I love football – as a College Football fan (Oklahoma Sooners), as a former player and as a coach. But ain`t you a cowboy you might ask...
How do cowboys and football fit together? Well, Many cowboys in the USA love football. In fact quite a few of todays rodeo stars played
football in high school. But even current College Football and NFL players have cowboy roots. Some NFL players are even known for
proudly wearing their cowboy hats in public, f.e. Peyton Manning, JJ Watt, Von Miller, Jared Allen and Vince Wilfork. And there are a bunch of
coaches – especially high school coaches in cowboy-states like Texas – who honor their cowboy ways by wearing cowboy hats on the side-
line.The cowboy way is deeply rooted in the culture over there... And even I stay cowboy as a football coach and use my cowboy mentaility and
values (and also my christian values) while coaching football in Germany!
High School Football
High School Football
College Football is at least as popular as the professional football league NFL, in fact, in many regions it is clearly more popular. While the
NFL is about profit, the heart and soul of the sport on the local level is High School Football and on the national level is College Football -
after all, the college teams in most cases represent not only the college but the state! Many Europeans are perplexed by the enormous
popularity of College Football in the U.S. They are unable to comprehend because they have no understand of the American sports culture.
And they are even more complexed when they find out that the largest stadiums are not professional stadiums but college stadiums (7
college stadiums have more than 100.000 seats, no NFL stadium comes even close). The hype for college football is comparable to the hype
for the soccer world cup in Europe: College Fans decorate their homes, vehicles etc and every Saturday during the season there are
countless public and private TV parties as the games are shown on TV by the major networks (The first wave of games usually starts at
11.00/12.00, followed by the second wave at 14.40/15.30 and then the nightgames. Because of different time zones, fans can watch College
Football from early in the morning until late at night, about 25 games are shown live on national TV). The difference compared with the
soccer world cup is that soccer fans only get to celebrate only every for years for 4 weeks while the college football hype lasts from
September until January every year!
High School Football
Professionally organized football usually starts in high school (and it`s feeder system). It is there where young Americans learn the basics of
the sport and gain football understanding. High school football teams play other high schools in leagues on the state level. However the
meaning and significance of high school football is hard to describe. I think one has to experience the whole thing himself / herself to
understand! Generally the high school is viewed as the heart of the community (especially in small and midsize towns) with the football team
being the main attraction. The school teams threfore not only represent the school but also the entire town identifies with it. City limit signs,
watertowers and local businesses proudly display the teams colors! High school football is a social event that packs the stadiums on friday
nights and businesses are closed. Usually the games are broadcast on radio and even TV! High school football players (age 14-18) are local
celebrities but not only the players enjoy high school football: Many students are involved as cheerleader, rally girls, team managers or in the
school band (kinda like a German Trommlerchorps, but way cooler). The entire town comes together on Friday nights and the team creates a
great deal of school spirit! In the USA, the town and the high school football team usually are one!!! It makes the school time a special time in
the lives of young Americans!
But (high school) football is far more than just a sport and Americans know: Football is also a tool to prepare players for their future lives.
Football is defines by discipline and with that comes will power, perseverance, team love and team spirit. Football teaches to never give up
and challenges its players mentally and physically. Students become better human beings thru football. It is also a fact that football players
usually become better students.
Football in the USA
My friends and I meet every Saturday during the College Football season to follow our teams LIVE on TV. And of course we do so with plenty
of “finger food” and drinks – just like our counterparts in the US. Here are a few pics from our football get-togethers:
A Football team is lead by the Head Coach. He is usually a teacher, administrator or, (in Texas) coaching football can be his only job.The
head coach is supported by assistant coaches (usually teachers) and students - on the lower end - as team manager (take care of team
needs like washing uniforms etc).To be able to instill the necessary degree of discipline (I already explained in the beginning, why military-like
discipline and the resulting virtues are necessary) the head coach usually is given the authority to lead his team as he sees fit by resp. rules
and the administration. He is made the sole leader of the team so that he can implement his rules and philosophies! Despite being somewhat
of a dictator the head coach usually becomes a father figure, teacher, role model and even a bit of a friend to the players on his team.
Coaches are highly involved during games because they have to read the opponents strategy and call every play that the players have to
perform! Football is tough on coaches and players. Nobody is forced to play football but to those students who make the team (high school
sports is a privilege, not a right according to the U.S. Supreme court) football becomes a priority and dominates their lives during the season!
Practices and team functions take place every day - even saturdays are not off limits!!! Commitment is assumed and practices and team
events are mandatory! Football players are forced to give up some freedoms and submit themselves to the philosophy and will of the Head
The foundation of football is discipline. With that comes the needed environment for football. And when players understand that and live that,
then they even discipline themselves and love their team and the coaches - despite the dictatorial toughness. Discipline leads to the needed
virtues for football: Commitment, physical and mental toughness, endurance, willpower as well as team love and team spirit (both different from
each other but very important). In order to achieve this, football means dictator-like hierarchies with the Head Coach as the highest authority
and mandatory practices with strictly enforced rules. A popular saying in the USA is: Football is not a democracy, it`s a dictatorship because
the head coach must have the authority to build and lead the team according to his philosophy and principles as the teams only leader. He is
the face of the team! Coaches have to eliminate those who are unable to give what is asked by football – sounds hard but a team is only as
good as it`s weakest link. Everybody who gives it his all will be helped. But football is the wrong sport for whoever does not want to give it his
all. But football is absolutely worth it, the rewards are high and high school football players live on it for the rest of their lives!!!
National Football League
While the highest level of football in terms of popularity might be College Football, the highest level in terms of football skills is the NFL. The
National Football League does not use the relegation system like they have in Germany - as already explained earlier. However, sometimes
teams move away because a market is not working anymore financially, or because the team was sold to a different owner. The most popular
sporting event in the USA is the final of the NFL, the superbowl. And even though College Football has the same or a higher level of
popularity, the superbowl is the most popular event because of the NFL`s profit philosophy.
Oftentimes I am asked about football in Germany: I am asked by Americans if their sport even exists in Germany and in what form. Or I am
asked by German coaches or parents about my coaching approach and philosophy. Therefore I would like to share my experiences as a
youth football head coach (the German equivalent to a high school football coach) - even if it takes a little explaining... because I would like
to tell my story, chronologically from the first shock of realizing what the sports system was like over here to finding a team that was willing to
try my "American system" and the subsequent success as a coach of a German U16 team (boys ages 13-16).
Football is like a mixture of a board- game with military-like tactics and a highly intense sport. Coaches are like officers who give orders to the
players who then have to execute those orders - that is how football is often describes in the USA. A Head Coach not only creates playbooks
and on field activities: It is important that he molds his team and instills the right attitude by finding the perfect mix of team spirit, love and
discipline. Practices have to be carefully planned and executed... I could write so much more but let`s get back to my story...
Further reasons against real American football in Germany
a) There are usually several teams within a club (in fact oftentimes demanded by sports authorities here). Usually a club has adultteams and
several youth teams (divided by age). So blocking off a team and developing a team identity is not really possible.
b) Youth teams generally play a minor role in German sports clubs, the adult team are called "First Team". Youth teams are low level inferior
and the reason for the teams are to provide the adult team with new players. That alone shows the lack of football understanding here..
c) Players can chose what club / team they want to join. In the US that would be quite difficult because of school zoning.
Players can`t just switch teams because they disagree with something or have issues with the coaches. And that creates the fundamentals
needed in football. Players learn to suck it up! In Germany however it is common to test clubs/teams and then decide where they want to
play! And when they dislike something afterwards or have issues with coaches they just switch teams! This is also a perversion that mocks
the fundamentals of football! It also makes it hard to build the necessary toughness!
d) What is done during high school football remains important for the rest of players lives.. Most will never play football again after high
school, only a small percentage will make it to play college football. So the time in high school is where memories for life are made! In fact the
legacy of what happened on the football field stays with a player his entire life in American towns! This also shows the importance of high
school football. But it is hard to comprehend for somebody who never experienced high school football in the U.S. himself! Those 3 or 4
years of high school footbal mean a lot and players count down towards the end. Coaches use this for additional motivation! Playing for a
short period of time gives the sport a certain meaning different from being able to play half your life! In Germany players can play as long as
they want to or as long as they stay healthy! But this makes football a joke: How can you give the sport 100 percent commitment for 40
But let`s continue with my personal story of coaching in Germany:
Against all odds
After taking the coaching job in 2013 I realized very quickly that I wasn`t a head coach at all. Even though I had the title "head coach" I was
not even remotely close to a head coach: In order to build and uphold the foundation of football it is nessesary that the head coach / team
leader is the highest authority of the team. Because how can you reach a high level of discipline if there are several people in charge or the
Head Coach is not the teams only leader?!? That causes weakness, vulnerability and contradictions - willfully or accidental - are common! I
experienced this over and over again! A team is only as strong as the teams leadership! And it certainly does not work when the head coach
is not the highest authority. Usually here a youth director is the direct superior of the head coach and the youth director is the highest point
of contact for parents and even players. And this boss of the head coach is oftentimes elected by the parents or the players themselves!!!
