Competition is Good for our Youth

I’ve been getting a few emails lately about why certain players start or what is my stance on minimum play rules or we should not let our youth players play for Select / Draft teams because it limits their growth as a person.  To be honest, I am old school on the issue of competition.  It is in nature that we learn survival of the fittest and in nature that we see good gene traits evolve and bad traits go extinct.  Many schools have taken football and other competitive sports / games off the playground, so when a parent signs ther child up for football, I think they should understand that football is an aggressive competitive sport.

The Echo Boomer generation is a group of soft individuals expecting a trophy just because they participated on the team even if they missed half the practices and games.  Does this occur in real life?  Does your boss allow you to get away with poor performance?  Well, I’ve read we may be allowing our younger employees get away with murder so, maybe bosses are allowing poor performance.  No wonder our economy is in the tank, we allow and promote poor performance.  I don’t think we should do this in sports.

Football is a team sport and very competitive.  A team is only as good as its weakest link.  So, I do not believe in the minimum play rule although I follow it 100%, I believe you should start and play your best players and if your league offers a draft / select team that is great.  After coaching for many years, the players know who should play.  It is only the parents that really get upset.  Plus the kid’s want to know the score and who won.  Its only the parents and adults that try to hide the real world from them. 

After reading about participation at the youth, HS, College and NFL levels, I calculated these percentages today.  As of 2006, there were approximately 3M youth players 6-14, 1M high school football players, 100k college players and 1,000 NFL players.  So only about one third of the youth players will go on to play high school football and that’s probably at the high end.  About 3% of youth players will play at the college level and less than 1% will play in the NFL.  So parents, its most likely your child will not play past the youth level and very unlikely they will play in college.  At the HS and College levels if that’s where you would like them to play, wouldn’t you like them to be ready for competition or will you be on the sidelines with them in college?

Competition is good and complancency is bad. 

Let me know what you think.

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  1. Coach, your comment “So parents, its most likely your child will not play past the youth level and very unlikely they will play in college” is very true and one of the biggest reasons for this is because they aren’t being developed at the youth level because they spend most of their time sitting on the sidelines.

    You should really be commenting on how to help these players improve instead of casting them aside as hapless losers that aren’t worthy of your “aggressive competitive sport”.

    Wouldn’t you feel better about helping some of these kids (not all will get better, and they’ll fall out of the game in time) become more competitive and aggressive in the game. It really doesn’t take all that much coaching talent to take your biggest and most aggressive players and have them run over their opponents on both sides of the ball. The real skill at this level is to DEVELOP all of your players to be starter caliber players. You do that and you’ll be a hero to the kids, parents and the game itself. I just can’t understand why coaches at the youth level are so easily willing to let these kids leave the game with a bad experience.

    You should challenge yourself to be a better coach and build these young players up to be competitive. If you coach in a travel / select league, then by all means be competitive, that’s what that league is for, but keep it out of the rec / developmental leagues. And to those coaches that complain that there isn’t a select league in your area, then by all means step up to the plate and start one, just stop turning little kids off of the sport.

  2. I agree and disagree with you in this post. I agree that competition is crucial; without competition, the will to succeed is diminished. I am forcing my kids into team sports for three reasons:
    1) Learn how to work with others toward a common goal
    2) Learn about competition to motivate them to improve themselves
    3) Learn about losing (and winning) and how to handle it.
    I also support the rules of everyone plays in the first few years of any sport as the kids learn the fundamentals and get an opportunity to test what they’ve learned against other teams. If these rules were eliminated, many kids who take a while to develop would drop the sports because they are not instant starters. Many kids who never get a chance to play quit after a year or two and never find out who they can become. On the flip side, there are kids who don’t appear to have very much ability, but because of the everyone plays rules, they are getting into games early on and finding out a great deal about themselves and go on to have fun and successful junior and senior high school sport careers. I have personally seen both sides of this many, many times over the years.
    I think that the rules should be in place roughly through the 6th grade level; in my area (Minnesota), that gives the kids 3-4 years to learn what they need to know. Starting in 7th grade (junior high here) is when teams should begin limiting play to the starters. Regardless, scores should be kept and winners announced after every game no matter the level. I personally dislike the idea that everyone should be treated as a winner.

