If your kids haven’t started bugging you, be prepared. Football makes its way back into the headlines around this time every summer, and kids start asking their parents to play tackle football for the first time.
Here are five things to know heading into your inaugural season as a tackle football parent.
1. Your child will want to play for a variety of reasons
Kids play sports for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes a child’s desire to play motivates them, while other times a friend influences them. They might also perceive football as the cool thing to do, or a parent might force them to play. Virtually all kids who play youth sports hope to have fun. The same will hold true for your child playing tackle football. There will be good and bad days, but a well-coached team with supportive parents makes for a fun season.
2. Time commitment
If your child has played a youth sport before, they and you understand what it’s like to practice at least once a week on a school night and spend a few hours of every weekend at a game, and sometimes traveling long distances to play. However, most tackle football teams practice on multiple nights. Coaches utilize this increased practice time to improve skill levels and get kids in proper shape, but also to allow for more teaching time in terms of proper tackling techniques and other important safety tactics.
Tackle football is more costly than flag football and most other youth sports, primarily because a helmet is involved. You won’t purchase a more important piece of equipment during your years in youth sports than the helmet.
Football is a physical game. You can expect your child to come home from practice with bumps and bruises. That’s part of any sport that involves contact. Learn to recognize the difference between soreness from early-season practices that happen in every sport, and a real injury. If you aren’t sure, treat it as an injury until a professional tells you differently.
Perhaps more than any other sport, playing tackle football requires the ability to learn plays on offense and understand strategy and responsibility on defense. Be prepared to help your child learn the plays and the other strategies they’ll need to understand before the first game. If you treat it like a homework assignment and set aside time to do it each night, it will happen more naturally and probably without a fuss … from the parent or child.
Your family’s first season involved in tackle football can be a very positive eye-opening experience, especially if you go into it with one eye already open as to what to expect.
Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years, originally as a coach and board member with his now-adult son and most recently "just as a dad" with his 8- and 10-year-old sons. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.