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Teaching My Son Football - Advice?


Hey guys. My son has been playing soccer since he was five. I've tried to give him the latitude to play what he wants - as long as it was two seasons a year, the choice was his. It WAS soccer. But tonight I got the call I was hoping for in my "heart of hearts". "Dad, did you watch the playoffs?". He's 13, so give the kid a little slack for asking the obvious. My reply was something along the lines of, "does a bear shit in the woods?!". His NEXT question made the depression I was feeling over the Ravens loss vanish: "Dad, do you think you could teach me to play football?"... Isn't that a WONDERFUL question?

Now I LIKE football just as much as the next guy. I UNDERSTAND the game fairly well. I PLAYED in HS 20 years ago. However, I have never TRAINED anyone how to play football. So, I am reaching out to the collective knowledge of the Testosterone Nation. Any help, advice, resource or wisdom you could share with me about training, learning the game, practice, etc... to help me get my son get up speed would be greatly appreciated.

Here is the raw data on him (if you nee more, just ask):
Age - 13
Grade - 8 (I've got until next season to get him up to speed)
Height - 6'2" (he is expected to get to at least 6'7")
Weight - 145 lbs. (skinny as shit, eats like a bird - an issue I'm already addressing)
He has LONG arms and femurs
He hit puberty within the last year
Training experience is just calisthenics. I took him to the weight room over the last holiday and just used the bar to begin teaching him the basics. Typical flexibility/stability issues (lack of ankle flexibility and tight hip flexors), but no obvious imbalances.
He is in good shape and has good mobility and endurance
He is very intelligent
He works best when he has a structure
As of right now, he can't even identify all of the positions on the field, so I have to start at the most basic of levels.

Bottom line is that he has a lot of potential, but it's been directed at soccer until now. I know that a lot of the kids he will be playing against have been playing pee-wee ball since they were eight. What resources can I give him to help bring him up to speed? Keep in mind, I live three hours away and see him every other weekend, but we communicate via phone and/or email just about every day. There is a possibility I'll get custody this summer, but I want to start now.

I am under no illusion about being able to turn him into a super-star in just 7 months, but I'd like to cover as much ground as I can with the basics and then work hard with him through out High School.

Any help, whether it's directing me to a specific site or just general advice would be greatly appreciated. If anyone needs any additional data, please ask.

Cliff Notes:
My kid is 13, 6'2", skinny and doesn't know shit about football but wants to play next season, please help.


6'2" at 13? Get this kid a basketball!


Trust me, I TRIED - He just doesn't "like" it. LOL


Football is a sport that requires a ton of explosive movement and a lot of speed. At virtually every position and at every level, speed is what separates the men from the boys. QB, offensive line and defensive tackles are the exception.

So as far as working out goes, I would highly recommend a LOT of explosive movements like the snatch, cleans, jumping squats and a lot of explosive pressing from various angles. And a LOT of sprinting. Your kid, at his height, will probably end up around 6'4"-6'6" by the end of his senior year, which would make him an ideal candidate for QB, WR or TE, or maybe defensive end if he fills out.

So I'd get him throwing and catching the ball as often as possible now. When doing sprint work, I'd have him do a lot of stop/start stuff, changing directions, running sideways with crossover steps, and a lot of jumping in various directions. He'll have to have good hips and quick feet.

I'd turn him onto this site as well, and steer him toward Thibadeau's "Look Like a Bodybuilder, Perform Like an Athlete" article and his neural charge series of articles. This stuff isn't that much different than what I used to do in high school football and his "Bodybuilder/Athlete" program never forces him above about 80% of his 1rm, which is nice since he won't be used to handling relatively large loads yet.

Also, I lift with a couple of taller lifters on occasion (6'2"-6'4") and I myself have pretty long arms and legs for my height (6'1"), and I've found that all of us see better results lifting in a lower rep/higher set range on a regular basis. I've heard that this is the case for most "taller" lifters, so this is another reason why I think Thibadeau's program will be good for him.

It has him doing a lot of upper-body pressing, which is a big focus of most football weight programs, and he'll be doing roughly 20-25 sets of 3 reps. For the lower body days, he can use the Oly lifts. I'd recommend he do front squats and snatches. Snatches are one of the best overall exercises for developing explosive strength, which he'll need for football, and the front squat really hammers the quads. The quads are the primary muscles used for acceleration, and again, this is a key aspect of success in football that you can help him work on.

