Former University of Texas Coach Mack Brown was asked via twitter what his thoughts were on starting a kid in organized football. Now if you’re anywhere in the Texas area and you are a football fan, you’ll know who Coach Mack Brown is. He took the Longhorns to the National Championship game in 2005 to face USC in what may have been one of the top 5 College Bowl games ever.
Coach Brown’s answer was “7th grade”. I agree. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of men and women do a great job of coaching kids in pee wee football…or baseball… but then other adult coaches, well, they don’t. Those are the ones that I’m worried about. Apparently Mack Brown has some reservations about it as well. Of course, it could be the fact that Coach Brown is worried about the kid getting hurt in pee wee football, although I just wrote a post about how soccer is the most dangerous organized sport.
My friend Rick in Dallas, has coached soccer and baseball for several years. He’s a former Golden Gloves boxer and a father of 2 boys. He said, “Scott, wait until your boys get into middle school.” He cited the parents and the coaches as being the number one reason NOT to enlist my kids. I somewhat agree. I think it’s more important to ready the child through a solid strength and conditioning program, teach discipline, learn to appreciate exercise, get stronger and then go the organized sports route if that’s what the youngster wants to do. Physical training will be one of the most rewarding activities that a kid can undertake. It builds character, discipline, good health, and a strong mindset. Bad coaching? Well, the scars can last a lifetime. Overzealous parents in the bleachers? Same thing.
As a fitness professional with 30 years of experience teaching groups of people, I know a bit about what makes a good coach. Winning is important but teaching the fundamentals and having fun are the most important things at the pee wee level. The kids just want to have fun. They want to learn. They want to be with their friends.
It’s all about having fun. There’s no pressure to be better than someone else. I often wonder if the parents who are yelling so obnoxiously loud and are “so competitive and are such great athletes”, WHY AREN’T THEY IN GREAT PHYSICAL SHAPE NOW? Why aren’t they showing us by competing and winning in events such as Austin’s Fittest, True Athlete Games or The Crossfit Games? These events aren’t just for young people. They are for people ages 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and up. Check out local superhero father, husband and attorney Kent Smith. He’s over 60 and keeps winning Austin’s Fittest every year. This guy is my hero. I’m a big believer in not talking about what I USED to do. I believe in inspiring others by being active at a high level NOW! Set an example. We need more healthy examples now than ever. I’m sure Jack LaLanne would agree.
Train Harder Than You Coach
Coach Augie Garrido’s baseball teams have won five national titles (1979, 1984, 1995, 2002, 2005). He is one of only two coaches to lead teams from more than one school (CSUF Titans and Texas Longhorns) to national titles, and is the first coach to guide teams to national championships in four different decades. When I asked him about having my kids play in little league baseball, he smiled, laughed and said “Just watch out for the parents!”
He went on to say that the majority of the players that he’s coached have parents who are supportive, go to the games but don’t over involve themselves. They understand that it’s a game. Too many parents are trying to relive their “glory years” or lack thereof and get too attached – making the game more about themselves than just letting the kids play. The sooner the parents learn to “let go” and let the kids play, the sooner the kids will usually meet or exceed the expectation. If a kid is crying after striking out or throwing a temper tantrum during a little league game, it’s usually due to the parents putting too much pressure on the kid.
Wow. It makes me wonder what is going on in the parents mind? Is the kids performance a reflection of the worth of the parent? If so, don’t worry – I still like you and think you’re great. I’m pretty sure the other parents do as well.
We talked more and Augie was a wealth of information and funny stories regarding the entertaining adventures of little league and pee wee football. I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but I do know that respect, friendliness, and being a good sport are qualities that never go out of style.
UPDATE 2016 – I have 4 boys. My 13 year old is mildly interested in strength training but shows no interest in either baseball or football. There’s no pressure by us for him to do anything other than to encourage him to move his body regularly and educate him on the value of good nutrition. My 10 and 7 year old’s both are playing little league baseball. Other than the occasional overly involved parent or overly competitive “coach”, it’s been fun to watch them have fun. As they get older and their interest in becoming bigger, faster, and stronger grows, we’ll only have to walk out to the garage to get started. In the meantime, it’s all about learning and having fun.
Austin’s Fittest Man Over 50 (2015)
True Athlete Games Finalist (2015)