And oftentimes there is a team manager (often a father or mother of a player) who leads the organizational aspects of the team. and is on
the same level or even higher than the Head Coach who is simply an exercise leader...
Sounds crazy, right! But the standard rules here demand it this way and logically military-like discipline is not possible! I had to experience
this the hard way myself...Over and over and over again I was told how I had to do things and what I couldn`t do. It was not "my team", it was
the youth directors team and I was just an exercise leader...
How can a head coach lead adolescents in puberty when they know exactly that they don`t have to take part in any exercise or practise they
don`t want to (the sports authorities demand this by default, remember rule No 1?). And how can a head coach lead adolescents in puberty
when they know that their will and needs are more important than the teams needs (remember rule No 2: It is not allowed to impair
self-fulfilment)!!! How can the head coach lead his team when the players know that he is not the highest authority? Ii don`t even need to
mention commitment or trying to push the players to their limits...Players in the USA learn to put the teams needs first, they learn to fight until
they reach the limits, perseverance, willpower and discipline and to "suck it up" and manage the situation at hand! Here however exactly the
opposite is taught!
Right after I started the coaching job there, the team manager clarified, that I was not the lone team leader - I was only an exercise leader
while the team manager took care of every organisational aspect. I was under the youth director and - when it came to organisational things
like practices etc - I was also under the team manager. I tried to talk to the team manager and the youth director several times but both of
them did not at all understand where I was coming from.
Over and over I was told by the youth director and team manager what I could do and what I could not do! The youth director was the head
of the team instead of me as the head coach! I was in disbelieve about their mentalities and what was going on there! Wasn`t I hired as a
head coach of a football team?!? I was far, far from it...I could not even decide about my own practice times within the times that were
allocated for my team...The team manager had to approve even though it was my teams field! They also had a fieldhouse available for
practice and it was not my call weather or not it was to cold for the players to stay outside....Football is a winter sport and I wanted to practice
outside but the youth director gets to make that call and made principle decisions on when I had to practise indoors and when I was allowed
to go outside... I wasn`t even allowed into the locker room at any time!!! That was the kids private place and a coaches free zone!!! (A locker
room in real football though is special to a team as the team is bonded and formed right there...this is where a head coach does a lot of
important work but I wasn`t even allowed in...only the team manager was allowed to go into the locker room!!!) The team manager began
practices with announcements and then he handed the team over to me until he closed the practise! I had to stand there like an assistant
while he talked to what was supposed to be "my kids"...But the coaching staff was almost never alone with the team. The team manager and
youth director were at hand and observed practises most of the time. I also had very little contact with the parents because the youth director
is the highest point of contact for them. Parents went to him or the team manager. The team manager usually communicated with the parents
as well. I was not part of parents meetings because I was only "the trainer". "My assistants" were not even my assistants. They were also
under the youth director just like I was. At coaches meetings the youth director viewed all coaches as equal! And during the winter times the
youth director even took over the practices in coordination with the U19 coaches! And the players of course knew: If they didn`t like
something they just had to run to mommy. Cause mommy just needs to talk to the youth director and they would get their will! After all the
kids / their parents pay a membership fee and the youth director works for the members!!! In short, I was very, very far away from the sole
team boss that the head coach is...I wasn`t allowed to implement rules that are nesessary for real football!
In contrast: Wikipedia describes a (high school football) head coach as "highest authority for all aspects of his team." Statements like those
or similar are usually in the coach`s contract and him is given full support by the administration, otherwise it won`t work! This is common
football knowledge so I was shocked and could not believe what was going on there, it was a football cub, wasn`t it!?! How could a football
club not know the basic fundamentals of the sport?!? I could not believe how laughable it all was!
At that time I was just beginning to understand the typical German mentality and the German sports system. I realized that all surrounding
clubs also had youth directors and team managers and that their mindset and procedures were similar to where I was coaching. I learned
over time that the German sports system, the state sports organizations and their standard demands were to blame... I already explained
those in detail...
I failed because I was unable to do what I wanted to do to build a great team because I did not have much authority. I tried to talk to the club
leadership but they had no clue where I was coming from. To m it was normal that the head coach was not in charge. Actually I was just a
"trainer",who was allowed to lead exercises. I could not build team spirit and discipline because of that system. Even my regular coaching
suffered because I was unhappy and I felt like I was being monitored all the time. All of this was bad for my health, all that stress and
unhappiness left a mark! So I left the club after about a year (mutual agreement). I interviewed with another team in the area but of course
they did not understand the American concept of football when I tried to explain to them where I was coming from. In fact they did not want to
hear it! They probably thought I was crazy for wanting to be in control to build something great! They could not comprehend the bigger
picture at all
The realization that there was no real football over here left me pretty devastated and I began to realize that basically all clubs here acted
that way, though I didn`t quite understand why yet. I love Football and it was very sad to see that there was no real football around! I also felt
sorry for German kids who wanted to play football or thought they played football when in reality they are not even close to what real football
is! I was in disbelieve that the German system and the German clubs robbed them of that great experience!
After that experience I went back to Oklahoma to "charge my spiritual batteries". During the time in the U.S. I was part of a high school
football team and when I came back to Germany in 2014 I felt the strong urge to get back into coaching football over here. Even though I did
not have high hopes I gave it one more try! I found an organisation without a youth team and when I told them about my American
philosophy and what I believe football means they surpri- singly did not look at me like I was crazy. I don`t think they complete understood
where I was coming from and what they were getting into but they agreed to hire me as the head coach of the youth department. I decided to
start up an U15 team (age 12 - 15) as this was the closest I could get to a high school football team age wise (In 2016 the age was changed
from 13 to 16) . Because the club did not have a U15/16 team I had to build my team pretty mutch from scratch...but I knew that I could only
coach for 3-4 years, because club voting rights only allows real football for a short time (and only when there is no U19 team in the club...)
Much to my surprise the club agreed to all my terms ( American high school system instead of German system as much as possible, no
interference form anybody within the organisation, not even "Vorstand", they even changed the standard rules and concepts with the help of a
lawyer etc) and I could not believe that I now was truly a football head coach for high school aged kids in Germany! Indeed I was in charge of
everything – just like I needed to be. Only I and my coaches had contact with the kids! However I promised myself that I would quit the day they
don`t let me any- more and I don`t feel like a head Coach anymore. I did not want to go thru all the troubles again. I owed that to my health..
So how was it possible to bring real football to my kids despite the German settings? Well, at first I had no clue that my philosophies were
against the principles of the sports authorities and even social laws. I thought it was just against the German sports culture and typical club
structures - and that would have been hard enough by itself...Over time we realized more and more. We came up with interpretations of those
laws that would still allow us to continue my philosophies. The club engaged a lawyer and even though legally questionable he encouraged us
to go forward. He said when it really goes to court it would be up to the judges..And the club always had my back, their motto was like: "Well, if
somebody wants to sue us then sue us...and then we`ll see what the judges say. Before that we won`t give in!" I am very thankful for their
approach!!! But the Bulldozer realized how successful we were!!! Even when the Football Assn came up with new rules in 2016 that
seemingly made real football completely impossible and I threatened to resign, they stood behind me. With the help of the lawyer we
negotiated with the Assn and we were allowed to change those rules. I guess they were not sure about the legal ramifications and did not want
a legal battle with us. I completely rewrote those rules and the Assn confirmed that we were the only team in the entire state that complained
about it! Every other team signed the new rules. So looking back it is a miracle that I found a club that put up with all of it and stood behind
me. It was a true miracle!!!
