Simpler is Better!

Last game of the season.  We've made it through 2 bracket games already and are in the championship game.   3rd quarter, my boys take the field.   The right outside midfielder runs close to my sideline, "Coach, I can't find right midfield".   
"What?" I say, tilting my head like a cocker spaniel.
"I can't find right midfield, where do I go?"
I struggle for a moment for a response.    I know there's not a mark on the field for him to find and I think that's what he's looking for.   I can't help but think how have I gotten to this game without having taught him this?  How useless am I as a coach?  The starting whistle is about to blow and he's looking at me virtually begging for direction.   Something... anything... what can I say in 30 seconds that this boy can use?   Finally, it's all I can think of..."Midfield... you help on both offense and defense.  Run a lot, stay towards this side of the field, take the ball from blue, and don't take the ball from red!"  (we're red)  That seemed to work for him as he turned from me and back to the game.  Then, you just hold your breath and hope things bounce the right way.  

This is where the magic of coaching kids sometimes emerges.   This boy went on to have his best second half of soccer I have ever seen.   He dribbled through defenses and made attacking passes to his teammates.   He showed me skills I didn't know he had picked up.  He almost had a score, but opted to pass to another boy he thought was more open.  I think he was finally able to stop worrying about where he was and just play.  His instructions were finally simple and clear.  He didn't bunch up as much as previous games.  Maybe it was because since it was clear to not take it from red, why would he run towards red?  I don't know.  I just know he was great!  

The easy route would have been to pull him off and put in another player, but we don't do that in AYSO.  He achieved because AYSO gives us the structure to get everyone on the field.   He also achieved, because that panicked moment forced me to stop complicating my instruction and make it simple.   Now that those basics have been reinforced by the outcome he experienced on the field, maybe next time we can take the next step on positioning.   Crazy moments provide unexpected lessons.


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