7 Tips for New Pop Warner Parents
August 1st is a holiday of sorts for fans of Pop Warner Youth Football and Cheer. Tonight is the first day of practice. Here are a few tips I can share if you have a new player entering football for the first time.
I know it's a pain digging up birth certificates, doctor's notes, report cards and all of the other paperwork that goes into registering for football. It's a necessary evil, however, and your league WON'T let you play without it. They're NOT kidding.
Hydration, hydration, hydration. Send your kids to practice with a full water bottle. If you want to send them with a sports drink like Gatorade that might be even better (mainly because kids tend to like the taste better...therefore they drink more of it). Don't be afraid to start their hydration early in the day. Those August practices can get hot...and kids will lose a lot of water very quickly.
Football and August sometimes don't mix. The temperatures can soar to as high as 80 or 90 degrees for practices. Most likely, heat won't cause your team to cancel practice. Teams will also focus on conditioning for the first couple of weeks to make sure the kids are ready for full pads/contact. This spells complaints from a lot of the little players. August is by far the most challenging part of the youth football experience, but if your little guy can stick it out...he will be rewarded with an experience he'll never forget when real games start up.
The schedule for a Pop Warner football team is demanding, to put it lightly. You are looking at 4 nights of practice in August. When school starts, you will most likely be practicing 3 nights (with a game on Sunday). This grueling schedule doesn't mix well with soccer or fall baseball...and your head coach won't want to hear about practices with another sport. Football is the ultimate team game. Without everyone there, plays cannot be properly implemented. Stick to one sport this fall.
Weight limits are a part of Pop Warner Football, but don't get tempted into trying to diet or "cut weight" in order for your child to play at a lower level. It may not be safe, and your child may not even make the weight limit. This would mean missing games (the entire reason your playing) and bring on months worth of needless stress. Your youngster may lose 2-3 pounds when those August workouts start, but use caution with anything more than that.
Some nights might be helmet only, some might be uppers only (helment and shoulder pads), and others will be full gear. Pay attention to what gear is expected on any given night so that junior doesn't show up wearing full gear on a helmets only night.
This is most likely going to be one of the most physically and mentally challenging activities your child will face up to this point in his young life. Make sure he is getting proper rest. He'll need it!