Plug 'N Play Football

Simplifying Football for Youth Coaches

Handling a Loss in Youth Football

Written By: hawkcoach - Apr• 09•11

Nobody likes to lose.  Everybody will lose at some point.  How you react when you do lose will have a big impact on your players.

It always grieves me to see coaches yelling, screaming and berating their players after a loss.  Saying things like “If you’d only listen to me we’d have won the game.”  Telling their team that specific plays or specific players lost the game for them.  Challenging their players’ motivation or desire.  Letting their team know that “things are going to change next practice, no more fun until we start winning!”

Take notes during a game about specific things your team needs to work on regardless of whether you are winning or losing.  Keep your coaching positive.  Yelling at and embarrassing your players doesn’t motivate them to achieve for the right reasons.  Keep upbeat even if you are losing, never let your team think that it’s hopeless to keep trying their best.  Never encourage your team to blame the loss on officials or a specific teammate or play.

youth football player after a loss

Losing isn't fun!

When the game is over and your team lost, it’s time for you as their coach to put things in perspective.  A loss isn’t the end of the world.  How your team responds to losing tells more about their character than how they respond to a win.  Start off by telling your team what they did well.  Point out some great plays that were made.  Review your game notes and talk about some fundamentals you’ll work on next practice to make your team better without pointing out specific players.  You’ll be tempted to put your teacher hat on and explain how they could have used a technique better or play differently but resist that urge.  Save it until the next practice when both you and the players will be over the emotions of losing.  Encourage and build up, don’t beat them while they are already down.

This is your chance to emphasize how a team wins and loses as a team and not as individuals.  More than any other sport, football requires a team to have chemistry – to have an “us against the world” attitude.  One way to build this chemistry is to face challenges and difficulties while depending on one another. 

Losing stinks!  When it happens it requires you to step up and act like an adult who has a firm grasp on how to handle the ups & downs we experience in life.  It’s perhaps the most teachable moment you’ll have as a coach.

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