A strange title for a blog post on youth football I hear you say? Yes, but it is the one statement of fact that I can honestly say with certainty. All the rest is a just an opinion! We all have this death sentence. We are all going to die whether we like it or not. Every day that passes is a day that we will never get back.So let’s stop pretending, stop going through the motions. One of my Dad’s favourite sayings is ‘You’re a long time dead’ Stay with this!
As you can tell by now I enjoy a bit of philosophy. I have been studying the Stoics for some time. I would like to try and apply some of it in my quest to improve the grassroots game as I see it. As shown above, we all have a limited time on this planet. It is not the things we own, the money we earn or the titles we have that are important (As Tyler Durden in Fight Club said ‘What you own ends up owning you’) but it is the impact we have on others which define us. As a grassroots coach this influence is enormous. It can be very positive or worse than negative as we have seen in the recent abuse scandals involving coaches. I have simple aim in life. It is to leave things better than I found them. I want to do this at work, at home and in terms of coaching, I want to leave any players I have been involved with better than when I first met them. Have I always achieved this? Hell No! but it is my mission and I will keep trying. This might not always be in a football sense but if I can just improve one person then I am a happy man. They might not always realise it but hopefully in future years when they are coaching then they might just think back to a cold night in Dunblane when it made a little sense!
Stoicism helps me think clearly and address the problems of life on a practical basis. We need to treat everything we do as an experience and a chance to learn. We may not always get it right. In fact, most of the time we will get it wrong.However, everyone in their own way is trying. We all have our difficulties and challenges. Everyone is fighting their own inner demons. I have mine, you have yours. We don’t know what others are so don’t be quick to judge. Fear affects us all. This can be debilitating as a player and a coach. Our job is to understand our players fears and do our best to help them reduce it. If we can free then up just a little then it will help them develop. You have the power to challenge fear but are you tackling it head on or allowing it to fester within your players?
So fear and death, all feels a bit morbid, right? Wrong. Instead of avoiding it, we need to embrace it. If we reflect on our mortality then we get energized. Time is running out and we need to start making the best of the time we have left. Don’t live life as if it is eternal. Time is our most precious commodity. We cannot buy more of it. Our only impact is reducing how much we waste of it. Think of all the wasted time on Facebook, twitter, trash TV. You’ll never ever get it back. What about the time spent with people who suck the energy out of you. You’ll never get it back.
So, as a coach, how much time do you waste? Are you stuck in the same tried and tested drills. The same games week in, week out. The same training you did as a player? Or do you use the time to stretch, challenge, develop players. Are you willing to take risks as a coach to make your players better. Will you encourage them to try things or play safe? We maybe have players for 4 to 5 hours per week. Are you going to use that time wisely and effectively or just waste it with boring old drills and sessions which does nothing for you or your players. Your choice. We get one life; we get one chance to make a difference in a players life. Are you going to take it and make that difference or just keep wasting everyone’s time (including your own)
Live, coach, learn, help or die trying.
Use today, do it now, use every second. Don’t wait. This is not a rehearsal. Be the best coach you can be. They will thank you for it. Do it, before it’s too late.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Seneca on the subject.
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”
You know what to do!!!
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