3 Youth Sports Coaching Lessons from the Super Bowl
That Super Bowl on Sunday was wild. There were trick plays, fourth-down conversions, and Justin Timberlake taking selfies.
Regardless of whether you were rooting for the Patriots or Eagles, there are several youth sports coaching lessons that can be learned from Sunday’s game. We’ve got three quick tips below to help your team have more fun and improve this season:
Youth Sports Coaching Tip I – Be creative
The fundamentals are important to teach at every level. Getting into a regular practice routine can help young athletes improve in key areas and make progress easy to measure over time. But doing the same thing over and over again can get tedious, and young athletes can have short attention spans.
Take a lesson from Doug Pederson and Bill Belichick – the Eagles and the Patriots are clearly excited to play for their coaches. Each coach was willing to try new and creative ways to improve their team’s performance (both teams threw passes to their Quarterback during the game – not exactly traditional football). The most memorable play of the game was also the most creative – the 4th-and-Goal pass to Nick Foles after he acted like he was shouting instructions to his teammates. From the on-field celebrations to the post-game quotes, you can see how eager Eagles players were to get a chance to run a trick play in a critical moment.
If you’re creative as a coach, you also encourage your players to be creative during the game, instead of turning into a robot every time they get on the field.
Next season, make sure you’re introducing new topics and strategies each week to keep things fresh for your players. Keeping young athletes on their toes can help in their development and keep them excited to play. Whether you’re coaching 4-year olds, high school players, or pros, keeping things fresh and exciting is a great way to get extra effort from your players.
Tip II – Players can improve drastically year to year
Two months ago did anyone know Nick Foles was on the Eagles? In the 2017 offseason Foles was thinking about retiring and moving on with his life away from football. He’d bounced around with different teams and hadn’t been able to find regular playing time.
But he decided to return for another season, and one injury to a teammate later Foles was the starting quarterback for the NFC’s #1 seed. Something clicked for Foles since he last was a starter for the Rams in 2015, and even though most coaches in the NFL had given up on him, Doug Pederson was patient. Now, Pederson led his team to a Super Bowl and Foles is a legend in Philadelphia.
The key lesson here is that every player has a shot. With the right coaches, a solid group of teammates, and a strong work ethic, players can make significant improvements from one season to the next, especially when young athletes are new to a sport.
And if a player grows a few inches in the offseason that’s nice too.
Tip III – Trust your players in the key moments
While the trick play for a touchdown might have been the most memorable play Sunday night, a 4th and 1 conversion with five minutes left in the game was probably the most important. Lots of hair was pulled out in living rooms across the country when Doug Pederson decided to go for it instead of punting.
But Pederson knew the game was on the line, and he trusted his players to make a play when it counted. It was the most critical time of the game, and he wanted the game to be in his players’ hands, rather than Tom Brady’s hands.
As a youth coach it’s easy to micromanage your players and try to do all of the work for them. But when the game is on the line the best coaches relax and allow their players to take control. Don’t “over coach” in the 4th quarter next season or you’ll have your players second guessing themselves in the biggest moments. Allow your players to have fun and follow their instincts.
Putting it all together…
Your goals as a youth sports coach shouldn’t be the same as your goals as a professional coach. And you may not want to be the next Bill Belichick or Doug Pederson. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a few lessons from the best coaches in the world.
Always remember to use some creativity to keep your players excited throughout the year, focus on long-term improvement rather than short-term results, and when the game starts you need to trust your players to perform. Your team will have more fun and improve quickly, and you’ll enjoy volunteering as a coach much more.
Other coaching tips that you learned from this year’s Super Bowl? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.