  3. It is a bit surprising that you have not gotten any comments on this post. Good on you I say. People are getting soft. And they are getting soft fast. The league that I coach in has an 11 on/11 off rule. I follow the rule to a T but I have a hard time understanding the rationale in the rule. If a kid is forced to play when he knows he’s going to get run over like a freight train, why is he forced. If that player is perfectly content with being on special teams and getting pounded 4-5 plays a game as opposed to 30-40 plays per game, why push the issue?

  4. I agree that it has absolutely got to be a competition for these boys. No soft belly here. We are experiencing that exact problem where we live….along with a good dose of frustrating coaching. Our 6 year old plays in the Youth Freshman division with 5-6 year olds. He is at the top of the wt limit for carrying the ball, with nobody else on his team even close. He is a seasoned player who loves the game and the competition. His coach has placed his son a quarterback, so since he can’t throw all we can do are running plays. He initially stuck my son at center (due to his size) instead of putting him in a skilled position (which he deserves solely based on his ability). When we questioned him, he back peddled and eventually (with pressure) said it was because he wanted his son to be quarterback and knows he is small and wanted a big guy to block him so he wouldn’t get hurt. So then he said that he knew our son was by far the most talented player on the team, but because his defense was weak, he would have to play as safety. He is an outstanding running back, but has yet to be given the chance to play. We, along with our son, are beyond frustration with this coach. We have already talked to the league director…which went nowhere. Any suggestions for how to deal with these types of coaches? We just moved from a town with a league that placed players according to skill and the desire to succeed.
    Frustrated in Texas

  5. Coach: I don’t think that every 13-14 year old star at youth/grammar school translates into star at HS. We coach a select team, and we have 22 starters if we have 22 top travelers. Large NW suburb of Chicago. We feed 2 public 8A schools and the local parochial school 6A. I go to the annual crosstown game and an awful lot of lower level players grew up and caught up with the top cats, and in most cases passed them. Some of the slower boys 225-245 lbs are now 6-2 or 6-3 and grew into those bodies…they are now faster and stronger thanks to weight rooms at HS level. We routinely are in top 2 of league. Our organization has 450-500 kids from 3rd to 8th grade. Nice manageable size. Our league has most of the future HS foes thses kids will play in addition to the split and face off they will do at 9th grade. I believe that if we are as good at teaching football as we think we are and laying the sound foundation for playing the game at the next level, in addition to fostering a love for the game… we have done our job. Our job is not to cull the herd…that is for others..I consider it horrific to chase a kid from this game…not my job and I do not have the right. I control playing time and who does what on my defense. That is enough. They will play hard and get over their toes and go low…that is all I have a right to expect. We do not have equal play time at our level, but we try make sure that every player gets the playing time they need and it will not come at the expense of another player if all things are equal…I do have a “gold” defense though for when the bad guys cross the 25…other than that, we coach em up and line em up. We are 24-4 in last 2 plus years, with two playoff titles and 1 regular season conference title in 2+ years. In prior 6 years at lower level (equal time) we were 35-14-1 with 3 titles. Our coaching staff truly believes in our responsibility to
    these kids. The rewards come from having those HS boys come up to you at the crosstown game and recognize you. From both sides. When some relate that you made football fun, and kept them in the game when they considered leaving…coaches influence a lot of kids and parents…unfortunately some make the rest of us look bad. The natural selection angle, well what about the kids that don’t come out…we start there. Too much competition for a kids time these days..they do not need to come out and be tormented by guys who don’t get it. I have a real job, a coaching football is something I do for the love of the game..why would I ever contribute to spoiling it for someone else. The kids know who the hot shots are…for now…I stress to them that they are not going to be 5’5″ and 165 later….at least not all of them…so I agree but disagree with some of the premise.

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