Immersion is defined as ‘deep mental involvement’, according to the Oxford dictionary.
The idea of immersion is one that greatly appeals to me however it is one that I realize needs to be built upon and not taken for granted. The resulting effects that come from placing yourself at the center of a specific environment, or within the depths of a certain subject or field are felt far quicker than what you would have to go through if you were to go at a more regulated rate. A small daily or weekly dose that is easy to maintain and provides consistency but at the same time provides a slow rate of growth.
Immersion then is the idea of throwing yourself in the deep end and committing to something for a period of time. In my case I have decided to immerse myself in American youth club soccer. I have a time limit in my mind which I have accepted but that is not at the forefront of my thinking on a daily basis. Instead I am ‘immersed’ in the plate spinning that we are attempting and as a result I am constantly having to think about the process itself. There is little rest time, mentally. The nature of the role, the environment I’m in does not allow for it. I constantly have to think towards the next session, the next group and what happened last time out. At the moment with the season having officially got under way over the weekend, we have a fairly lighter schedule. But this will only increase as the fall season ends and the winter season kicks in. With three teams and training to be scheduled three times a week including league games and tournaments, it is certainly going to be a very long and intense season. But this is what immersion is all about. This is why I came out here.
Back in the UK, opportunities were there for grassroots teams. Pathways into academy football were opening for me also, however the sheer volume of hours were not, and the barriers to entry for these roles were seemingly increasing too. Not to say I wasn’t up for the fight but an opportunity to triple my coaching responsibilities as well as challenge myself personally by adapting to another country appealed to me far more. So here I am, since May 29th and I do not regret a thing. I’ve had to wait a long while for the actual coaching I came out here for to start but this weekend the balls got rolling and I was delighted with my preparation, delivery and subsequent reflection. The task I now have on my hands is to continue this process over the season while attempting to improve my knowledge through reading, building contacts by networking, managing relationships up and down, language learning and creating a showcase of my work over the season, all while providing the best possible coaching experience possible to all the players I encounter. Most of these goals I’ve set for myself, whereas others are essential to the job. Its’ not easy and I like that it isn’t. But this whole experience, when its all said and done, will certainly have provided me with something I could not have matched had I plodded gently along, week to week, a session at a time.
Slow and steady does win the race and I still believe in that, but periods of limited immersion give you the boost in knowledge, experience and confidence you need to go slow and steady with a longer stride length!