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It's going to be a long season...

Week 1 of the season is complete. How did it go?

If you're being honest and are finding yourself thinking it could be a tough season, then fear not. It'll only be a tough season if you allow the season to be evaluated on the wins / losses / playoff results. Look outside of your division to the wider world of ALL sports. There is only ever one winner.

So, how do you reframe the season to make it a winning season if you expect to lose every game, or even if you expect to win every game comfortably?

Team Goals. With your players, if its youth soccer then with the families too, hold a meeting in which you set measurable goals for the season - avoid goals built around 'winning'. Set goals for which you have control - style of play, sportsmanship, attendance etc. For every week of the season, regardless of the score, you can measure your success based on the goals you and your team have set.

With team goals on style of play, you can then carry them into every game - "We have practiced switching the ball so when the route forwards is blocked, we should switch or fake switch. We need to do this at least 10 times in the game / first half today". Then as a coach you are able to help build on those and keep them relative to the game - "we switched and got a shot on goal. Great!" or "we switched the ball slowly and ended up losing the ball and losing a goal - we can practice to be better at this..."

In a club environment, you may also need to notify a DOC / ED to help alleviate pressure from the organization to win, if it's like that, or to enlist their help in framing the season positively.

Individual Goals. How well do you know your players? What are their other interests / hobbies / sports? Why are they playing soccer? What will help them become a better soccer player? Consider the 'Four Pillars' of player development: Technical Tactical Physical Psychosocial How could they improve in these areas?

Advice. Use goals to 'win' this season. Wins in games are nice and make a coach look really good, but the reality is that your opponent is also trying to win. So, expected wins or losses or whatever, try reframing the entire experience so that games are a part of the process and not the ultimate decider for a player or a teams success.

There is a podcast about this very approach, right here.

Lastly, you know you're going to struggle, or at least expect a struggle so communicate with your opponent. Prior to the game or in the build up - let them know your situation. Ask how they're doing. If you talk and realize they expect to beat you easily then how they can both, as coaches, make it a valuable experience for all. It's only a 'waste of time' if you let it be.



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