Coach's Corner: Tom Radke 6/13

Tom Radke

By Tom Radke St. James Academy Head Coach
Posted: June 13, 2012 - 5:59 AM

As a football coach I will always say that football is the best sport, and defiantly the ultimate team sport. In football all 11 players on the field have to work together to make a play successful. The lessons learned through, teamwork, hard work, and working together for a common goal are invaluable. With all of the talk about childhood obesity, I would even go as far as to say that football is one of the best sports to keep kids active and live a healthy lifestyle.
How does football help promote a healthy lifestyle and fight childhood obesity? First it’s the work that most young men know they will have to put in to be a good football player. But these guys know they do not have to do it alone, they are a part of a TEAM. Each football player can lean on one another to get through the hard parts of practice.
Second, if you are not working to become bigger, faster, stronger, then you will be left out. The term bigger, faster, stronger, does not mean fatter, faster, stronger. Bigger refers to working in the weight room to look like Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, with very little body fat.
Most coaches make the football guys use the weight room throughout the year including during the season. This promotes a healthier lifestyle. Now, more and more coaches are also offering speed and agility camps. All of these activities are designed to make a more lean, athletic football player.
An athlete, who is in good condition, quick on his feet, and explosive in every movement is going to play more downs on the football field. To compete at the highest level, an athlete needs to be in top physical condition and that includes lineman.
Offensive and defensive linemen these days are not the traditional “fat” kids on the team. If you want to be a good lineman, you need to be in good shape. You need to be able to not only play every down, but dominate each down. These days lineman not only need to be great in the weight room they also need to work just as hard in conditioning and agility drills.
I have an offensive lineman this year who was on the verge of being great, but he was too heavy, and not a good heavy at 6-foot, 3-inches 302 pounds. He dedicated himself to the weight room and to his off-season conditioning program and is now at a very lean 270 lbs. He is a completely different player, and will be a difference maker on the field in 2012. This is a kid who decided he wanted to make a difference on the team, so he worked hard, and dedicated himself becoming a complete athlete. This is what football does for young men.
As football coaches, we teach kids on what to eat and what not to eat. We get them outside to do drills in the heat, and we train players on how to stay hydrated.  Many times football is the only way these student athletes receive information about eating healthy, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
I really like the stand the NFL has taken with the "Play 60" campaigns. The most popular sport in America is saying that if you play for 60 minutes outside every day and you will be a healthier person. If we as high school coaches are speaking the same language as the NFL, our voices will be heard even louder to the players we are coaching. So, like I said earlier, football IS one of the best sports to keep kids active and living out a healthy lifestyle.