Coaches not Playing All Players

I was reading though my stats today and came across this search phrase, “coaches not playing all players,” and thought I would reflect a bit on the topic of not playing everyone. Many coaches are guilty of not playing everyone enough, I know I am guilty too. If coaching was easy then everyone would be a youth football coach.  Coaching youth football is hard and we make mistakes just like everyone else.  My two boys are in high school now and just like you I want them playing every down, but unfortunately that’s not realistic.  I know its hard to understand but not everyone is a starter or even 2nd string on some teams.

In many youth recreational tackle football leagues, like the one I currently coach in, we have a minimum play rule of 5 plays per half.  We check each game a minimum play sheet which is turned into the league.  Each play for every player is tracked on the sheet.  Its a tough job to track the plays.  I know I work hard so that almost every player on my team has a starting position even if they only play the minimum number of plays.

One fact that many forget in this discussion are the players that would normally be starting in these positions lose out on these plays and starts due to these minimum play rules.  Many of these players do not understand why they must sit out of the plays, so a lesser skilled player can take their spot.  Just a few seasons ago, I sat out one of my above average players (Bob) on offense so another player (Tom) would get some reps and Bob started crying uncontrollably on the sideline during the game.  I had to have a heart to heart conversation with Bob and his parents after the game.  Bob did not understand why I put in Tom, a much lesser player in his Slot / WR position since Tom could not catch the football.  I lost Bob’s heart that game and for the rest of the season so Tom would get a few more plays so I could appease Tom’s vocal dad.  I made a mistake which I regret to this day.  Yes, Tom was happy he played a few more plays that day and so was Tom’s dad, but Bob was furious and I lost a good player for the last 4 games of the season.  Tom never got any better and Tom’s family blew off our team party.  You see, after talking to Tom about missing practices, I found out that Tom did not want to play football.  Tom kept telling me it was too complicated for him to talk to me about.  After talking to Tom’s dad, Dad wanted Tom to play football to get tougher.  Tom’s dad even acknowledged that Tom was not meant to play football and was the worst player on our team.  I never saw or heard from Tom or his family again. I still keep in contact with Bob’s family.

So you ask me why coaches do not play all players, well many times we play what we think is our best skilled players.  You may call them our favorites and some daddy ball coaches play their kids and that’s unfortunate.   Coaches play players based on what players they think will work best in their system and or for the future of their system.  Some players they just like and are biased toward and some they just do not like because they disrupt practice or are  knuckleheads.  Coaches see different things in players, I may think your son is a Full Back and the next coach may think he’s a offensive guard.  I may think you son is a starter and another coach may put him on the bench.  You see I like smart players that can learn a complicated system.  Some coaches run simple systems and do not need smart players.  I probably would bench this coach’s tailback because they would not understand my plays.

What I do know from playing 10 years and coaching 20 years, if your child is passionate about the sport, has above average athletic ability is coachable with a good sports IQ they will get some play time.  Coaches love passionate players that are highly coachable. Coaches will make sure those players get some good reps.  If you care more about play time than your child, then I can guarantee  your child is probably not getting play time.

Lastly, I wanted to play for the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Aggies.  As good as I was in High School football, there is no way I was ever going to set foot on the field during a game on either of these two teams.  I just was not good enough. Sometimes, coaches do not play your child because they are not that good.  You must have realistic expectations as a parent.  My youngest son is small.  He is a “B” team starter.  Am I frustrated he is not on “A” team.  Yes, but the coaches love him and he’s getting great reps on “B” team right now.  I am happy, and most importantly he is happy.

I’ve said this before, I wish everyone that’s is on my team would be good enough to be a starter and play the whole game.  That would make my life as a head coach very easy and everyone would be happy too. Unfortunately not everyone gets to play in the games.

By the way, you learn the game in practice.  Make sure your child is at practice and ready to go.  If your child eats their Wheaties one day and has an outstanding practice the coaches will take notice.  About 4 seasons ago one of our running backs lit up practice and now he’s the stud of the league.  A light turned on at practice that night and ever since then he’s been a key starter in the backfield and at defensive end.

You might still think we are not playing your child because all coaches are jerks.  Well, we can be at times.  But so can almost anyone.  We love the sport and we love coaching.  Come talk to us about your issue and we might surprise you with our answers.

Play for Fun and Winning is Funner!


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