Coaching Youth Football: The Impact of Enthusiasm

James Ryan

As the season was slowly coming to an end, I decided that it would be a good idea to sit down with all of my players prior to the start of the playoffs in order to remind them all of the significant effect that a positive attitude and upbeat enthusiasm can have on a football team (and in life).

In the week previous, everyone started off feeling really good about themselves and their chances for victory, however, it was quite apparent after only moments into the game that many of the players had become quite despondent after the opposing team had immediately scored two touchdowns.

By the end of the first quarter, it seemed that the majority of our team had completely given up. They appeared to play slow and fatigued, and with very little enthusiasm either on the field or on the sidelines.

Their faces told a story of a group of young men who simply did not want to play football that day. The longer the game went, the less the players seemed to care. A very disappointing way to end an otherwise excellent season.

To set up my point with the players during practice, I started off by randomly going around the huddle and individually asking various players “How are you doing today?” To my absolute amazement, nearly all of the answers included such words as; great, excellent, and terrific. To say that I was pleasantly shocked would have been a massive understatement.

In my recent experiences with College-aged students, most of the answers that I would have received from that exact same question would have generally included such phrases as; okay, not bad, fine, or “I’ve been better”. I was really encouraged by the fresh attitude and outlook of my players, particularly coming off of such a disappointing defeat only a few days earlier. For me personally, ‘hope’ had been temporarily restored.

I then went on to describe the process of how moods can be contagious and to remind all of my players of the impact (good and bad) that their attitudes can have on their teammates.

Example: if a player is always upbeat and positive, chances are, those around him will also (eventually) be upbeat and positive. If a player is negative all of the time, than that player will either bring down everyone else around him, or quite possibly, they can alienate anyone from wanting to associate with them at all.

The players all eventually acknowledged that they were each responsible for the pace and mood of the game and of their teammates. From there, they then proceeded into the practice drills with a renewed understanding and a renewed sense of confidence.

How did that confidence translate into the next game?

The end result was that we came out the following week and played our absolute best game of the year. Despite the loss in overtime that day, everyone felt great about their effort and the coaches could not have been any prouder.

Cheers and have a great day!

These are my opinions. If you don’t like them…I have others. Check them out at

James Ryan
James Ryan


  1. Paul

    Positivity is contagious!

  2. James

    Enthusiasm is contagious.

    When another finds you enthusiastic about something, it is difficult for that person not to share some of your enthusiasm. This is incredibly important when selling a product, service, or an idea to someone else. With enthusiasm, your success rate will most definitely increase.

    If you’re not feeling enthusiastic, act like you are and force yourself to do it. Eventually, it will happen.

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