What Your Your Clothes and Appearance Says About You When You Are Coaching Youth Football
What should you wear at practice and games when you are coaching youth football?
Clothes need to be functional but they also say a little about who you are. In youth football you have many audiences, your players, fellow coaches and parents. At games you have groups of fans and referees to add to that list.
First impressions are vital, what do people think about you when they see you for the very first time? While we probably should not develop long term outlooks based on exterior appearances, most people on this planet do. Most people make judgements about you the first few seconds they lay eyes on you. In youth football MOST of the people you see at games and practices aren’t going to be spending much time with you getting to know you. If you look like Charles Manson and have accumulated 300,000 miles on the local tattoo parlor frequent flyer program, many people are going to dismiss you without bothering to find anything about you.
First impressions are important; they can make or break most youth football coaches. It all goes to credibility, does the person coaching these kids pass the “5 second smell test.” Many people either don’t have the time or won’t make the time to try to determine what’s inside the wrapper if the wrapper is a mess. While we may not like that character flaw in mankind, we can’t ignore that it exists. Individuality and self determination is the cornerstone of our great country, but remember that football is a team game. Think about your appearance, how does it aid or detract from your ability to coach effectively? How does it aid or detract from you developing a positive view from your audience? Remember how important it is to develop trust and buy in from BOTH your players AND parents. Is it helping or detracting from you getting buy in?
In football, do we require that all players wear the same gold and black uniform, but then allow one player to wear a white uniform? How about letting the kids just wear a provocative t-shirt instead of the uniform? How about that grunge kid, do we let him wear a tattered practice jersey so he can make a “statement ?” Do we make parts of the uniform optional? Do we let kids stand out on game day by letting them wear earrings, face paint, wear capes, put on body paint, wear helmets backwards, sag pants and chew tobacco on the sidelines? If we don’t allow the kids to do any of this, then why allow the coaches to do the very same thing ?
Can you be a great coach and a great person and be tatted from head to toe? Sure. The same goes for guys that; sag, wear hats backwards, have piercings, wear tattered shorts, chew or smoke tobacco on the sidelines, wear grillz or wear tattered t-shirts with racy messages on them. But how do all of these things make you a better coach or make your job easier? How does it enhance your YOUTH COACHING reputation or the reputation of your team? What exactly does purposely standing out from the crowd in a team environment say about you?
I have no problem with my coaches doing or wearing any of the above when they are away from our team, but their appearance on the field impacts how people view them and our team. I want my coaches to be taken seriously and respected. I want my coaches to check their ego at the door and do what’s best for the kids and the team, I’m not sure drawing attention to oneself really does that.
Some teams coaches wear matching gear, that’s great if you can do it. Uniformity just says you take your job seriously. Other teams ask their coaches to wear the team colors in a polo style shirt and wear khaki style pants. In some areas shorts are acceptable or even preferred. In some areas jeans are looked down upon. It’s up to the head coach to determine what makes the most sense and let the coaching staff know what is acceptable.
For my teams all I ask is that we wear a polo style shirt in either of the team colors or a team t-shirt. It doesn’t matter to me if they wear shorts or pants as long as they are clean, not cut off or tattered. Here in Nebraska, clean non tattered bluejeans (not torn, stained or tattered work jeans) are acceptable. Caps are turned face front and no bandanas. Earrings are fine, but not at practice and games and massive full tats need to be covered. I have nothing against tats, my dad had a big snake with a knife through it on his forearm, a souvenir of his Navy days. But tats that cover the entire arm, neck or body or are of a provocative nature, probably need to be covered with long sleeves and long pants. We once had an incredible offensive line coach who had full sleeves on both arms, pretty scary looking guy- but wasn’t. He got such a better reaction once we convinced him to cover up his tats. We don’t allow guys to sag, wear grillz or to smoke or chew tobacco either. In Nebraska it’s not acceptable for them to wear anything but tennis shoes, no flip flops are allowed.
Now are all well dressed coaches good credible guys? Goodness no, but that isn’t the point. The point is you have just one chance to make a first impression and it needs to be a good one. Put the team first, be a team guy when it comes to coaching youth football. There are plenty of other times and places you can flaunt your rebel individualism.
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