Youth Coaches: Don’t Play Victim

By Eliot Clough | Posted 12/3/2019

In a leadership position, specifically coaching, taking the blame for the collective failure is key. It’s a staple in the coaching world. When your team wins you give them all the credit. That’s Coaching 101.

Playing the victim is not. Playing victim is detrimental to you and your team.

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Brian Kight has seen enough of it in today’s coaches. “I think people feel like the sport is under attack, and for a sport that prides itself on being tough and not having entitlement, I think as a whole coaches are acting like victims,” says Kight, the founder of “They are reacting in a defensive nature by locking down and tripling down on their strongest beliefs. They’re basically doing what Democrats and Republicans are doing in politics right now, which is the worst possible thing you could do for trying to bring anything to anyone.”

According to Kight, this approach will do absolutely nothing for the sport, especially in terms of growth. “You’ve got to make yourself and your sport attractive,” says Kight. “You need to be paying attention. Watch what’s going on with everybody else. Become best friends and supporters of all the other sports, become open to the community where they get to know you and you get to know them, find out what their priorities are. Quit being so damn dogmatic. Quit being so damn dogmatic about every principle … America doesn’t need you for that, youth football coach!”

So, what does America and the sport of football need from its coaches? “What America needs from you is [to] be a great dude,” says Kight. “Contribute to kids, show them how to compete and have fun and treat people well and show them how to interact well within your community. They don’t need you to run tough drills, they don’t need you to teach crack-back blocks. They don’t need that. There’s a hundred ways to teach toughness, they’ve got time.”

Kight then affirms the fact that simply playing football strengthens kids in today’s world. “Football is the toughest sport in all of youth athletics. If they need to prove toughness, they can prove it by the time they get to high school. It’s hard … That’s the sport. There’s time for them to do that if they keep playing the game through high school. Nobody needs you to make the sport of football tougher in youth. They don’t need you for that.”

Lastly, Kight has a piece of advice for those coaches who fall into self-victimization. “You’re only a victim when you decide to be,” Kight says. “Don’t position yourself as a football coach as somehow being victimized by what’s happening to the sport. Either in the commentary, your community or your environment, and I’ll tell you why. Nobody likes someone who acts like a victim. So, don’t act like a victim as a football coach because you’re going to make yourself, your program and the sport unlikeable.”