Feedback and Helmet Slaps


September 15, 2010

I want to share something personal today and I hope you’ll indulge me.  I received an e-mail for my son from his football coach and it is one of the best examples of feedback I’ve seen in a very long time.  To give you some background, my son Jack M. is six.  This is his second year playing tykes football on a team for 5- 6 year olds.  They practice 2 or 3 times a week and wear full pads and helmets.  They play each weekend on the high school football fields in our area.  It’s a sport that the kids and the parents have to be dedicated to.  Jack has played other sports and been part of other teams, but Little Panthers is special.  We just had our first game this past Sunday and it was an amazing game.  My son scored his first touchdown ever and made some good tackles.

When I received the e-mail from his coach, I asked him if I could share it with you and he agreed.  I cut some parts out but think it’s important to leave most of it intact.  It is a little longer than I normally post here, but I promise that if you read it, you will see a coach who:

  • Starts with praise
  • Mentions an area of improvement that has to happen
  • Gives individual shout outs to team members for specific achievements
  • Gives the team praise for working together
  • Sets expectations for the coming week
  • Ends with praise

I wish more managers and leaders would give feedback like this.  It was timely and specific.  And, it garnered a chain of e-mail messages from parents who mentioned other great plays by the children.  We are SO lucky to have Coach Troy.  I’d love to hear your reaction in the comments.  Thanks for reading.

Message from Coach:

Little Panthers, Little Panthers … what a GREAT way to start and finish our first game.  I saw A LOT of GREAT things out there yesterday guys … a lot of great things, but before we do our SHOUT-OUT, we need to make sure we understand how we should treat our teammates and our cheerleaders.  Calling names is BAD sportsmanship, we don’t do that Little Panthers … I know that most of you guys had good sportsmanship because I saw it, but even a few guys causing trouble and showing bad sportsmanship is too many.

Alright now for the good stuff …

We had a lot of guys with some GREAT runs yesterday …

Evan turned on his jet-pack and got it all started for us with a HUGE 50 yard run.  He had another good run where he jumped over a Little Titan on his way for a touchdown … GREAT JOB EVAN … Helmet Slaps!

Danny M did a really good job carrying some Little Titans down the field … I think he also had the ball, but I couldn’t see it because there too many Little Titans hanging on him.  Way to RUMBLE Danny … Helmet Slaps!

Peyton, Jack M, and Troy all had really BIG runs as well … Jack M “serpentined” his way through the Little Titans defense and couldn’t be caught.  I think maybe his dad, Coach Dan was giving him some extra serpentine practice at home … GREAT JOB JACK.  Peyton and Troy were just too tricky and fast for the Little Titans .. they got to the outside and hit the gas pedal … I don’t even know if any Little Titans knew they had the ball until they were long gone … GREAT JOB GUYS … Helmet Slaps!

I also know our guys hiking the ball did a heck of a job … that’s hard work keeping your head down for that long and not tippin over, especially with all those pads and big helmets.  Christian and Jackson W GREAT JOB of keeping the ball low and getting to your team .. Helmet Slaps!

Of course we had some pretty good defensive plays too … I saw a lot of GREAT tackles from Tyler, Evan, Josh D, and Jack H.  I saw each of these guys make a GREAT tackle where they ran all the way across the field to the ball to make a tackle on their own … Tyler and Jack H each had touchdown-saving tackles.  AWESOME JOB Guys … Helmet Slaps!

Lastly Little Panthers, our Defensive Line was AMAZING … Jireh, Colin, Jackson A, Michael, and Jack H were EXCEPTIONAL at getting to the ball.  All of these guys were able to fight their way through the offensive line and make a lot of good things happen.  I saw both Jireh and Jack H do a GREAT job of coming off the line in pursuit of the ball … they saw the ball go to the outside, and they got away from their blockers to chase down the ball.

Jireh, Colin, Jackson A, Michael, and Jack Hiller good job … your battles on the line earned you Team Leader this week .. you’ll also be our Game Captains against Edwardsville.  I need you guys to work hard this week, show good leadership, and be LOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUD!

Overall, all of our guys on defense did a tremendous job … guys, you worked hard, chased the ball down, and made a whole lot of tackles as a “Pack of Panthers” … GREAT TEAM EFFORT!

This is just what I saw Little Panthers … what did you see?  If you saw somebody doing a good job give them a SHOUT-OUT.  I also saw some things we need to work on this week … most importantly these two:

1.     Run On and Off the Field .. football, not golf, right?

2.     After each play is over, find the ball, follow the referee with the ball, and get lined up … we gotta do this quickly.

Helmet Slaps and Panther Paws for everyone .. See ya guys on Sunday!



  • That is EXACTLY how a coach of young kids needs to be!!!! Your Jack is lucky to have a coach like this.

    Too many times, there’s not enough praise for things done well. This doesn’t mean that when someone is merely doing their job, they deserve a raise. The only way to merit recognition is to go above and beyond what is merely doing their job. The only way to keep employees going above and beyond is to recognise those efforts.

    And on a side note- how is it that business and sports have so many things in common? I know I use sports anologies in business on a daily basis…

  • My son has started playing soccer, and his coaches are a young couple who have played the game, but are coaching for the first time. They struggle with how to wrangle younger boys at times, but are learning and improving each week.

    The biggest challenge I see for new coaches is the participation, or lack thereof, of parents. When I can make practice, I try to work as another assistant coach, run drills, and keep the boys focused. Most parents drop their boys off and return in an hour. There are a few that hang around, but either aren’t watching or watching and not helping. The coaches have been very appreciative of getting help, and I’ve even had other parents tell me they appreciate my help, so there’s not resistance to it. I don’t understand why the other parents don’t take an active role.

    Your coach has done a great job here in sending out feedback, but in getting the parents involved, at least in reading (and hopefully following up) with the players. It’s a great template for young coaches. Most managers I know could learn a lot from it, too.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • @Dwane- My little ones played soccer a couple years ago and it’s true that the coaches really have to wrangle those kids. It’s such a fun sport to watch once they “get it” though. We’re lucky on this football team that the parents are all supportive. We’re there for every practice and game. And, this group is really good about making sure we don’t focus on praising our own kids only….we each make sure to give hugs and fist bumps to the other boys so that they feel the support of all the parents on a continual basis. It’s like a family of sorts.

      @Doug- I agree. I’ve found that although raises are nice, most people just love to get specific and timely feedback. Thanks for commenting.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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