Two of my favorite passions converge this weekend and I couldn’t be more excited. A full slate of World Cup games are scheduled for this weekend and of course Sunday is Father’s Day. One of my favorite memories of being a young father was being a soccer coach for many years for my children. So in light of this convergence of the World Cup and Fathers Day, I share with you ten things I have learned that are key for those of us who aspire to being either a good soccer coach or, much more importantly, a great Dad, or both. When I say that these are the things I have learned are important I mean that in the sense that these are ideal attributes that I now know we all need to strive to adopt. Do I often fall short of these ideals? Of course I do. That’s why “eagerness to learn and improve” is on the list. With that in mind, feel free to pass these on to any youth soccer coaches or fathers you know.

My Top Ten Traits of a Great Soccer Coach and a Great Dad

Energy and Enthusiasm: Move with the kids and have fun doing it. Make sure they feel how much you enjoy being with them.

Humor: Never take yourself too seriously. Lighten up and enjoy the ways kids are so unassumingly funny.

Affection: Kids don’t care how much you know until they first know how much you care. Give affection freely.

Patience: I found this in a youth soccer coaching guide: “Coaches must keep cool throughout the constant stream of mistakes that make up a soccer game.” I can’t think of better advice for fathers as well–keep cool during the constant stream of mistakes that make up a life–both your kid’s, and your own!
Self-Control: Coaching begins with coaching yourself to be emotionally in control. Walk the talk and be a role model of the character values you strive to teach.

Generosity: Good coaching and good parenting each take time. Be as generous as you can with the amount of time you give your children.

Open-Mindedness and Eagerness to Learn and Improve: There is always more to learn. Read a book, attend a class, and talk to others with more experience. Learn from the feedback you receive from the kids as well.

Good Preparation: Have a realistic sense of how much can be accomplished–plan a few activities, but plan them well.

Focus Simultaneously on Both the Details and the Big Picture: This is both subtle and difficult, but key. The days may seem long but the years are short. Enjoy each day and each practice.

Be Your Kid’s Number One Fan and Cheerleader: Through all the ups and downs, wins and losses be their loudest and most loyal cheerleader. It builds connection, morale, and makes them feel good. And speaking of being fan and a cheerleader, soccer fans are known for getting a little carried away in expressing their enthusiasm for their favorite team. In that spirit, how about we all do the same? Let’s get a little carried away in expressing our enthusiasm for the favorite Dads we know and love in our own lives.

And to all the Dads who read this column, Happy Father’s Day!

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