As far as skills go, catching the ball is clearly going to be important, as will throwing the ball if he wants to play QB. So get him playing catch as much as possible. And route-running will be key as well, so get him running routes and working hard on coming into and out of his breaks. I wouldn't worry about building up endurance yet. They'll take care of that during two-a-days. I'd focus more on basic skills and building up his strength. Get him a Prowler for his conditioning.

Now that I've written a book here, hope this info serves you guys well.


WR or QB sounds like your best bet to me. Repitition. Catches on the run, over the shoulder. Or hitting people running patterns. Repetitions.

Madden video game wouldn't be a bad idea except when it takes up time he could be running around.

Also for throwing, make sure its the appropriate size. Grip is a big part of a good throw.

Football camps.

Private lessons.

I don't know if you can get a 13 year old to engage in meta-cognition regarding his motion etc. but that should come at some point. Why am I doing what I'm doing? How am I getting leverage from feet to wrist. How can I maximize that?

Just spitballing ideas.


Gym-wise: Plyometrics, Cleans, what I call the "foundational" lifts (Bench, DLs, Squats...), Sprints, sled work, agility drills... Madden isn't a bad idea at all. If he has never been hit before, teach him. You know how to do that. Camps aren't a bad idea, either. If he's a finnicky eater, I'd have him on a weight-gainer of some sort, but that's down the road, really. He's still growing, I imagine. Just a few things I could think of out the gate. Things I wish I had or had done prior to playing when I was a kid.


For the record-I played football from 6th grade to sophomore year, then took junior year of HS off, then played more my senior year.

As far as the general rules of the game, just telling him and watching football with him should be sufficient IMO.

As far as the actual motions of the game, you have to find out what he's good at. I did high school football, played reciever, and hated it from freshman-junior year.

Senior year I tried running back and loved it. I just didn't have the hands for reciever, but had speed and could hit. I was pretty thin and tall though, so I kept trying reciever for way too long.

Don't limit him by trying to force him into a position based on his build. I know that through highschool i would have much prefered to play a position I was badly built for but enjoyed(RB) than one I was built for but hated(reciever).

If he can throw well, encourage QB. If he can catch, reciever. If he has no catching skill, try running back.
Playing catch with him should give you a basic assesment of his skills. (as well as a good bonding experience for you two, I know some of my favorite memories of childhood are of sports with my dad, even just playing catch)

Just my .02 and memories, hope that helps.


AC put him in some football camps, it will be worth the money. He will enjoy being with kids his own age and then you can build off that. He is 13, tell him if he wants to play football he has to lift, and you know the mantra squats and milk. My son when he hit 13 I put him on the weights. He was the strongest kid in his HS and was a very good HS player.


Buy Wendlers 531 for football ebook. I highly recommend it. It contains a wealth of information on training for football. Check out the table of contents for a general idea:

Table of Contents

â?¢ Introduction â?? 5

â?¢ Weight Room â?? 8

â?¢ Annual Plan â?? 18

â?¢ Workout Structure â?? 27

â?¢ Warm Up â?? 33

â?¢ Football Specific work â?? 46

â?¢ Linear Speed â?? 53

â?¢ Jumps and Throws â?? 63

â?¢ Conditioning â?? 76

â?¢ Jumps, Throws, Speed â?? First 8 Weeks (Skill) â?? 84

â?¢ Jumps, Throws, Speed â?? First 8 Weeks (Linemen) â?? 92

â?¢ Summer, 9 Weeks (Skill) â?? 99

â?¢ Summer, 9 Weeks (Linemen) â?? 108

â?¢ Summer Pre-Camp, 6 Weeks (Skill) â?? 117

â?¢ Summer Pre-Camp, 6 Weeks (Linemen) â?? 124

â?¢ Winter Strength and Conditioning: 8 Week Training Cycle â?? 132

â?¢ Going into Summer: 9 Week Training Cycle â?? 147

â?¢ Summer Pre-Camp: 6 Week Training Cycle â?? 156

â?¢ In Season Training â?? 163

â?¢ In Season Conditioning â?? 165

â?¢ About the Authors - 167



Everyone has given pretty good suggestions. Just remember 2 things. And knowing you, you have figured this already:

  1. Keep it fun and don't take it too seriously. It getting too serious is why I decided not to take any scholarship offers after high school.

