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AsianChexMix

How To Deal With Insecurity As A Coach?

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I recently stepped down from coaching a team because of my responsibilities as a tournament coordinator for another flag football event but I must admit that it was also partially because I am insecure about my knowledge in football as a coach. I never played football and as much as I enjoy it, I still am concerned about being a coach since I really don't know how to coach. Am I overthinking this? Is the only real way to get better at coaching is to be a coach?

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Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays

I think it depends upon the age group you're coaching; at the younger rec league levels it shouldn't be an absolute requirement. The obvious advantage of having played football is the experience you could draw upon giving you a reference point when teaching certain skills. The other advantage is being able to show the kids how to do something. I never played soccer as a kid, but coached K-4 at the rec levels successfully. I read books, watched vids, asked for more experienced coaches advice, and used parents who'd played soccer to demonstrate certain skills for me. I'm sure the same thing would work in flag football.

Growing up, my best tennis coach was an overweight guy who I could beat easily on a regular basis, however, he sure knew how to motivate me. He could see things I couldn't and was able to tweak my game, even though he wasn't a star player.

I've seen my fair share of "experienced coaches" who played a sport through college yet didn't understand how to coach. Having played the sport doesn't always guarantee good coaching skills.

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I think Rob is right. Personally I have a lot of experience as a flag football player (through college) and almost none in baseball. Yet, I was able to coach both very easily through the younger levels. As the skill levels started to increase I found that my football experience really helped me psychologically as a coach. On the other hand I felt inadequate as a baseball coach. For me, having been there helps me to push the kids harder and also understand and know what needs to be done. In baseball its more book knowledge which I truly think can be effective but is harder to translate with confidence. Like Rob I think you can read up, learn from others and such and be just as good as coaches who have played a lot.

Of course there is a lot more to coaching than teaching individual skills. There is strategy, motivation, organization. Most of those traits are independent of actual playing experience.

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That's really reassuring because I was slowly evaluating myself about how well I did as a coach last year. I made mistakes but as a first time coaching, I wasn't terribly bad. Perhaps I am being my own worst critic. I saw people wanted to play and motivate them to play and the fact that most of them didn't quit when it was easy to do so during the tough play conditions. I guess I was really worried about being unknowledgeable about specific techniques and such but I guess it is something that you can study on. Technique can be taught but desire and passion can't.

Rob, I like that story about your tennis coach. You wouldn't think that an overweight guy can be a great tennis coach but I guess it's those intangibles that you have to motivate that make a great coach.

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Rob, I like that story about your tennis coach. You wouldn't think that an overweight guy can be a great tennis coach but I guess it's those intangibles that you have to motivate that make a great coach.
Yeah, he was one of those guys that would hit everything back. Frustrated the heck out of a young buck who wanted to smash every shot down the line.

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Asian--I played football and ironically I would say I put little--if any--experience of that into my coaching. If anything, I might use some motivation techniques that I learned from various coaches I played for, but when it comes to strategy, I don't feel it has given me any advantage whatsoever.

You have to understand that most coaches (at least the ones I've been around) typically will lose their first season. It has very little to do with lack of football knowledge, but instead lack of coaching knowledge. I've also noticed that about 1/2 coaches will stop coaching after their first season. I've talked with many who have stopped coaching, and it in all candor, they told me they stopped because they "can't take the losing."

I've seen it dozens of times. New coaches who know a lot about football show up for their first game with quite a few skilled players, the coach and parents are all decked out in their team color/logo, they have a cool pre-game chant and a game plan that just can't lose. Then the whistle blows and they are thoroughly man-handled, and frankly they get embarrassed. In my VERY FIRST play as a coach--we scored a long TD (and we won the game). I thought I had it all figured out, but then the beat-downs started coming from more experienced teams/coaches. I befriended quite a few of them, and tapped into their knowledge. I'd ask them to grade my team after we played. What we did well, and where they saw holes in us, etc.

The best advice I ever received was actually on this forum. And that was to tweak my playbook to my personnel (and not vice-versa). It sounds simple, but my first season I was focused on executing MY PLAYS instead of constantly finding ways to tailor the offense to my players' strengths. Of course now that I have had the same players for so long, I walk into each season knowing their strengths, but even now I'm excited to see who got faster, who can catch better, etc.

It's really just a matter of figuring out what works, and what doesn't work. This in itself takes a season or two. So to answer your question---yes. The only way to get better as a coach, is to be a coach. At least that is my belief.

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This topic is really good, I like the direction its taking, Johnp2 words are really good and motivating for guys like me that are just rookies going into our second season. I think that one season as a coach isn’t enough time really determinate if you are meant to be a good coach or not, or even meant to be a coach at all, I would give myself some more time to determine that.

