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Author Topic: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?  (Read 2482 times)

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Offline Vince148

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I was thinking of this after reading a couple of posts in different threads. What is a coach's idea of making football fun? I always thought that football is a serious game. I tell kids that if they don't do as I tell them in learning the fundamentals, they can get hurt. Maybe that's the wrong approach, but it's the truth. I want my players to be prepared on the field. I'll provide fundamentals and do drills that I think will make them better players and keep them safe when they go on the field. Is that supposed to be "fun"? I don't know. Then I found this old post from DP that he posted back in 2011 that maybe sheds some light on this "fun" thing.

How much time do you have?  lol

This subject is a pet peeve of mine.

You cannot make football fun.  It is a game.  And by its very nature, it's already fun.  Some kids enjoy it.  Some kids don't.  Some coaches will place an emphasis on trying to make practices less intense, less physical, less competitive in their hopes of making football "fun."  It doesn't work that way.  You can bend over backwards trying to make a kid like football, but he either likes it, or not.  Sure, you can add some aspects that may make the experience more pleasant for him (no yelling, playing "games" instead of practicing, bringing cookies to practice, etc.) but none of that will help him embrace blocking, tackling, drills, excercises, warmups, sweating and hard work.  So if all of the extra accoutrements will not make him like football, then they become a waste of time.  Yet many coaches will continue to chase that approach. 

I can bend over backwards for every player, shower them with gifts, trophies, etc.  Play games at practice (drills with water balloons, and other nonsensical approaches) and the kid still may not come back next year.  On the other hand, I can ride kids through the hard work, push and grind them and they will return next year.

Trying to insure that "kids have fun" is a waste of time and an exercise in futility.  It's like chasing your tail.  I'm out there to teach football to those who want to learn.  I'm not out there to change a kid's mind who wants no part of what we do.

This is a competitive sport where the final result is measured on the scoreboard.  Kids are by their nature competitive.  When I taught 1st graders, I was no longer allowed to play MUSICAL CHAIRS in the classroom because the kids that lost, would cry.  Kids want to win.  Kids develop self esteem and confidence through success.  An org that does not emphasize on the field success is not confident in their ability to put a successful product on the field.  It is often a cop-out:  "Oh, we don't worry about winning games, because we just want the kids to have fun."  Kids don't "have fun" losing.  As a teacher/coach, it's my responsibililty to teach football.  Just as it was my responsibility to teach math & english.  Should I have said, "It doesn't matter whether they're successful  learning math & english.  I just want them to enjoy school.  After all, we want them to want to come back next year." ??

My priority is to teach kids to be successful.  Successful kids have fun.  Unsuccessful kids don't.

--Dave

Offline gumby_in_co

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2018, 06:53:05 PM »
No doubt. The game of football is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, for a lot of kids, preparing to play the game of football isn't any fun at all. Seeing other teams practice and hearing the horror stories here, things are going on at football practices around the country that aren't fun for anyone:

* long lines
* war stories
* lectures
* half the team being ignored
* unequal treatment
* bullying/exclusion
* getting yelled at for something you can't control
* drills where you run around 2 cones and back

We understand that not every drill or segment is "fun". In fact, some parts of practice just suck.

What we try to instill is an identity with OUR team. From August until November, being an Outlaw is who I am and where ever my brothers are is where I belong. We try to forge a family bond that's so strong that our players don't care what they're doing as long as it's with the Brothers. "This may suck, but at least we're together."

I feel bummed out and empty on off days. If my players don't feel the same way, I'm failing.
Mission Statement: To create a Football Family that our players and parents can't imagine not being a part of.

Offline Michael

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2018, 06:59:14 PM »
Beats me, because I doubt I've ever said that.

I'm going for more "I'm glad I did that" after the fact than "Wow, this is fun" during it.

That being said, as they say, I'm told that a lot of my drills are a lot of fun.  But I think it comes from the structure and from the improvement the kids can see, rather than any "Hey, you know what would be fun to do..."
“If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself.” ― Albert Einstein

Offline MHcoach

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2018, 07:57:22 PM »
Practice can be drudgery  or it can be fast paced & effective. I'm not sure "fun" is the exact word I would use, but certainly interesting & engaging. It needs to have high energy. This comes from one place, coaches!

I know when I coached the Youth game we did our EDD's every practice, yet were never boring because of the energy the coaches brought to practice. We also knew how to keep players engaged & competitive.

The typical bad Youth practice starts with 30 minutes of Cals, 10 minutes of grass drills, 60 minutes of scrimmaging, & 20 minutes of conditioning. No teaching takes place. Everything is done with no energy.

