Tag Archives: favoritism

Game Play and Practice Play

Coaching Youth Football Playbooks and MoreI have been receiving a ton feedback about how many plays in a game is fair vs starters or Coach’s children playing most of the game.  Here is my take on what’s fair from my viewpoint.  First let me say, life is inherently unfair so our starting point is already unfair.  Plus nothing in life is free, one must work for what they want.

Perfect practice play equals game play is what a good / fair coach is looking for in a player.  If you desire your child to be on a team with a fair and knowledgeable coach then you must prepare to find this coach prior to the football season.  Ask around and find two or three coaches that are recommended.  Call them and speak with them in detail about your needs and desires.  You should also go watch their games and practices.  They may invite your child to a practice and give you feedback about where they see your son on the their team.  You may not like the answers from a few or all of the coaches but at least you know what is going on and have some control over the situation.  By doing your homework prior to the season, you will give your child a head start on the team.  If you are in a league that just places your child on a team, check out the league and make sure a majority of parents are happy.   I would also make sure the league has a 8 to 20  minimum play rule per game otherwise your child may sit on the bench if they are not a starter.

Now that your child is on a team.  The most important time on a team is practice not the games.  Practice time is more important than game time.  Players learn the sport and how to play the game during PRACTICE.  If you are late or missing practices, do not expect your child to play in the games beyond the minimum amount.  Also, usually there is 4 to 6 hours of practice a week and only about an hour long game.  So there is more time to learn the game during practice than during the game.  Yes, we all want our children to play during the games, but if they are not, make sure they are getting reps in practice and understanding the concepts.  I know many parents are upset because they have very athletic kids but they are not playing a lot.  Then there is another group of parents that their children are not that athletic but have smart kids.  To play football you must be both, smart and physical, not one.  These attributes will come out at practice and determine who plays in the game.

Most coaches want to win and will play the best players to win.  Sometimes, a coach’s son may get to play QB or MLB but if you child is good enough to help the team win, your child will play a majority of the game.  Yes, your child should get at least 8 to 15 plays a game but make sure they are doing well at practice.  Make sure your child understands the concepts presented at practice and are performing the drills properly.  Coaches find starters during practice.  We also find starters during the game.  So when your child goes into the game for their 8 plays tell them to make the most of it.  Shine.  If they are not shining during the game then they will probably never be a starter.

Game time is like a report card from practice.  If your grades in practice are B+ and above you will probably be a starter or game time player.  If you are below a B+ player then you will be second or third string.  Parents you must remember your registration fee did not guarantee you child a starting position on the team.  Your fee pays for them to learn the game and have fun and your child can do this in practice too not just the game.

If you and your child are not having fun on a team, You can always quit.  You can quit during the season or after its over.  There is nothing wrong with getting out of a bad situation.  I started coaching t-ball because of a bad situation with my oldest son’s coach.  I am not a big baseball fan but I decided enough was enough.  So if you feel the same way about this season, then get involved and pay the price to make the system work, because nothing is Free.

One last thing, I know there are bad coaches out there that play only their children, favorites and never anyone else.  Hopefully these coaches are in the minority.  I advocate that coaches should not coach their own children.  I actually have more fun coaching when my son’s do  not play on my teams.  The stress of not trying to play favorites and dealing with parents is mush easier when your child is not involved.

Perfect practice equals a perfect game which almost always leads to a Win.  Everything starts at practice not in the game.

Play for Fun and Winning is Funner.

Coach Parker
Fort Worth, Texas / Keller



Filed under Youth Coaching

So your child is not a starter, Oh NO!

A blog comment today about how one youth football league’s players must all be starters lifted me on to my soap box and my mind is stirring about minimum play players, favoritism, and starting positions.   The Favoritism topic is the most read topic on my blog.  I have written only a few articles on the subject, but because the subject is not sport specific the articles are heavily read.  I am sure this blog post about starting will generate similar interest and comments / email.   I hope I do not offend anyone.  Forgive me if I do.

Can we all be starters?  I am sure if we want to lower the expectations of the team, game, league and sport, we can all be starters.  At what point does dumbing down a team, league, game or sport start hurting the long term development of the players, not only as athletes but competitors in a world market were Chinese children are being unfairly manipulated and mutated to compete against our children which are being softened by everyone gets a trophy and no one gets left behind programs.  We in the US continually lower the standards so everyone can pass or play.  When has been being not as good as someone else in a sport or topic been an error or crime not of that person but on the teacher, coach or boss.  Why is blame for poor performance continually redirected at someone other than the low performing person?  And should any blame be directed or redirected.  Maybe a person is not good at football but a Pele at Soccer.  Is not being good or the best at a subject or a starter a real problem to be address be society or governments?

I just posed this question on my Twitter account @CoachParker_org, “Because I am not a F1000 CEO, Sr VP, VP, or Director, a starter in business, should my mom call GE, Apple, MS and ask why I am not the starting CEO or Sr VP?”

