April 03, 2008

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

This week is the start of soccer season for the Llama-ettes.

The eldest has been playing for the past two years on a very good team, the Creepy Green Leprechauns. They've won their division and captured 1st or 2nd place in the end-of-season mini-tournament three times in a row now (we have separate fall and spring seasons). It has been very gratifying to see the girls growing and coalescing from just a group of kids kicking a ball around to a real team working together for a common goal. All those elements of competitiveness which are carefully excluded from the younger levels of the league really have begun to become an important part of the play now.

Of course, I could go on all day about how gifted and talented the Llama-ette is and be (mostly) truthful about it. However, we have been concerned more and more lately with the fact that she is also prone to laziness. Last fall, I couldn't help noticing that she really was not pulling her weight on the team with any consistency - the times when she really did settle down and concentrate only proving what she could do when she wanted. (And it isn't just the sport - this is a trait we've noticed in the other things she does as well.)

Given the level of play expected out of the girls now and given this concern about the gel learning to make an effort, we've made it clear both to her and to her coach that if, in his opinion, she is not contributing to the team the way she ought to, we will not object to his benching or even cutting her. I'm not sure whether he would actually do this or not, but I reckon that if she thinks he might, the gel might just get off her duff and start trying harder. (The team had its first practice of the season yesterday and I'm told that indeed, she really put her back into it. We'll see if that continues.)

I've told a number of different people about this. Interestingly, about half of them agree whole-heartedly with the approach, while the other half seem horrified. What do you guys think?

Posted by Robert at April 3, 2008 10:51 AM | TrackBack

Solidly in the "tough love" camp.
To me there is nothing more frustrating than playing with someone who plays when the spirit moves them.
This type of attitude is poison to team chemistry and drives coaches around the bend.
The hard part is determining if the player is having a "bad" day or developing a bad habit. Each instance has to be dealt with a bit differently...imo.

Posted by: Browndog at April 3, 2008 12:08 PM

Roggo, totally with you on that. Playing soccer should be a privelege and therefore earned by working hard. If she is not putting herself into it, she should not waste the other players' time!Heck, it would save you all time and gas money (no inconsequential expense these days~)if she were not playing! Your time and effort are worth something too and why should you waste it to take her to games if she is not fully committed??!!

Posted by: Mrs. LMC at April 3, 2008 12:38 PM

I have the same problem with my daughter and have had the same conversation with every coach she's had.

Posted by: Captain Ned at April 3, 2008 02:01 PM

Been a while since I last commented on your site. And I think the last time was about soccer.

How old is your daughter? If she's in 7th grade, she'll grow out of it. And, remember, children mature at different rates. She may be late or early getting into 7th grade space.

Experienced coaches keep one rule above all others. Are the kids having fun? And a lot of this has to do with the age of the children involved. Experienced coaches know the difference between kids in grade, middle and high schools, as well as U-19 and U-21 level.

Now, having said all that touchy-feely stuff--which really is common sense if you spend a lot of years coaching kids--two years ago I explained to my youngest son that he "would" be running track that year, no questions asked. If he "chose" not to run, his parents would choose that he take the bus to school. His outside music lessons would end, as would his trips to Portland in order to perform with the youth symphony there. I even had one "hippy" mom come up to me to complain that I couldn't force my kid to do anything.

Last year my son ran at State and set a school record. This year he's Captain of the Varsity Track Team.

There are times when a parent has to lead. I remind both my sons that I'm not their friend. I'm their father. And in the years to come, no matter what their personal ups or downs, that distinction will prove to be an important one.

Kids, coaches and parents all have different reasons for doing a thing. You can coach and parent all day long. Is the kid having fun? Even if you're expectations aren't being met? In the long run, that will be the greatest determinant of individual success.


Posted by: OregonGuy at April 3, 2008 02:53 PM

I think you are right on target. If she can't be bothered than she should learn the consequences.

I'm all about consequences.

Posted by: Sarah G. at April 3, 2008 06:36 PM

Should the Llama-ette continue in her soccer career and in a more serious vein, I would suggest looking into proper sports training. More seriousness in sports often leads to some serious sports injuries. The chances of these injuries can be reduced by both good physical conditioning and using good sports technique. I warn because of 4 ACL tears between myself and my little sis (three for the sis). Something my sister was late in appreciating is that women are 8 times more likely to tear their ACL then men (not sure how much gender imbalance applies to other sports-related injuries). Be forewarned.

Posted by: OrgleFan at April 3, 2008 11:39 PM