Tales Of an Englishman Coaching Soccer In The USA

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Tales Of an Englishman Coaching Soccer In The USA
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Working as a soccer coach in America is a whole different ball game to working as a football coach in the United Kingdom.

Before you even get onto the field (not the pitch) you have to refer to the beautiful game as ‘soccer’, not ‘football’ like 99% of the world’s population know it as.

I'm sure after a little bit of research I could easily find out the history of the word ‘soccer’. I could find its origin somewhere in American sporting folklore but quite honestly; to me the word does not exist and is purely fictional.

Match is replaced by ‘scrimmage’ and football boots are known as ‘cleats’. Greetings that roll off the tongue back home such as ‘Alright lads’, ‘Now then boys’ or ‘How’s it going mate?’ are non-existent and are replaced by cringe-worthy phrases like ‘Hey guys’ or ‘What’s up bro’!

When I first moved to the United States I was determined, probably because of my youthful arrogance and ignorance to all things foreign that I was going to stamp my own personality on this English speaking foreign land.

It took me longer than it should have before the old adage ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ really took effect on me. Again, arrogance, ignorance, call it what you will, maybe even patriotism beyond belief was the reason behind it, but after a year or so I had to ‘join them’.  

I can coach a 90-minute session using words the average English footballer wouldn’t understand, yet we speak the same language and play the same game (allegedly).

An example of a soccer coaching vocabulary extends from the outrageous to the hilarious hour by hour and day by day. ‘I'm going to shag the balls’ an 11 year old once told me! I was a fresh-faced Brit coaching my first practice within days of my arrival and all I could do was literally fall to the floor in hysterics, with my imagination running wild as to what this child was about to do. Of course I soon found out that it simply meant he was going to collect them and bring them back to me!

I find that everything with a name gets turned into initials over here. The English Premier League is known as the ‘EPL’, which is how Americans refer to all their major sporting leagues as well. They have the NBA, MLB, the NHL and of course their very own MLS.

Coaching points or words of encouragement are often replaced by a single letter. If your centre-back makes an outstanding tackle it is not referred to as ‘great defending’ but ‘great d’.

Why is this? It makes you wonder doesn’t it? I regularly hear Americans refer to themselves as an unintelligent race, which is probably a little harsh, but it could be the only solution to my little conundrum. Replacing real words with a single letter just makes everything so much easier, especially for a race of people who are well known for being a little lazy.

Another phrase that can be heard every weekend on game-day is ‘way to hustle’. It’s just bizarre! ‘Way to hustle’? What does that mean?

By process of eliminating all logic I have whittled it down to one of the following; It either means something along the lines of ‘good running’ or something to do with pushing your way through a crowd to get the ball?

Regardless of the meaning to all the words and phrases I have mentioned, they do make life interesting.

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