Taking Responsibility and Teaching Responsibility as Youth Football Coach

Youth Coaches are in a unique position to teach their players and even their fellow coaches about taking responsibility. Many youth football teams have to deal with a number of team dynamics; the parents, the kids, the assistant coaches, the referees and even the coaches for the opposing team. In my mind the most important and the most impressionable dynamic is the player group. Adults already have their world view set, but most kids are in the process of developing theirs and often they just copy what they see from others they respect. This means as a youth football coach you have an enormous responsibility to be a man of integrity.

Unfortunately our world has shifted to a blame others society. It seems like anytime anything goes wrong, we want to blame others for the problem, no one is ever at fault for anything. Criminals are never at fault, it had to do with their environment and childhood. Our society even has a booming blame others economy with lawyers at the ready to sue companies with deep pockets for our own ineptness. Just think of the elderly lady that spilled hot coffee on her lap in a moving car and won millions or the man that ate petroleum jelly and got sick because the jar didn’t say “not edible”. Our society has become a world of excuse makers and some football coaches are right there arm-in-arm with them.

When a football team loses, we hear a litany of excuses from coaches, it was the referees fault, the players fault, the weathers fault, we were missing players, the other team cheated, we have no size, we have no speed, we have no athletes, our kids won’t hit, our kids aren’t aggressive, the other team got lucky, our kids didn’t make plays, we are just trying to have fun, we don’t have enough players, the kids didn’t “want” it, we didn’t execute, we practice less than the other team, etc etc etc. Many of the excuses I hear border on the bizarre and should be in the National Enquirer, but in the end are nothing more than “the dog ate my homework”. Many football coaches are some of the biggest excuse makers out there and that includes many paid High School coaches. I often wonder why the losing coach has all these problems, when the weather is real bad for his team, is his opponent playing on a different field with different weather? Doesn’t the opponent have kids that are ill or out too or does that ONLY happen with his team?

In 2005 we beat a team that had not lost in 5 years, their excuse was one of their kids was ill. In that game I started my 4th string tailback, my first teamer broke his arm in game 5, my second teamer banged up his knee in game 10. The night before the big game, our 3rd teamer was swimming at the hotel pool, slipped on the wet tile and pulled his groin. Our 4th teamer had played little at tailback and was our starting right guard. He knew our base 6 plays and that morning we got 6 more in that morning in the hotel lobby. พนันออนไลน์ฟรีเครดิต

During the game our usually heavy tailback attack was limited to 4-5 carries and limited our passing and counter game. I didn’t bother to tell the other coach our best 3 players didn’t play. The funny thing was we had them under “mercy rule” in the second quarter, but you know how excuse makers are. In 2002 we played a local team and had them down 44-0 in the 3rd quarter, after the game they were real clear that they were missing #54 and with him there at linebacker it would have been “a totally different game”. In youth football it seems some losing coaches are either delusional or really are clueless about the impact of a single player. In youth football we all have nearly identical constraints and struggle with the same problems. We all have missing players, we all have ill player, we all have injured players. What message does that send to your team when they hear that kind of talk? They learn that football is a one player game and if you lose, to make excuses.

While it may be true that your team lacks size or lacks speed or you have half the number of players as your opposition, it is the coaches job to choose schemes and strategies to lessen those advantages. If a coach claims to have all the above problems yet chooses to run the same offense and defense everyone else in his league is running, he has no chance to compete. He is choosing by his own free will not to field teams that will compete.

If everyone runs basically the same thing (most do) the team with the best players is going to come out on top every week. Since the coach makes the decision which scheme to run and which methods used to implement it, he is responsible for the results the scheme that he chose produced. I don’t think there is a rule in any league that you MUST run offense X, it is the coaches free choice. I don’t think there is a masked man in the coaches office holding someone hostage with a gun to his head that if coach doesn’t run X offence that the hostage will be shot. The scheme is the coaches choice, hence he bears responsibility for making a good choice there or a poor one. Not all schemes and practice methods are created equal, some work much better for a particular group and others for other groups. The key is to choose which is best for the group you have or how we did it, for the grouping of kids we USUALLY got.

There are a number of schemes and methods one can use if you are in a situation where you have no size or speed. Competing one on one with a similar scheme as your opponent may not be the best choice, yet it is what we most often see in youth football. Why not choose a system that does not require lots of one-on-one blocking or a tremendous amount of speed? Why not choose system that doesn’t rely on big playmakers? Why not choose a system that eats up the clock and keeps your slow and small defense off the field? The reason why not is because many coaches are too close minded about moving on to something new or refuse to put in the time to learn how to run something different than what they have run in the past. But that choice is their decision and their responsibility.

Now I’m not saying you can take any group of players and make them a 10-0 team, I am saying each team has it’s own unique potential range. The problem is very few teams ever play to the top of their potential range. I have 10-12 teams in my organization that plays in a league with 60+ teams. Each year I assign a potential based on a quick look at the talent levels of the team they often look like this: 4-6 to 7-3, 2-8 to 5-5, 8-2 to 10-0. they are ranges of potential that particular team has. Our best coached teams almost always play to or above the potential and our worst coached teams play to the bottom of the potential range, regardless of the age group or the team they are assigned.

My first youth football coaching position was coaching in a league with a “blind” draft. You chose players based on two factors, his birthdate and weight. You didn’t know the players name or anything else; pretty blind draw for the most part. One would think that would create a very even playing field, yet one team, the Dolphins either won the League every year or finished second. How could this team get so “lucky’ every year if we all had the same talent levels due to the blind draft? Interestingly enough my last year in that league the Dolphins coaching staff moved on to other interests and the new coaches failed miserably, finishing in last place.

Wouldn’t it be reasonable to say that the reason the team had done so well in the past was because of great coaching? Or did they just get lucky each and every one of the five years I coached against them? However, rarely if ever do you hear a coach say “I got out coached”, it is the litany of excuses cited above. The perennial losing coach will always chalk it up to luck of the draw or players. Because to do otherwise would mean he was not doing a good job. By him making it all about luck, it means the poor guy was just unlucky enough to not have that winning lotto ticket. You often find this type is the green eyed jealousy type that disparages those successful coaches, trying to bring them down to his level by piling on supposed extra benefits the winning program has over his. These guys aren’t very fun to be around and rarely excel at anything meaningful in life. They are the ones that pay attention to what others are doing instead of controlling what they can control, their own team.

In 2004 I started a brand new program in a rural area near Hickman, Nebraska. The existing youth program often fielded teams of 40-60 players on one team. The four years prior to when I got there, they had won a grand total of 4-5 games. Their thought was the more players they had, the better chance of finding that star that would carry the team. I was told all the winning my teams had done in Omaha wouldn’t matter here, this was a basketball and cross country town.

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