Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Participation Trophies For Youth Football More On Why I'm Not a Fan

Dealing with parents when coaching youth football










Participation Trophies, for youth football, I’m not a fan. In my program we do not award trophies for participating. We are not YMCA every game ends in a tie- we don’t keep score soccer thing. While we make sure to be inclusive in practice and have fun, we compete in everything we do because that is what makes our teams better and it simulates what our players will see in the real world

. While finishing the season and attending practice are very good things that teach consistency and commitment, things a player can take pride in- that will not earn you a shiny trophy at my program. Just like just showing up will rarely get you a promotion at work and a great GPA in college.

At school and your place of work, showing up is expected, you don’t get a “prize” just for being there. Unfortunately many of our youth are being trained by society that they should be rewarded and celebrated for “showing up.” I overheard someone in a restaurant talking about having to take off of work to attend a Kindergarten “graduation.” Are you serious? How does someone not “graduate” from Kindergarten? Did they color outside the lines or not nap well during nap time? Did they not pass the final exam on how to tie their shoes properly? Seriously, these days we are celebrating something any person that can breathe can do.

What’s next awards for not getting hit by a bus? For being able to breathe, go the restroom, wake up before noon? Mediocrity is being celebrated  to make kids feel good about themselves. But what happens when Junior goes off to college or gets a real job and there is no one standing over his shoulder patting him on the back for doing what every able bodied person is expected to consistently do as an absolute minimum threshold for continuation of that gig?

Kids today are being shielded from adversity and disappointment. Well meaning but crippling “helicopter parents” are raising a generation of kids who will be reliant on their parents for support and resentful of those who don’t celebrate their every breath. A generation of self indulgent kids who feel entitled to “awards” they have not earned and kids who feel resentful of those who win the awards in real life. Don’t believe me? CBS did a study and polls and most Millenials do not think they are “adults” until age 30: //www.dailywire.com/news/14747/what-age-do-millennials-consider-themselves-adults-aaron-bandler

That’s one of the reasons I love the true meritocracy of youth football. There is a clear winner and loser in each game. Well coached teams take the field with the players that give them the best chance to win. The game is a competition with a very visible scoreboard, clearly showing the results for all to see. When coached well, youth football can help kids compete on the field and more importantly in life.

For us we encourage competition. Every drill has a winner and a loser. From who can get their first foot down the quickest to who has the best angle and pad level on a blocking fit. Kids love and thrive on competition.  A player doesn’t have to be a great athlete to have the best stance, be the first in line or win against his opponent in the board drill, but he does have to listen and effort well. The player has to be focused, work hard, be consistent, beccoachable and effort to get the most out of what he has to compete well.

Trophies are for achieving excellence. Only Championship Banners hang from our fence- and we only award trophies for teams that have won championships. It doesn’t mean that your kids are losers because they weren’t champions, it means your team did not achieve a level of excellence that was worthy of winning a championship.We dont hand out trophies for showing up. That isnt how it happens in the real world- yet (thank goodness) On a personal basis I’m a HUGE fan of playing outstanding fundamental football- playing well. When you do that, over time the wins and championships will take care of themselves.

Here is how a College Baseball coach feels about participation trophies and how they are hurting kids in the long run:


Youth Football- the Winning Way.Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan Book

Youth Football Coaching Book
Winning Youth Football Book

About The Author

Related posts

1 Comment

  1. Gabe Peterson

    Good post!

    I try to see both sides. For the sake of argument I will say that we live in a time where 70% of our society is overweight. If a kid is encouraged by a $5 trophy after dedicating 70-80 hours of practice/exercise then I’m all for it. As long as they know it is for participation and not “winning” then so be it. When I look at high school sports and the tradition of the “Letter Jacket” which is essentially given for reaching a minimum level of participation. In the grand scheme of things it is a time honored tradition to show one’s participation.

    Gabe Peterson


Leave a Reply

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