I was asked to coach my youngest two girls all girls NFL flag football team this year. The experience has been great 10/11 girls have taken to learning and trying hard even if they are not the most athletic all I ask is they try. My issue is I have one girl who doesn't try who for example had her hands in her sleeves yesterday and got drilled in the face by a ball thrown to her. She stands still on both offense and defense when we try and get her in the games.
The girls are kindergarten through 3rd so a lot of what we try to do is teach fundamentals. How do I reach this girls? (She is 2nd grade so not too little). Do I reach out to her parents? Just bench her during games unless it's a blowout?
*edit: to clear up some points. While this is a youth league and the lower division is not "competitive" thr keague as they move up is in some form. The winner of the 4/5 th grade and winner of 6,7,8 th grade divisions are eligible for NFL girl flag football tournaments, invites to NFL games camps. So we try and teach them and have fun especially lowest division it's not a normal rec only league. My policy with parents and kids was as long as they try they will play. I don't require them to be at any weekly practice just the practice we hold before the games each Sunday. We rotate on offense and defense and girls play numerous positions. The girl in question here has played all three games both offense and defense and attends one practice a week outside the Sunday one. She will run drills but when it comes to running plays in practice or games she doesn't participate and I'm having to ask other girls to cover for her on the field. I've tried talking to her one on one and she just says she doesn't feel like try and is is scared of the ball. This next game we are going to have her just play defense since she doesn't have to worry about talking a handoff, running routes or catching and see if single focusing will help. But long term I'm not sure what to say to her or her parents.
I don't know what the answer is, but I do know it's NOT keeping someone in 2nd grade on the bench. That's going to have the opposite effect and likely make her disengage even further. At that age, Ws/Ls aren't as much of a priority as inclusion, fun, and fundamentals.
I agree to a point that's why 3 games into the season she is still playing. But how many times can I have her get get hurt because she isn't trying? Or have other girls ask her why she didn't move when the ball was snapped?
Yeah, the injury angle brings additional difficulty. It sounds like she just doesn't want to be there. I would maybe have a conversation with her to see what's going on and if that is the case, and then follow up with her parents. If that is the case and her parents are pushing her into it, that is going to be a tricky one to tackle without someone getting upset.
On a lighter note:
Have you considered she might be holding out for a more lucrative NIL contract?
Respect her decision
When they start holding out for better deals they end up signing for nothing somewhere else!
So, I've coached a bunch of kids rec soccer and softball. Not an expert, but here's what I would do.
First, I tell parents day 1 that I'm playing everyone fairly (it's rec). I treat them all as my own kids when in my care. Punishment for misbehavior, goofing off, etc will be running laps. I expect high effort and I do not punish for poor play. My goals are that every kid improves and wants to come back next year, not to win games. Winning comes with improvement (we won the championship this past fall).
In cases like yours (I've had several), I try to have 1 on 1 conversations with the kid to figure out what's up. Are they nervous? Don't have any friends on the team? Scared? Don't like their position? Or kids making fun of her? Stuff like that we can fix. If the kid just doesn't want to be there, that makes it really hard.
Regardless, I'd never bench the kid. That basically ensures she never participates again. I'd play her, but also do everything you can to "cover" for her. Put your best player on defense beside her. Man her up with the other team's worst player? I don't know flag football well. If she continues to not participate, her parents will notice and maybe talk to you or her.
My recent experience with this I found out the girl was being made fun of. It was her first year. I told my daughter that she's your new best friend and we had a talk as a team about supporting each other. Then if there was ever negative comments to each other in practice they ran, or I immediately yanked them from the game. That fixed it quick and the girl actually came out of her shell and turned into one of my better defenders.
But I've also had kids that I couldn't get anything out of and just had to deal with it. Even if it meant losing games.
Hope this helps. Just my experience after head coaching for the past 7 years or so for 3 kids. I'm no expert by any sense.
I posted mine without seeing yours first. We think alike...
dont bench a 7 year old girl lol
I can't have a kid get hurt because she doesn't want to play. I'm not benching a kid because she isn't good enough. If that were the case I'd have 4 kids playing iron man football.
First of all, congratulations on coaching! It is a great experience. This is a tough one, but there could be a real opportunity to have a positive, lasting impact on her. As a background, I had 7 kids, and coached youth sports (primarily baseball, softball, and basketball) for many years, including travel & AAU teams. I always said I learned more from the kids than I ever taught them.
As this sounds like a town rec league, I would definitely recommend you not benching her. At that young age, I have found that positive reinforcement always works best. My philosophy has always been that each child in regular season rec sports gets to have equal playing time, meaning the least gifted athlete gets to play as much as your best athlete. Managing equal playing time while getting the most out of players individually and as a team is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle...you have to make the pieces fit. In most sports, the best athletes get named to post-season All-Star teams and get to extend their seasons and playing time accordingly. The most important thing, particularly at that age level, is for the kids to have fun. I always told the parents that I want their kids to come home dirty, sweaty, and smiling.
You never know what's going on in a child's home life, background, etc. She may have been 'forced' to play by one or more of her parents, and has no interest in playing. Do your daughters know her from school? If so, how does she act in school? Does this girl have friends on the team or is she a loner? Are the other girls encouraging her or leaving her alone? Have you tried kneeling down (getting to her eye level and with a smile...always with a smile at that age), and joking with her a bit, trying to get a positive reaction out of her? If you can get her to smile and respond, perhaps there is a way you can reach her. Perhaps have your daughter(s) or one of the leaders on the team "buddy up" with her. Encourage, always encourage.
I tried to never get parents involved in how I coached or reached their kids, unless kids were coming late to practices, without their uniforms, equipment, etc. That is always the parents' fault. As a coach, you are a teacher, and the ball field/court is your classroom. Good luck and have fun!
I agree 100% with all of this. And getting eye level is more important than most think. Along with simple things such as you face the sun rather than the kids. You'll lose kids attention when they are staring in the sun.
It's so fun when the girls are having fun. My kindergarten m, youngest kid on the team, got her first flag pull yesterday with a huge "tackle for a loss" which forced the other team to "punt" on 4th instead of go for it. Didn't matter we have won 0 games watching the girls rush her when she made that flag pull was great. Every week a new kid steps up and Learns a new skill or new position or suddenly the light comes on and they make ridiculous verges or runs or flag pulls.
You have asked a question without any easy answer, unfortunately...
Both of my boys play flag football (similar ages) and I have "assistant" coached but have avoided being the Head Whistle specifically to avoid these types of scenarios.
The "right" answer here is that it depends upon what the kid really wants (and at that age, they probably won't just come out and tell you).
I would start by attempting to have a convo with the parents to see...
1) how realistic they are
2) what their expectations are
My older sons' team had a kid last year with a similar situation, he would avoid participating as much as possible and would try to avoid going into games. After a conversation with his parents, he did essentially sit the bench other than very specific scenarios (end of games, ect.). He ended up being more comfortable and the parents reconciled with the fact that Football probably wasn't a good place for him.
At that age, agree that safety is a concern as well. I would start there and wish you good luck.
Sounds like you need to give her a one way ticket to the transfer portal.
But seriously, I'd imagine this is actually a big challenge of coaching youth sports, engaging the kids who are disengaged. It would make some sense to talk with her parents, to get some insights on why she might be disengaged, make them aware of it, and level set with them.
I would try to build from little wins into big wins, e.g. getting her to catch a ball or take a handoff in practice, and celebrating that and hopefully you get some momentum going.
Sounds like she needs to be your designated receiver every play. She'll get her hands up eventually, right?
Disclaimer: I do not coach kids, nor should I.
This thread made me think of this....
It looked so much like this. Our QB has trouble changing her velocity and the girl was standing 15 yards away and just went straight to the ground when the ball hit her.
I'm going to preface this with I am not a parent and am spit balling here. But was the girl watching the ball hit her in the face and has she had a recent eye exam? Maybe she can't see that well so a ball being thrown at her is scary.
She wears glasses.
Maybe explain to her that accountants and librarians are a really important and needed field as well and require much less hand eye.
This was actually an issue for me when I was a kid. Apparently, I was striking out at t-ball. When my coach told me to keep my eye on the ball, and I asked him which ball. I had double vision, but didn't know that was wrong (I was 5ish at the time?). Parents took me to an eye doctor, had surgery, and fixed the issue.
I see a lot of good advice above. its truly a difficult situation. I would definitely have a chat with the parents and see if i could glean any info as to what's going on. Maybe the kid is just scared. I had that with kids when I coached little league/T-ball 20 years ago - sometimes kids were fine in the field, but terrified at the plate to the point they never swung and just shied away from the plate. I would see what the parents say and try to get them to work with her on the side to motivate her a bit more. I also had some fucked up situations where parents were divorced/split and one was pushing the kid to play while the other didn't want them to be playing. One really sad one was this kid i had who had ADHD, and depending on which parent had him that day, he was either completely over medicated, or completely under medicated. He would either literally be a statue in the outfield and never move, or he would be like a friggin' freight train going after every ball no matter where it was on the field. It got to the point i had to make his dad stand in the field next to him to try to help control him.
I would talk to her parents. I think she probably doesn't want to be there. I think a lot of folks push their kids into activities that the kids don't really want to do.
That's a good point. There are definitely a lot of parents who push their kids into activities or hobbies that they just aren't interested in at all. But on the flip side, sometimes a child doesn't really know what they are or aren't interested in until they try it and need a little extra push. Sometimes people are hesitant to step out of their comfort zone for fear or failure/rejection, and if a parent or other guardian figure gives them that little push or direction they may fall in love with a skill or activity. It's a delicate balance for sure between being overboard and too hands off IMO.
Make her run stairs til she pukes
Make everyone else run until they puke, and tell them all that it's because of her. Then have her transfer to UCF.
(No. Do not do that.)
Ugh, I had a soccer coach when I was 13 or 14 who had a requirement that we could all run 3 miles in under 21 minutes...on our trial day, if anyone came in over 21 minutes, the entire team, except those that were too slow had to run an additional mile. Talk about a team morale builder, the rest of us were united in our rage towards those 2 guys.
Sounds like a good reason for a code red.
keeping with the FMJ theme below
Or go the Urban Meyer approach. Tell her she is a loser and have her defend any time in her life she has been a winner. /s
Then give her a kick when she's on the ground
You don't become a youth football coaching legend by playing someone like that.
Someone follows Three Year Letterman, we should reach out to him for his input on this scenario, lol
Its all I could think of while reading this.
lmao, same, not gonna lie
Fire think I thought of while writing this.
I reached out to him on twitter for you. I'll let you know if he responds lol
I coached my kids football from 4 yr old flag up until the could play JV. For the younger kids I always had a few that were afraid of the ball (it's hard and funny shaped!). While we were standing around, waiting for kids to arrive, or I was talking to parents, we played a skills game. Everyone is in a circle close together, and you gave the ball to the person next to you. If you get around the circle without a drop you take a step back, then and do a step handoff. Next time around a lateral, etc until you actually teach those that are ready decent technique for catching or throwing a spiral. When other kids arrive they just hop in, and if someone drops it you all come in and and start over. We would also include calling each other by name, to work on communication and to help me get their names down. I don't think I ever had a player that did not get over their fear of the ball eventually by doing this, and it helps everyone get social and communicating.
We'd set team goals (I'd buy ice-cream is everyone pulled a flag on defense, or scored on offense), and also designed a special play for every player. It might be give it to Joey and let him outrun everybody, or have Tim set a pick for the whole rest of the team to run by and force his defender off so he can get a 2 yard reception on a screen. I'd include things for the others to feel like they are participating - stand right beside a player on the other team and wave and say "I'm open!" to distract him from covering someone else, pretending to trip and fall down to see if defender will go after someone else. Whatever to seemed to make the game enjoyable for that child, whether it was really football or not.