Everybody that goes into coaching or gets involved on any new activity has to be aware that there is a learning curve or learning period involved, at my first season as coach I was very aware of this even tough I had several years of experienced playing street football with my buddies and tackle football at youth years, one of the thing I learned at this first season is that being a good player doesn’t make you a good coach or the other way around, my brother for instance is really a good soccer coach, but he is the lousiest player on earth, in fact he doesn’t like at all playing the sport he is coaching..

My first years as coach was basically learning and learning and I expect that to continue for some time before I can really get somewhere with my team, there is a popular saying “Rome was not built over night”, I think it’s pretty much the same for everything, including our business here, coaching, is all about being architects, I think it’s all about building for ourselves so we can build for our players.

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This is very encouraging stuff. I mean as I think about it, I'm really not stepping down because I hate failure. Honestly, I'd rather have failure and learn something than not have it at all. Sometimes we need to get our behinds handed to us to re-evaluate things. I don't mind losing but I guess my sense of pride of "being the football lover" and being insecure if my tactics/strategies will be executable. I LOVE the chess match in football and I do feel that it's something that might be something I can use to my advantage as I tend to look at things at different levels and areas.

I guess after some self reflection (and a loss of a good night's sleep...heh) that I realized that I am a decent coach since there were people who began to love the game of football as I did and that's what I truly wanted to impart. People are saying they are excited so perhaps I did SOMETHING right and we did win a game. To be honest, personnel definitely helped with that but I guess my main concern was learning the techniques of football since I do not have any personal experience other than lineman play (I'm a big dude so that's where they put me).

With all this being said, I think this topic is definitely beneficial and I think I won't be able to NOT coach but since I do have other responsibilities, I do think not being a head coach would be beneficial in getting the other tournament organized.

I'm sure that this topic has been helpful for those who perhaps stumbled across this forum and did not register to read. I'm sure they loved this insight. Thanks guys and I can't wait to help my girls this year again.

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Agreed--this is a good topic. (Schann, you might consider putting this in the 'Where to Start' thread.)

I'm glad to see that you will be back on the field when time permits. At the end of the day, anyone who volunteers their time in the community to help with youth sports is doing something great. Something that is very much needed in every community. Just the fact that you have a desire to make a difference ensures you are successful, regardless of the win/loss record.

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I like where this is going. I think we have all lacked a little confidence at one time or another as coaches and certainly we have made our share of mistakes over the years.

I agree with John in regards to the losing. Many coaches can't take it and it is amazing how much pressure can come from the parents to win at this level. They usually care more about it than the kids.

I think that the most important things to have as a head coach is a philosophy (whatever that may be) stick with it and do what you think is correct because if you start making acceptions you lose your players respect.

Always keep your mind open to new things. Some of the best coaches that I have had the pleasure of associating with at the youth level were always open to learning new things. They never thought they were that great and knew it all. They understood that it was a process. I think many coaches are adverse to buying videos or books and I admit that at times I have felt like they were a waste of $30 or $40, but I finally realized that even if I only learned one new thing from a video it helped to make me a better coach. I also learned a lot from other coaches. I would hang around and watch other games and practices and pick up drills and ideas about game management that way and if I got the opportunity I would ask them questions about why they ran certain drills, offenses, defenses, etc. Lastly, I think being organized and running a tight practice is something that you learn over time and become better at and it really makes a difference in your players development. I would take things from our games that I saw and didn't like and then I would look for drills on the internet or find a video that covered it so that I could run drills to help correct those problems.

Having played a sport doesn't necessarily make you a good coach. It may give you an advantage on teaching fundamental skills but it doesn't give you the experience of mananging a team, running practices or being effective on game day.

I will pin this topic so that it stays on top as one of the first topics.

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I think this is why I was so successful last year with our team, I was EXTREMELY organized. I literally had a practice by practice breakdown of what I had planned for our team and even tried to measure it with timing as well. I think the area of growth for me is really learning to motivate players because at the end of the day, I will be one of the most knowledgeable people on our team. I mainly focus on coaching teen girls since I like to give equal opportunity and to show that they can do things and hopefully boost their self esteem and self confidence, two areas in which teen girls tend to struggle with a lot.

What are some things that you remind yourself when you have moments of self doubt about coaching? I was trying to do some positive self talk but I didn't want to be delusional about it but what are some focus areas for positive self talk?

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If you talk to other coaches, you'll find that almost all of them have doubted their coaching abilities at some point along the way. I think that's just part of the gig. Can't tell you how many times over the past 25 seasons (all sports - not just football) I've wanted to hang it up for one reason or another. If we had access to the data on how many new coaches quit in the first two seasons, I bet the results would be staggering.

I think coaches can get frustrated or feel inadequate for all kinds of reasons, not just their technical coaching abilities. Some examples: running into funky opposing coach's season after season, refs who don't care, league directors who don't care, parents who think their kids are the next John Elway, kids with attitudes, parents with attitudes, poorly run leagues, lack of proper training, philosophical differences with assistants, and so on.

