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terrypjohnson
(@terrypjohnson)
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 278
United States
Head Coach
September 9, 2020 11:48 am  

Good morning coaches!

Last night was the first night that I put the kids in positions. After practice, I had several different parents upset with me that I put their kids on the offensive line. I calmly let them know that it was only the third practice and that things will change as I try to find the right mix for the team. I also reminded them that there are only 13 kids on each team, so many players would have to learn multiple positions. Finally, I stressed that blocking is a skill that translates to every position, so regardless of where they play in the future, the kids are learning what they need to do to be successful. Because of how we block things, there's not a very big difference between G and E (e.g. they both pull on GATE, they both SAB on Power to their side) or FB and E. Therefore, if you know one, you know them all (with a few minor tweaks, anyway).

However, the fact these conversations took place concerns me. When I played, every coach's philosophy was, "You will play where you help the team the most". As a 5'8" 149-pound slotback, I wasn't exactly happy when I was moved to offensive guard as a junior. But, both the coaches and my parents kept reiterating that football is a team game, and I had to do whatever I could to help the team. Since I had speed, I could pull and help make our triple option more explosive. This lesson obviously stuck because I'm writing about it 25+ years later.

The conversations I had last night were the exact opposite. Don't get me wrong -- those kids aren't going to play line exclusively. As someone (I think it was @CoachDP) told me awhile back, if kids want to play a certain spot for a certain number of plays, then give them a list of things that they need to do in order to get there. Once they do it, give 'em a shot. Yet, it still doesn't sit right with me that parents aren't "team first" like my parents were. Especially at my age group where the kids are still learning (e.g. positions will change a dozen times as they move forward).

Is anyone else having this issue or is this just another example of me having an edge case?

Fight 'em until Hell freezes over, then fight 'em on the ice -- Dutch Meyer


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gumby_in_co
(@gumby_in_co)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 4146
September 9, 2020 12:17 pm  

Never to the extent that you just described. I had 2 parents tell me/us (different teams and 3 years apart), "I know my son and if you 'stick' him on the line, I know he won't play for you." Almost verbatim, which was kind of weird. I also had a rookie whose parents tried to educate me that "this league is about fun and development, so you should let kids try the position they want". This rookie was a patch/stripe player who had his heart set on being QB. And yes, this kid sabotaged our offense by purposely doing a bad job in hopes we'd give in and let him play QB.

In 9 (going on 10) seasons coaching with Mahonz . . . not one single complaint that I'm aware of.

If I were in your shoes, I would avoid talk of "it's only the 3rd week", "these aren't their permanent positions", or  "they won't exclusively play the o-line," etc. That is a) feeding the flames of the situation you now find yourself in b) diminishes the importance of the o-line and c) distracts from the "team first" mentality that is unique to football. 

You had it right with "You will play where you help the team the most". 

If you have stubborn parents, then draft a "waiver" where they acknowledge that because their son will only play a certain position, then he must accept his place on the depth chart at that position, including diminished playing time. If you have an MPP rule, make sure to state that the MPP rules may not apply so that you can accommodate their request to play only one position. Then roll with "Jimmy" as your 6th string RB and play him accordingly.

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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Coyote
(@coyote)
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September 10, 2020 11:08 am  
Posted by: @terrypjohnson

I had several different parents upset with me that I put their kids on the offensive line.

Does your Offense require blocking by the backs?   We emphasize it, "No block, No Rock", a kid won't / can't block for his teammates won't  be getting the ball. 

When we draft 3rd grade RB's we usually put them on the OLine - most often at G = gives us the ability to go athlete-on-athlete in the open field.  We consider blocking to be the supreme skill set on offense.  We refer to our OLine as the true skilled positions and tell the kids that the OLine was chosen for their superior intelligence and good looks.   

