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caneincgfl

Advice For Coach/parent

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My son plays in several flag leagues but I don't always coach his team. This season he is not on my team. The coaches for his team are good guys and he enjoys playing for them. However, the team has a quirk that I'm curious how you would handle if it was you as a parent. The quirk is that they split the kids into offense/defense. The defensive guys never play offense and never handle the ball unless they make an interception. How would you handle this if you were a parent and you wanted to see everyone get the ball and all kids on offense and defense? Would you: (1) say and do nothing; or (2) have a talk with the head coach, or (3) something else? My son hasn't complained and likes being on the team but it frustrates me a little to watch this. There was no parent meeting with the coach so there was no up-front expectation about how things like this would be handled.

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If it's a rec league with a bent towards fun, ball touches, and learning, I would probably say something.

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Isn't flag by its very nature rec?? Is there really what you would call a select league in flag?

If my son was fine with it and was enjoying it I probably wouldn't say anything. But in general I think that this is a poor approach. Let's be honest everyone once the opportunity to do something with the ball.

Just my two cents, but an interesting thread.

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It's a rec league. I think it just doesn't occur to the coaches that they should get everyone involved on both sides of the ball. They are trying to win the games and have found a system that works for them. It's bothered me more lately because we have blown out some lesser opponents and this would have been a good time to spread the ball around without any concerns about whether we would win or lose.

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Again I don't get it. It's a game. I get the parents getting all caught up in winning (well not really) but I have come to realize that that's the reality, but as a coach, I can't see getting all caught up in winning or losing. The longer I coached the less I got worked up before a big game. I was just concerned about our players executing the game plan and learning the game and seeing the joy in the facing while playing the game. My players wanted to do well and win and that is all you can ask of them. They have to have enough confidence in you as a coach to make mistakes and know that it's part of the learning process.

As a coach you should be above all of that. It's only a game. Your career doesn't revolve around winning the "big" game. Your only job as a coach is to build the self-esteem of your players, build up their self confidence as a player and teach them how to do the right thing by leading by example. There is nothing wrong with losing, in fact it happens in every game. What you need to be concerned with is if your players gave up and quit and aren't getting better, not the outcome of a game that will be forgotten about by the time the next one starts.

We have parents paying thousands upon thousands of dollars on training and travel teams all so that little Johnnie can become the next All-American and the reality is that few than 5% of these kids are going to even play in high school, instead of teaching them to love the game for what it is - a game. When we should be more concerned with teaching our players good values and the importance of team work and doing the right thing.

How is that you can not prepare 10 or 14 kids or whatever is is that your carrying to play both sides of the ball in a flag football game and then execute the game plan that you have put in place? I don't want to dog this coach as he is probably more the norm than the exception anymore, but more as a point to you. You have seen what you don't like so make sure you are above that with the teams you coach and it sounds like you are. I don't think much can be gained by making a big issue of it during the season because that's the coaches philosophy. It does go to show how important having a pre-season meeting with the parents is.

Good luck with the rest of the season, try not to let it get to you and as I always like to say it's a teaching moment for your son on how things are in life and how you just have to make the best of it and continue to work hard on making yourself better.

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Isn't flag by its very nature rec?? Is there really what you would call a select league in flag?

Schann, about ten miles from our house-there actually is a "select" flag football leagues (starting at 5-6 year old). While they don't use the term "select", they treat it like a select league. They have team try-outs, a draft, and there is no guarantee your child will even make a team--and it is 100% about winning. In fact, about seven or eight seasons ago, I had a player who came from that league. I remember after our first practice I emailed the parents that I would start assigning positions in the next practice. This kid's parents got very antsy, sending me a flood of emails about how good their child is ("he can catch on the run"), the experience he has, etc. They even offered to put me in touch with his former coach if I had questions. I told them to relax as everyone would get the ball equally. Ironically, the kid ended up being a mediocre player.

With that, this is an interesting topic. I would probably email the coach and ask him if my son is going to have a chance to play offense during the season. If the coach responded with a tactful, well-thought out response as to his approach (and his intentions seem genuine) then I would leave it at that. If he's terse in his response (or worse yet does not even respond), I would talk to my son and if he wants to keep playing...I'd grin and bear it, and then give your feedback to the league after the season.

Last summer I did not coach my son in a sport (basketball) for the first time since he was four. I was VERY lucky as the coach supported each player being accountable and everyone played equally, etc. The problem was that my wife probably understands basketball more than he did (and that is not a compliment). Regardless I would rather take that extreme with a kind-hearted coach than one who is only concered with winning games.

