All posts by willmchale

About willmchale

Will McHale grew up around baseball but his athleticism truly shined when he started playing American football in college. In 2012, he was elected as the team captain of the Yale football team, and he led the fall squad with 78 overall tackles while starting every game. For his efforts, Yale coaches picked him as the Hammer Award winner and the Robert Gardner Anderson Award recipient during his junior and senior years, respectively.

Two Life Lessons From American Football

Image source: sport.ox.ac.uk
Image source: sport.ox.ac.uk

American football offers benefits that go beyond physical superiority. Football, when taught correctly, can impart life lessons that players can use to improve their lives and those around them. Below are two of them:

Goal setting: Psychological studies have emphasized the importance of determining life priorities in happiness and financial success. An important aspect of this step is designing a plan with visible and measurable results. This means celebrating one’s life through measurable milestones. This also sets the tone for improvement. Goals can be made, studied, and improved upon. Football emphasizes goal setting by providing many instances that are easily measurable. For example, a player may set a goal to cross a 40-yard dash to a certain time or want to increase his weight training maximum. Exercise and training improve the player’s discipline in creating and achieving these goals that can be practiced in other areas. Players are also exposed to a heavy number of team-oriented goals that will improve social skills as well.

Perseverance: Football inevitably challenges young boys to become men. There will be countless of instances of failures. However, true players learn to accept the challenges and emotionally strengthen himself against everyday struggles. The beauty of failures – for lack of a better term – in sports is that they can be remedied in a relatively short period. This improves the player’s knowledge of handling difficult situations and again learn to adapt these to other circumstances.

Image source: wikimedia.org
Image source: wikimedia.org

It is highly recommended that parents try enrolling their sons into a football camp or play with them during their earlier years. This extracurricular activity may provide the necessary life skills that will make him into a stronger, more responsible adult.

Will McHale serves as an assistance coach for La Courneuve Flash, a professional American football team in France, and knows the importance of sports in life. Read more about his professional experience on this LinkedIn page.

Advertisements

How American Football Contributes to Our Culture

Among sports enthusiasts, nothing defines our culture more than American football. The sport holds a special place in society – beating even baseball or basketball in cultural significance. In fact, dissertations have been written on American football’s sway over our nation’s culture. But in order to fully understand the sport’s considerable import, one must first understand how it all began.

American football is named such because it had to differentiate itself from its English predecessor. When it was first introduced in the United States, the sport was fairly violent and there were no set rules. As it grew in popularity, so did the need for more formal and non-violent regulations. It was formally established in 1863, when the English proponents created the Football Association and incorporated various soccer rules. Since then, it has become a solid yet powerful background for a myriad of this country’s changing belief systems and values.

Arian_Foster_fumble
Image Source: wikimedia.org

The sport was initially played by factory workers who needed a form of release. But the workers’ no holds barred style of playing led to the sport’s traditional violence, which would paint a dark and often dangerous picture of football.

In the early 1900s, as emphasis on civilized conduct was being promoted, the rules of the game changed as well. With such evolution followed values assovciated with the sport. In the 1920s, people were fascinated by the controlled fury the sport presented. Unlike soccer, baseball, or basketball, American football forced eleven people to perform as one – performing each task perfectly – in order to win.

americanfootball
Image Source: sport.ox.ac.uk

The sport, however, remained naturally violent. The dissertations on American football qualify that the game can be likened to a representation of how we Americans view ourselves: tough, aggressive, and working together towards a single goal.

The authors of studies on the sport suggest that compared to other sports, American football’s structure and purpose are more relatable to citizens. Players’ personal lives strike a chord with the American society, largely the struggling working classes. There is also the fact that football attracts the most number of viewers; around eight million for a typical game and more than 100 million for the Super Bowl. It definitely has the power to convey metaphors about being American.

Will McHale played as a professional linebacker. His love for the game has never stopped and continues in this Twitter account.

Sports Motivation: The Power of Positive Reinforcement

Motivation plays a huge role in boosting sports performance. Athletes must be motivated to maximize their abilities fully, to achieve their goals, and to perform their best. For coaches, motivation serves as the foundation for all athletic effort and accomplishment.

While there are many ways to motivate athletes, positive reinforcement can be one of the most effective strategies to change and shape behavior. This is especially true for coaches who are enormously influential in the lives of their students, especially the youth.

andrew.-sports-parents.body2_
Image source: trauma.blog.yorku.ca

Regardless of the sport, coaches have the responsibility to teach the skills of the games and how to effectively execute them. The teaching process, however, must be a systematic method and should not be rushed. Through positive reinforcement, coaches recognize the individual differences of players, whether through thought, feeling, and behavior, and try to adapt by developing a positive interaction with the athlete or the team.

For example, when a player does something right or has improved in performance, a coach can reinforce the behavior by giving the rewards that the player values. But given that each player finds different things rewarding, it is important that a coach knows his players. A coach can ask a player what motivates him or her to excel at the sport.

However, there are limits. A coach need not reward a positive behavior every time because doing so can undermine the effect of the reward. What coaches need to remember is that the best way to shape behavior is to offer no response to undesirable behaviors and to reinforce positively desirable behaviors.

Read more articles on sports and coaching by subscribing to this Will McHale blog.

