Greeley Recreation is gearing up for spring sports. It’s been a long year and we know how important exercise and fresh air can be for kids’ wellbeing. We visited with one of our youth sports coaches, Ron Scott, about how he prepared his 4-5 year olds for playing soccer for the first time.
Scott, a former University of Northern Colorado (UNC) student and athlete, has been coaching for Greeley Recreation for 5 or 6 seasons now. He started out, as most parents do, coaching when his sons started getting into sports. He signed them up to play on a team, but there wasn’t a coach assigned. So he was asked by the Recreation staff if he would be willing to coach.
He coached mostly flag football in the fall and spring, then got into soccer. He’s also dabbled in T-ball, baseball, and was even the Assistant Coach for one of the recreational basketball teams. He had some experience playing football in college at UNC, but he had never played soccer before. Fortunately, Scott had a friend he could rely on that had played the sport in high school.
Tips of the Trade
When he first started out coaching 4-5 year olds, recreation staff were really helpful with providing equipment for his team, cones and penne jerseys. With the NFL Flag Football program, they even received a rule book, and a playbook you could download. He relied on YouTube and Google to find some easy age specific drills. He’d find plays he could easily teach his team. He’d start off with something simple to develop hand-eye coordination, like ‘Follow the Leader,’ dribbling or playing tag.
Scott said he’d arrive early, about 10 minutes before each practice. He found it helpful to set up cones and determine a game plan in advance. Scott would have the kids play ‘Simon Says’ when they arrived just to get them focused. Eventually, he met other coaches and they would share secrets and help each other out. He suggests designing plays on a dry erase board, so kids can see the plays and execute them. “Kids are visual. If you set up a cone and tell them its five yards away day-after-day, they’ll soon be able to judge how far five yards is,” says Scott.
Focusing on the fundamentals is important: how to catch and hold a ball correctly, kick a ball or shoot a basket the right way. “Practice helps them develop good habits. Some coaches concentrate on the best player. But you have to develop a skill set for everyone. You should have fun in recreation sports and everyone on the team should get to play. Everyone needs to have an opportunity, it’s all about the love of the game. It’s okay if you want to be competitive, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t win. You might suffer a bit, but it could be the one opportunity you have to connect with a child.” Scott says “it’s best to focus on developing fundamentals of the sport. Don’t put pressure on yourself.”
Scott’s philosophy on coaching is first and foremost being a good mentor. He doesn’t get caught up in winning. “No one is going to remember how many games you win in elementary school or who won the championship game,” said Scott. “What kids will remember, is if they had fun and whether or not they had a great coach. You want kids to learn to enjoy the sport, if they have a bad experience, they may not come back.”
Scott has played Greeley Recreation sports his whole life. He remembers each coach and how they treated him. Scott recalls, “It can affect the development of a player.” He feels it’s important to be a positive role model for kids. Scott enjoys giving back to the community. He looks forward to coaching every year and developing those personal relationships. He likes hearing how he’s made an impact in kids’ lives.