Monday, August 22, 2011

Youth Soccer: Full Spectrum of Emotions for Dads of Goalkeepers

In 1980, Robert Plutchik created a wheel of emotions which consisted of 8 basic emotions and 8 advanced emotions each composed of 2 basic ones. I think that he studied fathers of 10 year old girls who happen to play goalie for their soccer team.

I certainly went through a wide range of the emotions just this past weekend watching, coaching, cheering and consoling my daughter, CC, during the opening tournament of the season. 

Anticipation - Fathers of young athletes anxiously await the first games of a season. All week long, I couldn't wait for the weekend to come so I could see my daughter, CC play. CC was being featured as the starting and full time goalie for her elite soccer team for the first time. 

Optimism - I did not schedule any golf for the weekend because I assumed that CC's team would advance to the finals.

Boredom - My daughter's team dominated the first game of the tournament. As such, CC recorded a shutout, but did not touch the ball more than two times the entire game. The highlight of the 8-0 win for the goalie's dad was one punt and one goal kick.
One punt in 60 mins, boring.
Apprehension - Before the second game, My daughter and I looked over at the other team. CC saw the big, strong girl who injured her last season on a 1v1 fast-break. Bad thoughts ran through my mind. 

Last season 1v1 vs Number 59
Drilled by #59, CC saved the ball, injured thigh
Annoyance - In the second game, the wing defenders were not getting back on defense while my daughter was getting pounded with shots. 

CC faced a barrage of shots
Disapproval - My daughter did not call for a ball in the box that she could have easily picked up. The defender hesitated expecting CC to pick it up before she decided to kick it. The weak clearing pass was intercepted and ended up in the back of the net.

Disgust - I was disgusted that the coaching staff did not make any defensive adjustments to try to protect my daughter.

The barraged continued all game long
Sadness - My daughter gave up 6 goals. After the 4th goal she was weeping in the goal thinking it was all her fault. I felt her sadness and yelled out words of encouragement.

Bad first half

Remorse - Should I have encouraged her to be a goalie. Is she tough enough mentally and physically to endure the long stressful season on a top regional team?

Fear - My daughter had to come out of the goal to shut down a breakaway threat against, you guess it #59, the strong girl who ran her over last year.

I think that I was more scared than my daughter

Admiration - I admired her courage as she deflected the point blank shot.

Ball deflected over the goal

Awe - CC made 9 truly amazing saves in three games. Saves I could have never made as a 10 year old boy.

Great tip save

Amazement - I was amazed at how CC bounced back after giving up 6 goals to just the day before to perform with absolute confidence.

Another save to preserve the lead
Surprise - I was surprised when she made a game saving stop with one hand.

Great one handed game saving stop
Anger - I was angry that the Refs did not call a handball in the box that would have led to a game winning PK chance.

Handball caught on film, but not by the ref.

The Main Point

These are the most important emotions that I felt this past weekend as the team went 1-1-1.

Joy - Several moms came up to me after the last game and were very complimentary of CC's performance. That made me feel great.

Acceptance - I accept that there will be ups and downs as the goal keepers dad.

Love - Win, lose or draw - I love my daughter.


  1. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Let me assure you these emotions are the same when your daughter is the starting goalie in a D-1 soccer game or when she is coming in off the bench in a game where the team is getting killed in the NCAA tournament.

  2. Enjoy your stuff. Did #59 get a red card for her actions last year against your daughter? Refs have to protect the keeper when they're in compromising situations. Think you & your daughter might like this blog:

    I feel you on being "disgusted" at the coaches for not making any defensive adjustments to protect the keeper. "Disgust" is a strong word. How about "amazement" or baffling?

    My son is in his first year of club soccer. His bronze level team was over-matched in a tournament they recently entered. Played teams 2 to 3 levels above them & got killed. Coach stuck to his defensive philosophy & system of play which doesn't fit the talents of the kids on the team. Shared my thoughts with him via e-mail after the tournament, but I also figure he'll eventually figure it out if his team keeps getting abused. Some coaches can be stubborn, but having coached, being flexible and willing to adapt is a critical component of being a good coach.

    Have coached many girls over the years. Always harder to get girls to play the keeper position than boys. Always told kids that if I ask you to play keeper, you should be honored. I just don't put anybody back there. Takes the right combination of athleticism, instincts, reactions, mindset, leadership and heart/courage to play the position. Don't have to tell you this, but emphasize to her to play the next play, and to be in the moment. Only so much a keeper can do if the defense is a sieve.

    Kudos to your daughter for wanting & liking to play the most psychologically demanding position in the game. We coaches appreciate our keepers & know that they are often to most athletic and bravest players on the pitch.

  3. First of all - thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    Clarance - Refs do not give red cards to sweet innocent little girls although there are quite a few little girls who deserve them from time to time.

    I read your post - nice post great message. Go Unicorns.

    Disgust is a strong word - I would have used perturbed but it was not in the Emotions Choices.

    I tell my daughter over and over again - "CC, you are so athletic that going to make saves that you probably shouldn't make. You are also going to let some easy balls go into the net. At the end of the year, there are going to be a lot more game saving saves and easy goals against."

    (GOALIE) "Takes the right combination of athleticism, instincts, reactions, mindset, leadership and heart/courage to play the position." You are so right about that. Very few kids have all of these qualities.




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