As a parent to youth players and season-ticket holder to a semi-professional team, I watch a lot of soccer.
My daughter’s team plays at the elite level. In a game, they move around, pass to a teammate, trap the ball, look around while the teammates move around, pass again. Three passes before any shot on goal – this is the coach’s rule. Professionals play similarly. As I watched these girls move, pass, trap and shoot, I reflected on the greater symbolic meaning of that technique.
This technique teaches the players to be better teammates. To share the field, utilize space and be mindful in the movement towards a common goal. The girls are learning ball control and how to find open space on the field so it will be easier for their teammates to find them. They are shifting from individual players to teammates – recognizing teams are better off than superstars and that where there’s a superstar, there are always superstar teammates. Ultimately, they are also learning the importance of practice, hard work and of taking the perspectives of others.
This is similar to parenting. We keep moving around to get open – make ourselves open and available to our children so we can receive whatever they have to give. Sometimes they are giving love. Or, it may be a moment of frustration, when they are lashing out. Regardless, we work hard to be open to whatever they are passing our way.
Our children make a pass. We trap it. We wrangle in the emotion, or question, or need. We move it forward and pass it on. This pattern continues until we launch them into the world. Even then, we stay open for the pass back and ready to continue to help them reach their goals.
Being open to the pass is important. Practice and effort take work, but there is joy in that work as well as in the outcome. With children, we often think about what we want to teach and how we want to guide and shape their futures. This year and moving forward, I want to be more present to what they can teach me.
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