When we were at MH we practiced twice a week. People from here who have seen those teams were amazed that was all we practiced. Most days we practiced in shells with no full contact. Yet we were always the most physical team on the field. We never conditioned, rather used our drills for conditioning & we were always the best conditioned team on the field. Our record bears out that this works.

Most of the time all of our players were at practice. We didn't have players missing unless it something very much out of the ordinary. There was no Dr's appointments, or Dentist's. It was easy to run a great practice if your players are all there.

Our pace at practice was blistering, & no one seemed to mind. Instead they enjoyed it because it went by fast & was never drudgery. We rarely told stories, & if we did it was never about us but past teams & players. There was also a purpose to every single thing we did.

Joe
"Champions behave like champions before they're champions: they have a winning standard of performance before they are winners"
Bill Walsh

Offline Bob Goodman

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2018, 10:46:53 PM »
What is a coach's idea of making football fun? I always thought that football is a serious game.

 ???

What is a game for, if not fun?  In a few contexts like management training & military wargaming, they're simulations for some reason other than fun.  Other than that, "game", "play", related words all refer to some inessential activity done for enjoyment.

Practice at anything tends not to be fun, because it's instrumental.  It doesn't necessarily produce fun directly, but is something you do so that later whatever you've practiced can produce the fun.  But it's clear that kids enjoy some aspects of practice more than others, and enjoy one team's practice more than another's.  It may not always be possible to reduce the boring parts, but much of the time some teams do boring stuff more than necessary to be safe or competitive.

Offline CoachDP

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2018, 12:04:15 AM »
I was thinking of this after reading a couple of posts in different threads. What is a coach's idea of making football fun? I always thought that football is a serious game. I tell kids that if they don't do as I tell them in learning the fundamentals, they can get hurt. Maybe that's the wrong approach, but it's the truth. I want my players to be prepared on the field. I'll provide fundamentals and do drills that I think will make them better players and keep them safe when they go on the field. Is that supposed to be "fun"? I don't know. Then I found this old post from DP that he posted back in 2011 that maybe sheds some light on this "fun" thing.

Not sure where you found this Vince, or how, but it's kinda interesting to see what I wrote 7 1/2 years ago.  It's probably the biggest reason I don't write books....things change.

Whereas the bulk of what I wrote then is still true for me today, there is one strong fundamental difference.  Back then, I didn't chase down kids.  If you came out wanting to play, that's great.  If you had no interest in what we did, that was fine, too.  I wanted to coach players who wanted to be there and wasn't going to waste my time trying to convince a player that this was "fun," if he wanted out of it. 

Nowadays, it's a different approach.  I'm going to try to chase down every kid I can because I believe what we offer is good for him.  So yes, I'm going to chase him and sell him on what we do.  I don't want him to miss out.  And I want him to be glad that he stuck it out and stayed with it.  "BattleReady" was not even a gleem in my eye at that point.  Now it's my focus.

"Fun?"  We're still loud, confrontational, intense and no-nonsense.   If it's a drill that doesn't advance our scheme, then we don't use it.  We don't play touch, flag or 7on7 football.  We don't let linemen run the ball.  We don't try to make football fun.  On the other side, I believe our kids like our passion, enthusiasm, intensity and work ethic.   We had 40 players at EWHS (a 3A school).  We had 59 players at GHHS, a 4A school.  We had 55 players at CHS, a 4A school.  I don't cut anyone.  I don't believe in it.  To play for us, you simply have to execute the drills we demand.  It's hard.  It's a challenge.  But it's not impossible.

"Fun?"  We won't waste our time with water balloon fights, or playing tag.  We will not incorporate something "fun" for simply the sake of "fun."  That takes us away from our purpose, which is to get the most out of each practice in our offensive, defensive and special team schemes.

Everyone has their own way of doing things, but I'm not looking for ways to waste time or fill my hours of practice.  It's impossible for me to fit everything into a practice that we want to do.  And our warm-ups last only 12 minutes and we rarely, if ever, scrimmage.

In the end, I believe "fun" is made when players have success from doing what you teach.  Players enjoy the classes they're successful in, and hate the classes they are failing.  Don't waste their time.

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

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Offline davecisar

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2018, 08:55:17 AM »
Pretty simple really

If the kids are having fun, they will attend practice, you wont have any problem with attendance and you will get them to come back with their friends, as long as you are doing reasonably well on the field. Not sure how that is a bad thing and guys struggling to get numbers should definitely think real hard about.

For those that played HS or College ball
Did you run your sprints- conditioning as fast as you possibly could on every rep or just fast enough not to be punished?
Did you look forward to them and give it everything you had in practice or save up enough 'juice" to survive sprints?
95%  or 19 0f 20 players- going just fast enough not to be punished- NOT FUN- dreading it most kids
Why not get the very same conditioning done- even better IMO because they go 100% all out, by playing a game
A game they love playing and will try desperately to win- AKA running as fast as possible like Deer Hunter and Hawiian rules football- sharks and minnows?

