boys into men

5 Ways to Play Fast and Turn Boys Into Men

Turning boys into men isn’t for the faint of heart. With parenting, practice never makes perfect. But, in raising boys, practice makes all the difference. Often, dads will ask my thoughts on raising boys. I tell them what I learned as a quarterback. You have to “play fast.” You play fast by getting the fundamentals down and then sticking to them.

Talent carries you only so far. Just as a QB builds confidence with a daily routine and learns to play fast, a dad can instill confidence in his son. Here are 5 ways to play fast and prepare boys for manhood. 

1. Listen with your ears.

On the field, QB’s learn to “play fast, but never in a hurry.” You want to be fast. But, if you rush, you’ll miss something vital. Listening is crucial, so the QB understands everything about his team and those on the other side of the football.

At my house, we teach our daughter and our triplet boys to listen well. One example: I tell my boys, “We’ll tell you this once. Your job is to listen the first time.” We’ve said this more than once. But, learning to listen turns boys into men.

2. See with your eyes.

As a quarterback, you are trained to “keep your eyes downfield.” The point is to have discipline and clarity. The great quarterbacks know the plan so well that they intentionally shift their eyes downfield or in a different direction, on purpose, to draw off the defense.

For my sons, I want them to make eye contact with those around them and the people they meet. I want them to show respect to everyone and connect genuinely so they ultimately become men who are known for being respectful.

3. Watch your mouth.

Coaches strive for a QB to have “great ball placement” so he sets up his teammate for success. On one route, the passer must get the ball to the right spot. On another route, he may have to put the ball at the receiver’s right shoulder. If the QB does his job, he helps his teammate be in the best position to catch the football. Double win.

I teach my boys to be careful about how they speak to one other. If they speak encouraging words, those around them will be set up for success. If my boys are tossing around words of encouragement all day, they will build up the entire house instead of tearing it down. Besides, I’m training my sons to possibly become husbands. They must practice the skill of “watching their mouths.” This will help them treat their wives well.

4. Find your footwork.

Athletes talk about “good decision-making” in the moment. As a QB, this means getting your footwork down. I remember warmups with Peyton Manning back in 2011. He was already great by then, and he was methodical with his footwork. He understood where his greatness came from. 

Practicing footwork off the field is about responsibility. I want my sons cleaning up after themselves. I want them to leave things better than how they found them. Being consistent as a parent often feels like practice. And practice shows on the field.

5. Occupy your mind.

As a QB, you won’t be the quickest guy on the team. But, your mind can make up the difference on the field. Playing fast mentally means you know the game plan so well that you are in control and can influence the game.

What does playing fast mentally look like off the field? It looks like what I call the “why-ner.” You’re the guy who asks “why” about everything. The boy who asks why matures into the man who’s prepared. Being in control of what you think, say, and do is part of turning boys into men.

Dad, no matter how many practices you’ve missed—start today. That’s the work of being a good dad. That’s the work of being a good son, too. The greats are good at practicing. My sons are more likely to practice these five things if they see me practicing them, too. Today’s the day. Let’s play fast.

Sound off: Which of these five things do you need to practice most right now? 

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why is it important to listen carefully when people talk to you?”