The air is changing from stifling hot summer days to crisp cool nights. Not only are you gearing up to watch your favorite pro football team finally make it to the playoffs, you’re eager to introduce the dynamics of the game to your future quarterback. You’ve dreamed of this day from the moment your child took his first steps. Now that he’s gained some sense of balance, the time seems right to teach the simple rules of football.
How to Play the Game
While your tot may not be able to understand all the rules of playing football, he’s certainly ready to learn the basic fundamentals — running, passing and scoring. If you’ve spent any time at all wrestling with him before bedtime, he probably already has the concept of tackling down. Chances are running won’t present a big learning curve either, since your toddler probably can’t wait to escape your clutches and explore the world for himself. The trick will be to get him to run with a football in hand. Speaking of the ball, use a small foam football for best results. Practice together hiking, throwing and running with the ball. Once your child has mastered those concepts, set up a goal line in your backyard and allow him to experience the thrill of scoring his first touchdown.
You’re used to analyzing every segment of a play and can’t understand why the defense didn’t realize the offense was setting up to kick a field goal. Even though your tot may not grasp all the football rules you’re eager to teach him, there are some simple ideas you can introduce. He gets four chances to move the ball 10 yards. If he doesn’t, the other team gets a turn. Penalties are a lot like time-outs; there’s a consequence to your actions if you do something wrong. After a touchdown is scored, he gets to kick the ball to the opposing team.
If your tot seems to have a few issues with getting along with his older siblings, don’t worry. Usually the Terrible Twos phase takes a break before reaching adolescence. Even though teaching good sportsmanship appears to be a daunting task, his future coach will certainly appreciate your efforts. Begin by using good manners yourself when cheering on your team. The last thing you want is your little one repeating the expletive that just came out of your mouth about the ref. Praise him for his bumbling efforts and teach him how to modestly win, as well as gracefully lose.
Playing on a Team
Your child’s lack of control in playing with others may present problems in a team sport, but this is simply a stage he’s going through. Practice together playing with imaginary football players such as marbles, checkers or action heroes. Discuss the negatives when an action figure knocks down a player on his own team. Demonstrate the correct method. Recruit family members, neighborhood kids or your child’s friends when he’s ready to participate as a team player.