learning to be a better soccer coach and teacher

Like many teachers, I'm not often in the position of being a student with a topic that I"m not all that strong on. That wasn't the case these last two weekends as I participated in a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) 'D' license clinic. The goal of the course is to earn a National 'D' coaching license, which is "introductory," as opposed to the 'E' certificate (not license) I earned last fall, considered "basic." My sense is that for the 'E' certificate, if someone finishes the weekend clinic, they earn the certificate. Not so with the remaining licenses. Competency must be demonstrated. If one does well, they earn a National 'D' license, if they do sorta-well, but not well enough, they earn a State 'D' license. If they don't do well at all, they receive no license or certificate, but they do receive encouragement to come back to do it again. Having spent the last two weekends working toward this, I don't expect to earn the National 'D' and will be quite happy to have earned a State 'D' but it's all out of my control now.

The good news is that I don't have to demonstrate much in the way of soccer prowess at this level. I just have to be able to teach soccer, from technical warm ups to technical skills to applying those skills in a tactical manner. I'm not a good dribbler. I'm not a good shot most of the time, and I can receive the ball reasonably well, but not consistently. I'm just not very good, but having grown up with the game, and played it for many years, though not recently, I'm aware enough to know that I stink, though I do stink less than some of those who took part in the clinic. I guess there's some solace in that.

As far as teaching goes, though, it's been a long time since I've been really out of my element. Much as my students know how to read and write to some degree, they don't know how to read or write as college students. They don't know how, for the most part, to engage in academic discourse. I, as a casual soccer fan and third year coach, am much the same when it comes to soccer. I know most of the rules (some are pretty bizarre, taking into account the most unlikely situations) and know how to do most of what needs to be done. I just can't explain it very well, and I can't "see" all of it as it unfolds in a way that enables me to help players, at least not across the board. So, I'm much like the writer in my first year comp class. As the teacher, I can see it all, big picture and small all at once. I'm not that way at soccer, though getting better. It's good to be learning something that is hard and uncomfortable.