We coaches love coaching youth football! It usually starts out as a way to spend more time with your son and it grows into something more. My son is moving on to 8th grade football and I can no longer be his coach. Man I will miss it. I’m sure he won’t! He says I yell at him to much; sorry son! It is this love of coaching kids and being a positive role model to a young man, which in many cases, unfortunately, does not have a positive male role model in their life, and is why I’ve decided to continue coaching with Coach Alkire on a brand new 11 year team this year. I can’t wait.
Now back to my point. With the pre-season planning that goes on, you start to get excited about all of the aspects of forming your new team and then it snaps into the back of your mind like a haunting childhood memory… That Football Parent who is out to make your life hell!
We have all had parents of players who are just not happy no matter what you do –
“Little Johnny should be the running back because he’s really fast!”
“Little Johnny should be the QB because you should see him throw it in the back yard!”
“Little Johnny is not happy playing Guard and wants to run the ball. I know he’s a first year player but you should give him a shot”
We’ve all heard the same complaints and experienced the same problems. Here are some tips to prevent some of it down the road.
After you have drafted your team call a parents meeting and hand out the team rules.
1. Don’t ever ask the Coach if their son can play a specific position.
2. A parent should never talk badly about the coach, coaching staff or other players in front of their child.
3. Parents should only address the head coach with concerns or problems; do not approach the assistant coaching staff with your complaints.
These seem like pretty simple rules, maybe perceived a bit “forceful” by some, but they are crucial in order to develop a cohesive unit of a team. Time wasted dealing with issues that do not benefit your player’s development hurts your team as well as your players.
Even with these simple rules in place there’s always one.
A few years back we had a player on our team that had fantastic speed… mind boggling speed. He was raw, a bit scared, but I thought with some work we could get him in the backfield sweeping all over the field. He was scared to take a hit, but then again there are not too many first year players that aren’t scared to take a hit. He did have some good pursuit ability, so I put him at Corner. Wasn’t the best Corner, but effective enough to push the play back in where he had some help.
A few weeks went by and I noticed the kid repeatedly asking why he can’t run the ball. He told me his dad said he should be running the ball… uh oh… here we go. I told him he was building more confidence in his ability and I would let him know when he’s ready.
Another week went by and his practices that week were going great. I had made the decision that I would put him at 4-back in Thursday’s practice. Well after I got home that night (Tuesday) I received a 3 page email from his father copied to the entire coaching staff. Won’t go into the details, but to sum it up in a few words I would say “You’re stupid and all of the coaches are stupid and I will take a team next year and show you guys.” Obviously there was quite a bit more verbal diarrhea, but that pretty much sums it up.
Needless to say the player never got a chance to play the 4-Back position. Not as a punishment to the kid, but because of the harm his attitude towards the coaches, which his father instilled in him, would do to the team.
Football can be a great experience or it can be a bad one. It’s up to us coaches making sure that the staff, the players and the parents work together as a unit.
When you do get that parent on occasion, take them to the side and remind them that you are not get paid to coach youth football, but you are doing it because of the kids. And if that doesn’t work, tell them good luck with the team they are coaching next year!