What saved my bacon early on was establishing a coaching philosophy, surrounding myself with others (coaches, parents and kids) who shared the same philosophy, and then asking those people to hold me accountable when I strayed from our philosophy.

Turns out, those were the folks who kept me going when I felt like giving up. Found out this coaching gig works a lot better when you're not flying solo.

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AsianChexMix,

Self talk is very important. One of the hardest things is taking the ego out of it. Once you remove the ego its becomes about your players.

You can't be about your players if your focusing on yourself. Coach Rob is correct. You have to have a philosophy that you believe in so that you have something to fall back on when times our tough and they will get tough no matter what your doing. I call it my mission but you have to stay focused on the mission. Be reflective, a mirror reflects without distortion or judgement. Reflect what comes into your life without judgements or opinions. What I mean by that is be reflective in an unattached way. See it for what it is and work with it. As coaches I think many times we become way to attached. Be it winning, running a certain drill a certain way, etc. it becomes difficult to see outside of the box.

Banish doubt. Doubt is what will hold you back from taking the chance to try something new and different. Doubt will make you stray from your philosophy and will cause you to be inconsistant in your coaching decisions. I continually tell my players the same thing. When you doubt yourself and don't play with confidence it hurts you and the team. Do not be affraid to make a mistake, as the coaches aren't going to get down on you for making mistakes when your playing all out, they are going to get down on you when you hesitate because your affraid to make a mistake.

Be Kind. I am not only talking about being kind to others which is what we usually think about. But be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the opportunity to not be perfect. (one way of removing the ego). Be kind to your team. Think about it, if you have a boss that is a jerk, you may do things because you have to to keep your job, but you sure aren't going to go out of your way to cooperate with him. Same goes for your team. There is a difference between being disciplined and being mean. Your players will play much harder and more at ease if you are kind.

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Be Kind. I am not only talking about being kind to others which is what we usually think about. But be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the opportunity to not be perfect. (one way of removing the ego). Be kind to your team. Think about it, if you have a boss that is a jerk, you may do things because you have to to keep your job, but you sure aren't going to go out of your way to cooperate with him. Same goes for your team. There is a difference between being disciplined and being mean. Your players will play much harder and more at ease if you are kind.

I agree wholeheartedly with this! When I first started coaching football, I really anticipated that I was going to be a very strict coach. Players must say "Yes sir!", take a knee when I am speaking, run laps until they puke, etc. Then much to my surprise I found out that I am very much a "player's coach". This does not mean I don't instill discipline (in fact I believe we are far away the most disciplined team in our league), but it's HOW you go about doing it. Instead, I ensure I get complete buy in from my players on most matters.

A small example is our huddle. Seasons ago, I instructed my team that I wanted them to put their hands on their hips while in the huddle. One of the players raised his hands and said, "Coach, I don't know about doing that. I think it makes us look sassy." Instead of telling the player that he'll put his hands on his hips and like it, I decided to do something else. I told the kids for the most part, I don't care what they do in the huddle, but it must look professional, and everyone has to do it. I asked them to come up with ideas and we'll vote as a team on it. The kids all agreed and voted on putting their arms around each others shoulder in the huddle, as it signified 'unity'. I thought it was pretty cool, and noticed my players are the only ones that do that.

Being a dictator is the easy way. Finding ways for your players to appreciate and buy into discipline is the real challenge, and very satisfying when you accomplish it.

It turns my stomach to see the way some of the coaches in our league treat their players. I know they think they are doing the right thing, but continually losing your cool and humiliating your players. Really?

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It turns my stomach to see the way some of the coaches in our league treat their players. I know they think they are doing the right thing, but continually losing your cool and humiliating your players. Really?

I agree but I am also going on record to say that I too was one of those coaches at one point. I am 46 and grew up in the era when that was the way coaches did it. In your face, calling you names, etc.. That always motivated me and made me work harder.

So when I first began coaching I thought, hey it worked for me, I am going to be the same kind of coach. Well hello, wake up call, we are talking about an entirely different generation not to mention the fact that these are 6-10 year olds were talking about.

I didn't have that to fall back on because in me generation kids sports weren't taken so seriously. We went out and had fun and played the games more on our own than in any organized manner.

So after a year of coaching through soccer, basketball and baseball, I was surprised when my oldest (daughter) didn't want to play anymore. When I discussed it with her, it became really clear to me how my methods were not working.

I promised her that I was going to take her criticism to heart and things would be different. If I am being honest it was not an immediate change but I would quickly catch myself and change my approach. Bottom line, through my 20 years or so of coaching I was always learning and growing.

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It turns my stomach to see the way some of the coaches in our league treat their players. I know they think they are doing the right thing, but continually losing your cool and humiliating your players. Really?