  2. Let HIM decide what position he likes and wants to play. When I was in high school, I started off as a kicker and went from there to nose guard to linebacker/fullback and ended up playing defensive tackle when I played semi-pro.




Wow - thanks for all of the great advice guys. I really appreciate it. I'll keep y'all updated on the progress and would be grateful for anymore feedback, now or along the way.


tape a football to his hands while he sleeps.


This is what killed football for me, as well. When it felt more like a "job" than a fun game, I started to dislike it more and more.


My son played minor football for four years. From a coaching standpoint I think your in for a shock as compared to soccer.

What I mean is that football coaches in my experiance are waaaaay more engaging compared to hockey coaches. There are three soccer fields across the street from me and I watch games and practices from time to time and the styles are very similar. You here people say football is a team game, well so is soccer and hockey but not like this imho.

I'm not trying to paint a negative picture at all, in fact I believe the coaching was better in football when it came to player accountability.

Example: At the end of my sons football practice the kids would run gassers. One practice the recievers were dogging it and goofing off. The coach lets it go on but you can see him steaming. Anyway, after he blows the whistle to end practice he tell's the recievers to get a drink of water and the rest of the team to go pick up your team photos. They all just look at each other and go WTF?. You guessed it, more gassers lol.

When the coach was done with them a second time he brought them together and asked them "when are you guys going to stop being individuals?". I was the only one around to over hear this convo but I never forgot it.

Maybe that happens at soccer, I don't know. My son played hockey since he was four and he preferred the coaching in football. To much ass kissing in minor hockey. Parents rule here. If your kid can't make the select team what do you do? Next year become the teams sponser and voila, your kid makes the team, seen it happen twice.

AG, one thing is for certain, you WILL find out what your kids made of. Practice doesen't stop when it's snowing and raining sideways.

And all that workout stuff too lol.


1 - Get Low
2 - See what you hit, hit what you see
3 - On impact, he who is moving the slowest feels all the pain
4 - Deliver the blow
5 - Fast, violent, hostile hands are required for line play

If he projects to be 6'7, check out Chris Canty. He came to Virginia as a HS WR. After a redshirt year and another year out with a broken leg, he filled out and ended up a 3-4 DE. He played for the Cowboys and occupied blockers for Ware to do his thing. Now he's with the Giants. I'm not saying your kid will be that way, but just to show how kids of that size can change a lot in a short amount of time.

The most important thing for kids to learn about football is that what you play in the back yard is nothing like the real thing. Being so tall at 13, getting low will have to be his top priority. Along with that, he has to be able to get low but keep his head up to see what he's going to hit.


I'll echo this... Especially the first part.

I play football from the age of 9 up through my sophomore year of college and got burnt out before my junior year. It started not being 'fun' anymore in college. You dont want to burn your kid out too young while he's playing a game. It should be fun.

Its a good idea to get him to start watching football more. He'll pick up a lot just by watching or get him into a football camp if you have the opportunity.

You could also look around for a flag football league. There might be a summer 7 on 7 league in your area that you can get him in. It would help him to learn a little bit more about the skill positions before putting on pads and getting hit.


Get him a hooker in a cheerleader uniform.



I think the best thing you could do training wise is start him with basic stuff (push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, pull-ups, etc). I know there is some debate about training a child at a young age and it stunting growth. I have no idea how much or how little truth there is to it, but I think that a great start would be do go with the stuff we did as kids. It will get him started with fundamental strength, which is at the core of all sports IMO.

Like previously mentioned, at his age it should be about fun. As he plays and discovers more about football and himself, he will come to find the position he wants to play. With his size and frame, he could pretty much play anything. At his height, should he really fill out, he could be a lineman. If his athletic skill improve and he work on his speed, he would be a prototype defensive end or tight end.

It sounds like his physical stature will allow him to play almost anywhere on the field, his personal preference and skill will better determine where he wants to play on the field.


I will comment on this Max if you dont mind. If he has pubic hair you can start him on the weights, best time to do it T levels will be through the roof. It will also help with his new found aggression. Since Max played at the college level any advice he has I would follow. I just wanted to comment on the physical issue of when to start weight training.