Motivating Youth Football Players

helmet award stciker stick

Helmet Sticker Awards

Last month, I ran into a few former youth football players and their parents at various restaurants around Keller, Texas.  I was so happy they approached me to say hello and talk about football.  The young men were bright eyed and excited about the next pee wee football season.  I felt so proud to be volunteer youth football coach.  I also wondered what I was doing right to be so lucky with 4 Super Bowl appearances and 3 wins in the last four youth football seasons.  Why is our team so much better?  Why do our players perform so much better for our team than other teams? 

I started thinking about motivation and desire.  These are two factors in a player’s mental game that effects play more than the physical aspects of football.  It is really tough to coach desire but as coaches we can certainly persuade and motivate a player to push their limits to strive for and achieve greatness.

As I looked back over many playing and coaching football seasons, I started to see how I and others have motivated youth football players in the past.  Here are some examples:

  1. Passion – rah rah cheerleading coach, pre-game speeches
  2. Knowledge – teaching skills and techniques of the game
  3. Common Interests – also played LB or likes Country Music
  4. Desire / Drive – fire in eyes and heart, hates to lose
  5. Awards – helmet stickers, trophies, ice cream Fridays
  6. Peer Recognition – Voted team Captain, MVP
  7. Age of Coach – Younger coaches seem to click with younger players,   Father figure
  8. Cultural Backgrounds – Socio Economic and Demographic factors
  9. Personal Acknowledgement – Pats on the back all the time
  10. Humor – jokes with players
  11. Work Ethic – everyone works hard for common goal
  12. Religion – similar belief systems, prayer
  13. Punishment – Run Laps / Up and Downs

I know when I was in my twenties, my youth football players loved that I was so young.  They saw me as one of them, not a dad.  Now at 49, I cannot use my youth as a motivational tool, although maybe to a few they like an authority / father figure.  I am not a cheerleader type coach, so I focus on knowledge, desire, awards and personal acknowledgement as my motivators.  I am also a pretty serious guy, so humor is very hard for me but I do try to lighten up for the players.

To be honest, as I’ve aged, I try not to use punishment as a motivator like I did as a younger coach.  I am less likely to send someone on a run but I am still strict.  I also try to tell my players that I love them.  This used to be strange to me, but since they play the sport I love, we are all brothers.  So, yes I love my players as I love my sport of football.  If I do punish a player for jumping off sides 4 times in a row in practice, I let them know they have the potential to be a great player but they need a loving painful reminder.

I’ve made many mistakes motivating players, especially with my oldest son.  So, coaches go easier on your own kids.  It is tough to be a coach’s kid probably like a preacher’s kid.

How do you like to motivate your players?  I would love to hear from you.  Leave me comment.

Play for Fun and Winning is Funner,
Coach Parker
Keller, Texas / Fort Worth, TX

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2 Comments

Filed under Youth Coaching

2 responses to “Motivating Youth Football Players

  1. You already nailed it Coach! There is no formula, every kid is different and good coaches will find what works with each of them. Having a good system requires by in from each team member and even more importantly each parent. Anybody that says winning in youth sports is not important needs to take a close look at what they are teaching there children. The game of life is about small wins and loses. We are teaching them how to motivate themselves because as they get older winning and losing dictates who they become. It could be that job they have always wanted, the girl of their dreams or simply getting in shape. Youth coaches are teaching our children how to motivate themselves for the future.

  2. Pingback: Youth Football Coaching 2014 Tips | Coaching Youth Football Tips, Talk, and Plays

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