Would you believe that there are a lot of lousy football coach gift ideas out there?
You know, things that we wouldn’t want ourselves as a coach.
Maybe we are desensitized and can’t tell what is a good gift or a bad gift due to all of the scrolling and easy online shopping.
You are a busy mom who wants a gift for your kid’s football coach. You are also here because you want to get a good gift.
Heck, maybe even one that is great.
Is there one perfect football coach gift idea? [Hint: Yes!]
Indeed, you want to avoid a lousy gift. Bad gifts, BTW, include things like: a coffee travel mug, agility cones, a whistle, or a water bottle. I’ll explain why in a second.
I know that picking the right gift can be a hassle. Coordinating a group gift between the parents is also a pain – been there, done that.
I feel your frustration.
I’ve experienced both sides of coaching. I’ve been there as a current coach with numerous seasons under my belt and as a father of four children who all play team sports.
In my role as coach, let me share the three must-have criteria for a fantastic gift that, when met, I guarantee that every coach will always love to receive at the end of the season.
Yup, ALWAYS – that’s 100% of the time. Forever. No guessing or wondering.
When these criteria are met, you will have manifested something magical out of thin air. You’ll affect someone’s life by creating a lasting impact in a significant way. That’s right, lasting like granite. That means you’ll affect Coach emotionally in the moment of receiving and years after the season is wrapped.
Finally, I’ll suggest a single solution that meets all 3 criteria. With this, you can take immediate action and complete the gift in under 5 minutes. Oh, and it is free to organize.
A five-minute solution! Does it get much better than that?
Let’s dive into the perfect football coach gift idea that is 100% guaranteed to NAIL IT – and you’ll look like a hero. Oh-Yah!
Criteria #1: It is all about Coach!
For some, this screams “BFO,” but it took me years to figure this out.
So, here is the Blinding Flash of the Obvious that I had to learn and be taught about gifts.
Really great gifts are not about the person giving; they must be about the person who receives them.
A solid article that dives deeper into this topic asks, “which one of these gifts were hits and which were duds”:
- Diamond earrings
- Instant ramen
- A flat iron
- An espresso machine
- An old window frame
- A purple bicycle
- A china teapot
- A jigsaw puzzle
Well, the earrings bombed (the long-term girlfriend’s ears aren’t pierced – SMH), and the ramen was a hit (a hard-to-find flavor – who knew?).
Why? The gift giver did or didn’t know the recipient well. That, or the giver missed the recipient’s context and need.
But “what if I don’t know Coach all that well? What do I do?” This is likely – most of us don’t know the personal preferences, needs, and lifestyles of our kid’s coach.
I’ll bring this back to my experiences as a coach, and with this universal understanding, you unlock the first criteria for the perfect football coach gift.
It starts with “Why” coaches coach?
Why does a coach coach? My motivation is like most coaches. We do this to make an impact on the lives of the players.
- I want your child to have a positive experience in a safe environment;
- I want her to be challenged to grow new abilities;
- I hope your son learns life skills in addition to game skills, grows in relationships, and feels a bond with the sport and the community;
- I want your kiddo to make memories;
- I want your boy to know he can and should persist through adversity;
- I want your daughter to embody the essence of sportsmanship when she feels the profound anguish of losing AND the elation of winning;
- I want to see a generation of resilient children who grow through errors and mistakes and find success through persistence.
Hopefully, your child also internalizes what it takes to create a safe container for others to learn and grow. Later, when he is a husband, father, coach, boss, and peer, he can model what he experienced. I want our daughters to expect respect and to know their power. Sport is an influential teacher for boys and girls.
The best gift anyone can ever give me is the insight and knowledge that I made a difference though coaching your son or daughter. And the best way for me to know my impact is for you to talk with your player and write a note to let me know this. I want to know that the hours I spent, the actions I took, the words I spoke, and the lessons I hoped to impart made an impact.
Write Coach a Note. Tell Him Specifically The Impact He Made On Your Son or Daughter.
Specifics are the best. Especially something I may not have been aware of. For example, a message spoken, a skill imparted, or a play call. Tell me about a post-game lesson learned that was discussed in the car heading home.
