As I was reflecting on the great times I had with a friend who was taken from us too soon, one thing kept coming back to me—the undeniable influence he has had on our community's young people.
We coached a lot of sports together, and I have fond memories of those times, and there is no doubt the kids do too. So that got me thinking about all the kids who don’t participate in sports, wondering how those young people learn the lessons that are taught in these activities.
Since I am a football coach, I thought I would write some of my thoughts down. Some of these lessons are unique to football, but most of them can be learned in any sport or activity to a certain degree.
- Mentoring. There is something special about a player/coach relationship. There is generally a high level of respect both ways. I was coached, have coached with, and am currently coaching with some outstanding men. Let your kids experience these relationships. It’s not always easy but it will form a bond that will last a lifetime if done right.
- Teamwork. At any given time, eleven people have to work together to achieve a common goal. If one doesn’t get the job done, most likely that play will fail. Kids need to experience this—it mirrors a work environment and life in general.
- Toughness. Mental and physical. Not only do you have to know multiple things on each play while under varying degrees of pressure, but there are eleven others trying to stop you from achieving your goal. You learn to perform under pressure and get the job done even when you are exhausted.
- Commitment. It’s not just a three-month-per-year activity. If you want to be the best, you need to invest the time and effort in the off season. Weight training, speed work, and participating in other sports are just a few things you need to do to maximize your potential. Also, kids need to stay busy!
- Failure. As a team or personally, you will go through it. Learn how to deal with it. You will have failures later in life. Develop the skills needed to deal with it now.
- Belonging. No matter your size, shape, speed, or whatever else, there is a place for you on a football team. I’ve coached 5’4”, 110 lbs kids and 6’5”, 300 lbs dudes. Both were valuable members of the team. Set a goal and don’t be denied until you achieve it, then repeat!!
- FAMILY!! In the past three years we have had players who have had loved ones pass away during the season. It truly is a special thing to see when teammates and coaches come alongside their hurting brother and lift them up. With all the broken homes, coaches truly can be another “parent.” When done right, a team of football players is absolutely fabulous and is not replicated in any other sport or any other walk of life!