(New Brunswick, NJ) Let’s make one point perfectly clear- the youth football coaches featured on the new Esquire Network docu-series Friday Night Tykes do not represent the vast majority of youth football coaches nationwide. Here is YFO’s Friday Night Tykes Review:
Being a diehard fan of the game I couldn’t wait to watch the first episode. Friday Night Tykes features teams in the Texas Youth Football Association (TYFA). My initial thoughts were all about the coaching, the coaches did not seem to display the characteristics of effective leaders or motivators. Not once did they discuss important aspects of the game such as proper techniques for blocking and tackling.
The teams featured on the Friday Night Tykes show- the San Antonio Outlaws, Jr. Broncos, Judson Rockets, San Antonio Predators, and the North East Colts.
I was most bothered by the fact the coaches seemed to make the game about them not the kids. It was like I was watching a chess game. Kids were used as pawns to feed their need to win. I learned from coaching with my father early on to never try to win at the expense of the kids. You always have to prioritize the best interest of the children. The coaches in Friday Night Tykes were so competitive amongst themselves they made practices more like boot camps. These are 8-9 year old children- not soldiers in the military.
The coaches use profanity in front of the kids. Are there any standards at TYFA? Difficult to understand how certifications are awarded to coaches that curse at/in front of kids. Further, there were kids getting sick and then told to vomit and continue running in 90+ degree heat. The head coach of the Jr. Broncos consistently yelled at his players to ‘take their heads off!’. This isn’t Alice in Wonderland, it’s youth football. Would you really want your child playing for these coaches?
The Jr. Broncos head coach stated, “You cannot allow the kids to quit, you have to push them.” I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. But there is a difference between pushing the kids to work hard and taking it to the extreme as if they are in boot camp. Here is another interesting quote from this coach, “if you don’t push your kids you are accepting failure, you are enabling your kid to fail.” I think that quote makes no sense coming from this guy. Treating 8 year old kids like he does will do nothing but deter them from wanting to play. These kids play in the 8-9 years old “rookie” division. You would think at the 8-9 year old age the focus should be all on instruction right? Nope. Not with these coaches. The only thing I heard out of the Jr. Bronco coaching staff was we have to push the kids or they will fail. We have to rip the other team’s head off. I guess their strategy really worked, 0-2 start after two episodes.
One child was asked to run to the bushes in the far distance until the Colts coach asked him to return to practice. However the coach never said stop. The child’s confused parents sat and watched as their child ran for the entire length of practice. Nothing constructive about this punishment as the kid lost valuable practice reps.
I did not hear one word about the importance of keeping your head up. I did not see these coaches correctly instructing on how to tackle and block properly and safely. The tackling drills these coaches were doing made no sense at all. These coaches were lining the kids up 15 yards apart and making these kids collide. This drill was senseless and did nothing but get kids hurt. The drills don’t even simulate football. They were doing these drills just to make the poor kids run full speed and collide. When a full on collision wasn’t present, the kids would get punishment. All these coaches did the same stupid useless tackling drill.
The North East Colts coaching staff was equally as sickening. Every other word out of this guy’s mouth was a curse. Their coaching staff at one time had the kids all saying F***K the Rockets. Completely unacceptable. Why would you encourage kids to do a chant like that?
These are grown men that are supposed to be instructing 8 and 9 year old kids how to play football with proper technique, not using the kids as pawns in their personal rivalries. These kids are getting hurt, sick, and crying because their coaches aren’t fulfilling their duties.
At 8 years old, it should be all about proper instruction and promotion of the game. These kids should be enjoying the game- the number one reason why kids love football is because they say it’s fun. The coaches should be playing all the kids. Even if there is no mandatory play rules you should still play the kids. Again, these kids are 8 years olds- they all need playing time to improve and develop a love for the game. The league should make a mandatory play rule for the kids, especially at that age level. After watching these teams and coaching staffs they all had the same bad tendencies.
It is a bit disappointing that some people might actually think this is how all youth football coaches, teams and leagues are. The vast majority of leagues and coaches understand what youth football is all about. There is so much more to it than just winning.
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