Some youth football coaches reading this post suffered through a difficult season last year and are looking to implement change. Many look to the Parent Organization as the reason their season was so poor. Just like anything else in life, there are well run Organizations and poorly run ones. Just like there are well run restaurants and hardware stores and poorly run ones.
I’ve seen many frustrated coaches build Organizations within their Organization to solve the problem. That can work, but it is extremely difficult to do and requires a tremendous amount of time. If your Organization is decentralized and loosely run, you may be able to make it work. However if your Program has any hands on management at all, they may quash your efforts and view them as a slap in the face.
If you choose this route make sure you have a detailed plan in place and that you have the resources to accomplish your plan. Share with the Organization leadership what your concerns are and how you plan on solving the issues. Don’t present it in an aggressive fashion, but in a cooperative way as a method to lessen their work load. Don’t expect to get much help, if you choose to go off on your own, they will expect you to get the work done by yourself.
Some change agents are motivated to move an entire organization in a new and different direction. If that is your goal, you will have to be good at playing politics. If you have a lot of allies who are like minded on the Board or can get a slate of common minded people on the Board, then you may have a chance. Unfortunately, some of that is easier said than done. Many youth football programs purposely have rules that severely limit the ability of new people to be put on the Board.
While there are a good number of poorly run programs out there, many are run pretty well. The challenges an all-volunteer program faces are many, with a good many of those challenges resting out of their control. Nothing in youth sports will ever be perfect and it seems to attract a tiny subset of people that just live for drama. There will be people like that in any youth sports program, no matter how perfect you do everything. Little Johnny isn’t starting and his dad doesn’t like it, big deal. Tommy’s mom doesn’t like Trayvon’s mom, who cares. I once had a coach tell me he thought his programs finances were way out of whack because they were charging the kids $120, they were providing the equipment too. I told his the finances WERE way out of whack, the average cost to play in the US in 2013 was over $250 per player and the price he was paying was ridiculously cheap. Yes man parents and coaches don’t understand the costs, leadership or effort required to run a successful program.
However if the coaching is consistently poor, coaches are acting inappropriately,equipment isn’t safe or handed out in a timely fashion, nepotism is overt and rampant, maybe it’s time for a change. Another alternative is just change Organizations. In many parts of the country including where I live, there are multiple programs that players can choose to play for. If the Program you’re in isn’t a good fit for you, maybe a different one would be. Do your research, go watch that Program practice or play games. You can tell very quickly if it’s going to be a fit or not. If you can’t watch them play or practice, talk to LOTS of parents and their coaches and ask talk to them. Ask the coaches what they are trying to accomplish, what the mission of the program is. Talk about whatever concerns you so you go in with a clear understanding of what you are getting yourself into.
We live in a reset generation, kids have so many options today. In 2014, if a kid has a bad experience with youth football, he may just move onto something else, or nothing at all. Choose wisely. If all that fails and you have the skills and resources you can always just start your own program. I did it twice from scratch. It’s a lot of work but can be very rewarding, my free 170 page e-book on how to do it step by step: http://winningyouthfootball.com/startinganewyouthfootballprogram.php
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