The Challenges of Coaching Youth Football Teams
Anyone who coaches youth football knows that although the rewards of the job are many, there are also more than a few challenges coaches must face. Identifying those challenges is the first step toward overcoming them—and leading your team to success.
Knowing Your Audience
Making sure your approach to teaching and playing the game fits with the skill level of the players is likely one of youth football’s biggest coaching challenges. An 8-year-old cannot be coached the same way a 12-year-old can. The tricky part for coaching younger kids is teaching proper fundamentals without “dumbing them down” (especially since bad technique can lead to injury as well as lost games).
The components of the game are the same–running, passing, tackling, blocking—but how they are taught and executed has to be geared to the age of the team. Make sure the players can actually do what you are asking them to do. No player wants to fail. A coach’s role is to hold them to a high standard and helping them to succeed.
Dealing with Parents
Another big challenge can be parents—specifically, their expectations about the goals of the team and about their own kids. These can vary widely, from wanting the player to make friends and have fun to insisting they be groomed for the NFL. It can be a balancing act, and good communication about exactly what you want to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish it seems to be the key.
It gets even more complicated if the coach is the parent of a kid on the team. This situation is certainly not uncommon, and can often lead to what’s known as “daddy ball,” when every player’s job is to help the coach’s kid shine.
Finding the Time
Many coaches find that their job involves so many different parts that they can’t find time to do it all. Effective time management helps immensely. For starters, practices should be planned out in as much detail as possible. Every minute should be accounted for so that no time is wasted.
A mindset that will help any coach face coaching challenges is to remember they are teaching the game of football—not just coaching a team.