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?
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