Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

What Standard Should We Have in Youth Football

Competition When Coaching Youth Football

To many of us coaching youth football get caught up in measuring ourselves against the competition. When we win a game by 1 point, somehow that is confirmation we are doing something well and often times when we lose by 1 point, that is somehow confirmation we are not performing well.

 Championship level teams don’t measure themselves like that, they measure themselves against true potential. You can play poorly and not anywhere near your teams potential and still win against poorly coached teams. That is hardly anything to celebrate or even be proud of.

Many youth teams that have early success in terms of wins often get a bit full of themselves, leading to late season meltdowns. Your goal as a coach is to get your team to perform to its full potential, so the foe you are playing every day in practice and even in games is your full max out potential, not the other team. Parents often times think I’m a bit “off” when I’m dissatisfied with blowout wins. The same parents don’t seem to “get” me when they see a satisfied look on my face after an overtime loss. While we have endured just 17 losses in the last 14 seasons, we have played real well and right at potential in a number of those losses. On the other hand we have had a number of 36-6 and 24-6 wins where I thought we didn’t play anywhere near our potential.

Coach Pelini at Nebraska stresses every day to his players that they need to compete against their best self every single day in order to improve. Set high standards, encourage your players but only be satisfied when your team is playing to it’s full potential win or lose. For most teams when you can honestly say they are playing at that level, the wins are going to take care of themselves. Until then, strive and know that your teams best football is still ahead of them.

As coaches we need to hold ourselves to that very same standard. Critique yourself after each season and even after each practice. Were you at your best today? What could you have done better? What are you going to do to make sure you don’t make that same mistake again tomorrow? Kids play how they practice, you get what you teach. What changes do you need to make to get your kids to play to full potential this season or the next practice?

Copyright 2010 Cisar Management, all rights reserved. This article may be republished but only if this paragraph and link are included. //winningyouthfootball.com

About The Author

Related posts


  1. Michael

    I think one thing we need to remember as coaches is that our main goal is not winning. Winning is just a means to an end. Our main goal is building a great person. I think that by teaching them to compete against theirselves you take the focus off of competing to win. Learning to compete just to win a game is short lived but learning to compete against yourself will last you a life time. Winning is nice though.

    1. davecisar

      There is nothing wrong with winning in youth football, we play with the intention of winning AND building better young men, those arent mutually exclusive goals. Our team and individual standard is to play to full potential no matter who we are playing. If you compete only to win the immediate contest instead of pushing to full potential, your “wins” will be short lived.

  2. Shallah

    I totally agree with what you said in this article. I think parents players and even coaches misunderstand what winning the right way means. I can be winning by a large margin but if my team isn’t blocking or tackling until they hear the whistle then it is no way I am going to be happy.

  3. CoachT

    The quote from Coach Pelini at Nebraska is priceless and deserves repeating: “Players need to compete against their best self every single day in order to improve.” I’ve long felt this was the case and I try to instill this into my youth football players. Far too often, coaches are measured against their wins/losses on the football field. What’s sometimes lost is the ability of a coach to instill pride and confidence in their players, having them realize that to give all out 100% effort on every play, means more than the final score. .. Having said this, however, a hard fought, gut-check win goes a long way in having a player believe in themselves. I’ve found some of my best players came from teams with middle-of-the-road win/loss seasons; they knew that to win, they had to reach deep inside themselves to do it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *