15 Things I’ve Seen As A High School Football Coach That I Wish Parents Understood

These are truths I have learned as a 23 year Varsity football coach.

  1. ALL decisions — every decision, every time — is made with the following decision-making paradigm: Program first, Players second, Coaches third. There is no exception to this rule.
  2. Parents have NO idea how much time high school football coaches spend trying to help their sons. And it isn’t just seven days a week during the season; the job is year round with meetings all winter, spring, and summer long to be successful in a nine game season. Coaches miss time with their own families to spend with your family. High school coaches make about 10 cents an hour, so nobody is getting rich spending this time.
  3. There are a million ways to skin a cat. As a parent, you may have a lot of football knowledge — even in some cases more than the coach. However, if you aren’t in the inner circle, it doesn’t matter. Just because our program doesn’t do it the way you want it done doesn’t mean we are dumb coaches. There is more to consider than just that one microcosm decision that you are focusing on. Coaches must consider the macro — and always remember Program first.
  4. There are lots of football schemes out there, and they all have been successful and they all have been unsuccessful. If there was one perfect scheme, everybody would run it. What matters is our belief as a staff in the schemes, our knowledge of them, and how we can teach it to our players. It doesn’t matter what we know as coaches — it matters what we can teach to our players, so just because you believe we should be in a four front on defense doesn’t mean we are going to change our complete defensive package over the weekend.
  5. At times, coaches have to out-coach the dinner table. Not everybody knows what is best for the program. Bitching about the coaches around the dinner table ruins our team chemistry. It makes your athlete make a conscious decision to either support the coaches or support his family. That’s a lot for a 17-year-old to deal with emotionally.
  6. No coach wants to lose. Every decision we make is in the best interest of the team, at that exact time. Decisions are not made by politics, money, booster clubs, or who your parents are.
  7. The best players play. Period. Coaches want the best, most coachable athletes on the field, always. Sometimes, coaches wish other players were better athletes because of their work ethic and intangibles, but ultimately, the best players play.
  8. Players need to fail and struggle. Transferring at the first sign of competition and struggle does nothing to develop the athlete. Parents need to stop paving the road for players and trying to rid all the bumps.
  9. Players battling for playing time is a good thing. Internal competition is good for teams and players. Stop transferring athletes so they have a better chance of playing.
  10. Coaching from the stands kills your son. He doesn’t want to listen to you right now. He wants to focus on his job. And if you are yelling something different than his coaches, you are putting him in a no-win situation, forcing him to make a decision between his coach and his parents.
  11. Coaches have emotions for kids, too. When one fails, or when one gets benched, or when one drops the game-winning pass, coaches feel bad and sad for him, too.
  12. Not all athletes are created equal. No, your son isn’t the best player on the team. Or maybe he is. That doesn’t mean he isn’t important and that we don’t want him. It doesn’t mean he is more important than other players. There is a role and a place on football teams for every player. However, not all players will be the one with his name in the paper, scoring touchdowns. The practice squad player who is helping the touchdown maker get ready on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday is just as important — if not more important in some ways — as the guy scoring touchdowns on Friday night.
  13. Parents of quarterbacks lose their minds about playing time. There is just something different about that position, maybe something more different than anything else in sports.
  14. Almost all parent complaints about coaching come back to playing time. I want to say EVERY complaint, but I don’t want to speak in generalities, so I’ll say that 99.99% of parent problems stem from a playing-time issue.
  15. This one is maybe the most important: Everybody wants the best for their kids. Parents always come from a positive place, even if it turns negative. Nobody wants or expects to become “that parent.” I have no doubt that parents love their kids and want the most success possible for them. However, winning is not normal. It takes something special and in that sacrifice is where learning and character are developed.
Written by: Nathan White