Lets paint the picture and build up the scenario first. Imagine you have been having trouble with some aspect of your game. You decide to confront your soccer coach and ask him for some advice and help. After briefly listening to you, he offers to help and gives you advice.
“You must train harder and run longer distances to improve your fitness”, he orders. “When I was your age I could run all day and i was the fittest player in my team”, he claims.
Your Soccer coach with all the best intentions decides to give you extra training to improve your fitness. He’s getting fed up with you holding up training and making the other players have to wait for you to finish the drills. With your ignorance and a handful of faith you accept. So you start putting in the extra hours training in hope that the problem diminishes.
“I can’t do it”, you scream. “I can’t run anymore because I can’t breath”, you cry.
“How much do you really want to play soccer?”your coach questions you. “This is the same training I did when I was a kid and it worked perfectly for me”, the coach argues while losing patience.
“I’m trying, I’m trying” you yell back with anger as your coach doesn’t believe you are trying.
“Well, what’s the matter with you? C’mon push” with a somewhat aggressive tone.
As you struggle to keep running everything becomes blurry. You collapse and cannot breathe. You are rushed to the nearest hospital by caring parents that had just witnessed the whole thing. Once at the hospital you are treated by the doctors and diagnosed with asthma.
What are the chances you’d go back to your coach with a problem? If your a betting man, not very good would be the favourite. You’ve lost all the confidence in your coach who doesn’t diagnose the problem before he offers you help. But how often do we diagnose problems before we offer solutions in our every day communication?
It’s human nature that we have a tendency to rush in and fix things as fast as possible. But we often fail to take the time needed to diagnose the problem. To really understand the problem that is right there in front of you. The best advice I can offer a soccer player,soccer coach or soccer parent is this,
Always seek first to understand the problem.
Right now, you’re reading what I’ve written. Reading and writing are a form of communication. Another form of communication is speaking and listening. Before I continue, I want to make one thing very clear, what’s the most important skill a soccer player could have? I can hear the answers, dribbling, shooting, passing and so on. The most important skill anybody could have is that of Communicating. Communication is the most important skill in life, not just soccer.
Everybody spends years at school learning how to read, write and how to speak. But what about listening? How many of you have been taught to listen? How many of you can honestly say that you listen? Listen to every word someone says and feel, understand and hurt with your fellow friend. Are you capable of this?
During the last years of my playing career, I got involved with some soccer clinics my club was holding. Kids would attend and all of them seemed happy and eager to learn. But more importantly they were all eager to have fun and listen. During the last clinic I ever did, a father approached me and complained,
I can’t understand my kid. He just won’t listen to me at all.
So I laughed and replied, “you don’t understand your son because he won’t listen to you?” My reaction to his question offended him greatly and an argument began. In the space of several minutes he ridiculed not only my playing ability but my character as well. The funny thing was that I was volunteering. I had given up my time to attend this clinic. I did not preach, I did not coach and I certainly did not try to influence any of the kids in any way. I simply attended to provide a platform for the kids to have fun. Most of these kids watched me play week in, week out and most of them listened and some even idolised. The kids were not the problem.
After I calmed the father down I simply said, “to understand anybody you have to listen”. Have you listened to your son? Do you know why he isn’t listening to you, he seems to be listening to me. After a long pause and a dumb look on his face, he explained,
But I do understand him, I know what he’s going through. I went through the same thing myself.
The conversation ended there and then. But I would like to continue this argument. The answer the father provided was a disgrace if you ask me. Why did he have the need to look into his own head and experience to find solutions for his child. Is today or any other day the same as it was 10-20 years ago? Is this the perfect case of the older I get, the better I was. Please, give me a break.
Everybody does it, we’re filled with our own values and standards. Everybody would love to write their own autobiography. Let me guess how it would read, I, I, I and then I and guess what, I ,I and so on. If your story has nothing of value to the reader, simply talking about your life is a waste of time except for your own little insecure ego.
The story I told at the start of this post was about a young 6 year old boy that loved to play soccer. He was young and played under 10’s because that was the youngest group that was available to him. He pushed and tried to impress the coach so he could play. He listened and obeyed because he believed in the coach. The coach blindly instructed and trained him which nearly led to his death. That little boy was me.