Preparation for the upcoming youth football season has begun- and the anticipation for the season is quickly growing. Just before team meetings and practices start rolling, it is essential to remember the key reasons why you are coaching this football season. It is your, and your coaching staff’s, responsibility to deliver a proper introduction to football and convey the message of character building.
Here are 7 lessons you should communicate to your team this upcoming season:
1. Explain how to be a Good Teammate. As a coach, this starts with you- ensure all players are receiving adequate one-on-one instruction time, avoid favoritism! Teach your kids how to be selfless by stressing team-orientated goals from day one. It’s about ‘we’ not ‘me’. Communicate the importance of respect and support of all teammates and coaches. There is an undeniable importance of respect- we are on a team to achieve a common goal, to get better each day. There must be mutual respect between coaches/teammates/parents. Once respect is breached, you have not done your job as a coach.
“There are a lot of guys that have selfless approaches that make me glorified to a degree, I don’t necessarily want to dwell in that because it’s for the birds.” -Cam Newton.
2. Promote importance of Work Ethic. Develop and conduct football practices Reward players that put in solid effort. As youth athletes develop work ethic, they will use this skill in other aspects of their lives, specifically in school. Leverage competition against teammates as motivation during drills/workouts, never allow your guys to fall behind due to lack of effort. Certainly a young athlete can have the physical attributes to stand out, but when you add a tenacious work ethic, you have the potential for a great athlete and great student.
3. Teach how to Study Film on opponents. This introduces analytical thinking and reasoning to your youth football players. Ask them questions, quiz them on game situations. This presents the game through the eyes of a coach, and will further help them to comprehend the sport.
4. Football is FUN. Teach your kids to enjoy the game, have an upbeat offensive game plan (see Wing-T football offense) that is fast paced and attention keeping. Keep a positive attitude with your fellow coaches, athletes and parents, and keep in mind- this is a sport for enjoyment. Allow your kids personalities to come through- you want to see your athletes (and parents) smiling, it means you are doing your job.
5. Teach your athletes how to be Resilient. Adversity is sure to come during the youth football season. How will your guys deal with this? In the face of adversity, no matter what the score or situation, teach to thrive and overcome. Being well-prepared breeds confidence, when your guys play with great confidence, there is no lead that is insurmountable.
6. Promote Healthy Food Choices. We replaced sugary sports drinks with water, mixed with fresh squeezed oranges and limes. Eliminated poor food options with orange slices and bananas. Regularly, we mention the ill effects of eating fast foods, because we all know there is no football benefit to eating junk food.
7. Teach the Fundamentals of How to Tackle safely, the correct way. This is of utmost importance so spend adequate time on this. Avoid over-hitting and nonsensical drills as this will only expose your athletes to injury risks. Football is a tough sport, however, any sport can have potential for risk when taught incorrectly.
Remember- It’s not about you, it’s all about the kids. Forego all thoughts that this season is about defeating a cross town rival by all means necessary. If you properly teach the lessons described here, you will likely have a squad that is prepared to win, on and off the field.