Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Game Face

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

I know, I know! Another soccer post??

It’s a good thing I don’t like sports, huh?

For years, their parents have told them to share. For years, they have had ingrained in their heads that it is not nice to take things away from another child. For years, their parents have asked them to play nice.

Then they signed them up for soccer and now scream at them (albeit nicely) to “Get in there!!”

“Steal the ball!!!”

“Kick it harder!!”

Not really in their nature, I would say. A bit of a hypocritical situation, if you ask me.

What? No one asked me? Oh well.

During our second game, which was played in the rain on a 35 degree day, it became evident that not only were we a “warm weather” team, but that we had some hesitation about being aggressive enough to steal the ball away from the other team.

Remind me not to coach soccer again until I move to South Beach…

Anyway, I had a crazy idea at next week’s soccer practice. So crazy, I thought, that it just might work.

All my kids are six and highly receptive to believing anything an adult tells them. So, I told them that in their minds they had to be MEAN. I told them they had to be MEAN enough to steal the ball from the other team. I told them they had to be MEAN enough to take the ball and make a goal. I told them to make a MEAN face and I would take their picture. I told them it was their Game Face.

I also clarified that we would not be pushing, shoving or trying to hurt the other team, but that we did not have to be polite in trying to get the ball. I told them they DID NOT have to share!

We also worked on which way is left, which way is right, and the difference between a regular kick and a big kick. We seem to do a lot of goal kicks when the ball goes out of bounds.

“Big kick!! Big kick!!” now I scream, and they know what I’m talking about.

“Go left,” I say, and they magically move.


I emailed them all their pictures and told them to wear their Game Face for our Saturday morning game.

When they all showed up, we practiced our Game Faces.

And you know, I think it worked! They seemed to be more willing to get in the action and not just run beside the other team. They seemed to want to take the ball away and actually did a few times. They seemed to genuinely show an interest in the ball actually making it to our goal, or at least a little closer.

All that from a mental picture.

Whatever you’re tackling today, I hope you’ve got your Game Face on. I think I’ll wear mine to every practice from now on. I think half of a challenge is overcoming the mental barriers we put up in defense. Maybe a grunt or a snarl will help you get what you want to get done today. Or maybe it will just make you feel good.

Wait! Hold that thought…

Let me get my camera and I’ll take your picture!


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