More often than not, our G's from one season will be in the backfield in their second.   Our current QB and FB were G's last yr and our current HB played almost as much on the OL as he did at WB his 1st season.    When it becomes known that the path to the backfield goes through the OLine, the returning parents (esp. those who's kid is now in the backfield after being on the OLine last yr) will kinda take some of the heat off of you.  Of course, that won't be much help until the following season and parents see their RB's being effective blockers.

Avoid any type of comment that implies the OL are inferior in anyway to the Backs.  It's not true and the backs need the OL more than the OL need the backs.   Play-makers are needed for a championship, but consistent winning needs an OLine.   Most teams in our league put all the value (and most of their coaching) on play-makers, which is why they draft at the top year after year, whereas the teams that invest in their OL (in our league) tend to draft at the bottom yr after yr. 

Hope this helps

Umm.... why does that 6 ft tall 9 yr old have a goatee...?


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 17390
North Carolina
High School
September 10, 2020 12:15 pm  

TPJ, did you cover the "How we determine where players play," "Don't be concerned about playing time or positions in Week 1; be concerned about playing time or positions in Week 10 when we're playing for the championship," "There's no amount of playing time or position play that will determine whether your 10-year-old son will get a college football scholarship; take that up with his high school coach," "As the head coach, I will be spending the bulk of my time with our offensive line since it's the most important aspect of our team," "I've never had a parent bring me an offensive lineman; only QBs, RBs and Wide-Outs," "Throughout every week of the the season, every player will be carrying the ball in practice and have multiple opportunities to carry the ball" (how else will the Backs have someone to tackle when we're doing defensive drills?), "Football isn't a team sport like baseball where every position gets to bat, or basketball where every player gets to shoot," in your Parent Meeting?

I've had to deal with the question occasionally over the years (thus, some of my generated responses above), but I accept their question as being one that I'm comfortable answering.  Add to that, it helps that you convince them of your coaching expertise, while being likable.  And while there's plenty of coaches who are likable, many are also incompetent.  Many who are competent are also unlikeable.  If you can be both (have expertise while being likable), that's a win.  If their question is a hindrance and bother to you, it'll force you to become better in dealing with it for the future.  And that's a good thing.  The things I got better at were the things that posed challenges to me.

--Dave

 

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 17390
North Carolina
High School
September 10, 2020 12:25 pm  
Posted by: @terrypjohnson
 
I calmly let them know that it was only the third practice and that things will change as I try to find the right mix for the team.

"Things will change?"  It sounds like you're apologizing already.

However, the fact these conversations took place concerns me. When I played,

--STOP right there.  Please, PLEASE don't resort to any comment that begins with "When I played..."  That has NOTHING to do with the present and has NOTHING to do with being relevant.

This lesson obviously stuck because I'm writing about it 25+ years later.

--But YOU can still be the one who teaches that lesson today in an "All-About-Me" society.  I teach it.

Don't get me wrong -- those kids aren't going to play line exclusively.

--Well if they're your best offensive linemen then they should be playing it exclusively, unless your numbers dictate they must play a defensive position, as well. 

Is anyone else having this issue or is this just another example of me having an edge case?

--Any parent will behave that way when they're uninformed.  Inform them.

--Dave

 

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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terrypjohnson
(@terrypjohnson)
Bronze
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 278
United States
Head Coach
September 10, 2020 1:02 pm  
Posted by: @coachdp
Posted by: @terrypjohnson
 
I calmly let them know that it was only the third practice and that things will change as I try to find the right mix for the team.

"Things will change?"  It sounds like you're apologizing already.

However, the fact these conversations took place concerns me. When I played,

--STOP right there.  Please, PLEASE don't resort to any comment that begins with "When I played..."  That has NOTHING to do with the present and has NOTHING to do with being relevant.

This lesson obviously stuck because I'm writing about it 25+ years later.

--But YOU can still be the one who teaches that lesson today in an "All-About-Me" society.  I teach it.

Don't get me wrong -- those kids aren't going to play line exclusively.

--Well if they're your best offensive linemen then they should be playing it exclusively, unless your numbers dictate they must play a defensive position, as well. 

