I started playing soccer when I was about 4 or 5 years old. My parents instilled a mentality of: Your team always comes first. Unfortunately, teaching that to an elementary school kid turned into: No matter if I am injured, I will play through it because my TEAM comes first.
Ooops. My parents did not mean to instill this into me. What they meant was, if I was invited to a birthday party or wanted to do something with my church that I signed up to be part of a team and I needed to fulfill my commitment. Well, I learned that but took it to an extreme. The problem is I have a personality type that is loyal to a fault.
Due to my amazing loyalty to my teams, I have played through a broken foot, a pulled quad, a concussion, and more because my team needed me. I was the number one goalie on most of my teams.
Well, you live and you learn. Now I’m learning to deal with the pain that those injuries caused many years ago that were never allowed to properly heal.
So now I get to sit in the “driver’s seat”. I’ve been coaching for about 4 years. As a coach, you learn all about your players and the ways that they move when they walk, jog, and run when they are healthy. I have made it all this way without a serious injury.
Until now… Last Saturday, one of our goalies made a save. She landed incorrectly. She injured her elbow and chipped something in her shoulder. I train the goalies. I review with them all the possible injuries they could sustain while diving and I correct them every time at practice.
As a coach, I have to step back and think:
Did I do everything possible to avoid this? Did I train her properly? Was she really ready to do that? How can I avoid this from happening to another player?
But I also have to remember, it’s a sport where injuries are going to happen. We can’t put our children in bubble wrap. Let them play.
My promise to my players: I will do everything in my power to teach you to play safely. I will do everything I can to protect you from injury. But I will push you to be your best and find ways to challenge you.