Coach’s Corner: Top 5 coaching tips

I’m going into my 17th season of coaching football at either the youth or high school level. Here are my top 5 coaching tips for football, but that I think apply to every team sport:

1. Connect with your players.

Getting to know your players and letting them get to know you helps each of you find the motivators that will bring out the best in the player and the coach. Sharing your experience as a player can help as well to give your player that assurance that you know what he or she may be thinking or feeling in situations common to the sport. 

2. Choose team leaders wisely.

Make sure your captains are leaders and fit the mold of the team. Not by ability or star power but by ability to lead by example. A captain should be able to represent you with the team but also be able to be their collective voice with you. Empower them.  Choose the number based on how many kids fit the profile.  If there’s only 1, then 1 it is. If there are none to begin the season, then use that as a goal throughout the year.

3. Be yourself.

Kids see through the fake persona. If they think you’re faking, they may not trust you.  Once the trust goes its tough to get them back. Be real, be honest and admit mistakes. All mistakes are team mistakes.

4. Set tangilble team goals.

Set measurable goals for practice, games and for the season. Use statistics. Kids love statistics. Talk about goals weekly and attach them to helmet awards and weekly captainships. The dog days of the season move faster when the team has goals to reach.

5. Empower your assistants.

Your position coaches have mini teams themselves. Empowering them is a good way to pound your message in with a different voice. Empowering assistants encourages them to keep the ideas flowing and more ideas…better than less ideas. If you respect your assistants, the kids will too.


Did you notice that there was nothing about x’s and o’s? Exactly.


Are you an overzealous sports parent?

I recently watched a documentary on HBO about sports parents called Trophy Kids. I was appalled at the parents’ behavior. Name calling, cursing and intimidation were the overwhelming patterns detailed and one of the kids, a female golfer, couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years old. I was so angry that I wanted to find the parents and go after them. I spend a majority of my professional time with kids as a highschool football coach and sports performance specialist. I have seen plenty of bad parent behavior but this was beyond anything I’ve seen. Now in fairness, this was edited for tv and I get that, but I’m assuming that the editing included some additional bad behavior as well.

I think its sad that parents sometimes live through their kids and if you have kids who participate in sports it begs the question: Are you an overzealous sports parent?

Here are a few things that might be indicators.

1. You berate your kid for mistakes made in games for hours, sometimes even days after an event.

2. You constantly blame officials, coaches and other players for losses or poor performances.

3. You regularly request meetings with coaches to discuss strategy or playing time.

4. You attend your kid’s practices.

5. You schedule most of your kid’s free time with activities to prepare him or her for sport.

If you do 1 or more of these things, you could be an overzealous sports parent. Is this you?