Why Football and why coaching???
Ever since I was little, sports has been a big part of my life. After trying several sports as
a young kid and teenager I discovered football and immediately fell in love with it.
Why you might ask. Well, for many reasons! Football is very demanding and challenging
for players and coaches alike. It is tough on player - both mentally and physically. Some
people think football is just unplanned chaos! However it is exactly the opposite!Football
is highly planned tactics. And that is where the coaches come in: A Head Coach is the
"master-mind" of the team, he builds the team according to his philosophy and he installs
the tactics and strategies. It is HIS program and he is the highest authority of the team
and he is the face of the team! He is far from being only the exercise leader that coaches
are in Germany! The players have to learn the plays and execute them without hesitation.
Football players of different body types are needed, some players are small, some are
big, some are tall, some are short! During the game those plays are given to the players
by the coaches via codes that only your team is supposed to understand. There are
usually only a few seconds between the plays - so the coaches have to read the
opponent and find a solution within seconds while the opponents are trying to read you
as well. So a coach is involved in every play and therefore the outcome of the game!
Coaching Football in Germany
Sure, not everything was like in the US: I didn´t have my own field, instead we had to share it with 2 soccer teams and the other teams of the
Bulldozer (adult team and flag team). But they even switched practice schedules around to accommodate my wishes and I could decide
when and how often I wanted to schedule practices. We practiced three times a week for 2 1/2 hours plus saturdays when needed (about
once or twice a month). Also, football does not have the status it has in the US. Therefore many advantages of playing football are missing
over here and it is harder to bind a player to the team...
Most importantly, the "Vorstand" (elected club leadership) agreed not to interfere. It was my program and I was the lone teams leader!
Players and parents didn`t even know who they were because my team was completely blocked off from the rest of the club - just like it was
supposed to be! I was the only point of contact for players and parents alike.
I knew I only had a couple of years as a real head coach (as explained earlier). And I knew it was going to be hard to find players. Not only
because of the sports mentality over here but also mainly because there are 5 football clubs in and around Duesseldorf... and the
Bulldozer were pretty much the most unknown one...
Our first practice took place in January 2015 and it was somewhat of a culture shock for the handful of kids that came to the field on
early Saturday morning. My plan was clear: First I wanted to install a high degree of discipline. Practice attendance and exercises were
mandatory (exceptions only possible with my approval), and so was a high degree of discipline. Of course German kids weren`t used to it
since they never experienced anything like it at other sports / clubs but I stuck with it! Bad language was forbidden and players addressed
meas "Coach" and questions were answered with "Yes Sir" or "No Sir". For those of you not familiar with American culture: It is quite normal
(especially in the south or midwest) to address older people with "Sir" or "Ma`am". It is also used to show respect.In fact: Parents are
addressed "Sir" or "Madam" by their kids quite often).
So the needed respect towards me was implied right from the start - and by the way: Just because we did not go by "Du" (used to address
friends) like it is normal in German football did not mean we did not love each other. And if you find the right kids and continue to explain why
absolute discipline and love are so important it even works here in Germany! At least with kids who really understood football and developed
the will to succeed. A larger problem are parents who don`t want to accept our rules and discipline. We often lost players are did not even
get players because parents just wanted their kid to play a little sports on the side as a little hobby without any commitments and
priorities...this typical mentality brought a lot of stress and grief for me. But I did not give up until I had build strong military like disciple
followed by great love!Instead of actual practices we oftentimes had team meetings where I showed my team videos about high school
Practice Meerting January 2015
Bowl Champion 2015
Bowl Championship Party 2015
Unfortunately Coach Patrick had to leave the team due to his job situation. He was hoping to be able to continue in 2017 though. We lost
another coach in February – also due to work. We also lost and gained coaches - mainly work-related issues. None of my assistants had
any coaching experience so we started the 2016 league with 3 coaches, me and two young assistants. So the situation was not perfect…
Then the League decided to change the age requirements for the the U15. They changed from U15 to U16 but at the same time limited the
eligible years from 4 to 3 (2000 – 2002.). That meant that a couple of kids that were an integral part of the team in 2015 (as the youngest
age group) were not allowed to be part of us in 2016. And once again I was dumbfounded about the lack of football knowledge over here:
Instead of an easy solution (allow 2003 kids to play for one year – 2017 would have been normal) they destroyed a team that played
together in 2015 and forced those kids to go to a U13 team. We did not have a U13 team but even if we did: After one year of U15 (2003
kids were the youngest) those kids were forced to leave? After they experienced the love and team spirit of the team for just one year?!?
This again proved that teams here do not love each other like we did – otherwise there would have been an outcry… Anyways, our affected
kids wanted to rather stay and not play for a year than join other local clubs that had U13s! The kids loved the team and I loved them so I
could not turn them away. At the same time we received a couple of inquiries from U13 aged kids so I decided to form a U13 team within the
U16 team – with me as a head coach. That way they could be part of the team. The plan was to practice together for the most part and to
view it as one team…that was only possible because the U13 was not supposed to play in a league though. We called the U16 our “Varsity”
team and the U13 was the “JV Team”. Unfortunately the coaching situation got worse and the JVs die not get much attention because the
Varsity team played in a league and we had to get them ready. The JV team practiced with the U16 for the most part but when it came to
plays they had to watch from the sideline most of the time. It kinda broke my heart but I had no choice. I guess the U13 kids didn`t have any
issues with it, they were just happy to be part of the team. But I hated for them to not get much time to practice their plays. We even had to
cut a practice day for the U13 during U16 league play. Therefore I am very proud of their achievements. During the U16 pre-season we also
scheduled games for the U13 because the teams the U16 played against also had U13 teams. While the U16 just scrimmaged the U13
played actual games. And amazingly our U13 won all 3 games in dominating fashion. All 3 games were already decided at halftime even
though we had only 2 back up players and did not practice much together! In fact the only time they were able to do "plays" for the most part
was during the U16 water breaks... But also the U16 won all 3 of their pre season games and I felt optimistic about the regular season. I
know it would be tough though because we were outnumbered and much smaller than the other teams. And then by the middle of the
season we lost all but one coach for various reasons like work and illness (thanks to the system there is no commitment for coaches either
as they all have regular jobs that come first...) The one remaining coach besides me was not there for most of the time either so I was
basically by myself with two teams for most of the 2nd half of the season!
2016 - Growing pains... but still perfect
Trainingscamp Feb 2016
Trainingscamp Feb 2016
Culture shock: My first coaching-job in Germany
I received an offer to coach a youth football team near my hometown in 2013 when I was slowly getting to old for bull riding. It seemed like
good timing even though I felt that I still had one or two years left as a bull rider. But at the same time I felt that I couldn`t pass on the
chance to become a football coach. So when I got the offer I jumped at the opportunity – I thought this would allow me to live out my
dream at least a little bit over here in Germany. Little did I know how different it was and what I would get myself into...here is my German
coaching experience in chronological order: So I took the offer but I did not quit rodeoing right away but decided to limit my Rodeo
appearances substantially (I only rode during football-breaks) until retiring in 2015. At that time I did not know much about the German spots
system. I thought football would be football.
Unfortunately I learned very fast that youth football over here (the equivalent to high school football in the US) was completely different!
Sure, football isn`t done in schools here - but I knew that! I am talking about the sport of football itself: I was shocked that what they called
football wasn`t real football! Yes, the players wore shoulder-pads and helmets, they tackled and scored touchdowns, but the foundation of
football, the foundation, was completely missing!!! Also: I was hired and called a head coach but I was far from it! I realized: What they are
doing here is NOT football and I could not believe that a so called football club did not know what football is all about!!! But then I learned
that it wasn`t only the club that hired me – all the other surrounding teams did it the same way! More and more I realized that German laws
and guidelines as well as the sports culture here generally make real football impossible! More about my personal experiences later on...
