The goal of this blog is to equip and empower youth football coaches so they may be more effective coaches which in turn improves the youth football experience of thousands of young men. One way to get better is to learn from those coaches that have had significant success, that is why we interview coaches like Andrew Goodyear from Jupiter, Florida.
Andrew coaches in the very competitive Pop Warner Treasure Coast Youth Football League that has consistently had teams out of it win those elusive Pop Warner National Championships just down the road two hours away in Orlando. Many youth coaches I see like to complain that they are handicapped by poor players, lack of facilities or equipment, terrible parents or weak assistant coaches.
None of us is in the perfect situation, no matter the location. The consistently successful youth coaches always finds a way to field competitive teams, no matter the circumstances. Andrew Goodyear’s circumstance requires him to coach from a wheelchair. Just think of how many times you teach your youth football players by demonstrating a drill or technique yourself. Imagine the teaching and communication skills a coach coaching out of a wheelchair must have. Andrew doesn’t look at his wheelchair as a hindrance, he uses it to his advantage and he has been very successful over his 14 year career. He is considered to be one of the best youth coaches in Florida and is very well liked and respected by his peers, anyone that has met Andrew can call him friend.
Andrew is the very first to win the Winning Youth Football “Gold Standard” Award. This award is presented to youth football coaches who show consistent success with their teams over the long haul both on and off the field.
Many thanks to Andrew for submitting to the interview.
How long have you been coaching youth football and how many years as a head coach?
I have been coaching Pop Warner tackle football for the past 14 years. The first 2 years I was an assistant and the last 12 I have been a head coach. My coaching experience has been from Pee Wee all the way up to Midget.
What are some of the highlights of your coaching “career”?
The best highlight is the fact that I have had a positive influence in the lives of over 300 young men that I have had the privilege of coaching over the last 14 years. As a head coach, I have had only 1 losing season, my teams have made the playoffs in 10 of the 12 years and have won the conference championship 3 times.
Do you have a mission statement for your team or for yourself as a coach?
If so what is it?
My mission is for my players to have a positive experience and to teach them life lessons they will remember long after their playing days are over.
In your opinion what should the goals of the youth football coach be?
The #1 goal of a youth coach should be for his players to learn the game of football and have a positive experience. I ask my players to do what they believe they cannot thereby building confidence, self esteem and discipline which is far more important than a win or a loss.
How do you judge yourself as a coach?
I judge myself as a coach by how well I prepare, practice, and execute in order to maximize the success of each of my players and my team as a whole. I do everything in my power to create opportunities for my players to be successful on and off the football field.
What are the top 5 reasons teams you have coached have been so consistently successful?
1. I make it fun while asking my players to maximize their ability and effort.
2. I prepare in every way possible (film, scouting, practice planning, etc.) to maximize the talent I have.
3. I lead by example, remain calm, and display leadership even in the toughest of
moments. My players rally around me because, no matter what the circumstance, I show them that I believe which leads them to believe.
4. The fact that I have overcome the many obstacles and limitations of my disability and have done so with determination and a smile on my face gives my players the confidence to overcome seemingly insurmountable tasks.
5. I have an understanding of what works at this level and I continue to learn by keeping an open mind to additional ways I can improve my skills.
What are the top 5 reasons in your opinion why so many youth football coaches fail?
1. They lose focus of why they are there
2. They don’t understand the impact that negative behavior has on the kids
3. They focus only on winning not on player development
4. They fail to gain respect from the parents through lack of organization, a mission, and effective communication.
5. The players aren’t having fun
You use a wheelchair all the time, what are the challenges you face coaching from a wheelchair?
Clearly, the largest challenge I face is not being able to physically demonstrate drills and techniques.
How do you transfer knowledge to your players without doing demos yourself?
Great assistant coaches! Actually, I am able to demonstrate blocking and running angles by moving my wheelchair, but specific physical footwork and stance examples are handled by my assistants. I make sure my players understand that every drill has a purpose. When I am not actively doing a drill, I take the opportunity to share specific observations and team philosophies with my players while they are waiting in line.
What are some other creative things you have to do to overcome coaching from a wheelchair?
I have to have plastic bags easily accessible so I don’t short circuit my power wheelchair in the frequent South Florida rain! Also, I have to be very skilled at getting out of the way when a play is coming to my sideline. My players know never to stand behind coach!
Does coaching from a wheelchair offer you any advantages?
The main advantage that comes to mind is that when I talk with my players I am at their eye level which helps build rapport. Also, my players recognize that nothing stops me so it gives them the confidence to overachieve.
What advice would you give to a first year youth football coach?
Make sure you lose your ego and get advice from experienced coaches about practice planning and drills that work at the youth level. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
What advice would you give to a veteran coach that is struggling on a consistent basis?
Make an objective self evaluation and ask for honest input from other coaches familiar with your team. Don’t be afraid to change.
What is your best memory as a coach?
My best memory as a coach was a practice I had a few years ago while we were preparing for a championship game in which we were heavy underdogs. I was running a scout offense against our first defense and was using mostly our least talented players. I had a Russian kid named Yuri who always gave 110%, but just didn’t have many skills. I absolutely loved his heart and determination to succeed and he was, by far, our most improved player that year. I lined him up at receiver and had my quarterback run a play action pass and we threw him a 25 yard touchdown. The entire team recognized how much that touchdown meant to Yuri. Everyone erupted in screams and ran to the endzone to celebrate with him. His teammates carried him all the way back to the huddle. Anyone watching would have thought we had just won the national championship! We didn’t win the national championship that year, but two days later we did win the conference championship in a massive upset.
From Gary Byerly the President of the Treasure Coast League
The Treasure Coast has 3,200 football players 1,000 cheerleaders and approximately 1,725 volunteers.
What are Andrews’s biggest accomplishments coaching in your league?
Andrew has many accomplishments, but what stands out most is his consistent success over his 14 years of coaching with whatever talent he has. He coaches in a small town that has average talent yet he finds a way to be successful year after year.
What impresses you most about Andrew?
He teaches the kids all aspects of the game from how to make a great block to how to be a great sport in any situation. It is fun to watch him stay calm under pressure and out coach teams with twice the talent that he has.
Do you have any special memories of working with Andrew?
Any time I am with Andrew is a positive experience. He is a great person, friend, mentor and coach. A special memory for me happened this past season. Andrew’s players asked him if they could wear pink socks during the game to honor breast cancer awareness. At practice the next night, he passed out the socks to his players and his Center asked permission to address the team and Andrew said sure not knowing what was about to be said. The player stood up in front of the team and thanked them for wearing the socks. He then proceeded to tell his teammates that we weren’t just playing for breast cancer awareness, but rather for his mom who passed away 6 years earlier from breast cancer.
What about the way Andrew Coaches could other youth coaches learn from?
I’m not sure where to start. He is positive, very organized, knows the game well, and is always willing to learn from others. He is a great teacher and mentor. If you listen and watch Andrew you will learn a lot and you will quickly realize he is class act in everything he does. In my eyes he is one of the best coaches in youth football in the Country.