Is anyone else having this issue or is this just another example of me having an edge case?

--Any parent will behave that way when they're uninformed.  Inform them.

--Dave

 

Thank you, @CoachDP!

 

Fight 'em until Hell freezes over, then fight 'em on the ice -- Dutch Meyer


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ZACH
 ZACH
(@bucksweep58)
Diamond
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 9393
Coach
September 10, 2020 1:04 pm  

I've had this and worse unfortunately. We have drills the first week to best assess skill and coordination level. We log everything. Dropped passes, run times , drill times, ect bc of this. 

Now when asked why, I show them and ask them if they think their son is better then Johnny running back. I then explain he will play more where I put him. If there's more friction I ask them to leave and request a refund. By this time the other parents steps in and says that's not necessary.  Lol

I did fight a parent once in a parking lot one year mainly bc he got all bewzed up to confront me and I made him into a hood ornament. Good times

I can explain it to you, I can't understand if for you.


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terrypjohnson
(@terrypjohnson)
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 278
United States
Head Coach
September 10, 2020 1:12 pm  
Posted by: @coyote
Posted by: @terrypjohnson

I had several different parents upset with me that I put their kids on the offensive line.

Does your Offense require blocking by the backs?   We emphasize it, "No block, No Rock", a kid won't / can't block for his teammates won't  be getting the ball. 

Yes, sir. Everyone blocks when they don't have the ball. I explain to kids that if they want to run the ball more, they better block well on every play. And, when I give a different kid the chance to run, I'll tell the boys in the huddle, "<Person> just threw an awesome block on the previous play. Block your tails off for him on this play." That's why 7 of 13 players carried the ball last year (and two more would have, but they were over the limit).

Fortunately, I've always coached the offensive line. In my opinion, it's the most important area on the team, and sadly, it's usually the most neglected.

I appreciate your input, Coach @coyote!!

Fight 'em until Hell freezes over, then fight 'em on the ice -- Dutch Meyer


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
Kryptonite
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 17390
North Carolina
High School
September 10, 2020 1:20 pm  

One year we had a Big Heavy who played the offensive line for us.  He wasn't fast.  He wasn't shifty.  He was a LINEMAN.  But each week during the season, when we'd be doing our tackling drills, whether it was Tee Time, X-Factor, or some variation of Oklahoma, he proved hard to bring down when carrying the football.  I became interested in what he'd look like out of the backfield because he demonstrated balance, as well as an unwillingness to go to the ground.  We decided to try a Jumbo package where we used him, in addition to our Fullback and a Linebacker in our backfield, where we ran from various T's, I's and Bone formations.  He was best from a Bone look, and in a game when we got up early, we decided to give Jumbo a chance.  Now I'm not one for having linemen run the ball, even in Slaughter situations.  I believe in giving players an opportunity at what we've prepared them to be successful in.  The Jumbo package worked well that day, and it was something we went to a couple more times during the season.  It didn't win any games for us (they were already won), and he was never as confident in the backfield as he was on the line.  But it was interesting, as an experiment.  His parents were neither one way, nor the other about which position he played despite the fact that his success in the backfield could have opened a can of worms.  (Our opponent simply wasn't very good.  Any Backs would have been successful against them.). But tackling drills (at the youth level) gives opportunities to carry the ball to those who usually don't get that chance. 

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 17390
North Carolina
High School
September 10, 2020 1:22 pm  
Posted by: @bucksweep58

We log everything. Dropped passes, run times , drill times, ect bc of this. 

Absolutely.  There's little argument against facts.

I think because we spend so much more time than other teams with position tryouts (a full week), that parents can see how their child is faring against his teammates.  The more this gets demonstrated in front of parents, the less there is to say.  It's a reason I'm comfortable practicing in front of and around parents.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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terrypjohnson
(@terrypjohnson)
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 278
United States
Head Coach
September 10, 2020 1:30 pm  
Posted by: @terrypjohnson
Posted by: @coachdp
Posted by: @terrypjohnson
 
I calmly let them know that it was only the third practice and that things will change as I try to find the right mix for the team.

