Many of you already know that I coach netball. The squad of sixteen girls, including Our Girl, means that I look after two teams (7 players on court during a match) each Saturday morning, school holidays aside. I played netball for many, many years so I know the sport very well, and am passionate about building each player’s skill level and the camaraderie of team sports .
About a two weeks ago, though, I was asked to step in and coach a training session for T1’s soccer team. If I’d said no, training would be cancelled for that evening. Gah! Cue jangled nerves, titanic nausea. Looking after a group of 11-12-year-old girls, most of whom I know very well, is quite different to guiding fifteen 14-year-old boys in training, particularly when I know nothing about the sport. OK, maybe I’m aware of a few rules—like not using your hands, unless you’re the GK and…well…that’s about it. That stupid offside rule has been explained to me about one hundred times and I still don’t get it. Perhaps it’s me that is stupid 🙂
Anyway, I stepped up. I believe in team sports, and that doing something is better than nothing. The fitness-based drills I use in netball training transfer easily from sport to sport. Many of the passing drills I use also transfer quite well. And that’s what I did. A warm-up of a jog around the park, a fitness drill with running, squats, push-ups and sit-ups, then a passing drill. Then I handed over to the boys for a practice game comprising the last half hour of the session.
I didn’t tell T1 I was stepping in as coach until we were in the car, on the way there. I figured he probably wouldn’t throw himself out of a moving vehicle, but if we were home he might refuse to go. He coped just fine; I tried really hard not to embarrass him. But one kid said something disgusting during one of the drills, trying to be funny, and I pulled him up on it. Then I made the entire team jog around the park again (coz team sports, ya know?). Once they were all back, I gave them all a bit of a telling-off, and got back into it. I’m no pushover, and if I’m running a show the least I expect is to be listened to, and not have sexist comments made within my hearing. Basic respect, kiddos.
The session went alright. It wasn’t fun, I felt way out of my depth. Most of the boys were nice; some even thanked me at the end of the session, unprompted by their parent. T1 was quiet in the car, but I got him talking and he was fine by the time we got home.
But I’ll be sticking to netball, in case anyone’s wondering.