Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Excelling in Bad Weather in Youth Football

Don’t Let Inclement Weather Affect Your Youth Football Team

What do you do to lessen the effects of bad weather on your youth football team?
Why do some youth football teams play well in bad weather, while others don’t?
First of all know that you as a youth football coach, no matter how important or smart you are, you have no influence on the weather. All you can control is how you respond to it and how YOU respond to it will influence how your team responds to it greatly.

Two weeks ago we got a blast of very early freakishly cold weather, including several inches of snow. While this is not entirely out of the ordinary, this did set several records for earliest snow. During practice it was in the 30s but not windy, so it was bearable. Players showed up in a variety of dress, some were bundled up heavily, some were in short sleeves. Some kids were hovering near the building; others were running around having fun.

One coach of mine showed up very overdressed in a super heavy winter parka, boots, gloves and some type of survival hat. While he had to be burning up inside that jacket, he was still complaining of cold. Once the kids saw him, you could see the mood of several of the kids change immediately, now we had most of the kids hovering near the building, most of them complaining about fairly mild weather.

The key in this situation as a youth football coach: be warm but do NOT over dress. Do NOT complain about the cold. Embrace it, revel in it, make it into your advantage. I was prepared, I had a thermo shirt under my sweat shirt and very thin longjohns on under my jeans. I wore a summer baseball cap and very light spring jacket, nothing over my ears and no gloves.

As I approached the kids I was all smiles outside ( I despise cold weather) joking with them and my coaches. I let everyone within earshot of me hear me say I loved this weather and that I hoped it would hold up for our game the coming weekend, since it would be a HUGE advantage for us. In our team meeting at the end of practice, I asked anyone if they knew what the forecast was going to be for the weekend. When one coach said, “Same as today”, my response was “Fantastic. Let’s hope so, this is such an advantage for the offense we run”. I firmly believe that the weather rarely favors anyone. I just wanted our kids to know, it wasn’t that big a deal, heck I was barely dressed for it and secondly it was a HUGE advantage for us.

If the kids believe it, it is real to them. Come game day it was very cold for this time of year, about an inch of snow on the ground and temps in the 30’s. It didn’t affect our kids one little bit, they were all smiles while many of our opponents were bundled up and looking defeated before the games even started. Needless to say all 3 of my teams rolled to victories.

Always remember, when coaching youth football, the kids take their cues from you. Embrace and make any obstacle an advantage.

Copyright 2009 Cisar Management, all rights reserved. Republishing allowed if links are kept intact. For 400 Free Youth Football Coaching Tips or to Subscribe to Dave’s free Youth Football Coaching Tips Newsletter go to : //winningyouthfootball.com

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  1. ed newcombe

    Perfect time to post the bad weather scenario. Here in Upstate NY, you never know what to expect this time of year. We had our 8th game tonight with unfavorable conditions; 37 degrees(and falling) at game time with rain and high winds not counting the field was extremely muddy/slippery. I did what you said as far as dressing like it was 70 degrees and sunny. Although, I didn’t tell my kids I had long johns on underneath. Conditions were not favorable in the first half; we were struggling just to get the ball off. Even though it was cold, rainy and windy we won 12-7 with 7 seconds left in game. Other than one big play allowed in the first half, my defense played their best game. Thanks again

  2. Ernie Wheeler


    I coach D for a team of 8 to 10 year olds in Ottawa Canada. I agree with your observations about coach’s attitude and coach’s dress code. I try to look consistent, wearing the same cotton pants and windbreaker till the end; like you, I add layers underneath.

    But I’m a convert to the view that the boys should be kept as warm and as dry as possible for as long as possible. Last year, in a quarter-final game, I lost 2 boys (both DE’s) to the cold; they were past violent shivering and on their way to hypothermia. The temperature was only 36, but there was a wind, heavy rain and the field was a mud puddle. The rest of the team could play (so could the other team), but we had to play a boy at DE who had practiced the position twice. We lost by less than a touchdown; the 3rd-stringer played o.k.; the other team exploited that side when the starter was still in, but too cold to function.

    This year, one of those boys is my safety, the best athlete I’ve got, and he’s a tough kid. But, for whatever reason, he’s susceptible to cold (3 occasions) and we make no apologies about forcing him to wear a jacket at the sidelines. (He doesn’t want to because the other kids don’t.)

    Just my 2 cents. I’m a fan of your approach, have bought your material, and have implemented as much as I can (but not enough). We’re into the semi-final this year (the only semi-finalist team that had too few kids to make cuts). Thanks.

  3. Coach Torres

    I always tell my kids “This is perfect football weather” at the start of every practice, whether it’s sunny, rainy, snowy, cloudy, windy, hot or cold. This past Saturday we played a superior team that dominated us in a preseason scrimmage. They were bigger, faster and nastier than us. The rain started falling during pregame warmups and became a downpour about midway through the first half. Our kids loved the weather, our opponent shrank from it. We pushed that bigger, faster team around like ragdolls.

    At one point, as it started really coming down,I turned to my kids, raised my hands and face to the sky and shouted “How great is this?” Each and every one of them responded with a roar. (I spoke to the other team’s coach later and he told me when he saw that he knew his team was done for… he had kids asking not to go in because they didn’t want to take off their overcoats). We went into the locker room athalftime up 7-6.

    To make a long story painfully longer, we were forced to suspend the game due to lightning. We resumed the next day under sunny skies and promptly got beat by a much bigger, faster, nastier team. We ended up losing 19-7 but learned a valuable lesson. I will always use the weather to my advantage whenever I can. It can be a great equalizer if your kids believe it to be.


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