Tony DeMeo


Aristotle and Coaching Football

Aristotle and Coaching Football. What does an ancient Greek Philosopher know about coaching football? How can studying Aristotle help us get a first down? Was he an offensive guy or defensive?
Aristotle said “The purpose of education is to pass on values” There is no doubt in my mind football is a big part of a young man’s education. It is a part of a young man’s education not apart from his education.

A coach’s job is to pass on values to his players. No sport involves more values than football:

  1. The value of hard work. If a player works hard in football, there will be a place for him on the football team. It may “just” be a special team’s player but every spot is important. He may not be a great athlete but his heart & determination will get him on the field. This is not the case in other sports. Hard Work Works.
  2. The value of courage. The physicality of football requires courage. Golf takes great skill but not a lot of physical courage. I’m a big proponent of safety but the collisions in football is almost a “rite of passage” to a young man. Overcoming fear of contact is a lesson unique to football.
  3. The value of perseverance. The ability to keep giving all you have when all seems lost. If you want to know who the competitors are, watch film of a team when they are behind. One of our mottoes was “The Fourth Quarter is Ours” We were always 60 minute men.
  4. The value of preparation. Football is a sport that takes a tremendous commitment to off-season conditioning. The strength & conditioning programs are grueling both physically & mentally. The great Vince Lombardi said “Fatigue makes cowards of us all” The job of a coach is to make sure the team never gets fatigued through proper preparation.
  5. The value of Teamwork. No value is more important to learn in today’s “Me, Me, Me” society. The sacrifice of individual goals for the good of the team is one of the greatest lessons that a player can learn. Players must develop the “WE not Me” attitude for their team to be successful.

These values create the foundation for success throughout a player’s life.

Aristotle also said ”We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” If a player can learn that excellence can’t be turned on & off like a faucet. Excellence must become a way of life. Regardless if he’s in the classroom, the weight room, the practice field or in a championship game, he is about excellence. Excellence is about what you become not what you receive. Teaching excellence is big part of a players’ education. Maybe the biggest part.

So studying a little Aristotle & passing it along to your team might just get you that edge you’re looking for.