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Having coached quite a few seasons now, I understand the internal struggle a coach can go through when deciding to go all out for wins or coach the right way and teach the kids about sportsmanship and class. From a coaches standpoint, I can tell you that we all want to win all of the games, but my goal above all else, has always been to get the kids to love the game of football.

For any age under 7th grade I don't understand not trying to get every kid the ball and let them all learn both offense and defense.

Ther's going to be plenty of time in middle school and high school and maybe beyond where the kids can specialize in one particular position, but heck, even in high school most kids play on both sides of the ball!

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Texas D,

I agree 100%. We all do want to win but it's keeping that in check and sticking with your philosophy that means everything. If you preach to the kids to work hard and do their best in practice and in games and then you break from your game plan in a close game you send the wrong message to your team.

Which leads me to another thing that drives me crazy in youth sports. I have started to see this more and more over the last 3 or 4 years. My youngest son has a great player on his 11 year old little league team right now but he has an attitude. He screams at the other players any time they make a mistake and not words of encouragement mind you. The coaches look the other way and I have yet to see any of them address it. To me, I don't care how good the player is. I am not going to allow that kind of a cancer on my team and I don't feel like I am doing right by the kid himself if I allow it.

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Isn't flag by its very nature rec??
You'd think so, huh? I never know these days, which is why I always prequalify with the rec or competitive question. We've kicked this topic around over the years with variations on the theme.

I had a rant on this subject somewhere a while back, couldn't find it. Bottom-line is that coaching the right way in a rec league is a tough gig. The right way to me is making sure the kids are having FUN and learning something, maximizing the ball touches, and like Schann mentioned, don't sacrifice your coaching philosophy for a win.

Not to knock the guys coaching in caneincgfl's example, but when they're blowing out weaker teams, that ain't cool. I'm surprised opposing coaches aren't complaining. In a rec league, the easiest thing to do is play as if you have a competitive team, the harder thing to do is coach the right way.

It boils down to the directors of the league walking around during the games and reinforcing the philosophies set forth by the league. What you make a big deal out of is usually what folks will pay attention to. Along with trophies and medals for winning, rec leagues should hand out awards for the team with the most ball touches or the team that had the most fun.

Don't get me wrong, winning is an important aspect of rec sports. However, if that is the number one priority, it usually leads to disgruntled parents and unsatisfied kids. When a parent comes up and says...

"He never used to like playing football, but now..."

"He bugs me to go out and play catch all the time now"

"She never was good at catching, but now..."

"He wants to come back and play again, when is the next season?"

etc...

...that's a win.

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Rob, I recall your "rant" on this subject. ;-) Actually, it was one of the best-written responses I've ever read on this forum.

I believe every "rec" coach, at some point, will be faced with the decision: coach the right way, or go for wins. Coaching the "right way", IMO is all about player development. That is your focus is as much on the lesser-skilled players as anyone, and you do everything in your power to ensure all players have equal opportunity to decide the outcome of your games. Said differently, you don't simply rely on your top player(s) to carry the team in hopes of winning a game.

Going for wins is not too difficult. You either construct a team of athletes, prevent lesser-skilled players from joining your team, and/or rely on your top player(s) to decide the outcome.

I have been incredibly fortunate. While I don't have a group of talented athletes, I DO have a group of character guys, all of whom have been loyal to our cause for many, many seasons. Due to cohesiveness, we have won championships and remained competetive in the seasons we have not. However, it makes it a LOT more fun when you do succeed, as all the players can look each other in the eye and know that each of them were resonsible for the team's overall success.

There are some incredibly experienced coaches who do believe it is all about winning regardless of the league. That's okay too. After all you do play to the game to win. As long as they don't thump their chests too loudly after defeating a team that is more intent on player development, I'm cool with it.

I mentioned how we have a "select" league around here. A few seasons ago we had a coach in our league who was ALL about winning. So much so, he decided to take his team to the select league so he could "face better competition". He lasted one season in that league, and they did not win a game. Ha! He's now back in our league. It's funny because the only success he can have is to play select football in a rec league.

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A good example of winning versus having fun was our playoff game last week. We played a winless team in the first round, and even though they lost, their coach/kids were having a blast, high 5's on every pull, smiles all around, which started with their coach. The next round we played the best team in the league who has one awesome kid that gets the ball over 75% of the downs. I went radical on defense and had my best two kids on him the whole game. We lost a close game, but the opposing coach was angry that we double covered his star, yelling about it several times during the game. That team honestly was not having any fun, even though they won as their coach was a jackass.

