What? Not let him play youth football! Well, it’s not exactly what you think. First off, I don’t have a son (that I know of), so this will never be a discussion in my household. But, this is a topic I’ve thought about for awhile and started sharing with some of my clients who have sons. I didn’t shove it down their throats, it was just brought up in normal conversation.
When I was younger, I had several friends who played youth football. None of them continued to play in high school. My brother and I didn’t play football until our freshman year in high school. One of my old clients, Armand Robinson, didn’t play football until his junior year in high school. He received a scholarship to play football at Miami (OH) and is currently pursuing professional opportunities.
So, why not let your son play youth football? Well, I’ve got several reasons and let’s dive into them.
The size of these kids varies so much.
Kids grow at different rates. You got different size 10 year olds battling each other. I don’t know the particulars as far as weight limits go, what positions they can play etc., but these are young growing bodies.
Some kids will excel at an early age and then might plateau a few years down the road. Others might stink as a younger kid and say this sucks. But, if they had stuck with it, let their body mature, they might have been halfway decent as a high schooler.
So, is it important to get team MVP for your Pop Warner team or play underneath the Friday Night Lights? Why not skip the youth football and avoid all the punishment and wait to play your freshman year in high school when your body is a little more mature and they can progress you at a more natural rate. This leads into my second point.
Football’s skill set can be learned quickly.
Football is different than soccer, tennis, basketball, etc. Those sports you need to be constantly playing to get better at the skill sets. Take Armand’s case. Do you think he could have not played basketball and decided to play his junior year and gotten a basketball scholarship? Probably not.
What you need to be in football is a good athlete. You can play flag football and develop your throwing, speed, and catching ability. Offenses and defenses are going to be different in high school anyways because of the physical differences, so what’s it matter if you aren’t playing your sixth or seventh grade year getting experience. You are still a good athlete.
Develop your athleticism so you can start playing as a freshman and I guarantee you will be at the same level as any of your teammates who were playing the last several years.
Delaying the serious injuries.
I’m not going to say anything that isn’t known, but a lot of youth football coaches don’t know what they are doing. Yes, there are more that are going to clinics to learn things, but the proper techniques aren’t being taught and relayed to the youth.
Part of the reason all these concussions are increasing is because these kids are taking shots to the head at an earlier age. Their accumulating a heck of a lot quicker. Just wait until your kids becomes a freshman and let high school coaches, who hopefully are a little better at teaching technique, teach how to hit and tackle properly.
Also, I know there are rural athletes whose only desire is to play football. The parents hold their kids back so they can be more physically dominant as they grow older. I watched a game where these skinny 8th graders were being carried down the field by a running back that had to be close to 200 pounds as an 8th grader. If you are a skinny football player dealing with that each week, why would you want to continue playing football.
If you waited until you were a freshman, that stud 8th grader would probably be playing JV, you’d be on a freshman team, and could play a freshman schedule. You’d start getting exposure to football and the coaches could progress you when you were ready.
It just makes more sense to me to wait until you are a freshman before playing football. Aggressiveness and toughness can be taught in other sports and will easily be transferred to football. Just develop your son’s athleticism and let them still love football, but hold them back from tackle until the body is a little more mature.
Love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment in the box below.