At the Beginning of 2017 we lost quite a few of our experienced players. Only 40 percent of our starting offense had experience, our
starting defense only 20 percent!!! Every other player was new! And – just like last year – we lost coaches (due to work) so I was by
myself again. Well, for about 2 Months during the league season I had 2 Assistants however because of their German sports mentality
I had to let them go - they hurt more than they helped…
Our first games
Only a few weeks after our very first practice, we played our first game and we won! After the first game I found one more coaches so we went
to our second game with three coaches. And we won our second ever game too! Nobody believed that we had only existed for a few weeks
since we had beaten teams with years of experience in league play! Plus we were badly outnumbered and outsized! But the way the kids
behaved and acted in those games was so different from the other teams and everybody was amazed and not only our parents realized how
special this team was. They had never seen such a love for each other before. After the games we scheduled a couple of joint practices with
other teams. And in the summer, I invited all my players and coaches to my home for a coach`s bbq, a tradition I kept in future years as well...
Coaches BBQ 2016
Coaches BBQ 2016
Coaches BBQ 2017
My high school football philosophy in Germany
Well, the plan was to join U15 league play in 2016 and only play test games or “friendly games” in 2015. Of course there was no way to get to
the needed minimum player number by February – as demanded by the league. So after I started the team I searched for assistant coaches.
As the head coach it was up to me who I selected and hired. Because my American system was not known it was not easy to find the right
people. Because if the other coaches don`t understand what it is about they might destroy more than they help… But soon after I found a
young assistant with even a little bit of coaching experience ( in the German system but thru training he understood and “lived” the philosophy).
After discipline came team spirit and love! And just like in the US this caused high willpower, perseverance etc.The kids became better
members of society because of football! I can honestly say that I had never seen a team that loved each other like our team did. We talked
about mutual love a lot, too! At first it must have been very strange for the kids to openly talk about loving each other (I am not talking about
team spirit, thats different). But they quickly understood why it was important. They also saw that it was working. They developed an
unbelievable team love. Over and over we talked about it, especially when new players joined the team I explained what we meant by this.
Our kids became committed and took a lot of pride in their commitment, love etc! They began to truly understand football! Representative
team participation was not allowed but my kids id not want to, they understood why this was against real football...
Whenever we had new players we met for 5 hours on saturdays before and after practice to introduce new players to our philosophies,
rules, love etc as this was completely unheard of to them. We showed new kids videos of high school football and their practices. I called
this "freshman orientation".
But also the entire team met on the regular bases to talk about love and the kids talked about personal issues. Because how can you love
each other (besides sozial moral type of love) when you don`t know each other...
Important to me was a personal relationship with my players! How can you talk to them about loving each other without a personal
relationship. So my approach included not only the actual sport of football including it`s social moral type of teaching (leading to discipline,
willpower, endurance, behaviour etc) but also a personal relationship. I believe that those relationships with the kids also determined parts
of our success in football and moral education. And I like to think that I had a close relationship with my players (those who understood the
game and stayed). That meant a lot to me. The kids even came over to my place even though I lived 2 hours away from them. My home was
always open for them. But because I lived so far away and they had to rely on public transportation (no license under 18 here) it took them
2 hours to get to my place by bus and train...But despite the distance the boys came over several times during the year, for BBQs, to watch
college football or even to ride my rodeo practice bucking barrel (some of the guys liked my cowboy ways even though it was very unusual
for Germany). Of course I never asked them or pushed them to like my lifestyle but I always showed them when they showed interested. So
we not only taught them football with discipline, willpower, team spirit and love etc but because of our relationship we also taught them other
things too! Random stuff like how to ride a bull or how to catch a chicken on a farm. We taught them what their muscles mean in a fight,
what their bodies weak spots are and how to protect those if needed. We taught them how to find back to the water surface while diving and
how to sing karaoke (Ok, we failed the karaoke part). But back to football:
When players truly understand why coaches - especially the head coach - need to be tough on them, they still love him back. In fact they
are tough on themselves, discipline themselves and love each other dearly! And we viewed our team more like a high school football team
than a German club team and the players where mighty proud of that! They were completely blocked form the other teams in the club just
like it was supposed to be... There was no youth director, no team manager and no Vorstand who told me what to do and how to do it! I was
in charge of all team aspects! The player viewed me as a role model, father figure and teacher. Oftentimes they told me "We love you
coach". Sure, there was no actual high school but the sport and the dangers are the same so I believe that imitating a high school football
team is needed to be successful. But over time I even installed typical high school things like an annual coaches BBQ at my place, Seniors
(players in the last year of high school and the team) and the special circumstances that come with being a senior, yard-signs, receptions
etc. Now you might say: "But you are not in the USA." True that but I will say what I said before: "We play the same sport with the same
complexity and the same dangers". And our success proves me right - not only on the field but also socially speaking: My boys turned into
disciplined, strong-willed young man with manners and character! Football prepares boys for real life and makes them better people!!!
Unfortunately this is unwanted in German sports...
Astonished parents conveyed to me how their kids behavior improved because of my American high school football philosophy. When they
asked their sons for the reason of their mind change the answers were usually along the lines of: "I learned that at practice" or "coach said.."
Improvements in school also happened! Players who had to leave the team due to age wrote to me and thanked me that they became better
humans and that they were able to play football with commitment and discipline ad the attached advantages. They saw for themselves how
successful my system was and they never experienced relationships like our team has ever before. They were so proud of our philosophy and
tough love!They were so thankful that they were able to experience all of this in Germany I can not imagine why all of those positive changes
and experiences are not wanted in Germany. That - in fact - exactly the opposite is desired here! It makes me sad that so many teenagers in
Germany are robbed of all those great experiences! But the culture here tells children and youths that sports is just a little hobby and that
commitments and hard work are not needed!
Retirement as Head Coach - Spring 2018
Earlier I stated why real football is as good as impossible. And even if it
somehow is, it is only possible for a couple of years. I have been blessed that
I was able to be a real head coach for 3 1/2 years. I think based on my
statements regarding the German system I could have stayed for a couple
more years, however my personal situation and a new German law forced my
to "resign" from my position as head coach of the Bulldozer U16. I turned the
team over to my assistant coach Ruffy who had joined us a couple of month
I had pushed back the effects of my personal situation for a whle but it was
getting too hard. And when a new German law seemingly disabled the club to
keep the American chain of command I knew the time had come. I was still
giving 100 percent to not let down the kids but the end had come. I look back
on about 4 great years with a bunch of great kids. With a brand new-founded
team we right away won every single league game, bowl, friendly game or
scrimmage. I end my time as head coach with a record of 32 wins and 0
losses. But it wasn`t only about the success on the field. What meant a lot was
the social moral aspect! We helped a lot of boys to become better people.
Parents were impressed by the change of behavior and that means a lot to
me without interfearing! My faith was also a big part of my approach and we
prayed in Jesus name before every game. It hurts me to write these lines...but
I I so am thankful for those who understood what football is all about! My
thanks go out to the Bulldozer leadership, first Jens who hired me and then
Thomas, Christian and also Oliver! Thanks for giving the team completely to
me!Also a huge thank you to the parents for their support. Thanks to my
assistant coaches for everything! Thanks to those teams we had friendly
relations with, it was a good time with yall. Most of all thanks to God for
allowing me to coach in Germany!
I guess by know you know how much I loved my kids. They were like sons to me (without meaning disrespect to their real parents), but
also like friends in a way (even though I was tough on them when I needed to be). After all, we met 3-4 times a week and a certain bond
had been formed. And like I said, it wasn`t just about football and it wasn`t just about the social moral aspect that is part of high school
football. It was also about a personal relationship. So we not only taught them football with discipline, willpower, team spirit and love etc
but because of our relationship we also taught them random stuff like how to ride a bull or how to catch a chicken on a farm. We taught
them what their muscles mean in a fight, what their bodies weak spots are and how to protect those if needed. We taught them how to find
back to the water surface while diving and many more things. And the kids liked to come over to my place. So two weeks after my
resignation the team came over for a weekend, camped in my backyard for 2 days and just hung out for the weekend. It was kinda like a
farewell weekend. They took a 2 hour train and bus ride to get here (no cars for kids under 18 here – so they all had to take public
transportation). My team coming over to say good-bye meant the world to me! But I knew that when they left after that weekend - that was
it. I was no longer their coach! I enjoyed one last weekend with my kids from Saturday morning until Sunday night. We watched all of our
football videos of our team, we rode the bucking barrel, we even had a cowboy church service on Sunday morning..but the end had to
come: I was devastated when they left that Sunday night at around 5.30. They told me they loved me and I told them the same, we
hugged and they just walked away! That was it! My team, my boys walked away... I had fought my emotions for the last few hours we had
together on that Sunday but seeing them walk away for the final time I became pretty emotional. It felt like my whole world collapsed. I felt
so alone! The kids that I had given so much to – and they had given me so much - just walked away. I know I did not really have a choice
and the decision was the right one in light of the situation at hand but in that moment – seeing my kids walk down that road towards the
bus stop - was pretty bad. It kinda broke my heart and nobody but the Lord will ever know how much I love them. The final practice a
couple of weeks prior wasn`t as bad because I knew I would see them boys again in a couple of weeks but now, that was it…Even though I
only coached for about 4 years as their head coach it felt like 10 years. It felt like my life`s work had ended. As a firm believer in Jesus
Christ and my faith being the priority of my life I know I probably shouldn`t say it like this but that is how I felt in that moment...very
emotional.. That night I deleted myself from the teams whatsapp group and that was it. I was now officially no longer connected to my
team, my boys, and everything I had build up. That feeling was so helpless! We said we would meet again but who knows what the future
brings. Maybe I can be a guest speaker at their practices sometime... one of my players I am very proud of left for a high school year in
the US so who knows if or when I`ll see him again...so who knows what happens. It hurt a lot after spending so much time with my kids in
the past years. But I was thankful for the time we had together: "I could have missed the pain but I would have had to miss the dance".
