Did A Football Player Have Anything To Do With Twitter How to Keep Players Coming Back in Youth Football

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How to Keep Players Coming Back in Youth Football

Tips for retaining players in youth football

Part of the “mission” when you’re coaching youth football is to retain the players. Youth football may not be the thing for some kids, but for others it takes a while to grow up. At the end of every season there are guys on my team who may have decided they won’t be coming back to play another season. But somewhere along the way they change their minds to come back and have a great season that changes their view of the game forever. As much as I enjoy seeing my teams play well, execute our football games well and win championships, I get even more satisfaction from seeing my players finish the season and come back to play another year of youth football.

In the 60 days after the season ends, I like to do a few things that help change the mindset of fence sitters:

Season DVDs are always a big hit. I do one that includes funny headlines, all of our accomplishments, and we set it to Christian music. You have no idea how many times your kids and their families have watched those DVDs, many of my parents say their kids have “leaked” them from playing them so many times. Seeing this can help kids play their football better. These DVDs keep the game fresh in the kid’s mind and set you apart from other youth football teams he might play for. It can also set you apart from other sports like soccer or the dreaded fall baseball.

I always send these DVDs to the kids with the letter as Christmas gifts in December. In this generic one-size-fits-all letter, I explain how much I appreciate the seasons, the parents, and the kids. I also include a personal message about what Christmas means to me and my family. Dave Dimond, a friend of mine in Florida has been sending personalized letters to his children for a long time. He talks about how much he appreciates the players’ contributions to the team and talks about very specific events and attributes for each individual player. Although it seems time-consuming, Dave reports that these letters are valuable to his children, and some children even frame them. This is what I will do for each of my players this year and for the foreseeable future.

Most youth football players need a little public encouragement to get excited about the sport, including your star players. You never know which child might feel a little inadequate about his efforts. We all have kids who are non-starters who we know will become great players in the next year or two. Unfortunately some of these kids don’t realize that after one year under their belt they will be a “star” the next year. Some of these children lose interest and give up football altogether without proper encouragement. If we believe that youth football teaches life lessons, then our goal as coaches should be to retain all kids regardless of their potential. I want to keep the stars, future stars, and never be stars. Some uninformed people think it’s a mutually exclusive deal, bit by bit it’s not true, you can play kids, retain kids and even win in the youth football league. I have done it and so have many others.

Take the time to do these things and your retention numbers will increase. Guys like Dave Dimond love to play for him, he’s a guy who’s mobbed at gas stations by his current and former players. He tells me he gets e-mails that usually start something like this:

Coach Dimond,

My name is John Smith, a friend of mine, Mike Jones has been talking about your youth football team for the past year. John always brags about how much fun his son Jimmy is having for you and how your team went 11-0 last season and how that offense scored all those points. How do I sign my child up for your team? Do you have any scars left?

I also love that the kids take home a team trophy for the week. We then ask them to bring the trophy to school and give it to a teammate who keeps it for a week and then passes it on to the next player on the list. It keeps your team name fresh in the minds of impressionable young kids at school and gives your players something they can show off to their family and friends.

If you coach youth football and your teams compete consistently, you get e-mails like this, we all do. Encourage your players and get creative by keeping football fresh in their minds and you’ll not only get good retention numbers but you won’t be bothered by new players either.

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