Put Me In, Coach!


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Something a little different today. As a writer, I must write when emotion compels me. Let me give you a little background on today’s subject; Youth Sports.

My 12 year son has been playing football since he was 8 years old. I started him off playing flag football, so that he could become familiar with the game and work on the skills he needed to become a better athlete. My son is a starter now, on his 7th grade football team and he’s earned the right to be. It wasn’t just given to him. During tryouts, he displayed his ability to play and made the most of his opportunities when they presented themselves. That, however, is not the case for every player.

There are some kids on his team who have never played on an organized football squad. They are just now learning the game and learning the skills necessary to be part of the team. Here’s what really gets me though; Some of these kids show up to every practice, every game, dress out, and hit the field, along with their teammates, pumped up and ready to go! Then, they stand idly by, the entire game, waiting to play, but their number never gets called. Why is that? To me, it makes no sense at all.

I have coached both, flag and tackle football, and I give EVERYBODY a chance to play. We’re talking about developing players here! We’re not trying to win a Super Bowl! A good coach, finds the talent in EVERY player. A good coach strategically puts in players in positions where they will help their team, and sometimes, in positions where that player cannot hurt the team. For example, how horrible would it be to put in one of these kids on the right side of the line, knowing full well that the next play is to the left side of the line? Give the kid an opportunity to go out there and play! Give them an opportunity to take a hit, to make a block, to taste dirt in his face! Often times, some of these kids will surprise you. They will show something they never showed before. Guess where that CAN’T happen? On the bench! If a coach has no intentions of playing a player, cut them. Especially at this level of play. I guarantee that those kids would rather do something else with their afternoons and Saturday mornings than to show up to a game where the water boy makes it out to the field more often than they do.

Before I am misunderstood, I’m not saying that these players have to be out there extensively during the game. What I am saying, is that the responsibility of a youth coach is to better their players and give them their best opportunity to succeed. It may happen or it may not, but a good coach learns how to pull it off. Youth sports coaches need to realize that it isn’t the victory of the game that matters, rather, it is the victory that each player celebrates when they have done their part to be part of the team, win or lose…

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