WYC 009 Youth Football – Jacob Gilbert – Lead for God’s Sake

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

Jacob Gilbert played football through the collegiate level, has coached at Wabash college and now is the Head football coach at Westfield High School in Indiana. In 3 years he has taken Westfield from a 3 win team, to last year they were 12-2 and runners-up in the state championship game. He is married and has three boys ages 10, 9, and 6.

Twitter: @coachgilbert10

Westfield High School link: Westfield HS ; Twitter: @rocksathletics

Listen Now:

Listen in ITunes: Itunes link

Listen in Stitcher: Stitcher link


Coaching/Leadership Quote

▪   ‘It’s not what you get from playing, it’s who you become because you play’

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Coaching your own Kid

▪   Try to find an assistant to take the lead on coaching your kid

My ‘Cringe’ Moment

▪   Losing patience when coaching my own kids

Coaching AH-HA Moment

▪   It’s all about relationships: John Maxwell: ‘They don’t know how much you know until they know how much you care’

Teaching Children & Keeping it Fun

▪   All kids learn differently – ‘No learning by the players means no coaching by the coaches’ – Everything you see on the field you either taught or allowed. You have to find a way to reach each different

▪   Make all learning a competition – will lead to better learning, more fun. Start backwards – what do you want to see in the game? – Figure out the skill then make a game out of it.

Best Stolen Idea

▪   His high school coach: ‘It’s not what you get from playing, it’s who you become because you play’ – Character development is the key in coaching.

Coaching Resources

▪   USA Football – great library of drills, practice plans

▪   Don’t be shy about asking middle school/high school coaches for advice/ go to one of their practices


▪   Instead of teaching rules – teach character. Spend time discussing who you are representing and how to lead instead of teaching time on rules.

▪   Discipline needs to be swift, fair, and consistent. ‘I still love you, but you own your own decisions, this is the consequence of that decision.’

HUGE IDEA #1 – Story of a kid who was super healthy asked coach to discipline him every time he dropped ball – coach made him eat a Snickers! Drove kid crazy and it worked.

Reward, Recognition, and Teambuilding

▪   Individualized – some kids respond to public praise, some kids respond to one-on-one affirmation, some kids might play harder if you offer a bag of twizzlers to kid who makes the most tackles

Inspiring Story

▪   Coach Gilbert did not have a father at home growing up – so he loves pouring back into kids in that situation and being a positive role-model for them


HUGE IDEA #2 – Top priorities for a youth sports coach:

1 – Do the kids return next year?

2 – Did the kids learn technique and skills?

3 – Did the kids grow and learn in character? – sportsmanship, responsibility, work ethic – and including learning to compete (and winning)

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 The One that Got Away

▪   They lost the state championship game last year – as a head coach he thinks he learned how to have more poise and be less nervous in big situations.

 Coaching/Leadership Motivation

▪   Book: The 21 Irrefutable laws of leadership – John Maxwell

▪   Book: The Dream Giver – Bruce Wilkinson

▪   Book: Lead for God’s Sake – Todd Gongwer

Parting Advice

▪   Don’t criticize execution – only criticize effort – And when you criticize – make sure you make it very specific, otherwise they take it personally

▪   Frame everything as a positive – Don’t say ‘Don’t drop this pass’, instead say: ‘Make a great catch on this pass’

Interview Links

▪   HUDL

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