Friday Two Cents: What A Difference


For the past three weeks I have been coaching and running a football house league in the school I work in, for the grade 3, 4 and 5 children.  If you have read some of my early postings, you may know I run more intensive softball and t-ball leagues in the same school, but this is my first year doing football.  The children did have instructions in football and played with another coach last year, but for some reason when he tried to do it again this year, the children did not respond well and about half came up with excuses not to play.  

English: , American football player, now head ...

English: , American football player, now head coach for the (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The coach could not stay, so I took over the league in the beginning of October and set up a league with different rules.  I instructed the children two days a week, with games on the other two days and Fridays off.  At the beginning, the same thing happened but I spent a lot of time instructing them on the rules and showing them different plays they can do.  However, the biggest things I changed from last year were; I allowed running the ball, I made the rules more suited for the children’s level of understanding and skill level and throwaway the set football plays and introduced the idea that they can make their own plays, which ever way they wanted.  

The first few practices where difficult but after the third practice they started getting it.  They started feeling more confident about themselves and their ability.   This is now the third week and the children are making their own plays, integrating  each team member, showing great sportsmanship and team work, but more importantly they want to play.  

I wondered what was the difference from a month ago when we finished the second game of this week for the teams.  I asked the other teachers and the only thing I came up with was that I made the game more age and child appropriate, gearing the game to their needs.  The other coach was great with the children but he focused too much on set plays and standard rules, the things you are supposed to do when playing football, if you are truly interested in football to begin with.  But these children are not.  

The original idea of the league was to introduce the sport and make sure that everyone gets a basic knowledge of the game.  At the time only the older boys understood football and when we played it for fun, the girls and younger boys were lost.    Now I can look across the field and see everyone participating, but more importantly, having fun.  This is always the number one rule I tell the children when we play anything. 

I guess it all comes down to the fact that I am a teacher, who has been taught and trained to understand children and their developmental needs.  Add my many years of experience I think I know what the children want and need.  The coach is not a teacher but understands football and has limited training with children.  Perhaps this is the difference.  

If this is the case, than to all you people who think you can do the same job as a teacher I say, “I don’t think so.”  It takes education, training, experience and a love of working with children to make a teacher that will make a difference in a child’s life.  And from what I have seen just from this small exercise, “What a difference.” 


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