These are ALL football related- dropping your hips, sprinting, changing direction are ALL related directly to what all players do on the field. AND its fun.

We crack and joke on each other- all the time
We make everything a competition- how many perfect wedge fits in a row can we get, how many perfect wedge fits in 60 seconds, fumble battles, first step fit speed battles, sumo, king of the sumo ring, etc etc etc

We do water balloon fights at the end of practice after week 1- because the kids love it and great way to cool off
Then our parents film and take pics of it and share on facebook and we get HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of free $$ advertising AND the parents talk
If Jr is having fun AND their team is WINNING- they are having fun

Its YOUTH football
Letting everyone carry the ball by wasting not a SINGLE SECOND on practicing it during practice is really fun for most linemen- they love it for one carry then MOST of them are happy NOT to carry LOL
 Everyone is going to tote the rock at least once- assuming we get a couple of blowout wins which for me has been about 10 seasons in a row now. Why the heck not -we are playing to have fun- that is what the kids put down as reasons they decided to play football. It is ALWAYS number 1, number 2 is to spend time with their friends. 
AND the parents talk about it- the fun stuff, the linemen carrying the ball and the winning


Kids also like:
Short lines
FAST PACE
Inclusive practices
SHORT segments
Showing not telling
Coaches who dont pontificate-NO LONG speeches or long quality control- one or two word QC cues
Changes of pace- nuances

We have been doing this since 2002- I was tired of our poor retention numbers and wanted to completely flip what we were doing- we also wanted to win
We wanted to be the biggest and the best- we were in Omaha (before I left- 5-6 years later they folded), now we are the biggest and best in Lincoln area

At the end if the day times are changing
If you are happy with your numbers and wins- stick to what you are doing
If not- maybe time to significantly change what you are doing- thats what we did and it has worked out extremely well now at 3 different locations, 5 different leagues

As to the thought that you cant have fun and teach great safe fundamentals
IN NO WAY are they mutually exclusive- our kids fundamentals are insanely good- that's why we consistently win

« Last Edit: July 31, 2018, 09:15:56 AM by davecisar »
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

Winston Churchill

Offline Vince148

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2018, 09:34:20 AM »
Notice the difference between the above two posts, DP's and DC's. No wonder I sometimes get confused!

And while both have been very successful in their approach, I admit that I have more of a tendency to lean towards DP's style of coaching. To me, it just doesn't seem like the best use of time to waste 15 minutes watching kids throwing water balloons to assess their reactive skills when I can use that same time with Ten Yard Fight or focus on better tackling and blocking technique.

As I said, each has been successful with their individual style of coaching, but I prefer the no-nonsense approach. The question is, can you make that approach "fun"?

Offline davecisar

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2018, 09:50:53 AM »
Notice the difference between the above two posts, DP's and DC's. No wonder I sometimes get confused!

And while both have been very successful in their approach, I admit that I have more of a tendency to lean towards DP's style of coaching. To me, it just doesn't seem like the best use of time to waste 15 minutes watching kids throwing water balloons to assess their reactive skills when I can use that same time with Ten Yard Fight or focus on better tackling and blocking technique.

As I said, each has been successful with their individual style of coaching, but I prefer the no-nonsense approach. The question is, can you make that approach "fun"?

No one ever said to spend 15 minutes assessing kids ability to dodge water balloons

For ONE day- at the end of practice- practice goes from 6-8   from 8- 8:15 the kids battle
Im not even watching them play- Im talking to parents and getting my stuff together to leave

We will get at least a THOUSAND $$$ in free facebook advertising from our parents photos and film

Vince- you always look at ways to waste time- I would have never thought about doing it during practice or bothering to watch.
 Im looking for ways to eliminate time wasting and getting free advertising- we probably can get this one in the local paper this year

if your approach is working for you- then keep doing it
If not, maybe it's time for a real change

Probably one of the reasons I was able to add a team this year and spend less than $500 recruiting kids
« Last Edit: July 31, 2018, 09:54:22 AM by davecisar »
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

Winston Churchill

Offline ZACH

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2018, 09:56:38 AM »
Keepem moving and im action... kids dont want to be idle for long.

There are some drills kids like more than others, incorporate them as a reward.

The relay races, water balloons, and weird grab ass stuff is not fun, its a distraction.
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Offline Michael

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2018, 10:09:28 AM »
A lot of "no-nonsense" guys include a lot of nonsense.

Just like a lot of "win at all costs" guys don't win very much.

You may think you're copying somebody, but it may not look at all to them like they're being copied.

