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Becoming a Pop Warner Coach



Coaching in Pop Warner is a rewarding job, particularly for adults who see their roles beyond winning and losing. 
Being a youth sports coach at any level is a privilege. Coaching places you in the position of being a role model and key player in making sports experiences gratifying and beneficial for children and teens. According to the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), “sports participation is one of the greatest resources available for instilling valuable life skills in children.” Not only do coaches help kids have fun and experience winning and losing, but they also play an important role in positive youth development.

At Fallbrook Pop Warner we obviously expect our coaches to celebrate winning, however coaches are also expected to recognize the efforts of all children who work hard and do their best. Youth sports teach kids important life-long lessons and values like leadership, teamwork, and how to work with others. Other benefits such as physical fitness, developing coping skills, and learning from their mistakes can also add to a successful life. Pop Warner teaches lesson that children can use in all aspects of life.

Why Is a Sports Coach Important?

Coaching youth sports is one of the most important ways adults influence the positive development of youth. Beyond the development of strategies and skills associated with a particular sport, a sports coach can ignite a child’s curiosity, teach positive social and team skills, cultivate resilience, promote self-awareness, model integrity, foster resourcefulness, encourage creativity, and nurture empathy. Educator and sports consultant Dr. Jennifer Fraser, debunks myths about coaching young athletes, showing the differences between tough-minded and positive coaching strategies. In her article, “How to be a Positive and Winning Youth Sports Coach,” she outlines eight ways youth sports coaching can positively influence athletes.


What Does Coaching Youth Sports Involve?

Researchers have studied the role of youth sports coaching for many years. Studies show that sports coaches who give positive reinforcement, provide effective feedback, and foster a caring climate provide the best developmental outcomes for children.

Provides Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is used in coaching youth sports to bring about desirable changes in behavior and to teach children to take responsibility for their actions. Coaches do this in a variety of subtle and overt ways. Sometimes it is a gesture, like a nod of a head, a smile, or a pat on the back that lets players know they performed well. Other times, it may be verbal praise for trying hard, executing a good strategy, or treating another player with respect. Praise is most effective when it makes players feel good about who they are on the inside. For example, even when children lose, they can still feel good about how hard they worked or how their abilities have grown.

Gives Effective Feedback

Coaching youth sports is about looking for teachable moments. They facilitate a growth mindset in their players, showing them that everyone can change and grow through learning. One technique used by coaches is to serve up a feedback sandwich. 1) They begin by identifying something positive. For example, “Rob, I really liked the way you pushed yourself during the game.”  2) They coach for improvement, being direct and firm but never demeaning. For example, “I’m going to work with you on how to kick the ball more successfully….”  3) They end with encouraging words, stating a bright outlook for the future. This technique works well with children, particularly when youth sports coaching involves the regular monitoring of change and giving helpful feedback as improvement occurs.

Creates a Caring Climate

One of the most positive aspects of coaching youth sports is the ability to develop a caring relationship with individual children and teens. When sports coaches truly care for their athletes, they form a bond between themselves and their team that gives members a sense of belongingness. Research shows that when kids feel like they belong, their attendance, motivation, and retention increase. Elements of caring include listening, empathizing, respect, and acceptance—regardless of winning. Modeling these behaviors to children through youth sports coaching has been shown to foster their ability to care for themselves and others, and also ignites a passion for learning.

Teaching Lifelong Skills and Lesson

Winning may be foremost on the minds of many youth sports coaches, but if it is essential that those who coach also take this tremendous opportunity to teach the many parallels that youth sports have (especially football) with everyday life. Most adults have trouble remembering each and every one of the friends and teachers they had when they were young. However, an effective and positive coach will always be remembered - especially by those who grow to succeed in life!

What does it take to become a coach with the Pop Warner organization?

In addition to having a strong desire to work with kids and young adults, Pop Warner coaches must be able to dedicate the time required to be an effective and productive coach. If you are selected as a coach, be prepared to spend 4-5 afternoon/evenings a week during the month of August preparing your team for the season. Once the season starts, practices will reduce to 3 nights a week however games will occur every Saturday during the months of September and October. (November for post season play). As a head coach you will act as a team manager, game planner, physical fitness coach, and counselor. Our best advice is to recruit as many assistant coaches as possible so you can delegate the numerous responsibilities you will be tasked with for the season.

To qualify as a Head Coach, you will need to Interview with the FPW board of directors, complete the required certifications, and pass the mandatory Background Check. (Background checks are required for all rostered staff)

All coaches and rostered staff must also complete the USA Football Youth Coach Certification to be certified for the season. The goal is to ensure that all Pop Warner coaches are certified by USA Football to teach proper blocking/defeating blocks and tackling techniques in a better and safer way. The certification also covers health and safety, anti-abuse training, an overview of the Football Development Model, and more.

Please click on the "Coaches Certification" link for the steps you will need to take in order to become certified.