How to Train a Football Team?
It can’t really be a coincidence that the start of school and football season coincide. Maybe we educators should take it as a sign and pay more attention to football, its players and coaches.
No, I don’t mean we need to huddle in PD, though sometimes we do just that. Or that we all should turn to football as a distraction from the stress and heart wrenching work that it is to educate our children. To each her own. I also don’t advocate for our play space to be filled with the helmet-crushing action and hard hits that leave crowds of onlookers breathless.
It is football’s deep understanding of the nature of teamwork and the art of training that we should turn to and emulate.
You don’t have to understand much about football to see that players have differing roles and varying skills. Think about a kicker whose gift lies in his leg strength, a quarterback whose power to throw is invaluable, or a defensive player whose fortitude is in his ability to stand his ground, and have his opponent stand with him. Fans and reporters see these various talents, and it’s widely recognized that each position, though unique in its role, contributes to the team’s success.
In schools however, we often fail to see value in varying skills. We exalt the high reader, the skillful mathematician. In doing so, sometimes we miss the empathetic collaborator or the insightful artist. We may validate the non-traditional talents of our students with off-handed praise, but the skills we teach toward, evaluate and demand are narrow, leaving some students to think their talents, efforts and successes are second rate.
I am not recommending we stop teaching math to our history buffs, or graduate compassionate students who are not literate. All strong football players understand the roles their teammates play, and can take on those roles in practice. If they grow up to coach football, they can coach positions other than the one they played. Good players are equipped to step out of their comfort zone. But when it’s crunch time, when it’s time to shine, they play to their strengths. And they train to their strengths as well.