Imagine you’re the quarterback in an NFL game. You just called the next play from the huddle. You broke the huddle and now you’re walking to the line of scrimmage. Listen, there are some guys in the NFL who make playing QB look easy. It isn’t—trust me. Right before the football snaps, you have a ton of information to process.
I’ve learned being on the field for game time is much like being a dad. At any given moment as dads, we have just as much information to process. As I think about it, there are 4 fatherhood lessons I’ve learned from playing football.
1. See the opportunities.
Before the snap, you must know your play. That’s a given. It’s why you’ve practiced all week. Beyond the practiced play, the better QBs understand all the possible opportunities within that play. It’s a delicate balance to take what the play will give you. Players often get themselves in trouble trying to get more out of a play than is designed.Maybe you can’t take your kids to Disney on a whim, but there are simple ways to connect with them today.
Among fatherhood lessons I’ve learned, the first is to see the opportunities in front of you. What’s the simple opportunity in front of you right now? Maybe you can’t take your kids to Disney on a whim, but there is some simple way you can connect with them today. What is it? You don’t need an elaborate plan for bonding. You can do something simple—you just need to be intentional with your time. See the opportunity in front of you like you have the best running back in the league and you’re playing a terrible defensive line. No Hail Marys needed—just steady pounding of the run game.
2. Read the defense.
What’s the opposing team’s defense and what’s the connection to my called play? This is crucial—and tough to know in advance. Knowing the defense means you not only know your side of the ball but you also know as much as you can about the other team’s defensive setup.
Do you know your kid’s emotions well enough to call an audible when needed? Do you know where your child is feeling under pressure? Maybe there’s pressure coming from friends at school. Maybe it’s pressure from you. Maybe it’s internal pressure from themselves. Spend time learning what you have to protect against and make a plan to protect against it. The point is to learn to read the defense. With experience, you’ll figure out when to encourage, when to discipline, and when to simply listen.
3. Recognize the weaknesses.
Before snapping the ball, you must know the flaws in the play you’ve called. In practice, you’ll learn what works and what can go wrong. From position to timing to weather, there are a thousand variables you can’t control. But your job is to know they exist. Knowing will help you recognize what you’re seeing in the game and take action.
Your weaknesses as a dad can be tough to spot. Your kids will tell you how you’re doing in certain areas. They will reach out to you for connection in different ways. It’s crucial here that you know your weaknesses as a dad. Are you prone to being overly busy or valuing things you shouldn’t? As your kids grow, it’ll be vital to know your weaknesses so you don’t repeat them. And you can use them to connect with your kids, helping them realize they aren’t alone in having weaknesses.
4. Know the strengths.
At the time of ball snap, you have to know where to attack the defense. Like having a six-foot, six-inch receiver matched up against a shorter cornerback, if you know your strengths well, you can find the small seam that could pay off with a score. If you know where your player is strong and your defense is weak, then boom. You can win.
The fourth fatherhood lesson I’ve learned from football is to know your strengths. No, this isn’t super easy. It’s not like you can expect compliments from your kids. But you can learn to ask questions to help you assess your performance. Knowing your strengths, while tricky, might be the difference between winning and losing. In an ideal game, knowing your strengths shouldn’t have anything to do with the defense. When your team is doing well, you can simply play to your strengths, whether that’s pounding with the run or throwing bombs downfield. As a dad, maybe you’re a good listener. Awesome. Know that and go all-in on that trait by using it well and wisely.
After you’ve run all the calculations in those key few seconds on the field, it’s time to give the command. Are you ready? The play’s been called. You’ve been practicing. You see the opportunity. You’ve read the defense. You know your strengths and weaknesses. It’s go time. Boom. Ball snapped.
Sound off: Which of these four lessons do you need to work hardest on right now?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s one way I can improve as a dad?”