As a youth football coach, the first thing that we need to do is to do no harm. The second thing is to coach up our players so they don’t beat themselves.
I heard a story this week about a heartbreaking loss that could have easily been avoided with some good proactive coaching. A team had come from behind to tie a back and forth game. The Running Back had made a nice run and after the play in his excited state, he did a little dance like he sees the NFL players do on television on Sundays. He was flagged for the play and the opposing team took the option of having the 15 yards marked off on the PAT attempt. In this league, like many, the PAT kick is worth 2 points. The flagged team failed to make the PAT and went on to lose the game by 2 points. I’m sure that player feels just awful for his mistake.
It’s a shame to lose a game on a play like this, but it happens every week in youth football. Your players have to be coached on how to respond to scoring a touchdown. Show them what is and is not acceptable per the rules and by whatever standard you choose to have. For my team the player hands the ball to the referee, thanks his linemen and gets ready for the next play.
We actually practice this the week prior to the first game. Just align your players on the 5 yard line and rep going into the endzone on every rep and then handing the ball to a coach. I have a referees uniform and will wear the shirt at that practice. The kids seem to have fun with it, the linemen like getting their high fives. For good measure and to make it fun for the kids, have some of your coaches take handoffs and score. Have the scoring coaches act exactly how you DON’T want your youth football players to act and throw a flag right at them.
If your team loses because of a play like this, the mistake won’t fall on the shoulders of the player. It will fall where is should fall, on the youth football coach, coaching the team. Be proactive, teach your players in the ways they should go, not only to be good sports, but in order to follow the rules and win the game.
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