Your Child's Coach: Encourage kids on the field but don't lie
That was Scot Spencer, a youth football coach back in the day, commenting as his son Aaron practiced recently on the U-9 soccer field.
Keep in mind that 8-year-old Aaron possesses rare quantities of both talent and motivation. He goes to a soccer academy at HC United, Hillsborough County's soccer powerhouse, when he's not slumming with us in Plantation.
Still, his dad makes a good point that is lost on most coaches. Our ego is so wrapped up in the win-loss thing that we'll tell a 4-year-old, "you're going the wrong way" or a child Aaron's age, "you could have had that shot!" At one of my son's middle school games, I watched the opposing coach act like such a thug (the cleanest word I can think of) that I'd lay odds he's served time in prison.
There's a school of thought that says you have to get your kid used to overbearing coaches. But you, the parent, can be the voice of reason. As Spencer pointed out, your child might be a season or two away from a breakthrough. So why discourage him? I don't think parents should lie about their children's performance ("you're the best, honey!") Kids see right through that. But a simple "I'm proud of you" is always appropriate.
Marlene Sokol, Times coach