Commitment to Greatness!!!
NFL Camp - Coaching with Patriots Star-RB Blount
Houston Texans Home Stadium
2015 - My first year as Head Coach
Aces Bowl Champion
During the year we added one more young coach and prepared for a tournament that we were supposed to play after the summer break.
We were looking forward to it because it would be the first time this young team would play for something meaningful. To us it was like a
Superbowl, but again we had to face experienced teams that actually played in a league. But our very first year in existence continued
successful: We won the first game of the tournament by a couple of touchdowns to qualify for the final. Despite losing our team leader on
offense and defense we also won the Championship game 40-12! We won the Tournament. So we ended our very first year with a total of 4
wins, no losses) and a nice trophy
Coach`s BBQ - Summer 2015
Awards and Christmas Party 2015
We finished our very first year of existence with a perfect record of 4 wins and no losses. To celebrate our first year, we met in December to
review the year and hand out awards (not individual awards though - I am not a friend of MVPs etc because it takes a team effort)
After founding and building the team in 2015 we (barely) had enough players to meet the state football assn requirements so we registered
for league play. Even though we gained limited game playing experience in 2015 we didn`t know much about the league and how we`d
compare. I felt we had a built a good and motivated team but we were always outnumbered (we only had a few backups) and outsized by our
opponents. So the first game was a "great unknown". Everybody - players and coaches were pretty nervous ( I guess the kids did not see
how nervous us coaches were) but once we won that first game everybody settled down. We played 11 games in league play that year. We
had two close games during the season, one of them took a bit of a trick play (a running back pass to our wide receiver) to open up the
running lanes so we could go back to "cruise mode". In the end we won all of our 11 games. Despite being the youngest, smallest and always
outnumbered team without much experience t we played a perfect season right in our first year!
Windeck Football Cup Champion
After our U13 (well, it wasn`t really a functional U13, it was more like an attachment to the U16 since the U13 almost never practiced
together) played three games we were invited to the Windeck Football Cup, a tournament for U13 teams during an off-week for the U16.
Despite the lack of practicing together (they could only practice plays during U16 water breaks) and being outnumbered again our kids
won both games and with that, the tournament!
Year End Awards Banquet
Both teams finished the year perfect, the U16 with a record of 11-0. the JV Team 5-0. That gave us reason to celebrate at the end of
the year again.
Aces Bowl Tournament
League Championship Party
League Championship Party
Windeck Football Cup
Windeck Football Cup
2017 - Another year...and still perfect
So I was by myself again with a pretty unexperienced team. We went to our 3-day pre-season camp again shortly before the start of the
league (Coach Patrick and one of last years players came to camp with us due to lack of other coaches at that time) but only played one
pre-season scrimmage this year. And just like last season we were always outsized and outnumbered. We had no business being
successful but yet we were!!! The unity of the team was unbelievable!!! I had never seen a team with this much love, discipline and
willpower and motivation!!! We were not successful because of our athletic abilities, we were successful because of our American
commitment, structures and mindset!!! Because of their military discipline and love the players found a new level of willpower that they never
knew was there!!! We won every game and finished with a perfect season again!!! Unfortunately a team had to forfeit the remaining season
shortly after the beginning of league play. So that year we only had 6 games. We won the closest game by 4 touchdowns, all other games
were already decided by halftime. I actually felt sorry for the kids on the other teams. But what could I do… I only had a couple of backups
(and most of the players started on offense and defense) so even when I had all my backups playing we still had most of the starters on the
field! In fact that upset me because when I wanted to rest the starters I couldn’t! Our defense allowed only 3 touchdowns all season! I am so
proud of the boys! They really understood what it means to play football!!! And they were so proud of their hart work, American style
commitment and American system!!!
Winter Bowl Champion
Since there were no games in the fall (some leagues carry over but are short because natural grass fields are closed from fall to spring)
we decided that 7 months without games would be too long (in Germany a club usually practices year round except for summer break,
Christmas and spring break). So we scheduled a game in February (pre-season would begin in April) and with that created a whole new
season. That "winter season" culminated with the game, the "Winter Bowl". It was not just a friendly, instead we made it an important
game: It was played on Superbowl sunday and the winner received a nice trophy. Because we had so many players with no experience at
all it was also important from that point of view. We won the game 24-8 and brought home another win.
Coaches BBQ 2017
Year End Awards Banquet
Our annual year end party took place in december and once again we had plenty of awards to give out to our players. Just like every
year coach Patrick also supported the event. After all he helped me with camp so he was once again a welcomed guest.
Fall Showdown Champion
Just like with the Winter Bowl during the last winter we scheduled another stand alone game between the seasons. It took place in Nov-
ember and this time we called it "Fall Showdown". Again, we treated it like a bowl game because it was important to us for several reasons:
It was the final game / farewell game for a couple of Seniors / team leaders. Them boys were pretty important to us and we wanted to send
them off in style. I also had a hunch that it could be my final game as well. Anyways, we had a few new players who never played a game
so they needed the experience. And the winner would get a nice trophy again. The game proved to be the most physical game we played
all year and our boys loved the challenge. Our new players received a lot of playing time and we played a freshman QB who was supposed
to lead the team in 2018. In the End the final score was 52-18 in our favor.
2018 - The End
After finishing 2017 by myself without any assistant coaches I was glad to find 2 more coaches for 2018. Like I said before, I wasn`t sure
about the future so having new coaches on board was important. One of them was a senior from 2017 who wanted to support us instead of
going on to play in a U19 team. The other one was a former youth player (not with our club though) who had to quit playing because of
health reasons. He understood and lived our American system right away though...
My final practice June 9th, 2018
New Head Coach Ruffy
More thoughts, philosophies and links are available on page 2
In order to truly understand the sport of football one has to understand the American sports system and mindset as it differs extremely from the
German sports system. The American system is well thought-out and and is much more logical than the one in place in Germany - more about
that a bit later on. There are 3 main levels of football in the USA, high school, College and Pros.
Pre-season Camp 2017
Pre-season Camp 2017
Bulldozer social media release
High School Football
High School Football
Update - September 2018
After my resignation my assistant coach took over the team and I had hoped to still go back for some practices in the future. Coach Ruffy
had promised to invite me as a "special guest coach" and allow me to take over the team for special practices or the pre-season
camp.However Coach Ruffy was released by the Bulldozer a few month after my resignation. The club went back to the regular German
structure and philosophies and the adult team took over the youth in order to form a U19 team instead. So the team that I founded is not
there anymore and I realize that I will most likely never be able to coach again in Germany.
Why real American type football is generally impossible in Germany
I am repeating myself: The foundation of football is discipline. With that comes the needed environment for football. And when players
understand that and live that, then they even discipline themselves and love their team and the coaches - despite the dictatorial toughness.