I'm not the water-balloon type, but for most youth coaches in the country, the issue wouldn't be the 15 minutes of water balloons one day, it would be the two hours of practice every day that involves 105 minutes of waste.  And plenty of those guys think they're no-nonsense.

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has seen a practice that involves almost no activity for the first 90 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of sprints, followed by a 15-minute speech about how "we're the hardest-working team in the league."
“If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself.” ― Albert Einstein

Offline CoachDP

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2018, 10:16:52 AM »
Notice the difference between the above two posts, DP's and DC's. No wonder I sometimes get confused!

--No reason to get confused.  There's always more than one way to skin a cat.

And while both have been very successful in their approach, I admit that I have more of a tendency to lean towards DP's style of coaching. To me, it just doesn't seem like the best use of time to waste 15 minutes watching kids throwing water balloons to assess their reactive skills when I can use that same time with Ten Yard Fight or focus on better tackling and blocking technique.

--For everything that DC and I do in a practice, there's a specific reason for the madness.  I tell coaches at clinics, "There's more than one way to skin a cat.  What's most important is not what you do, but knowing why you do it."  DC obviously knows the reason for what he does and knows how to make it work for him.  Let's look at the water balloon fights, for example:  "We do water balloon fights at the end of practice after week 1- because the kids love it and great way to cool off
Then our parents film and take pics of it and share on facebook and we get HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of free $$ advertising AND the parents talk  If Jr is having fun AND their team is WINNING- they are having fun"


--This is pretty smart stuff when you look at how DC describes it.  He's not concluding every practice with a water balloon fight; it's a Week 1 thing.  And the positive exposure/advertising makes this event well worth the investment in time (and balloons).  So it's not just a water balloon fight to make it "fun." Yes, the players are having "fun" (nothing wrong with that), but his org gets positive notice.  I'm sure it also builds the type of esprit de corps that he's looking for.  It doesn't appeal to me, but then I've never tried it.  My point is, DC has a reason he does it and knows what its benefits are.  A lesser coach would be wasting time having a water balloon fight for the sake of having a water balloon fight and nothing more.  DC makes this work for him. 

As I said, each has been successful with their individual style of coaching, but I prefer the no-nonsense approach. The question is, can you make that approach "fun"?

--I think all of this discussion about "fun" is completely missing the point.  I think positive practices and creating a great atmosphere are paramount to success and returning players.  DC creates a positive atmosphere through things such as water balloon fights and other approaches.  We create a positive atmosphere through always being upbeat, respectful and confident, teaching our players in a proactive (not reactive) way and trying to make them feel confident in in the specific relationship that every player has with us.  In that context, DC and I are both doing the same thing: creating a positive atmosphere at our practices.  MOST (not "many," but "MOST") coaches take zero responsibility in this area.  They allow the grind of football, the grind of practice and the grind of the season to wear on themselves and their players.  They coach through insult, intimidation and frustration.  If you have enough talent using that approach, you may be able to get through the season with a good W/L record.  And if that's all this means to you, then shame on you.

--Dave
« Last Edit: July 31, 2018, 10:29:39 AM by CoachDP »
"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement:
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Offline davecisar

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2018, 10:19:11 AM »


The relay races, water balloons, and weird grab ass stuff is not fun, its a distraction.

Ask the kids they will tell you otherwise

At the end of the day IMO it does a much better job of getting kids into shape, winning, having fun and retaining- recruiting players
ALL of which we have had no problem doing even of late using this approach= over the very long haul
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

Winston Churchill

Offline SingleWingGoombah

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2018, 10:23:28 AM »
No nonsense to some just means they don't allow any tomfoolery while telling the kids how good they were back in 8th grade.

I have been pulling my hair out for 2 weeks as we go through our camp.  We have 70 to 80 kids each day for our age group, its a conditioning/evaluation/no full contact period.  The coach for the select team runs camp, I am not that coach this year.  It has been brutal.  You would think each drill was designed to incorporate long slow moving lines.  I interjected my own drill for 3 days before I was told no more... I was running hard effort stuff just to see the effort and how easily they would quit.  Otherwise I am not sure they would break a sweat.  It has been low energy, no competition, no "fun", boring ass drills for 2 weeks.  I want to scream.  Only 2 more days until we break out into teams, those 2 days are full pads full contact allowed.  I cannot wait, these first year players will get a whole new experience.  The ones lucky enough to be on my team :)




Offline SingleWingGoombah

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Re: What does it mean when you say, "I want practices to be fun."?
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2018, 10:24:46 AM »
Quote
I tell coaches at clinics, "There's more than one way to skin a cat.

Think of how much more effective this message would be if you were to show them, and not just tell them.