I know that sounds so strange for a 47 year old man to ask that question, but the average age for a CEO in the US is around 55 years old.  In the 1970’s it was close to 60 years old.  So in terms of CEO experience I am at Pee Wee CEO age.  I do have 7 years experience as a Sr. Manager at EDS, now part of HP, as a strategic marketing manager preparing strategic marketing and business plans presented to the CEO and Executive Board, and I have 4 years experience as a CEO of a small sporting goods company.  I have played the business game as an eager utility manager, but my dream has always been to become a F1000 CEO or Sr VP or a NFL starting linebacker or fullback.  I know now through experience I will become neither, my performance at critical times did not warrant an invite to the Select teams with GE, MS, Apple or the Dallas Cowboys.  I am not complaining. I am just being realistic.

Ok, so my mother is still upset that I did not live up to my potential and become the CEO of Ford or Intel.  Maybe she should have realized when I was not accepted to Harvard but Texas A&M that my F1000 CEO talent maybe lacking.  She never did.  I am sure if the Ford Executive board was 10 yards away from her 3 to 4 days a week, she would let them know how great I was when I was at EDS and when I won my 2nd grade business project and that she still has the 1st place ribbon.  I am sure her heckles from the sidelines will influence Ford to hire me.  But I digress.

OK, so your child is not a starter either.  Well, is that the end of the world?  What is your child really good at?  Maybe you should determine 5 to 10 things that your child is interested in doing and find out if they are good at it any of them.  If they are NOT good at a few mark them off your list. Don’t allow your child to join a team if they are not good at the sport, it’s unfair for everyone involved.  If you want your child to try out a sport, enroll them in a camp before signing them up for a league team.  A week long camp will tell your child and you if they are able to become proficient at the sport or topic.

I’m not sure why parents have decided to let children try everything.  Help your child find their special niche based on their unique individual abilities not yours.  I recently found out my youngest son is a pretty good Soccer player maybe even better at Soccer than Football.  Yes, that hurts my feelings a bit, but I love watching him play Soccer.  He is really that good.  Maybe my football dreams got in his way for a few years.  We will soon see.

Would you push your child to play Chess everyday and attend Chess tournaments if they continually lost every match at the chess tournaments?  I know I eventually quit the Chess team after getting spanked at a few 6th grade tournaments.  My dad loves Chess, but I am not a tournament Chess player.  I can beat my friends but not “real” competition.  My dad was not as upset with me, because dad and I began playing Racquetball together.  We found a new interest and sport to enjoy.  Not Chess.

Parents, please do everyone coaching and teaching a favor.  If you know your child cannot sing, please do not sign them up for American Idol.


Filed under Youth Coaching

The Head Coach’s Son & Favoritism

Ok, so this may not be the most popular article for parents, but someone needs to put the theory out there, and yes I say theory, about the Head Coach’s son and children.  I am a Head Coach, and both my son’s play Quarterback for their youth football teams.  I was an offensive guard at their ages, so I am slightly jealous.  Bear @ QBBut anyway, I am Head Coach for my oldest son’s team (5th grade) and am a parent spectator for my youngest (2nd grade) son’s team.  My theory is that the children of head coaches have a biological and environmental advantage over the other players on the team.  So let me explain…

For the last two years, as a Head Coach, I have struggled with my oldest son playing starting quarterback on my tackle football team.  When Berndt, “Bear”,  was younger, on his flag teams, he was the back-up quarterback and starting center for our spread offense.  Bear played Center in flag, because we had a QB prodigy on our flag team.  Two years ago, when I was given the opportunity to coach Bear’s tackle team, I assigned the position responsibilities to my Offensive Coordinator.  Our first year, we went through try outs and the Offensive Coordinator chose my son as the starting QB.  I was not happy with this decision because of the parent political issues this was going to cause.

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Filed under Youth Coaching

Minimum Play Players, Favoritism, & Parents

I planned to write about defense today, but I received an email last night which begs me to address minimum play players, favoritism and parents in today’s blog post.  My coaches and I rank our players each week and use these rankings to determine who will start and what positions they will play.  I develop a depth chart each week from these rankings.  I do not believe in favoritism.  Our players win a starting position based on intelligence, physical abilities, football skill and football knowledge.  Just because a player is a top starting player and plays a majority of downs, does not equate to favoritism, it equates to smart coaching.  Coaches should field their best talent.

In today’s youth sports, many coaches must weigh fielding the best talent and playing the minimum play players.  How do you weigh the needs of the team above the needs of one to three minimum play players (MPP) and their vocal parents?   This question frustrates me each week.  I want all my players playing every play of the game.  I want all players getting a good rest on the sidelines.  I want everyone to score a touch down.  But the reality is, this is not Drake and Josh afternoon TV.  Some players are not ready to play more than the mandatory minimum plays.  I want to win American Idol but I can’t hold a note.  Should the network force American Idol to allow me to sing at least once in front of National TV audience?  I doubt it.

But many MPP parent’s feel the coaches are playing favorites by not playing thier children more.  I am sure there maybe a minority of coaches playing favorites, but if your child can contribute to the team then your child will play more.  I’ll guarantee it.

One last point that I find surprising.  Why doesn’t anyone talk about the starter who must sit out while someone takes his place?  How do they feel?  Are they upset that we substituted a player in the game that does not do the work required to play the position?  Who is speaking up for the starting player and their feelings?

If I had one wish as a coach, I would wish that all the players on my team were starters.  Now that would solve my problem.  Although, I have 24 players on my team.  Hmmm, I needed to be more specific.  It’s always something!


Filed under Youth Coaching