Recently I wrote a long post that, while using soccer as my base, was mostly about coaching in general, or so I intended. To that post I would like to add a soccer specific update.
Many are the times on the soccer field that feet meet in a clash, fighting for the ball. Many are the times I wish I'd better heeded the following advice. This is something that all soccer coaches should warn their teams of from the very first meeting as well as at any practice where this is remembered.
While at practice recently I and the coach teamed up against the team. The drill was to help the kids learn about position and to stay in position relative to your teammates. Any coach of youth soccer knows well how the kids can easily become excited by the game and forget so many of the lessons that we try to teach. Seen from one direction this is further proof that youth sports is more about building skill than in winning games. From another direction this is further proof that youth sports should often focus on the fact that we are dealing with children. Their abilities, especially when considering also their age, must always be taken into account.
This post isn't really about that, but far be it from me to pass up a chance to preach the same message yet again. This post though is rather soccer specific as I have just said.
Often in those clash of feet we find that we are kicking or are kicked in and around the feet. This is the reason for shin guards and the reason that many youth soccer teams and organizations absolutely require that the children wear shin guards. Tonight however we are looking even lower, at the feet themselves.
From day one it is imperative that the children consider foot care, specifically their toe nails. At the practice I mentioned above, while trying to keep the ball away from a very small child, I took a shot right in the end of my big toe. The child, after the collision, took the ball and ran while I, several years his senior, a few feet taller and a number of pounds heavier, not to mention the number of years I've played being much greater than his age, was stopped momentarily. My toe nails are too long, and the lightest impact, so light in fact that the child took no notice, was enough to cause me some small amount of pain as well as allow him to take the ball and proceed quite without me.
One of the most overlooked yet most important things we can teach our teams is foot care. Keep your toe nails trimmed. I've yet to actually face a real injury due to this, but many times I've been stopped, even if for only a moment, because I had not heeded this simple advice.
So in the end, the true moral, along with the myriad skills we try to teach, sometimes we forget the simple lessons. Not to liquefy the dead horse, but if you have children that play soccer or are a coach of children's soccer, remember the toe nails, and help the kids keep them trimmed. They may not remember to thank you, but at least you'll save them some small amount of pain, hopefully.