And when the parent who has to win complains about not making their kid a star, let them know their kid is probably ready to play at more competitive level than, and they should look into coaching at that higher level.......
She's probably afraid of the ball. Very normal. I would give her an "important" job and tell her that on offense you are going to use her to trick the opponents and have her run her routes and make them cover her. Tell her you will not throw her the ball until she comes to you and says she is ready. I've given different boys/girls "assignments" in different sports just to get them to engage and almost always they eventually come around and want to participate more.
first off, congrats on your two girls making the NFL. Not many players get to that level. Unbelievable accomplishment. Don't let agents suck you dry and take less over time with higher guaranteed money upfront.
second, my coach used make us run suicides until we puked. it was good motivation.
third, give her the immortal words of Homer Simpson. "You tried and failed miserably. The lesson here is don't try."
and now without sarcasm...
I agree with the above. I understand you are worried about her safety but it's youth football. As much as you want your kids team to succeed just making sure it's a safe and fun environment is the priority, win or lose.
But I have coached a number of youth sports as well so here is my 2 cents. I assume you have some form of practice. I would speak to the rest of the team separately ask for their help to cheer this girl on, and then design a play specifically for her. A running play where she is handed the football. Practice that with good team support and cheering. Make that is fun as possible during practice.
Then in game run the play. Highly likely she does nothing special but when she comes off the field get eye level, as stated above, and tell her what a great job she did. And ask her if she can do it again to help the team? then run it again later in game.
Give her one "important" play that is highly encouraged and for other playing time put her in places that are most likely not going to see the ball being thrown to her. If she starts to really take control of her one play then you have buy in, if not then just let her have her time.
The issue is she just stands there. We had a run play just for her. On hike she didn't move at all from the RB. position, that's why we are thinking instead give her plays on defense.
my next recommendation 🙃
Because of course you have...
haha, is that such a big thing?
Big? No. Just more evidence that you've done it all.
I have never coached kids because their high pitched voices annoy me. But I was a kid once which makes me uniquely qualified to speak about the needs of an 11 year old girl, you see she is on the downhill slop of her life as statistically 10 years old is the age in which one is least likely to die, it's the peak. So she is going to need some motivation. Let's start simple, have you tried yelling at her? This works in sports movies all the time. Also lots of parents berated their kids at sporting events. Though, most of the kids I seem with don't talk to their parents anymore, so if you're going to get the parents help, suggest to them that they say supportive things in public while the yelling and punishment fir not performing stays at home, this makes the kids look like terrible children later in life so the parents get sympathy from others. If yelling is not enough then you need to start getting through to her by the way kids think, you see kids play sports for orange wedges, back in my day we did have orange wedges, that seems to be a 90s thing, we were motivated by pure and unadulterated corporal punishment, and seeing girls in bathing suits all day long. Now I would take away her orange slice until she starts moving during plays. If that doesn't work then you got to go junction boys on her and take her water. Make and example out if her, this is war. Keller Winslow Jr is a soldier. Now if all that doesn't work and she still has functioning legs, maybe put her best friend as DB during practice and have her friend talk to her and then just start walking backwards at hike so she starts to learn her routes through aimless girl talk. If she doesn't have a best friend then your next move is to hire Ethan Hunt. You need to break into her bedroom (avoid the lasers at all costs) and copy her cutiest boy (or girl) in school list, she's 11 she's got one. Though now that I think about it you didn't say if she was home schooled, so eww if so. Once you find out the cutest boy (or girl) enlist them to drag her around the field during practice. Now all thus does assume that she'll make instant friends with the opponent teams player, so maybe have her read How to make friends and influence people. You then reward her with a price is right popsicle, which I hope she likes banana cause that's all that is left after practice cause the parents eat the other flavors and donate banana, which is great! /s
P.S. no no the banana popsicle was the truth, love em!
this got a chuckle out of me. leg for honesty
I would leg for honesty for anything other than my love of banana Popsicles and kids I grew up with not talking to their parents because sports treatment