I’m a n00b when it comes to coaching youth soccer as I’ve only been doing it for about 5 years now. Having not had an extensive soccer background as a kid, I’m learning a lot! Most of that learning has to do with the game itself and drills for the kids, etc. But then there are the other, not so glamorous things about being a soccer coach (and no I’m not talking about the parents The one item in the job description nobody tells you about is pack mule.
When I first started coaching U6 I bought a cheap ball bag from Wal-Mart and a handful of Size 3 balls. No sweat, I figured! Grab the bag of balls and head to the fields. Well, that was long, long ago. As a coach the stuff you bring to the fields seems to reproduce on its own and grow and grow. Lets see what my coaching equipment list looks like these days:
- Bag of balls (about 8 or 10)
- 5 Gallon Water Jug
- Plastic Stool to put Water Jug on
Athletic Duffel Bag containing:
- First Aid Kit
- Ball pump
- Box of tissues
- Sleeve of cone water cups
- Game Ball
Now I know that’s probably a bit much. I know other coaches who don’t bring quite so much. But I’ve found its good to be prepared. And while you can tell the kids to bring their own water and bring their own ball, often it is more trouble than its worth. (Thats MY ball!) The rest of the stuff you just need for practice. So going to and from practice – I’m a pack mule. Throw in a collapsing chair for my wife, corner flags from the equipment closet if its a match day. I can be quite the cargo carrier.
See, we currently play in the outfields of our town’s baseball fields. There are four full sized baseball fields arranged in a big circle around the bathrooms/concession stand building, with the parking lot at the bottom. If you have to practice on one of the back two fields – it is a hike! The bag of balls was always the bulkiest and most difficult thing to carry. They’re heavy and the silly little string does nothing except cutoff the flow of blood in your hand!
Obviously I don’t always carry everything – that’s what children are for. We’d all be lying if deep down somewhere we didn’t have kids in part because we wanted to breed minions to do our bidding! So my two children who play soccer now cart plenty of stuff for me. Well, recently my son decided he’d had enough carrying the ball bag and pulled a Daddy – he delegated. Cept he forgot to mention ball bags, especially cheap ones, aren’t made for dragging along concrete. Ooops. Needless to say my ball bag now has multiple opening to get balls out of! Makes carting them to the field a bit of a chore. Since I moved up to U10, the balls are bigger too so I was reaching the point of either making the kids bring a ball or figure out an easier way to cart them around. What’s a soccer coach to do?
Leave it to my Soccer Moms to solve the problem for me. They obviously took pity on my poor ball bag and decided to get me a useful coaches gift for the end of the season. Everyone chipped in and they found this whopper of a ball bag at Epic Soccer. This thing is a MONSTER. They say it’ll hold 28-30 balls which wouldn’t surprise me. Its got backpack straps and pockets for carrying stuff in. Now I have nowhere near 30 soccer balls, but I expect to get a few more balls for next season so I’ll have at least 12 or 14.
As you can see by the picture from their website, this thing could cart a couple of players! (NO I’m not advocating carting part of your team around in a bag! Difficult parents – well that’s a whole other story.) With the large pockets in back, I might just be able to cart all my other stuff (first aid kit, air pump, pinnies, etc) and throw things like cones in the ball area. Scratch one athletic bag! The only downside to doing that would be if it rains – the athletic bag at least keeps things somewhat dry. I guess we’ll see how things go during the Spring season.
So if you have a coach who is dragging around a pitiful excuse for a ball bag like I was, consider getting them something like this. Combine this with a water cooler with a handle and wheels – and I’m all set! Plus this bag will be much easier to hang in my garage – the ball bags on a string never lent themselves well to hanging on the wall.