I’m a high school football and basketball coach, so I encounter teenage kids everyday…all year long. With this in mind, when did kids start measuring toughness by who can talk the most? All talk, no action. We follow appropriate programming in our weight room and produce only physically strong kids; no mental toughness. Where did the competitors go? The warriors who used to go to battle? The hard-hat and lunch pail kids who clocked in everyday for work? Everyday, all I encounter is pissing and moaning. We do our best to challenge our kids, but when did a challenged become a bad thing? When we train a kid will fake hurt, cry or whine , or my personal favorite…tell mommy and daddy how hard the coach is on them. I don’t know what to do…and it’s driving me insane. How do we teach them to man-up and break the cycle? Thanks for all your help and all you do.


dazed and confused #1Shane,

More than a few educators have felt the same way.

“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” – Plato (437 BC – 347 BC)

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers. – Socrates (469 BC – 399 BC)

“We’re the middle children of history…. no purpose or place.  We have no Great War, no Great Depression.  Our great war is a spiritual war.  Our great depression is our lives.” From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk

“One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its results and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community.” – Albert Einstein

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is the dearness only that gives everything its value.” – Thomas Paine (1773 – 1809)

This attitude starts at home. Parents are no longer holding their kids accountable for their actions. If you are more afraid of what is going to happen when you get home, you won’t fuck around when you are away from it.

Children learn by watching their parents. They learn to walk by watching their parents walk. They learn to talk by listening to their parents. Kids learn work ethic from watching their parents work. If a kid grows up watching her parents bust their ass, she will learn to bust her ass.

I know this is true of me. My parents hate lazy the way you would hate getting kicked in the balls…by Sebastian Janikowski…with steel toed boots.

dazed and confused #2

If you want to change the youth in your program, start by creating a shining example. Teenagers, whether they believe it or not, want an example of what to do. The problem is the examples they see around them are all bullshit. Their “heroes” are bullshit. And kids can smell insincerity and bullshit a mile away.

I asked Nate Austin what he thought was wrong with kids today. He has 2 younger brothers ranging in ages 11-17, so he might have a good answer. He said to stop taking your teenage boys to see Twilight movies.

Jim Wendler asked me why I played in the NFL for a decade. I am a white kid from an upper/middle class background, not the standard MO for most NFL players.

I told him, “Don’t have heroes.” I never wasted my time trying to emulate someone else. What I did was bust my ass to gain approval from those I felt had earned the right to judge me.

If you want to influence your kids, start by creating an example. If you don’t want your kids to drink or do drugs, then don’t sit back and slam a fifth of Jack Daniels 3 nights a week.

If you want your kids to treat people with respect, let them see you treat people with respect. Treat your kids with respect. When I say respect, I don’t mean you should bow to your kids. Respect them enough to know that a teenager needs to be put on a short leash, needs direction, discipline and hard work.

If the kids won’t work, out work them. It is hard to get your kids to train hard if you are 50 lbs overweight and the only exercise you have done this week is walking from your car to Krispy Kreme.

Kids don’t give respect because you are an adult or administrator. The give respect to those they fear, respect and love you.