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I coached soccer for a few years. Nothing special, kids under 12. Here is what I would try to tell them.

You are here to learn what you can do with your body and mind. How good can you be? How far can you take it? Seeing how well you can do something can be an adventure in itself. Does it satisfy you? If it is fun and interesting, then you might stick with it. It's worth a try anyway. Life is full of opportunities. If you keep trying, then you will find something that is good for you.

It is also about finding a group to fit in with and in which the sum is greater than the parts. Together we can do great things. If we learn to trust and respect each other, and how to utilize our individual skills, then we will have a great team in which we enjoy being together.

Not everyone can a striker or goalie. It's ok if you want to do something else. In fact, we need people for every position. Between us, we can fill all of our teams' needs and respect each other for each of our contributions.

Playing as a team requires trust and patience. You have all seen how some teams rely on the best player. It might work against unskilled opponents, but not for long. Opponents improve and adapt. We need to value each or our players. Each of us contributes to the team. And, we will all make mistakes. Focusing on teammates shortcomings and mistakes will drive us apart and make it harder to win. We need to build trust by playing with each of our teammates. We need to encourage each other to build a better team with each of us becoming more skilled in our roles.

As we compete, you will see that there is no foolproof strategy for winning. Each game is unique, and different strategies work in different situations. If we limit our team, then we will have weaknesses. Effective alignments and players depend on the opposition and conditions. Some teammates can be effective where others are not. Figuring this out will prepare us for competing in a wide range of situations. Knowing when to apply each strategy is another skill, and yes, mistakes will be made there as well. Can we maintain trust and encouragement through our trials? If so, then we can build a stronger team.

No team is perfect. There will always be wins and losses. We need to celebrate wins and bum about losses together. Grabbing credit for wins and passing blame for losses hurts us all, and potential wins will be turned into losses. Yes, some are more skilled than others, and individuals are responsible for both wins and losses. Nevertheless, this is a team. None of us can win alone, and dividing the team into trusted and untrusted teammates will make us weaker than a unified team.

Usually, winning requires 2 things, pass the ball and play your position. In order to improve as a team, we need to define each of our positions and understand how each position fits the team. Defend your position and control your area. At the same time, we need to practice passing to our teammates over and over. Certainly, we will also work hard to develop individual skills. Yet, if we do not learn to play as a team, then we will miss out on wins.

Finally, we respect our opponents. Cheating or dirty play taints victories. Is it even a victory if we cheat? Keep in mind that our opponents are people like us who are also working hard to have a better team and share in victories. Though we oppose their goals and need to be wary of their strategies, there is nothing gained in belittling their efforts or discounting their victories. They deserve respect as any player on any team does. If our opponents cheat and disrespect us, then we need to act to stop it through the officials. But, don't let it distract you from our strategies and goals. That will only increase the impacts of their actions and encourage them to do it more

So, that's the coach speech. One more thing is that there are many teams. I would hope that each player would like to be on the same team, but that is not realistic. If one team is not right, then another team will do. We need more than one team anyway to keep it fun, fair and competitive.

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