Coaching Styles: Telling, selling, sharing, and allowing

According to legendary American football coach Mike Singletary, players respond to coaches who really have their best interests at heart. Singletary also tells us that coaching is more than planning or passing on knowledge to players. It also means creating a good learning environment and coaching style conducive for learning.

CoachingImage Source: sircsportresearch.blogspot.com

While taking to heart passion, coaches can adopt four coaching styles depending on a given situation. An autocratic style by “tells” or “sells,” a democratic one “shares” and “allows” players to act based on their own judgement:

Telling: Using this style, the coach is the sole decision-maker. The coach tells the team what to do and how to do it.

Selling: When selling, the coach informs athletes of their exercises and agenda. He decides on what is to be done and he also explains what is required and the objectives of the training. But unlike in telling, this approach encourages the participation of athletes, allowing them to ask questions to clarify any points.

Sharing: Unlike telling and selling, sharing invites ideas and suggestions from the players. Decisions are made based on team consensus.

Allowing: A more laidback approach, allowing requires the coach to outline the training requirements to the athletes and define the training conditions. To better meet their goals, this approach allows players to explore possible solutions and make the final decision for the team.

coaching1Image Source: breakingmuscle.com

Apart from these coaching styles, coaches also need to develop a good relationship with their athletes. No matter how brightly a coach’s ambition burns, player safety, happiness, and welfare should be priority.

Get more tips on American football by following this Will McHale Twitter page.

Remembering Football Legend and Sportscaster Frank Gifford

Image source: bbc.co.uk
Image source: bbc.co.uk

American football fans who do not remember Frank Gifford on the football field know him for his running commentaries about the game. After a 12-year career as a running back and wide receiver for the New York Giants, his transition to television on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” gave credibility to sports reporters and commentators—he simply knew what he was talking about.

Inducted into the professional football Hall of Fame in 1977, Gifford was more than a star player and television personality. He played by heart and helped popularize American football, especially among the younger generation.

A legend in his own right, people described Gifford as “the Ultimate Giant.” He was the face of the Giants franchise during its glory years of the ‘50s and ‘60s, which saw the team bagging five Eastern Conference titles and one NFL championship.

Image source: espnfrontrow.com
Image source: espnfrontrow.com

Gifford excelled in sports because he grew competing with his older brother all the time, who was also his only constant friend during his itinerant childhood. Despite his parents’ disapproval over the “hazardous” sport that have injured him several times, he continued his education, armed with a football scholarship, at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

For much of his career, Gifford proved his passion for American football. The field was his home, and the sport was his life blood, a devotion that up to this day, has inspired many generations of athletes across the globe.

Get the latest updates on American football by subscribing to this Will McHale
blog.

Football Can’t Barrel Away at Health Risks

Image source: YauLaw.com
           Image source: YauLaw.com

Out in the field, football players touch down with a veneer of invincibility, tackling each other like it’s nothing to them. In reality, they are in for more health hazards than other athletes. Even President BarackObama was famously tongue-in-cheek about his doubts on the safety of the sport: “I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence,” he says.

Even mentioned in the same breath as Syria and gun violence, American football hasn’t helped its own image with what the public perceives as the NFL’s weak response to player Ray Rice’s domestic violence scandal. So it’s starting to look as if apart from exposing players to field violence, football also breeds violence at a personal level.

As a great tradition, Americans might be hard pressed to give up on its own version of football. However, the health risks associated with the sport are receiving due attention. It has been reported that football players suffer chronic pain and mental illness even long after their careers had wrapped up.

Image source: WSJ.net
                     Image source: WSJ.net

Harvard University even devoted a study slash intervention on the medical conditions suffered by former NFL players in a bid to improve their health and well-being. The conditions highlighted by the study are concussions, brain injury, and even myocardial dysfunction. The study also taps former professional players to lead surveys and discussions.

Football may be fun to watch, but it has to be accompanied by health interventions for players who may have been paid well during their careers, but give up so much in return.

Read this Will McHale blog for more discussions on issues about professional football.

Fairness and Respect: Sportsmanship Matters

When adults teach kids and teenagers about sports for the first time, the value of sportsmanship is inevitably mentioned, possibly combined with lines like “t doesn’t matter who wins or who loses” or “what’s important is that you enjoyed playing.”

Image Source: Sarahsickles.wordpress.com Image Source: Sarahsickles.wordpress.com

But the importance of fair play and respect for contenders can often be neglected, especially when competitiveness settles in and the heat of the moment takes over. These instances can lead players to display poor sporting behaviors like using offensive language and losing self-control.

Throughout history, sports education experts continue to reiterate that athletes should recognize the significance of sportsmanship in both contact and non-contact sports, as having respect for competitors allows athletes to fully mature.

Sportsmanship enables athletes to acknowledge their rivals as a necessary feature of the match, since without them, no game will ever be held. Sportsmanship also teaches athletes that their competitors are the same as their selves—people with dreams, plans, and goals they need to pursue.

Image Source: Wikimedia.org
                         Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Furthermore, when athletes stop seeing rivals as “enemies,” they can easily strive for personal improvement. By respecting competitors, players can just focus on beating their personal best in each game rather than overcoming their opponents. In this case, improvement becomes a major reward, and winning becomes a by-product.

A huge football lover, Will McHale is a strong advocate of sportsmanship. Catch more updates about sports by visiting this Google+ page.