I’m currently coaching my son’s flag football team. We’re the Dolphins, but that’s not really relevant except for being a lifelong Bills fan. What is relevant is that my son loves Flag Football, and I love my son. We just moved to Houston and one of the parts that made his ongoing adjustment easier was his time playing football. I want my son to be happy. We moved him to a new state/school/house/everything and he has found something he loves.
Turns out he’s good. He’s fast, instinctual, gets the game, and really loves to play. He’s also the loudest kid on the field. He often thinks he knows more than the coach (he may) and he gets his teammates riled up during practice. He’s that kind of leader. One that can sometimes use his powers for not-so-good.
A goal of coaching, in general, is to not just build skills around the game, but also to build skills for life. It’s grounded in Judaism. The classic example is swimming. We are told to teach our kids to swim. Not just because swimming is fun, but because it could actually save their life. The skills I’m teaching my son through flag football are teamwork, helping a friend when they’re down, working through adversity, and never giving up. This is important stuff, potentially life-saving stuff.
We were at practice this week and he was so excited. Let’s even say he was pumped. He was all over the field and his teammates were following his lead. He was not helping us get things done. I was fed up. I only have an hour for practice and let’s just say that the Dolphins are not very good… I put him on the sideline for a break. I didn’t think much of it. I was frustrated. I wanted practice to go smoothly.
I looked over at my son. I saw the tears in his eyes because he had been singled out. The part of my heart that was on the sideline with him broke. Hard. I came to my senses. I immediately put him back on the field. If I’m going to coach him and try to help him become a better person, then I need to do the same thing. He’s a nine-year-old boy. He should have fun. I should chill. Especially when it comes to him and his spirit.
We talked after practice. He understood why I put him on a break. I explained why I put him back in so quickly. He then immediately asked if he could play video games when we got home. It was not a major moment. For him. I can’t say the same for myself. This time the coach got coached.
We lost our first game 28-0. Everyone kept their cool. Especially the coach.