Many times a youth football game won't go the way you want or expect it to go. Sometimes you can even have the officiating apparently go against you. No one, not you or the officials are ever going to call a perfect game. Then there are other games where the other team just seems to get under your skin a little. Maybe their kids play a bit past the whistle or even jaw with some unkind or even swear word language. As youth football coaches, how should we respond?
Here is what one youth football coach did last week:
Watch the video, the coach pushes a kid from the opposing team out of the handshake line by his facemask. This coache's excuse was that this player had supposedly been using foul language in the game and was saying something negative to his kids as the players went through the handshake line. The player that was pushed played on the winning team, the coach doing the pushing was on the losing team. The coach stated that he wanted the kid to “knock it off" and was just “doing what he would do to his own son".
Of course the pushed player and his parents claim the lad said nothing and is an angel on earth, a classic, he said, she said situation. They are pressing assault charges.
Does it really matter what the player said? What kind of an example did this coach set for his players? When confronted with a situation you feel you are being disrespected, answer with force. While most of us coaching youth football would like all the kids to behave as well as out own kids, do we have the right to handle all kids we come in contact with the same way we would our own children? The way I discipline my children is what works based on what my wife and I believe is right for our family and fits the personalities of our children, Our kids are well adjusted, fun, outgoing and well behaved. My guess is we are far stricter than 90% of the population and it works for us, but that doesn't give me permission or the right to use the same methods on your kids, even if your kids are foul mouthed spoiled brats. Especially if your idea of discipline involves any type of physical contact.
What should this coach have done if this child had been acting in the way that he described?
He could have made note of the players number, the exact language the player was using and talked to the players coach well after the coaches and players had finished their post game meeting. The coach could have then used that supposed incident as a ‘teaching moment", instructing his players what SHOULD be done in a handshake line and how by NOT responding they were doing the right thing. A better approach may have been to ask your players what they thought this players actions made the player look like to them. Hopefully your players would realize that acting in this fashion (if he did), what a buffoon and low life the jawing player appeared to all. Games should be settled on the football field not by jawing before, during or after games. Hopefully this is what your players learn from you and your actions.
Fortunately I've never been subjected to this type of behavior. I can think of just one time it was remotely even close. A player from the opposing team was flagged for a flagrant unsportsmanlike on the next to last play of the game. He had done the same thing on 2 previous occasions but had not been flagged for it. During the handshake line this kid had a smirk on his face a mile wide. I didn't say anything nor did my players, the game was over and finished. We used it as a teaching moment for our kids. who by the way aren't angels all the time either. We always hand out pop to the other team in the handshake line, after a loss we saw several of our players shaking up the pop so it would “explode" when opened. We addressed it immediately and aggressively (involved lots of running) and it never happened again. I guess if that's the worst we have to deal with we are probably doing alright.
While this is a reprehensible act by the coach and he should be removed from coaching immediately and not allowed to coach again, is a lawsuit really necessary? The player had his equipment on and he wasn't hurt. Wouldn't a permanent ban on this coach and an apology to the player and both teams suffice?
With over 15 years of hands-on experience as a youth coach, Dave has developed a detailed systematic approach to developing youth players and teams. His personal teams to using this system to date have won 97% of their games in 5 Different Leagues. For 350 free youth football coaching tips: Youth Football Plays