"Things will change?"  It sounds like you're apologizing already.

However, the fact these conversations took place concerns me. When I played,

--STOP right there.  Please, PLEASE don't resort to any comment that begins with "When I played..."  That has NOTHING to do with the present and has NOTHING to do with being relevant.

This lesson obviously stuck because I'm writing about it 25+ years later.

--But YOU can still be the one who teaches that lesson today in an "All-About-Me" society.  I teach it.

Don't get me wrong -- those kids aren't going to play line exclusively.

--Well if they're your best offensive linemen then they should be playing it exclusively, unless your numbers dictate they must play a defensive position, as well. 

Is anyone else having this issue or is this just another example of me having an edge case?

--Any parent will behave that way when they're uninformed.  Inform them.

--Dave

 

Thank you, @CoachDP!

 

Coach Potter, I'm agreeing with everything you said. I'm chalking this one up as a learning experience and am grateful for your insight!

With that said, I wanted to clarify one thing. The reason I said they won't play a position exclusively is because I only have 14 kids on the team. It only takes one kid to get injured or not show up before I might have to shuffle players around. That's why I make sure everyone has more than one position on both sides of the ball. Obviously, if I had more players, I'd try to specialize a little more.

 

Fight 'em until Hell freezes over, then fight 'em on the ice -- Dutch Meyer


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gumby_in_co
(@gumby_in_co)
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Posts: 4146
September 10, 2020 1:56 pm  

I was that dad once. It was my son's first season of tackle football and his first full contact practice in pads. The coaches put the big boys (and there were plenty of them) on the line, put the baseball players in the backfield and at the receiver spots (they all coached baseball together) and took the 7 leftover players on defense with absolutely no instruction other than where to line up. They put my son (58lbs) over an OT named Braden (116lbs) and started running plays. I watched Braden (still friends with this young man) repeatedly swing my son by the jersey in circles and slam him to the ground. Coaches were excited because they were scoring on every play. 11 on 7, no instruction to the defense and haven't done a single tackle drill with a team of 2nd graders.

At the next water break, my kid came to me fighting back tears, "Can we please go home? I don't like this." I just told him to go back and use his speed and jukes to get past Braden and tackle the guy with the ball. "Don't let that big boy touch you". 4 straight TFLs later, including a strip for a defensive TD, one of the coaches screamed, "WHO TOLD YOU TO DO THAT?" My son pointed at me. Coach said "NO! YOU STAND RIGHT HERE AND DON'T MOVE!!!". So I walked onto the field and pulled my son out of practice. Coach asked me what I was doing. I said, "I'm not going to let him sit there and get rag dolled by a kid twice his size while you tell him to stand there." 6 other parents of the other human blocking dummies came out and grabbed their sons. 4 moms surrounded the HC and went full Karen on him, so he called practice. He approached me in the parking lot to explain that "we're just trying to get some plays going on offense". I then went full Karen on him explaining that he's the fastest kid on the team, I've been working with him at the park at RB, etc. etc. etc. Whatever. I was a jerk.

My response was visceral because this was exactly what happened to me "when I played" 🙄.  Some coach put 6 year old me in front of a 9 year old twice my size and told me "Block" (It came out in 2 syllables: "BuhLahk" (Northwest Texas, 1976). When I tackled the kid, coach told me to grab my jersey with my fists. That was literally the extend of my "coaching" for the entire season. In a given game, I'd stop blocking after about 6 or 7 facemasks/helmets to the forearms. I was not going to put my son through that. 

