Coach's Corner: Joel Applebee 10/21

Joel Applebee

By Joel Applebee Mill Valley Head Coach
Posted: October 21, 2010 - 2:38 PM

Football is the ultimate team sport. To build a team to its potential it is important to foster a family-type atmosphere.


With the rising trend of youth growing up without a father, coaches have a unique opportunity to provide a positive male role model. With this opportunity comes a lot of responsibility as well. Three major characteristics helpful in building the family-type atmosphere are treat players ethically, be present and positive, and provide parents with opportunities to help.


Players will give you everything they have to give, if they trust you as a person of character. In sports, there are many difficult situations that arise. One of the most difficult ones for example maybe, who do you play - a senior with experience or a sophomore with more talent? There is no one right or wrong answer to this question.


I think the important part of this solution is honesty. Players want to win and want what is best for the team. Taking the time to talk with them one on one and tell them your thoughts and plans for the team helps them to feel like a valued family member. The worst thing you can do to a player is blindside them with no explanation.


Being a football coach is a lot like being a parent. Players want and need high expectations. If you do not expect much out of a player, they will not give you much. Players desire high expectations and a strong consistent adult to hold them accountable.


Players will not respond to coaches that waver back and forth with expectations and change their mind constantly. Consistently forcing players to meet expectations with positive reinforcement with build trust and respect. Being present and being positive, is as much of being a great coach as being an Xs and Os guru.


Seeing players every day, it is a little bit easier to build a positive relationship with them. Sometimes, as there will inevitably be, parents and coaches may not see eye to eye. In the field of education, administration always suggests making a positive connection with parents before having to call them and talk about any behavior or academic issues. Similarly, making that positive connection with player’s families you will begin to build a strong outer-circle of the family. Ways of getting them involved include: family barbeques, parental inclusion in team dinners, away game caravans, home and away tailgates, etc.


Here is an interesting statistic: 71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools). A coach has that opportunity to be the consistent male role model for some team members.

Building a family atmosphere within a football program provides the players and parents with a sense of belonging and a sense of trust. Football becomes something more than just a sport that is played; it becomes a family in which they are a part of. Each individual within the family is respected and each trusts the other to do what is best for the team