Parents - Your child has asked to play youth football - What do you do now?
The first thing you do is relax... Not everybody is going to get injured like you may have seen or heard about on tv.
Youth football is very safe, if they are just starting as a 8-10 yr old their chances of getting injured is very slim. In a recent Mayo Clinic report indicated that youth football injuries do not exceed those in other youth sports.
Mayo Clinic report on football injuries
Now that we got that out of the way, be prepared to watch your child learn many things about himself in football. He will learn discipline, conditioning and above all the value of team work. Hopefully his coach will teach him to have fun! It is a tough game and often having fun gets lost in the emotion of the game. This should NEVER happen, it's a great game and fun should be a top priority.
There are few games in America that excite so much emotion like football and specifically youth football. Just visit your local park or school on a Saturday morning, high school on a Friday night, college or professional stadium and you'll immediate know what I'm talking about. The energy created by football is not matched by other sports.
The excitement I've witnessed at youth games is amazing! There is something about this game that brings emotions to their highest level. This can be good and bad.
It's critical that you as parents, coaches and players learn to control these emotions during games. Yes, the coach is asking you to hit your opponent with the proper technique, and hit him hard! But NEVER, EVER try to injure another player. The best players in this game are the ones that know the game is violent, but also respect the game, their team mates, the coaches and the officials. Yes, I did say the officials!
In most youth football environments the coaches are typically dads who played the game years prior. These dads are well intentioned but they often lose PERSPECTIVE on what a kid is thinking and feeling versus what an adult feels during a game.
A youth football player is not thinking of "taking the guys head off" like I've heard yelled from the sidelines by parents. They are not thinking of running like "Reggie Bush". They are merely trying to execute what their coach has asked them to do.
Few games rely on so many of the team members executing properly for success like football does. If all 11 players are not on the same page as to what their responsibilities are the chances for success are slim. The exception to this in youth football is the outstanding athlete that can make a broken play into a touchdown on ability alone. This is a rare exception, and these types of impact players are very rare amongst youth leagues.
Lets focus on preparing your child for football. Whether they choose flag football, which is a good way to learn the basics of play calling while improving passing, running and defensive back skills. Or they choose tackle football. Which will introduce them to all aspects of the game with the protective gear.