Discipline leads to the needed virtues for football: Commitment, physical and mental toughness, endurance, willpower as well as team love
and team spirit (both different from each other but very important). In order to achieve this, football means dictator-like hierarchies with the
Head Coach as the highest authority and mandatory practices with strictly enforced rules. A popular saying in the USA is: Football is not a
democracy, it`s a dictatorship because the head coach must have the authority to build and lead the team according to his philosophy and
principles as the teams only leader. He is the face of the team! Coaches have to eliminate those who are unable to give what is asked by
football – sounds hard but a team is only as good as it`s weakest link. Everybody who gives it his all will be helped. But football is the wrong
sport for whoever does not want to give it his all.
However all the above mentioned requirements are generally NOT feasible in Germany where sports is not done in school - as is a privilege
and not a right (at least in the USA) – instead it is done in clubs. And those clubs are social entities based on equal rights!!! So German club
laws are not in unity with the foundation of football. Neither are German social laws and their application… To be clear: Nobody in the U.S. is
forced to play football as a school activity but those who decide to play are forced to give up a lot of freedoms to be part of the team!!! Those
who decide to be part of the team and make the cut are part of a commitment that is a priority in their live. Because of the US Supreme court
ruling that school sports is not a right but a privilege coaches can demand many things that take away personal freedom of the players.
Students submit themselves to the philosophy and will of the head coach and practise attendance is mandatory - but remember: The reward
of playing football is high so despite many commitments and obligations many seek to be part of the team. Please read the section “High
School Football” again for a better understand of the culture of football in the US!
It breaks my heart that German youths are robbed of the great sport of football… not only the great experience of high school football
(school spirit and community pride) with all it`s positive effects, German youths are also robbed of the sport of football itself.
Sometimes I hear Germans say that football teams here have discipline and commitment but everybody who knows real football will have to
agree that German teams generally are more than far from it! They don`t even know what football-discipline is.
I know I mentioned it before but can`t mention it often enough: The principle of German youth sports is self-determination, sense of self,
youth participation by voting rights and self-government of the youth! Rule No. 1 is: No one will be forced to take part in an exercise or
practice! Rule No. 2 is: Personal feelings and sense of self are not to be impaired! And rule number 3: Power of decision-making must be
granted! However those principles are the direct opposite of football! Because Football is dictatorial structures and military-like discipline!
Football is defined by discipline! Mandatory practices for example are therefore elementary. How can discipline rule if practice- or exercise
participation is optional and not mandatory?!? It is impossible! How can the needed virtues like willpower, perseverance, toughness etc be
developed if players can chose to come and go as they please?!? So if players can chose not to attend practice or chose not to participate
in certain exercises during practice - then the virtues of football are impossible and the definition of football is not existing!But there is far
more! Players submit themselves to the coach`s and teams needs and philosophies. A saying in the USA is: "My parents don`t set any rules
for me because my coach has already set all the rules!!! But the value and the rewards of playing football are high! Football players feed off
that for the rest of their lives. In Germany, however, this is generally impossible because of the following conditions:
1) German laws speak against real football:
German social law §11 states that “youth shall partake in decision-making” and “ youth shall govern itself” !!! Exactly the opposite is needed
for real football. High commitment and discipline and mandatory practices are impossible if a youth has the power of decision-making.
2) Club laws are against real football:
Clubs are based on equal rights. The club leadership as to adhere to the will of the membership. So no matter if players or coaches or team
president – they all have the same rights!!! And who are the members of a club? The players themselves!!! So the will of the players always
trumps the will of the coaches simply because there are more players than coaches…
3) Sport Fed and “Ministry of family, children, youth, culture and sports” guidelines are against the foundation of football:
"Forbidden factors of youth sports are structures based on authority with power given to team leaders" - Excuse me?!? That is exactly how a
team sport, especially football, functions!!! The guideline asks for a rule package with the following regulations:
- "Nobody will be forced to participate in an exercise or practice" - So exercises and practices are optional and not mandatory for those on
the team. So if a player feels like he does not want to participate in an exercise or even the entire practice he has the right to do so without
being penalized for it. This is a slap in the face of what football is.
- "Coaches are not allowed to enter the locker rooms" - Excuse me?!? What about safety? An adult should supervise the kids at any time for
their own protection! This clearly shows the mentality that kids are entitled and empowered to do as they please without adult supervision!
But even more important for football: Team building like love, spirit and character takes place in the locker room. The locker room is the heart
of every team and is as important for forming a team than the field itself is!!! So the team leader is not allowed to be in the heart of the team.
That says a lot!
- "Special practices have to be allowed by the club`s board and only with parental consent!!!"
- "Personal feelings of the youth comes first and a coach assists the youth in his or her self-fulfillment" - Wait, what?!? Football teaches that
the team comes first, an important life lesson is to put personal wishes and feelings behind the team needs for the good of the team. Exactly
the opposite is demanded in German youth sports!!!
- "Practicing physical, psychological or mental violence is strictly forbidden - Football is a violent sport. Football players are expected to be
tough, mentally as well as physically! So that toughness needs to be practiced!!! But not in Germany…
So a coach is not the boss, the coach is merely an exercise helper, he can only “suggest” but not demand" - There is no commitment, no
duty, no responsibility and no obligation! Practice is optional and not mandatory! And the coach is not the leader (boss, dictator). Is is simply
an exercise-helper. However a popular saying in the USA is: Football is not a democracy, it is a dictatorship of the head coach!
4) Club hierarchies generally do not allow real football:
Club hierarchies call for a certain distribution of power! And even though the membership itself is the head of the club those hierarchies are
completely against what is needed in football!
5) Club structures go against what is needed in real football.
A club usually has several teams (adult and several youth teams divided by age). This makes it as good as impossible to shelter the team
from outside influences. Closed practices are nearly impossible. In fact in Germany it is not even desired to separate the teams, instead the
will is to be one big “family” - so building a team identity is impossible!
6) The German sports culture goes against football
In Germany sports is mainly viewed as a hobby on the side without any commitments. The “coaches” are (in pretty much all cases) simply
volunteers, also without commitments in most cases. Maybe there are a few exceptions, I don`t know any though. If a youth in a small or mid
size town wants to be serious about sports he or she can just about forget about it because of the typical German sports mentality: Parents
want their kids to play a little sports on the side, without commitment and without having to attend every practice. Enforcing practice
attendance is not really do-able in the German mindset. Forcing players to come to every practise would be too much to ask since -
according to the typical German understanding - sports is only supposed to be a little hobby on the side and not taken seriously.
Unfortunately people here don`t realize what they keep from the kids here! My players for example would not have it any other way now that
they know what real Football is!!! Because Football is commitment, everything else makes a joke out of the sport! Everybody who know what
football practice demands will confirm this! But it seems like coaches over here are content with missing their players for grandma`s birthday,
grandpa`s birthday, parents birthdays, siblings birthday, doctor`s appointments, or when it is to warm outside or to cold outside. And then
there are always school functions! And school is always more important than sports. Unfortunately the schools do not respect the sports
clubs at all. They schedule a lot of functions at night during club times and players miss practices or even games because of school plays,
project week, week-long school trips etc. Some players even have regular school until 5.30/6.00 PM on weekdays! And that prevents them
from attending practice! So a good player who would have a future career in sports is robbed of that future because school does not allow
him to practice on the regular bases!!!! While in the USA practice is part of school! So much for supporting athletes in this country...And what
I don`t get is this: In this country sports is done outside of school in the spare times in the afternoon / night (that in itself has a lot of
disadvantages as I said earlier). So at least the school should respect the club time – but they don`t…instead clubs are viewed as minor...
because sports is viewed as unimportant (just a little hobby without commitment) and school is always superior. As long as club sports is
viewed as a hobby and school is more important then you can pretty much forget about real football in Germany! Now I am not saying that
football is more important than school BUT: Football can make much better people out of students than schools will ever be able to!!! You
read that right, let me say it again: Football makes much better people out of students than schools will ever be able to!!! Any of my current
players will attest to that!!! And it has been proven that football makes students better in school Read it again: Football makes students
better in school! People in the US know what can be achieved by playing football – even in school! Al this is possible because of what defines
football!!! If Germans would only understand the possibilities!!! I highly recommend to read the two books I recommend at the end of this
page for a better understanding of what football does!!! Unfortunately here exactly the opposite is wanted! But let`s look at the German
sports mentality from a different angle: How is it possible and tolerated that a team practices hard for months and months and then when it
counts the team misses key players because of a school trip during gameday! The team worked hard but blood, sweat and tears are
“wasted” because the state championship is lost because the school planned a trip during the weekend of the state championship! And those
trips are not mandatory in most cases. However it is normal that parents send their kids on those class trips. Because here they don`t know
commitment, love, team spirit, discipline etc Instead they view the team as a hobby on the side. They do not understand what a perfect
season or a championship would mean for the team or the kid. The efforts of the (volunteer) coaches and players are in vain from a sports
standpoint. German society will never take a football game over a school trip that is not even mandatory. They don`t understand that – if
done right – players would love their team mates much more than they would love their classmates! But here it is quite normal… Why is youth
sports here not done in school like in the USA?!? There would be so many advantages (see section "high School Football at the start).
