Upskill Yourself (how to be a both a better employee and a great soccer coach)
Major League Soccer has begun in America.
In fact, the fam will attend a match in Atlanta this weekend. (The Daughter is coming home from college, and Son and daughter-in-law will join for a full-blown reunion at the Mercedes Benz Stadium.)
Soccer has a large place in our family history. Partially because we lived overseas. Our family relationship with "the beautiful game" started long before then.
The son started playing soccer with a local YMCA league when he was young. He was probably 7. Maybe 8. I watched with interest his first year. They lost a lot. And, as I began to better understand the game, I had this nagging feeling the coach wasn't doing things properly. Strategy seemed lacking. He had a few favorite players (one of which was his son), and several he rarely played (one of which was my son). Like every good soccer Dad, I complained to my wife.
And, with her prompting, decided I could do better.
I volunteered with the YMCA to be a coach.
I had but novice knowledge of soccer. I didn't know enough to actually tell the kids how to play. I realized I had a choice.
I could wing it. "Fake it 'til you make it," as they say. Doing so would make me as bad, or worse, than the guy I was griping about. But, I can be quick on my feet. Might be okay?
Or I could upskill myself.
"Upskill the workforce" has become the topic of important conversations in American business. Corporate upskill talk and training revolves around tech integration with manufacturing, and ways to train small-business workforce.
But in the spirit of my "get better" mantra - I don't think we have to wait for employers to provide training. Not in the day of ubiquitous information.
I didn't have to wait around in the pre-Internet days of my kid's soccer careers.
I used (and still use) the public library. Many books have been written about the basics of soccer. I checked out all of them.
And read them.
I learned game basics, coaching strategies, practice drills. Whenever possible, I'd watch English Premier League games to see how the pros played.
After a season or two of coaching the son's team, I began coaching the Daughter's team. It's amazing how many U9 girl's soccer matches you can win by teaching the girls how to legally shoulder tackle.
If I were doing it over again today, the resources are even more abundant. YouTube, websites, courses - mostly free resources for learning soccer.
How do you need to upskill yourself? How do you want to get better? You can learn to do anything from computer coding to bonsai to bookbinding, for minimal cost.
Or you could just go to your local public library and check out a book. It's completely free. And there's still something magical about learning from an analog, tactile book.
"Upskill the workforce" wouldn't be necessary, if the workforce - you and I - would take advantage of the available tools and upskill ourselves.
The intentional study of new skills could make you more money, launch your career to new places, and give opportunities you've never dreamed about.
Or you could simply help your kid be a better soccer player.
A win any way you look at it.