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Development Dads - Genetically Speaking - Toddler

Updated on March 8, 2015

Genetically Speaking

Characteristically Speaking

My closest friend and I teamed up for one year as soccer coaches. His youngest boy of nine volunteered us but didn't have to try too hard. Neither of us however had played soccer but had played organized football, baseball, and basketball, so we were overly confident that we could handle the job.

The first week we had three days of practice and then a parent-coach get together on Saturday right after practice. So, we got to take a look at the 14 players before any parents were around to bother us.

My friend knew all of the boys but I only knew his son. During the Saturday practice we stood across the field from all the parents. all but two of mothers were sitting on the bleachers but all of the fathers were mingling around the sideline. Once the team-led drills started, my friend challenged me, "Lets see how many players you can match up to their parents." So, I spent the next half hour just looking at the parents' physical characteristics and mannerisms. There were a few that I could immediately match up from the physical and then the rest I had to rely on mannerisms. I ended up matching over half physically and then all but two by mannerism. Here are some of my matching mannerism findings.

One of our players always wore his sports watch. We noticed the very first day that he checked the time about every ten minutes. At the end of each practice during our team meeting, he would check the time about every other minute. Within the first ten minutes of scrutinizing the parents, I noticed that one father checked his watch twice. That was my first match.

We had another boy that was an aloof wanderer. He liked to wander around by himself and always seemed to be in deep thought. One practice he drifted off the field during play to follow a butterfly. His father was the only parent that drifted away from the group. At one time he wandered all the way down the sideline and ended up behind the goal area.

Another boy always had his hands in his pockets. If he could've run fast without using his arms, he would've never taken his hands out of his pockets. His father kept his hands in his pockets the entire practice and even through the parent-coach meeting.

The most popular and gregarious boy on the team matched up physically to his father more than any of the other boys did to their parents. He flitted around from boy to boy as if he was a politician looking for votes in a crowd. His father matched this as well. He was probably the only parent that met and shook hands with every single parent standing or sitting.

There was one boy that when he was standing still for more than a minute would cross one foot over the other. His mother was soon spotted across the field standing the same way beside the father checking his watch.

We had one boy who was a pacer. Even during meetings he couldn't stand still and would try to pace behind the group of boys. When he did have to stand still, his legs would still be in a swaying motion. His father had the same mannerisms. He paced between groups of parents several times and made his rounds over to the bleacher to say something to his wife even more.

It was fascinating to observe these match ups. My friend and I had a great time and really didn't notice if the boys were performing their drills properly. Little did the parents know that we were also sizing them up and trying to predict those who would have behavioral matchups with their boys.

So, how were we as coaches? The team won all but one game that season, but it wasn't because of us. Here's why. At the start of the very first game, one of the referees ran up to us and said, "Hey, coach, you need one more player out there. You only have ten." So as not to look stupid and totally incompetent, we waited for the second that the ref turned away and headed back to the field before we looked to the first closest boy and said, "Get out there. You're a starter." The boy replied, "Where do I go? What position." My friend said. "Rover, - you're the rover, follow the ball." After he ran out on the field, we looked at each other to see whose face was redder. We did get better. We invited a high school player out for the next few practices to give us some needed expertise, again, without looking stupid or incompetent.

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