No Freedom For Football Players

I often use a term that I have coined when discussing politics . It is that “freedom without responsibility leads to tyranny”.

I believe that we as a culture have habitually given away our discipline to  others in order to gain freedoms which are nothing but more rules from on high.  Perhaps because of our own refusal to create our own personal rules.  Too many times this leads to dependency on someone else to do our responsibilities. Such as civic duty to help our fellow man. Charity by proxy if you will.

When paradoxically,  a person without self imposed rules (which is discipline ) is not free at all.

We tend as humans to do the least amount necessary.  If our kids get in trouble from the school or parents for being late, they will not be late again.  If they don’t get repercussions,  then little Johnnie just might show up late. Unless of course he wants to hang out early with his pals.

However we will do far more to avoid pain(emotional or physical) than to gain pleasure.  Tell me to do x and I will get a hundred dollars. I might do x.  Threaten to take away my hundred dollars and those are fighten words.

How the Rich Get Richer
Every morning in your town there is a guy who gets up in the morning to go to a low paying (low compared to what?) job that he loves from his shabby bachelor apartment in his ’94 model car.  And then there is a guy who energetically gets up each morning for a job he loves in his new Range Rover from his 6 bedroom house in the better part of town.

What is the Big Difference in Our Two Guys?

Discipline doesn’t sound like the right word does it? How about one guy has bigger rules to make him happy than the other. The fact that our first guy loves his low paying job says something. Can he love a higher paying job? Can he have bigger rules that would demand a bigger place to live and a better car? Should he?

So if self rule leads to more freedom, then I think that teaching rules to children will give them the ability to self rule as they mature as a player and adult.

Rules for Coaching

On the football field I noticed in my last few years that somewhere along the line my generation of coaches forgot words like character, discipline, and attitude. Maybe they were too syrupy and belong to a bygone era. As if they don’t matter.

Maybe it is our cultural habit whereby automatically we equate rules with a lack of freedom.

Football is a Dictatorship Not a Democracy

At the youth level and even way too often at high school I have witnessed too much good talking and little real teaching. And way too much freedom given to the player.

You know you have a problem when you can hear on your field:

  • Go get um
  • Put your hat on them
  • You STAND here for this position and then crash down

All of these words are general and lead to too much freedom to  interpret their reaction.

You gotta crawl before you can walk, walk before you can run, and run before you can sprint

Any of the above without reference to specific techniques labeled in meaningful words to a coach and player is bound to be misinterpreted or worse, totally ignored. In the old days we called and taught many of the learning drills progressions.

Safe Tackling coach Bobby Hosea takes two hours to teach a kid how to tackle. He breaks down every nuance into a very specific drill that builds on the other. All just so you can tackle someone safely.

I believe good teaching is often seen when laying down clear and specific rules.  You don’t ask a kid to compute 7×7 without first learning your “times tables”.  And you don’t  attempt algebra without basic math. Nor Calculus and Trig without the disciplines learned before it.

In fact the less freedom our players have, especially at the youth level the better they will execute the assignment properly.

Too often we choose/listen to the wrong mentors, and give up authority and fail to take authority at the right moments.



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