I am less about winning than most coaches here, and while its nice to win, our team and kids don't seem to care for the most part as long as we do our best. My son has been on both undefeated teams and winless teams, and he remembers the kids and coaches more than the wins/losses.

So, cane, if your kid is having fun, and obviously getting better on defense, sit back and smile and remember that having fun is why he plays.

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A good example of winning versus having fun was our playoff game last week. We played a winless team in the first round, and even though they lost, their coach/kids were having a blast, high 5's on every pull, smiles all around, which started with their coach. The next round we played the best team in the league who has one awesome kid that gets the ball over 75% of the downs. I went radical on defense and had my best two kids on him the whole game. We lost a close game, but the opposing coach was angry that we double covered his star, yelling about it several times during the game. That team honestly was not having any fun, even though they won as their coach was a jackass.

I am less about winning than most coaches here, and while its nice to win, our team and kids don't seem to care for the most part as long as we do our best. My son has been on both undefeated teams and winless teams, and he remembers the kids and coaches more than the wins/losses.

So, cane, if your kid is having fun, and obviously getting better on defense, sit back and smile and remember that having fun is why he plays.

patandsu,

I think that's a great example of a great coach and a poor coach. Heck I have been on teams like that as an adult where we were always winning but I didn't enjoy the games at all.

It seems that even though we all talk about not putting the emphasis on winning but at the end of the day we come back to wins and losses in order to measure our success. That's an easy thing to get caught up into. I know there are times when I have taken a loss really hard even though I know I have done the best I can with the group of kids I have.

I can give you an example from my son's little league season. My son's team was the league champions this year in the 12 year old division. But I can tell you that it wasn't because we had the best coaching, it was because we had the best talent. Our coach was a great guy and he obviously did a great job of drafting but on the coaching end we did the same thing over and over in practice. They worked a lot of infield situations but hardly ever worked with the outfielders. We didn't do a whole lot of hitting or working with the pitchers.

There were a couple of other coach's that really stood out to me over everyone else. Their players were always in the right place, they made the right plays, their batting improved over the season, and they were smart on the bases, but in the end they didn't have the pitching or hitting overall that we did. One of those coaches I happened to notice after the last time we played them and had beat them to win the league championship and I could tell he was really down on himself. You could just see that he was beating himself up over not coaching his players better, but the reality is that he actually did a great job with the talent. I actually saw a few of his practices and I was much more impressed by the way he worked with his team.

The point being is that you have to measure your season by the improvements you have made with your players not the wins and loses. It comes down to the parents buying in and understanding the reality of their own childs ability and if they have improved or not. I have had groups of parents where the majority understood what we were trying to accomplish but I have also had groups of parents that just didn't get it.

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It seems that even though we all talk about not putting the emphasis on winning but at the end of the day we come back to wins and losses in order to measure our success. That's an easy thing to get caught up into. I know there are times when I have taken a loss really hard even though I know I have done the best I can with the group of kids I have.

Very good point. That is truly how one is measured from outside. Heck, after each game my son calls my mom, and the first thing my mom asks him is "Did you win?" Not "Did you play well?" or "Did you have fun?"

We take the field to execute as a team in hopes of winning a game. If our execution ends up in allowing us to win--all the better!

Every season we will face one or two teams that give forth an unbelievably lack-luster effort. You've all seen this team. The one where it's blatantly obvious they hardly practice. They run four different plays--and none of them work. While the coach does everything to make it a fun experience, his lack of dedication for what he signed up for shines through brightly. Note: While I roll my eyes at this attitude, I'd still rather see this then an over-zealous coach who is demeaning his players for every mistake.

In the end, it's a balancing act of winning--but doing it the right way--that defines the upper-tier "rec coaches" in my opinion.

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This is a good reason for getting to know your coaches and their philosophy before the season begins. If you would have known this would you have let him play with this team? I realize that it's not always possible to know ahead of time what to expect. But you learn from your experiences and move on.

Honestly I think this kind of coaching is not entirely uncommon. Some coaches do it because they think it makes their team better. Others do it because its easier to coach that way. I think at this point you can have a discussion with the coach and take a couple of different approaches. My first thought is maybe you give him your advice for playing kids both ways and see what and why he does it his way. It should be a back and forth discussion. But I don't think he'll change mid-season. Another approach would be, can you play my kid both ways? That approach would be more of a personal request and more likely to be accepted.

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