19 Oct
2016
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Coaching and Expectations

Three years ago when our oldest son started youth tackle football, people told me to be prepared. Tackle football was not for the faint of heart. There was the physical nature of football, but there was also the nature of football coaches for these 5th and 6th grade-age boys. By the third football game of our son’s first season, it was apparent that football coaches were different than any coaches our athletic children had ever been acquainted.

Our oldest son’s coaches during his first two seasons were not too bad. There was yelling, but nothing near what we saw on the opposite side of the field during games. It was disheartening to hear the words and tone of voice grown men, some fathers, would use with the children dressed in pads and helmets. Parents would compare notes on what was said and done by coaches.

Last year, when our second son decided to try tackle football, we entered it with trepidation. We knew that there was a good chance our son would find himself under a coach who would yell and maybe curse and possibly belittle and threaten. He might be taught to intimidate and talk trash on the field. I didn’t want that to happen to our sweet, quiet boy. We talked about what we expected from a coach and what wouldn’t be tolerated. The first practice came, and there was nothing from the coach. We went the first week with no yelling or over-aggressive, do-anything-to-win attitude. Our coach was calm, kind and not over-bearing. I exhaled at the end of that first week.

coaching talking with his football team

Last year was great, fantastic even. The team didn’t win a championship, but the players, the coach and the parents got along well. There was no yelling, no belittling, no threatening. There was encouragement. Our coach encouraged the players as people and athletes. The parents encouraged the coach and each other’s sons. This year we had the same coach and same players with the same result. We watched out son grow in confidence of what he was physically able to do on the field.

If you ask our son, he’ll tell you his coach is kind and caring. I’ll tell you he’s calm and collected. Not once in two years did we hear the man raise his voice to a yell. I’ve seen some things standing on the sidelines of midget football games for four seasons. There have been words like “annihilate,” “loser,” “pansy,” “worthless,” along with some cursing. I’ve seen men embarrass boys simply for making a mistake. I’ve listened to men belittle and holler in the faces of children, and at referees.

Several times I’ve thought how grateful I am that my son isn’t on such and such a team. Many times I’ve thought if that was us with our son under that man’s tutelage, we would be done. I’ve listened to friends talk about showdowns with coaches where the parents aren’t happy with their style of coaching. I’ve listened to boys talk about how mean their coach is and how they feel bad for disappointing their coach.

A coach is a teacher of sports. It would never be tolerated to walk into a classroom and hear a teacher speak to his students in the manner some youth football coaches choose to do. I know it’s not the same thing. I realize that football is aggressive by nature, but I know you can instruct football without being mean and overbearing. As coaches and parents, let’s agree to raise up our athletes in an environment that teaches them skills, but values who they are as people. Let’s work together to take pressure off players to crush one another and instead encourage them to improve in their skills and enjoy the game they’re putting time and effort into. Let’s work on teaching our children how to manage their emotions, a skill that will suit them well for all their years. Most importantly, let’s remember those players in pads and helmets are learning a sport and are still just children.


 
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