New football parents generally have a number of questions or concerns. Here’s a look at some of them and some friendly veteran parental advice.
- What kind of equipment do we buy? This is a question my wife and I get from new parents every year. Generally, programs provide just about everything a child needs, including helmet, shoulder pads, jersey, pants and mouth piece. We generally suggest that parents go out and purchase a better mouth piece and chinstrap for the helmet. It’s also a good idea to get a good water bottle along with an extra pair of football pants. Your player will need football cleats, too. Cleats and the supplemental equipment won’t cost an arm and a leg. Buying a new helmet for your child is also an option, but that could be pricey. Sports Authority is a good place to begin your search with Riddell helmets being a good choice.
- Are the rules the same as the NFL? Believe it or not, this is a very common inquiry from rookie parents. The basic concepts are the same – four quarters, 11 players per side and six points for a touchdown – but the rulebook is closer to the high school level, though they begin to change from there when determining extra points, timing for each quarter, formations and defensive schemes. Check your league’s website. It should list the rules for each level of that league.
- What do we bring to games and practices with us? This is a really good question because there are always cases when a family forgets to bring something. In addition to the necessary equipment, it’s important to bring along some extra bottles of water in case your child needs a refill during practice or a game. It’s also a good idea to pack some snacks. Not all fields have concession stands, and those that do might not have what you’re looking for. The coaches will likely have a first aid kit, but it’s probably smart to bring along some Band-Aids and wipes in case your child gets nicked up. You should also bring some chairs with you as not all fields have bleachers.
- Is there anything we can do to help out? Absolutely! Youth football teams are always in need of volunteers. Parents can help by painting the field, working on the chain gang, helping out at the snack bar, selling raffle tickets during the games, etc. There are times during a season when the team and program will do fundraising events, so there are numerous ways for a parent to help out.
Don’t be afraid to ask other parents on the team about anything. Even if you know nothing about football, it’s OK to ask someone what just happened, what the score is or even how your child is doing.
Remember: There is no such thing as a stupid question.
Well, that is unless you ask me what number your child is wearing.