A Look Back at 2011 in My Kids Sports (and a Look Forward)

2 Jan

2011 was a great year for both of my sons in sport.  I saw a change in mindset moving through the year and a greater commitment and interest level in their sports and fitness from both Aidan and Evan.

Aidan (age 8 as of the end of the year) started the year participating in Indoor Soccer.  This was his first time playing team soccer since Fall of 2009 and returned to soccer after several consecutive seasons of Baseball.  Leading into spring, he put some hard work into his own play and spent a lot of time in the front yard with me breaking in his then new Adidas Predator boots and playing 1v1 with me.  It paid off well for him – he was a consistent scorer on his U7 team in the spring.

Moving to the fall with a new team, he maintained his form from the Spring.  He participated in added skills training with the club each week and built on his footwork.  I had the chance to watch him play in the club’s recreation tournament with another team, and saw he still needs practice playing “Head Up” but I think the pick-up soccer this winter is helping his skills.

The first of the year also saw Aidan participate in his second one-mile fun run (this time the Atlanta Track Club’s Resolution Run event).  Aidan ran two one-mile fun runs in 2011 and is planning to participate in a 5k this January along side me.

Aidan has been progressing well in Tae Kwon Do.  What’s impressed me the most is his attention to detail on the forms and making steps to improve the power of his kicks.  Both are areas that really show on testing.

In both soccer and Tae Kwon Do, he has shown a willingness to take a risk in order to execute a skill that he has been taught in training.  In Tae Kwon Do, he has tried to use several more advanced kicks in sparring; in soccer he has tried to execute some of the turns taught in skills training.  Sometimes it works for him, and sometimes it doesn’t – but he doesn’t seem phased by the potential downside.

Evan also started 2011 in Winter Indoor Soccer.  He played as part of a combined five and six year old team.  I was a little worried for him – he had become a dominant player back in the fall of last year playing 3v3 in a U5 league, but here he was on a bigger field in 4v4.  He didn’t have his best performances in Winter Indoor, but didn’t show any signs of being unhappy with his play or not enjoying the games.  That put it as a win for our family.

In the spring, he picked up well where he left off in the Fall.  He worked well with several of his teammates and began to help create some spontaneous plays between them and playing with his head up.   I enjoyed sitting back and watching him play several times through the season since he didn’t need instruction during the games, at all.

In the Fall, he’s been a consistent player and still having a good time playing.  There are moments when I wonder if he has graduated from the 3v3 format of U6 and should be moving on, but there’s still a lot of room for him to improve his personal skills in the format as well as start to build some team play.  We reunited with one of the teammates from the U5 team in pick up and they resumed what they had started before.  I hope to see this with a couple of the boys in the spring on the U6 team.

Evan has also been progressing in Tae Kwon Do.  He hasn’t shown Aidan’s discipline for it, but he obviously still enjoys it.  I don’t expect the same discipline from Evan at 5 that Aidan shows at 8.

Coaching

I can’t comment on my kids progress in sports without commenting on my progress in coaching them.

I participated and completed my F and G Certificates from Georgia Soccer during 2011, earning certificates for coaching through U10 Recreation.  Although our club doesn’t require certification for coaching Recreation teams, I think it’s been really valuable in understanding the kids and building teams.

Last Spring’s U7 team was a struggle.  We were a new team with several players new to soccer and one player new to the U7 age group (playing up for the first season).  I didn’t find the same chemistry with the kids that I had found with the U5 players starting the prior fall.  I wasn’t sure I was ready to coach another year.

Moving onto U8, I started with a fresh team and again found some of the same challenges.  Several players either new to the sport or with light experience.  I took a different tact and understood from the start of the season my ability to impact their performance was limited by time.  We had a 1-hour practice each week, with 30-40 minutes dedicated to skills work taught by the club.  I was also very direct and forward with the parents at the start of the season about my goals and expectations for the team’s play for the season.

While I was limited on time, I tried to address one major topic each week to improve their play.  I could see improvement in the following match after those practices!  It was gratifying to see improvement over the season.  I’ll be back to coach U8 in the Spring, but I’m predicting that will be the end of my coaching career for Aidan’s teams.

I continued with my U5 team (now U6 team) in the Fall, with three returning players and three new-to-the-team players.  Really, the team performed right on par with where I expected them to be.

Watching Sports

I’ve discussed previously the need for kids to watch the sports they play or want to play.  It’s fundamental to learning to observe and study.  I’m really happy to report that both of my kids have been increased viewers of Soccer, but also will sit down and watch other sports at least for a short time.

Soccer viewing in our home has been great bonding with the boys.  I think Evan is a little more of a fan than Aidan!  Both know the English Premier League teams well now.

Looking Ahead

I’m expecting a lot of the status quo to continue.  Aidan may be playing Academy in the Fall, and Evan will move on to U7 Recreation in the Fall.  I plan to continue the pick-up Soccer for kids program as much as I can through the Winter (and hopefully even in-season, too.)  That depends on the weather, their interest and other families interest as well.

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