1. As much as you prepare for what is going to happen on that first practice, and how other kids might get upset or want to stay with their moms, you also need to prepare for what happens if it's your kid who wants to sit out and be with you. June got very upset that one drill involved her not keeping her special ball (the balls were 'community balls') and she basically sat out the rest of practice, crying on the sidelines. It felt awful. Should I be a bad coach and leave the kids, trying to calm down mine? Or be a bad mom and go on coaching with my kid crying on the sidelines? Not a great way to start things off.
Things got SO much better. I talked to June about being able to sit out from a drill if she doesn't like it. She has decided to sit out drills now, and we have never had another big problem!
2. Some drills will go over so well and the kids will laugh and hug you and make you feel great. Other ones won't work out. I have had to say "Welp, okay, this isn't working. Who wants to go run down the hill instead?"
3. About assistant coaches. I didn't have one assigned to me. And no one volunteered to be one, but several dads offered to help out if I ever needed it. I sort of went back and forth between being glad for their volunteerism, but I also didn't want anyone trying to take over (what if they had a different attitude about the whole 'JUST HAVE FUN!' thing? What if they were super serious and hardcore?) Well, I do sometimes ask this one dad to help out, but I tell you, sometimes I do wish that I had pushed about getting someone to volunteer to help out full time. It's hard keeping all the kids together, and setting up the cones for the drills in the few seconds so the kids don't lose attention. And to be a backup if I ever needed to miss practice.
4. There is a big difference in skill level and physical ability between 4.5 year-olds and 6 year olds. I just keep trying to have games that seem to appeal to them and hope they're all interested.
5. When you need to teach them to play soccer, you really need to teach them. I had a couple of small talks about soccer rules and then tried to have my group play short-sided games. They sort of stood around looking confused. When I said "Alright! Let's play!" a few of them ran off to get their own balls. The conversation then went something like this:
"So in soccer, we only play with one ball. I know sometimes we practice and everyone gets their own ball, but in games, there's only one and we share it."
"Because...because that's how you play soccer."
"Can I keep my ball?"
"No, we're only playing with the one ball."
"Can we use my ball as the one ball?"
"What about me? Can we use my ball?" "I want to use my ball."
"It doesn't matter whose ball we use, guys!!"
5. I tried to gently get my kids ready for games, with each practice having one gentle theme. Themes like "To score points, put the ball in that goal over there!" and "Goalies can use their hands!" Even then, I felt like my team wasn't ready for the first game. I had let them play little games and there were lots of remaining issues. One boy just kept dribbling out of bounds...and then would continue dribbling until he was practically in the parking lot. A few kids were getting upset that others would take the ball away. Some kids got bored of playing after a few minutes, which boded ill when the games were 40 minutes long!
But the games came and we all did just great! That's a post for another time! And the great news is that, now that we've had a few games and they all went great, I can save practice for simply fun, silly drills that they all like.