I agree but I am also going on record to say that I too was one of those coaches at one point. I am 46 and grew up in the era when that was the way coaches did it. In your face, calling you names, etc.. That always motivated me and made me work harder.

Yep, that was pretty much the way I was coached (probably starting around eight grade) and I'm 40 so we are somewhat from the same era. I remember two-a-days in the hot Texas sun, and our punishment was no water. :o

For me, I think it started when I first coached. I had 3-4 year old co-ed soccer, and even then I saw coaches yell at their players and remember thinking, "wow".

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Great topic (to echo everyone else).

My first season coaching, I was a year out of high school coaching my friends' younger brothers in a community basketball league. We lost our first game by 38 (42-4) and our second by 20. Needless to say I wasn't all that confident. But while I was not all that confident, two of the parents (both of them about twice my age) came over to express appreciation and confidence in what I was doing, and I stuck with it.

Then came my first stint at Flag Football, a few years ago, where I got 'drafted' by the YMCA because the coach for my son's team quit. I have to say, I prefer playing basketball, but I prefer coaching football. It's been a learning curve, but now I'm the "veteran" coach.

There are alot of coaching styles. I start each season off by reminding the players about our two most important rules, which they echo back to me. Rule number one - listen to the coach. Rule number two - do your job. I've found that I'm not a hardcore pound-pound sort of coach, I play around some during practice. But my teams have responded to that, so I guess it's okay.

And I get alot of hugs, which isn't bad. Sure, I'm a forty-something (okay, 42 in 3 weeks) guy, and I'm coaching kids 9-12, but I do love these kids and their attitudes. The parents tend to love the enthusiasm and the affection, which is always a good thing to have their support.

Coaching has to be done in order to do it well, like pretty much everything else. You need to learn your style, and blend it with the skills and talents of the kids you have. Read, study, learn, research, all of that is vital. It's not like you need to study 30 hours a week during the season, but some studying off-season is good and keep your mind active in things to let your imagination go to work for you.

I started out in coaching scared of what might come to pass. This season, I'm coaching only one team. My first time coaching only one team in over 2-1/2 years. I used to stress about finding time to do everything. Now? I'm missing my other teams.

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Hi, I'm Greg and I'm a first time flag football coach that got his but handed to him in the first game. I got a lot of learning to do. I have my playbook a defense plan, my problem is I don't know hoe to execute it.

Didn't sleep well last night thinking of all the things we need to work on, but in our league they discourage any official practices as it puts to much pressure on the parents. Kinda of makes it hard as a first time coach with all new players. But I'm not giving up, it's just my style not too. I bought a 5v5 playbook online for $25 to get some ideas, it helped but I tweaked a lot of the plays.

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you can't work on everything. make a list of things you want to work on and prioritize it. the other teams probably have experienced players, which you don't have. coach accordingly and look for positive signs of improvement.

i understand, but don't understand the "no practice" philosophy. yes, you want it to be fun, but it's not fun when you have a team that isn't having fun because they can't practice.

Hi, I'm Greg and I'm a first time flag football coach that got his but handed to him in the first game. I got a lot of learning to do. I have my playbook a defense plan, my problem is I don't know hoe to execute it.

Didn't sleep well last night thinking of all the things we need to work on, but in our league they discourage any official practices as it puts to much pressure on the parents. Kinda of makes it hard as a first time coach with all new players. But I'm not giving up, it's just my style not too. I bought a 5v5 playbook online for $25 to get some ideas, it helped but I tweaked a lot of the plays.

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Didn't sleep well last night thinking of all the things we need to work on, but in our league they discourage any official practices as it puts to much pressure on the parents. Kinda of makes it hard as a first time coach with all new players.
If you focus on making sure the kids are having FUN and learning vs the scoreboard, you'll sleep better. The more organized you are for practice, the better you'll feel. I always have a plan written down with extra drills/ideas at the bottom in case my plan just isn't working. I keep the practice moving at a good pace and involve parents to help run drills. Get an assistant if you haven't already, that will help too.

With regards to the "official practices", I'm assuming you're in i9 and they discourage practices outside the 1 hr practice before each game. Is that correct? So, you still get the one hour practice before each game.

I got around this by asking parents to show up 20 minutes early for the first few practices. If you explain that you're trying to cover a lot of ground and make sure their kids are ready for the games, I'm sure most would be happy to show up early once in a while.

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the biggest mistake i see new coaches make in flag football is assuming its like tackle football.

i coach my defense to force players to the middle so that if they miss they don't screen their teammates. it also allows more guys on defense a chance to pull the flag.

field position matters a lot less in flag because at the youth level most of the TDs come from a single big play.

most of the big plays occur when a runner gets to the sideline or when a receiver gets past the defense.

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