Football is a sport that reflects life, and in both you must prepare for success in order to achieve it. There are various stages of life and lessons within each one to learn from and grow to take to the next. Most of the players that have played at the highest level of football began there preparation as a student of the game in their formative years long before the NFL was ever a possibility in their life. Through dedication to better their craft, perseverance, and the will to overcome, they realized what everyone should be conscious of: Regardless of the person or profession, the only limits we have are the ones we place on ourselves. For many players, their journey started with being signed up for youth football. Usually ranging from ages 5 and up, this stage is to teach fundamentals of the sport. Although the rules of the game are definitely important and key for their development, it’s characteristics such as teamwork, leadership, discipline, and effort that will resonate within the young boys and girls participating at this level. Children of this age are expected by their parents and peers to have self-control and to show signs of discipline. Elementary school is When kids learn to take on individual responsibilities that benefit the group as a whole. These core concepts are reinforced everyday throughout school and during football practice when they can apply these skill sets and can participate in the progression of the team. I had the opportunity to play football and I remember we didn’t have the best team, but our coach never got angry; he would only be mad if we didn’t show effort or compete. I also recently coached a youth football team myself, and what I love about this level is that there are no egos to check or stats to keep. The only thing to worry about is to have fun and get better; this is why in my opinion it’s the purest form of football. It lays the foundation for which they can further build upon as they grow into adolescents. The fundamentals are instilled in their brains and they have a very good grasp of the game, but their environment is changing dramatically. The amount of distractions and especially the volume of peer pressure increases and can often times influence whether or not someone tries out for a sport. They may or may not depending on whether their friends are doing the same. Some may join just to fit in and want to be identified as a football player. Physical changes are also a huge factor at this point as everyone’s bodies are changing. People are becoming more self-aware and in turn more self-critical. Understanding your weaknesses is just as important as finding out your strengths. Winning is more important now as well; the stakes have been raised. Players will now have to deal with injuries, which were not necessarily a problem in youth football but are definitely a factor now.
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