Now that I am walking upright and using stone tools as a coach, I try to keep my visceral reaction in mind. It's natural and as DP pointed out, it is rooted in being uninformed. As a position coach, I do not "pick" personnel for one group or another. I coach whomever Mahonz gives me. What we do on the o-line is far from boring. It is exciting, requires intelligence, accountability, decision making, communication and constant effort. I love my Regulators and I love coaching them. I really think that comes through for the Regulators and their parents. For the most part, Regulators are proud. We did have a former Regulator roll his eyes and slump his shoulders last week when we had to sub him in for a few plays, so you can't win them all. Oh, and my biggest, meanest o-lineman is constantly asking us if he can run a "go" route. This type of thing is ignored. But I think that pride carries through in the car ride home. 

Mahonz addresses this with the parents every year. This is your son's experience. Not yours. If he wants to try another position, he needs to ask us himself. He might not get the answer he's looking for, but we will tell him what he needs to work on.

When in doot . . . glass and oot.


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mahonz
(@mahonz)
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September 10, 2020 2:09 pm  
Posted by: @gumby_in_co

 

In 9 (going on 10) seasons coaching with Mahonz . . . not one single complaint that I'm aware of.

 

Its in the Team Rules Handout. Only the Players are allowed to discuss positions. If a Parent wants to talk to me about it they may as well  have that conversation with a tree. 

 

Last season after our scrimmage game Mihia's mother came to me and said Mihia needed to talk to me. An acceptable ice breaker. So I sought him out since we were dealing with 8 year olds and had a conversation. 

With every passing year the kids wont need that ice breaker anymore. 

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 17390
North Carolina
High School
September 10, 2020 2:11 pm  

TPJ, there's was not a more naive coach on the field than I was when I first started out.  I assumed that all parents were there to back the team and simply see that their child was having a good time playing the sport.  I assumed they'd back the coaches unconditionally and would never cause a spectacle.  I could not have been more wrong in every way.  Every time I was faced with a new question, (whether it was a reasonable question, or not) I was blindsided (not prepared for how to answer).  Every time a parent questioned my moves, it shocked me.  I went from being blindsided & shocked to furtive & distant.  I was a social-distancer before it became a thing.  lol. Then I had an AC who suggested that I be pro-active and engage parents.  I was already doing the Sunday Night Phone Call, and had been for years.  That was a great help, but it didn't resolve every situation, thus my blindsided/shocked/furtive/distant approach.  Where I really was able to finally relax with parents and build relationships was at our end of season banquet. (After all, we'd won the championship and all the kids were now getting recognized.)  But my AC convinced me to sell what I was doing, sell our approach, and sell myself to parents BEFORE the season (which became our Parents Meeting).  The meetings went from once, to twice to three times.  I found the more conversations I could get with them about ANYTHING (report cards, behavior, what's important to Johnny, etc.) the more parents approached me in a more respectful manner.  I found the more I invested myself in the parent relationship, the better the seasons went, in terms of smoothness and overall enjoyment.  Coaching is hard; really hard.  It's hard even without the drama.  If I had known back in 1997 what I was in for, I know that I never would have done it, it was that hard.  Having to win just added to the importance, drama and conflict of it all.  Thank goodness we had success at it as early as we did, because I don't think I would have stuck around.  But I'm glad I did.  The relationships that I've built not only with players but with parents have made it well worth it.  And to this day, most of the connections and relationships that I've maintained over the years have been with the parents of those players.

I think it's very easy to look at coaching as a Coach vs. Parent situation because that's what it is so much of the time.  That's the reality.  But it doesn't have to be.  I've gone from being defensive and argumentative to being share with me what you think will work.  It's why (at the high school level) we had pre-season and post-season Parent/Player/Coach and Parent/Player/Coach/Teacher meetings, as well as the Sunday Night phone Call.  They were talking to me before, during and after the season at my own instigation.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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terrypjohnson
(@terrypjohnson)
Bronze
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 278
United States
Head Coach
September 10, 2020 2:15 pm  

@mahonz Stealing this!! Thank you, Coach!

 

Fight 'em until Hell freezes over, then fight 'em on the ice -- Dutch Meyer


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