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Frustrating Flag Football Faux Pas

Have you ever been frustrated? I don’t mean the ordinary, run-of-the-mill frustration. I mean the kind of frustration that tempts you to drop your clipboard, run out on the field, throw a tantrum, and scream at the top of your lungs. I kinda have that kind of frustration. And I don’t know what to do. I know what I will do… nothing. That is what makes it worse.

I was asked to coach a flag football team (1st and 2nd graders) and I reluctantly agreed. I love football but have never tried to teach anyone how to play. I love to watch it. I don’t talk about it. I can’t really tell you what a screen play or counter trap is or even a nickel defense. I guess I don’t love it that much. But I do like to watch. And I knew it might be a challenge but I didn’t realize what a great source of frustration it would be. But, alas, here I am at 1:30am after our second game wondering whether or not I can get through to these kids. And, of course, I feel like I have no idea of what I am doing.

Have you ever seen the television show Monk? He is billed as the obsessive/compulsive detective. I can relate to him sometimes. I certainly wouldn’t classify myself with OCD but I do like to have my things in order. As I think about it, I wonder if the source of my discontentment is this desire to have things organized and orderly. There is this substitution process in our league to insure that all players get to play an equal amount on both offense and defense. It is not complicated except when players do not show up for games. Then everything gets all jumbled up and it makes me crazy. In today’s game I sure made a mess of that. Why can’t they just show up at the game? That would make it all too simple. And then there’s the ones that show up late. So I change the original lineup to the second lineup only to change it to the third lineup and then back to the original lineup. At least that is what happened the first game. What happens is that the players are not able to play with the group that they practiced with and some are playing positions and running routes that they have not practiced. That is why we have only scored two touchdowns in two games. I think the other teams have scored a total of six TDs combined in those games. (I lost count. Evidently, other coaches seem to know what they are doing.)

And then the practices. They are only a hour long and what can you really do in an hour? We run a play and then yell at encourage the kids to hustle back up to the line to run it again because it didn’t work. Before you know it all of the time is gone and we have to stop. I have this vision in my head that we can go through all of the plays and they execute them perfectly and we all clap and share high fives and drink gatorade. But instead I look at my watch and wonder why we have only covered two or three plays in the time we have.

I know this is a long tirade of complaints and whining. If I had some cheese with all of this whine I could have a great picnic. I know. But I just needed to vent a bit, I guess. To be honest, there have been some nuggets of blessing from all of this. Some kids, that you might not expect to, have tried so hard and succeeded. Some kids are respectful of others. That is always nice to see. And my own son might just be quite a little athlete. That makes me proud. It is so great to see him put it all out on the line, trying his best, and actually being good at it. So all is not frustrating. I need to try to keep it all in perspective. The football is not the main purpose of Upward anyway. It is to model the love of Christ and communicate the Gospel to these boys and their families. So because of that I can’t just walk away. Although, I thought about it today during the game. I can’t do that. Our league (1st and 2nd) doesn’t keep score or standings (that is another thought for another post) so none of this is supposed to matter. But it does. I don’t expect perfection from these young boys but I want this to be a good experience for them. And. somehow. I feel like I am letting them down.

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