WYC 001 Youth Football – Paul Syrvalin – Play Hard, Play Smart, Play Together, Play True

Paul Syrvalin pic

What does it take to be a winning youth coach? Listen in as Paul shares coaching stories and discusses his journey to becoming a successful youth coach.

Paul is in technical sales, father of 3 boys, and has coached youth football, baseball, and lacrosse. His youth football team last season went undefeated in a 20 team league and won the league championship.

Listen Now:

Listen in ITunes: Itunes link

Listen in Stitcher: Stitcher link


Coaching/Leadership Quote

  • ‘Play Hard, Play Smart, Play Together, Play True’

Click to Tweet

Coaching your own kids

  • Best thing you can do is have an assistant take the lead with your son or daughter

My ‘Cringe’ Moment

  • Not speaking up when seeing an unsafe drill being run

Coaching AH-HA Moment

  • The importance of being organized and having detailed practice plans

Teaching a Skill to Children and Keeping it Fun while they Learn

  • Keep it simple and stay positive – instead of yelling at a kid when they make a mistake – show them exactly how you want them to do it next time
  • Fun games: Ultimate football; Dodgeball with footballs

Best Stolen Idea

  • Mantra: ‘Play Hard, Play Smart, Play Together, Play True’

Coaching Resource


  • Sometimes a glare is enough
  • Don’t use running laps as a punishment – Kid is ostracized, it wastes time where they are not learning
  • When disciplining – the whole team does the punishment – something quick like 10 push-ups


  • They pick out a different star-performer each practice and game- and have them in the middle of the circle leading the team chant. Make sure you pick different kids that aren’t just the star athlete.


  • Paul emphasizes that ‘You are a teammate on and off the field’ to build a special bond amongst players
  • Amongst parents – parental rules laid out up front – they must ‘act their age’. Any conversations about playing time must be away from the practice or game field. Over-communicate – Send quick emails about what is going on.

Changing the Future of a Kid you Coached

  • Paul had a player with some learning disabilities on one of his teams –he practiced a play to set up that player to score a touchdown in a game – it fired up the team to get a lead and then execute that play so that he could score.

Managing Playing Time

  • You never know who the studs are going to be in high school – so your goal is to teach the kids to love the game as much as we do as coaches.

The One that Got Away

  • They lost a playoff game where one of his players got hurt – Paul put in a player that didn’t end up adjusting to the new position – his biggest regret was not making an adjustment and moving a few players around to stop the other team.

Coaching/Leadership Book

  • London Fletcher’s story – Always told he was too small, too slow to play – and he went on to be All-Pro in NFL and played 15 straight years without missing a game.

Interview Links

Ready to be an Awesome Youth Coach? Sign up for our free weekly newsletter @ WinningYouthCoaching Newsletter

[email protected]

View more posts from this author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Facebook