some changes in the front office! If the kids aren’t progressing, the fault isn’t always theirs.

  12. Hooray for the new coach, and for the way he brought out the best in the kids!! Congrats on their wins and especially on their fresh perspectives!

    Good leadership is extremely important. This person is leading your children, being a mentor, teaching them about appropriate behavior, how to react, etc. We had a high school band leader who really got the kids to stretch and do their best, even though she was difficult to get along with. Over a couple of years, though, some issues came to the surface, and she became verbally and emotionally abusive to the kids. The band went from a stellar, award winning, full to overflowing group to a poorly performing very small group of kids. So sad!

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