Instead sports is not taken serious, it`s just a little hobby...I am so proud of my players though! All of my current kids have understood what
football is all about! And they are mighty proud of it! None of my boys would change with a player who`s team does not demand
commitments! But I guess we are the absolute exception in Germany when it comes to love, willpower, team spirit and discipline. But let`s not
get ahead of myself…
7) Representative teams go against real football and teach exactly the opposite of what real football teaches!
In NRW this team is called “Green Machine”. Those kind of teams practice during the season (about 10 weekends a year) and it does not
matter if the local teams of the green machine players have their own games or practices, the green machine expects every player to be
there! With that Green Machine encourages the breaking of team rules essential for real football and letting down your own team! Discipline
means keeping team rules and team spirit means not letting your team down and putting the teams needs over your own needs. That is why
there is no such thing as representative teams in Football. Think about it: If the best players would play on a national team then Tom Brady,
JJ Watt and them would have to be in that team – but a team like that does not exist! (USA Football has what they call "Team USA" but no
current NFL, College or High School players are on the team! Of course not. It is rather a "hobby team" consisting of former minor college or
high school players)There are All Star teams that practice once or twice AFTER the season and then they have a game! Nobody would ask a
high school coach, College coach or NFL coach to give up their best players during the season and no high school player would let down his
team ! Here however exactly the opposite is true and also proves that there is a definite lack of discipline and team spirit! Teams here brag
about their players making the green machine and players proudly show off Green Machine jerseys, jackets and caps – even during their
own teams functions. The homepage of the NRW Football Association showcases Green Machine events, news are dominated by green
machine and not regular league play… The way Green Machine is celebrated while the local teams are unimportant also proves how
misunderstood the sport is over here! "Green Machine" is against every foundation of football - and yet everybody here is proud to be a part
of it! Another prove that the understanding for football is missing overhere...
The Foundation of Football
Everybody in the USA knows that the foundation of football is discipline. Every player in high school will confirm that discipline IS football and
that discipline is what they learn first! No discipline equals no football! Young players learn discipline first so by the next levels the emphasis
is not on discipline anymore because it is driven home earlier! Discipline is the foundation because of the complex nature of football!
Discipline provides willpower, durability, toughness, team spirit and love. Without discipline the needed environment with the needed virtues
cannot be reached! Also: Without high discipline the sport can become very dangerous very quick! And discipline does not mean that the
kids hate practice. If they did they would not come. In fact if you do it right they even like it. And because they understand why they need to
have it they even discipline themselves!
Like I said before: Here they wear shoulder pads and helmets, they tackle and score touchdowns but the basic principle is usually completely
missing! So can you still call it football? From an American perspective I have to say no, and everybody who knows football from the US will
have to agree with me! Ever since the beginning of football, discipline has been an integral part of it! It defines it! It brings the conditions
needed for football!Here is what the N.Y. Times (America`s most popular newspaper) has to say: “Discipline is a football coach`s favorite
word. And like everything else in football, it`s as old as blocking and tackling” (Dave Anderson, N.Y. Times). And the Times goes on :”Amos
Alonzo Stagg and Pop Warner talked about discipline. So did Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi...”. Also very interesting is the fact that the
U.S. Army requires its officer candidates at West Point Academy to play football in order to learn discipline! Yes, you read this correctly:
Even the U.S. Army (known for its discipline) teaches dicipline thru football!!! I could name thousands of more examples but I hope
everybody gets the picture: Football IS discipline! Every coach in the USA will confirm this! It is a given!
Sometimes I hear Germans say that football teams here have discipline and commitment - I believe most don`t even know what football-
discipline is! If you have never been part of a high school or college team it will be hard to comprehend! I will explain below:
Generally no American football possible in Germany!!!
Like I said further above: American Football is played in schools over there. The school is the heart of the town and sports in schools
brings school spirit and a sense of belonging together. Not only at school itself but also in the entire town! The high school football team
usually represents the entire town and the players (age 14-18) are local heroes. But many students are involved with the team as
cheerleaders, band members or team managers (coaches helpers). The entire town celebrates the games on friday nights and
everybody is a Tiger, Patriot, Yellowjacket or whetever the teams name is. During the week the team practices daily on the school`s own
sports fields lead by professional coaches (mostly teachers so they are getting paid to coach football and therefore bring
professionalism). The head coach his given the authority to lead his program with dictator-like hierarchies, otherwise the foundation of
football wouldn`t be possible.During the season, football is a priority for the players and commitment and mandatory practices are not
only necessary (to bring needed conditions for football), they are a given for the players! But like I mentioned before: High school sports,
and especially football, are hard to explain to outsiders. If you haven`t experienced it yourself in depth then the sport of football and its
meaning and what constitutes it, is hard to comprehend.
In Germany however it is a completely different story. There are no school sports league and no school teams and school spirit. Schools
are not the heart of the community and schools do not have mascots or nicknames (like Tigers, Patriots Yellowjackets etc) that the
student body identifies with. So there is no high school football team here that the entire town celebrates! And because there is no school
sport there is usually no professional support for athletes. Sports is not done in schools but in private clubs - regardless of the sport. So
the field they have to practice or play on is usually city owned and is shared with several clubs and then with all the teams (youth teams
like U13, U16, U19 and adult teams) within that club. So most of the time it is even hard to find space to practice twice a week. Where I
coached the teams only had half the field and usually only twice a week...while in the USA the football field is part of the high school and
they practice 5 times a week...Another problem here is that professional coaches are missing. Sports is viewed as a hobby on the side.
Many youth teams I know are coached by fathers. If teams are lucky the find an adult player as a coach but between is day job, his family
life and adult team practices ther is not much time for the youth (and if the guy knows the sport inside and out is a different story
anyways)...so hobby / recreational players and hobby coaches are the reason for a very low level of sports - compared to the USA...
So usually there is no school spirit and no school sports over here. German youth are robbed of all those advantages and quality of life.
And what is as bad: There is generally no real football in Germany. The conditions needed for real football are generally not possible in
Germany! There are several reasons for it: Like I said youth sports is not done in schools but in independent clubs. A club is a legal entity
for people to follow the same interests together and in Germany social life is ruled by those clubs...people who share similar interests
form a club to follow their hobby together. There are stamp collector clubs, garden clubs, crochet clubs, cooking clubs etc...and there are
of course sports clubs. All those clubs are under the German club laws and the fundamental idea is a like-minded union with equal rights
for each member. Putting one Member above another is generally NOT allowed! The German club system, German social laws and
sports regulations given by the Government and sports assosciations as well as the German sports culture generally do not allow real
My dreamjob has been "High School Football Coach" for a while. Others want to be astronauts or pilors or police officers - but if I had a
choice I would be a high school football coach. But why not NFL coach you might ask: Wel, the high school "flair" is special (see my remarks
above in the high school football section) and I love to work with youth. That is why I am simply not interested in adult football. I just don`t
care for it. And even in the US, football purists reject the NFL because of the reasons mentioned in the very beginning of this page...
There is nothing like Football. Its a one of a kind, complex and challenging sport. It is very demanding on players and coaches - but football
gives a lot too! High school and college kids are molded into better human beings (and students for that matter). Because needed virtues for
football are willpower, endurance, physical and mental toughness, social sense, team spirit and team love. Therefore military-like discipline is
essential. Coaches are proud to help teenagers become better people and the slogan " We not only form better athletes, we form better
human beings" is widely used. So football has to be more than just a sport!
