Let high school football coaches do what they do best

By Jon Buzby | Posted 3/3/2018

As a parent, I’m a firm believer that our role of coaching our children ends when they enter high school. Once they reach this level, the "real" coaches take over. It doesn't matter what sport, or what level they're playing — varsity, junior varsity or the freshman team — it's time to strictly be your child's biggest fan.

By this point, we parents have given them just about everything we can in terms of training devices, camps and clinics, playing opportunities and technique and strategy tips. It's now time to cut them loose.

It's not easy, I know. I spent my son’s freshman year strictly as a spectator for the first time in the 10 years he'd played sports. I dropped off and picked up for practices rather than planning and running them. I found out the lineup as it unfolded on the field rather than making it. My pre- and post-game speeches were the same for every game: "Good luck" and "Nice game."

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In hindsight, I really enjoyed it. I think my son enjoyed it even more.

Sure, there were times when I wanted to shout out to him or sneak over near the sideline with some advice. But instead, I stayed firmly planted in the bleachers, observing quietly to myself.

I think there were times when he finally realized my coaching philosophy was better suited to him than he ever thought before. But as I told him, "I'm not the coach anymore."

I also didn't coach him in the offseason. I stopped telling him he should be running or lifting instead of texting his friends. I didn’t tell him that he could be passing or catching the pigskin for real, instead of playing video games.

I told him over and over my job at that point was strictly to make sure he got through high school safely and successfully, and that the opportunity to play sports was icing on the cake, not an essential ingredient.

Many parents — including those who never coached — stay overly involved in their child's sports lives once they reach high school. It's then a rude awakening for parents to all of the sudden realize the coach really doesn't care what your child’s statistics were in the youth football leagues. They're not concerned with your opinion on who should be playing quarterback.  

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We remain our kids’ biggest fans, and most likely do anything they ask related to their involvement in sports. But unlike having to make sure they study, we shouldn't have to tell them to go take a run to stay in shape or head to the basement to lift weights.

That's now their job, of course with the encouragement of their high school coaches.

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, “Not an Expert, Just a Dad … In this Crazy Game Called Life,” 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.  

This is an updated version of a blog that originally published March 17, 2017.