Before deciding on a youth football program, parents should be doing plenty of homework and asking a lot of questions before making a final decision. Sometimes that decision can simply be made off of word of mouth from other parents or perhaps a child wants to play for the same team as their friends.
That feedback could certainly play a role in the decision. But there is an extremely important question that any parent should ask a youth football program administrator before filling out the registration form and signing that check.
Are your coaches certified by USA Football?
As part of USA Football’s Football Development Model, this month’s pillar of focus is “Coach Education and Training”.
There’s no denying that there are so many special parents and other volunteers that dedicate hours and hours of time to coach teams in all youth sports. When it comes to football, a parent has to ensure their child, as well as the other kids on the team, are being taught the proper fundamentals and techniques that can make the sport as safe as possible.
“Athletes spend hundreds of hours with their coaches. We provide the best resources and training to coaches, so they learn how to teach each player the skills they need to find success.”
When my son Bradley started playing youth tackle football at the age of four, my wife and I registered him for a program in our area that had been around for a long time and had a good reputation. (To be completely transparent, we didn’t know much about USA Football at that time, but if we did, we may have gone in a different direction to one of their leagues with certified coaches.)
As the years went on, parents started to move their kids to other programs so one coach in our program spearheaded the effort for all of the coaches to get certified.
Over the years, we certainly saw programs that had their coaches certified and programs that didn’t. And you can tell the difference simply by watching how the kids played.
As a parent, you certainly have a right to not only ask a program if the coaches are USA Football certified, and you should certainly ask for evidence of that. Also, the coaches should be wearing their certification badges during practices and games so that everyone knows that the coaches are certified by USA Football.
The coaches being certified is so important for everyone involved. The kids can have fun playing the great game of football and also play the game the right way.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a youth football program and perhaps the most important thing is to ensure that the coaches are USA Football certified.
Peter is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network and WFAN Radio in New York. His son Bradley is entering his first year of high school football and is a participant in the U.S. National Team program while his younger son Jared plays flag football. Peter, his wife Sheryl and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets when they’re not at a youth football field.