Football is very tactical, some call it “Chess on Grass” (with a sports character). Others compare it to military and warfare: Ever since the
beginning, football has not been about professional players and profit (that came about 100 years later). Instead, because of the conditions
needed in football, it has always been about forming young people into well-behaved, strong-willed, self-sustaining young men - as those
things are necessary for real football! Therefore, military-like discipline is imperative for real football! And the sport of football itself has many
characteristics found in the military and warfare because the goal of the offensive team is to gain ground (or occupy space) by moving the
football via running or passing plays (on the ground or via the air) while a defensive team tries to stop the other teams offense… Coaches
are very involved in games and call the strategies and plays that the players need to perform. And even though football is a tough sport -
physically and mentally: It does not have much in common with brutal chaos as some folks think. In fact exactly the opposite is true: Players
have to execute the coaches instructions with a lot of discipline, precision and tactical understanding. Because Football incorporates many
different skills, teamwork, as well as physical and mental toughness and discipline, practices have to be organized and run accordingly.
Football practice therefore means high energy! And commands in football have to be communicated loud and clear. Players also need to
know that wrongdoings have consequences - otherwise the sport does not work, especially with boys in puberty...If you ever watch a high
school football practice you will realize that is about the same everywhere and comes close to a military boot camp! The best high school
teams are lead in a dictatorial manner and the reasons are obvious. "My parents don`t make any rules for me because coach already made
all my rules" is also a standard saying amongst high school players.Therefore the head coach is given the authority to rule over his team. He
is the lone team leader so that he can manage his team according to his rules and philosophies. More about that a bit later on...
During a game there are 22 players on the field, 11 on the offensive team, 11 on the defensive team. In youth football there might be less
players, there are leagues that play 5 on 5, 6 on 6, 7 on 7 or 9 on 9 - but the sport is usually the same. The field is divided into 10 yard
segments. The purpose of the offense is to gain 10 yards in 4 tries (called downs) by either running plays or passing plays. Is the offense
sucsessful, the get another set of 4 downs to gain 10 yards. The defense however tries to prevent the offense from gaining yards.This goes
on until the offense reaches the end of the field, the opponents endzone. Once the endzone is reached points are earned.If however the
offensive team does not gain 10 yards in 4 tries at any point, the other teams`s offense comes on the field and now tries to score points. The
sooner the opponents offense is stopped the better - because the distance to the other teams endzone is shorter! Once a team scores it is
the other teams turn. A field is 100 yards long (plus the endzones on each side) Coaches have to make decisions within a few seconds. They
only have a very short reaction time to read the opponents intentions and tactics and then instruct and position their own players accordingly.
So coaches are highly involved during a football game and call every play! There are many different positions with different requirements on
a football team and many different body types are needed. There are players who never touch the ball (if all goes well). Their purpose is to
"fill space" and block". Others have to block and "burst forward" while others run with the ball or others only kick. There are many different
body types in football because players are specialized according to their purpose. I do not want to go into details about the rules because
there are many places on the internet dedicated to those… instead this page wants to provide general information about football in the USA
and Germany as well as personal experiences as a coach in Germany. In order to understand my mindset it is important to understand the
American sports system and, especially the mindset when it comes to football! Because in Germany the real meaning of football and what
constitutes it is usually unknown! Football in Germany generally is not Football because the foundation of what football is, is missing
The American sports system
In the USA there is no "club sports" like in Germany. Instead, relevant sports is done in schools and universities. There is no adult-Football like
in Germany. Players who don`t make it to College Football or professional / semi-pro football will generally never play football again after high
school! Therefore, for most players their football days end in high school! And this has many (for football) important advantages. You see,
football was not developed to play as adults for many, many years. Instead, since the beginning of football is was about turning youths into
socially minded, well-behaved, tough and disciplined young men because these things are essential for football!
American high school football teams represent not only the school but the entire town while college football teams and pro-teams represent the
state or the region. There is generally no "hobby football" because high school teams as well as college teams (and - of course- pro teams) are
lead by professional coaches and practices are mandatory. Football as a "hobby on the side" would not be football - the foundation of what
football is would be missing!
There is no relegating and rising of entire sports teams in the U.S. Instead, players are moving up (and down) based on their skills. The best
high school athletes receive college scholarships to play college football - and the best college players make it to professional and semi-pro
leagues. More in detail later let`s take a look at the three main football levels in the U.S. - because this is very important to understand my
No relegation concept
There is no relegating and rising of entire sports teams in the U.S. Instead, players are moving up (and down) based on their skills. The
best high school athletes receive college scholarships to play college football - and the best college players make it to professional and
semi-pro leagues. Relegating entire teams from pro-ranks all the way down to hobby-ranks like in Germany does not make sense at all to
me: A professional sports team requires a huge organisation behind it. They have offices, a vehicle fleet, employees (admininstrative,
marketing, maintenance etc) and a large stadium. Now imagine an amateur team moving up to the majors, they have to build a huge
organisation. They build offices, hire personnel and build a stadium (probably with the help of taxpayer money). But then imagine that
team gets relegated back to the minor leagues and amateur / recreational leagues! The offices will be empty, the vehicle fleet is sold or
rusting, all their employees laid off and the large stadium that costs a lot of money sits empty! And what if that teams moves up again?!?
That happens constantly over here and it does not make a bit of sense at all! And this system does not make sense for the fans either as
they practically lose the team they love (no more tv coverage, star players gone, no more significance etc). And it makes even less sense
for youth teams as it does not depend on athletic abilities, it depends more on luck weather or not a "major league" youth team is nearby
or not...So even though a player is not that good, he will play "Major league" simply because this is the team in his hometown.... You see,
In Germany there are "major league" youth teams (even though they are also "hobby teams") as well as county-wide hobby leagues. And
what teenager moves away just to play youth football here?!? But actually the same applies for German adult football as even the "major
league" is just hobby / recreational...
Advantages of the American Sports System (compared to the German club system)
There are many advantages of the American sports system and it beats the German sports system by a country mile. Here are a few reasons
Professionality and support locally on all levels
In the U.S. coaches are professionals on all levels of sports - from high school over college to the pros. Because coaches on all levels
are professionals, every player receives professional support and tutering. Even small town football players have a great support system
and have a real chance to have a career in sports. In Germany however, it is a completely different story. Because there is no high
school sports, in Germany coaches are generelly volunteers only!!! And between their regular jobs, families and other hobbies it certainly
is not easy to dedicate themselves. And then those coaches who do want to dedicate themselves to their team are inmost cases unable
to do so! Sports in Germany is viewed as a hobby and those voluunteer coaches have to be loyal to their regular job first.Many people
work in places that requrie shift work, so regular practice attendance is impossible. Others are prevented to attend practices because of
their working hours. A regular 9-5 job would make it hard for a volunteer coach to coach youth football. Because of limited availability of
practice fields youth usually have to practice in the afternoon, while most people are still at work (I will get to the point of practice fields a
bit later on). Because sports is only a hobby, employers do not help out volunteer coaches by giving them some time off or switch work
hours...after all it is just a little hobby, not different from collecting stamps for example... This is very sad as (football) coaches could make
such a difference in a young persons life...but I already explained that before...here the general public does not realize the important role
of a sports team and a coach... coaches are merely exercise helpers and sports is only viewwed as a hobby on the side...
Because of the German sports system, players also have many disadvantages: Because youth teams usuall practice in the afternoon
due to field availability (usually: The younger the team the earlier it practices) for some practice times collode with school times. More and
more schools in Germany extend their classes into the afternoon and that makes it impossible for some kids to play a sport at all and
talents are not explored!!! Kids are robbed of the sports experience and possible a career...But even if a kid barely makes it to practice,
then there is no time for homework left...(in Germany kids receive quite a bit of homework assignements expected until the next
schoolday). So parents do not allow their kids to play on a team because of that...and again, sports is only a little hobby...
In the U.S., every high school has their own practice facilities for the sports they offer, so school teams do not have to share their field with
other teams. The football field for example is only used by the football team during the season and daily practice is possible without
interference from other teams. In Germany - again - it is a different story. Most fields are city or community owned and many teams
practice on the field, from soccer teams to track and field to football. Because of the "sports is only a hobby" sentiment the city allocates
only about 4 hours of practice for a team, and usually not even the full field is available.
Generally no real football possible in Germany
I will not get into detail here because I will do so when I talk about my experiences as a coach a bit later on... however, social laws, club
regulations, German sports mentality, representative teams and many more things generally make real football impossible in Germany.