WYC 003 Youth Football – Luke Dunnuck – Hinge Moments

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

Luke Dunnuck is married and is father of 6 boys and 1 daughter. He owns a sports facility in Indianapolis called Sparta. He also represents products for Advocare health and wellness.


Sports Nutrition

Twitter: @SPARTAindy

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Coaching/Leadership Quote

  • ‘Focus on the process not the outcome’ – Butler coach Brad Stevens

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Coaching your own Kid

  • The more I pressured him, the more rebellious he got. Have an assistant help coach your kid.

My ‘Cringe’ Moment

  • The fear of failure can make it a ‘me vs. the other coach’ scenario. When you are playing chess and you are using kids as the pawns – the lack of priorities quickly reveals itself. Luke revealed a story of over-reacting and having to apologize to the child and parents.
  • Don’t go overboard trying to instill toughness

Coaching AH-HA Moment

  • Focus on the process not the outcome – a lesson learned from Coach Brad Stevens from Butler

Teaching Children & Keeping it Fun

  • Be at the kid’s level physically – take a knee so you’re not talking down to them. Stand at their side so you’re standing with them instead of in front of them.
  • Tell the kid you believe in him.
  • Have to rep the fundamentals and have a structured, organized practice. Work from the feet to the head and pick one thing to improve and perfect. Then celebrate every little step accomplished!

Coaching Resources

  • Google!
  • Talk to successful coaches in your league – coaches love to share


  • If I tell you once – then it’s my fault as the coach. If I tell you twice, it’s still my fault in communication. But if I have to tell you 3 times – whose fault is that?
  • Ask questions before making judgments

Reward, Recognition, and Teambuilding

  • His biggest motivator has been Helmet Stickers. Tough play – can get a ‘red-eye’ skull and cross-bones sticker.
  • Leadership award each week – ‘Who is serving the team?’ The trophy pays around each week.
  • Pitbull award – Physical play
  • HUGE IDEA – In parent team meeting – Have parents visualize them breaking a team rule – by you treating them like they just violated that rule.
  • This team is not just about the kids – it’s about the kids, the coaches, the parents – we are all in this together to have a great experience and show character.

Inspiring Story

  • ‘Kids are candles to be lit not vessels to be filled’
  • Christopher – was afraid of contact – then in one practice made a great hit and earned a red-eye sticker- he cried from joy on the spot and after that he had a new swagger and confidence
  • Hinge Moments – ‘The Hinge of Mental Toughness’ – Moments that turn your life around


  • Winning should be a goal – but it is not the scoreboard – winning is executing every play
  • If it is a competitive travel team – the key is setting the expectation of what is going to determine playing time

 The One that Got Away

  • 4th grade Raiders vs the Colts – Running the ball at will, up 2 TD’s, about to score 3rd – throws the ball and returned for a pick six. Things fell apart from there.
  • The immortal words of Dr. Phil: ‘It ain’t about you’

 Coaching/Leadership Motivation

Parting Advice

  • Look at coaching as an opportunity to be significant in the lives of the kids and the parents that are part of that team
  • Don’t be that kid’s last football coach

Interview Links

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

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