Don't fall for these 10 youth football myths

By Janis Meredith | Posted 10/16/2017

Perhaps you are one of those parents who signed up your child for youth football with certain hopes, only to discover a few seasons (or years) down the road that those expectations were myths. Or maybe you are just starting your youth sports journey. If so, I’d like to dispel some youth football myths for you right now.

1. It’s all fun and games.

After the initial excitement of signing up, buying equipment, and trying on the uniform wears off, practice and hard work can cause tiredness to set in. Practice will not always be fun. And someone will likely ask the inevitable question at some point, “Is the season almost over yet?” On top of that, the sports parent’s job can sometimes be exhausting and demanding.

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2. Youth sports are expensive.

That depends on your choices. Will you choose expensive lessons or community summer camps? You don’t have to make elite choices for your child to enjoy youth football.

3. The coach is an adult and thus should treat kids fairly.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Most coaches love kids and love the sport, but you will encounter some who are in it to make their own kid look good, or you may end up with a coach who is determined to win, no matter what. Some coaches label kids, robbing them of a fair chance. Fortunately, you can always make a change the following season if your child ends up with a coach who isn’t a good fit.

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4. Coaching my own child will help us bond and is the best option.

This can be true for some parent/child relationships and not true for others. Give it a chance, but don’t be devastated if it is not the wonderful experience you were seeking.

5. My kid will always have a fair shot at being successful.

One thing parents learn quickly in youth football is that things are not always fair. Playing time isn’t equal. Your child may not get to play their desired position. The coach may play favorites. The refs may call it poorly. Parental and league politics may come into play. If you encounter unfairness, you will have to decide if you want to fight it, live with it, or move on.

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6. Parents are reasonable and respectful.

Most parents are, but stick around any field for any length of time and you will quickly learn that some parents are so obsessed with their child’s sports success, that they lose all respectability. Of course, we all behave badly now and then, but you will run into parents who are consistently pushy and blind to how their bad behavior hurts their child. Doing what you can to encourage the coach, players and other parents may at least help to diminish the negative effects.

7. Everyone pitches in to help.

Parents are busy these days. Working full-time and taxiing kids to their events can be consuming. It is unfortunate that there are usually only a few really committed parents to pitch in to help run the snack bar or drive the van to away games.

8. My kid’s a failure if he doesn’t get to play.

NO, NO. NO. Children may feel like a failure for a short time, and you will suffer with them through their pain, but no kid who works hard in practice and stays committed to the team is a failure. Children will be the true victors if they learn to stick it out.

9. Preseason promises always come true.

Beware of coaches who make preseason promises of playing time or guarantee that your child can play a certain position. Even if the coach thinks these promises will happen, the reality of losing or the need to gel as a team will sometimes change that strategy.

10. It ends the way it begins.

Seasons have a way of turning around. If children start out discouraged with little promise of improvement, don’t let them give up. Hard work does pay off. Unfortunately, the opposite is true, too. Your child may start off with high hopes of a great season only to hit a few rough patches from there. Sports seasons can fluctuate more than your teen’s hormones.

So, what are the guarantees when your child plays sports? What is not a myth about the experience? It’s not a myth that being a sports parent will test your character as much as sports will test your child’s. Yet there are few experiences more rewarding in life as watching your child work hard and succeed.

Janis B. Meredith is a sports parenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about good sports parenting habits in her book 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents, available on Amazon.