I’ll go a bit nostalgic here – we are losing the art of the “Thank You Note”. No, it doesn’t have to be written on a card. Digital is expected these days. But there is value in taking a few minutes to reflect and put it in writing. Look, it’s what my mother taught me – Thanks, MOM!
To summarize Criteria #1 – a written note that expresses what your player learned and felt during the season hits at the core of why I coach. Nothing will touch me more than knowing that I made an impact.
This is a 100% winner of a gift that you can nail every time. A note acts like a deposit into a bank of goodwill with compounding benefits for Coach over time.
This critically important in a post-COVID world
I can read a note anytime. In creating this post, I was looking through an old yearbook to grab a photo for this blog. I took some time to look at the teams I played on and read some old notes. Goodness that sparked memories that felt good. We need more of feeling good, and a message from the past makes us feel better in the present. We all want to know we had an impact, and these notes do that.
With the last few years we have experienced, having a bank of goodwill is something I know I need to draw upon from time to time. Every year, I have to decide if I’ll coach again. Not coaching is an actual choice, and I don’t always arrive at an automatic ‘yes.’
These notes remind me that I’m making a difference. My life and skills impact the world and the lives of the children in our community.
Criteria #2: There is No I in Football Team.
Let’s talk about the team…
I want to open this up and share something that might be hard for you to read (until I can explain). As much as I love and adore your child, and as much as I know your son, his personality, what makes him tick, and appreciate his unique skills and talents. I’ve also bonded with the other players on the team and gotten to know them, too. Of course, you know this intellectually, but sometimes it is worth stating out loud what is obvious.
Yes, I made a connection with your child, I also bonded with the entire Football Team
So, in my heart and mind, I have two big emotional and mental attachments to any season: all the individual players and the team as a whole. The players have names. The team has a name. And that team, in an odd way, becomes a living, breathing thing in the heart and mind of a coach.
I’m sharing this insight, so you understand how a coach thinks about the football season. When a coach decides which players to put in for Tackle, End, Guard, etc., and when to change up the line, he considers the individual players and how the team will perform. The plays and calls that must be made in practice and during games are about the team.
So, the #2 criterion for nailing the perfect gift for Coach is that it must be from the team and include the team.
The best football coach gift is inclusive of the Team
Take that individual note above and multiply it by every player; you’ve sparked some powerful, deep magic. Do you want to make Coach cry? This is the way to do that = Notes from every player.
If you want to feel a tug on your heart more potent than the closing scenes of your favorite tearjerker movie, watch a coach read personal notes written by the team. You’ll see the emotions stack.
What do I mean by emotional stacking?
Try watching My Girl, Ghost, Steel Magnolias, The Notebook, Beaches, and Titanic back to back. I’ll bet a box of Kleenex you can’t do it – because you’ll be emotionally wrecked for days.
Can you make a football coach Cry!
Now, a collection of written notes from each player on the team to Coach will accomplish the same effect in a hot minute. This is because the movie unfolded during every practice and game – win or lose. So these notes are the equivalent of Sam going to heaven knowing Molly is safe (Ghost), plus M’Lynn burying Shelby and turning to raise Jackson (Steel Magnolias), plus Rose recounting her life with the knowing memory Jack helped set her life free (Titanic), plus…
To summarize Criteria #2, it must be a collection of notes because Coach sees the individuals and the team in their own particular way.
Criteria #3: Make it a Useful Gift for Coach.
Now, the actual gift – This is sooo much easier than you think!
How many times have you struggled with selecting the right gift for someone? Pause for a moment and wonder: Why was that so hard?
Maybe, it is because there isn’t that perfect ‘something’ that screams: football coach gift.
Maybe, all the stuff out there is cheap and tacky, and it doesn’t represent something YOU want to be associated with giving. For fun, I assembled my best list of worst football coach gift ideas.
Maybe, you don’t know that person all that well and don’t know how the gift will land – risky, right?
So, the answer to “How do I pick the perfect football coach gift that my coach really wants?” is…
This is going to come as a shock: you don’t. That’s right; you don’t pick the perfect gift. Coach doesn’t want you to determine the gift. Instead, Coach wants to choose.
Don’t pick the gift for Coach, let Coach decide
Overwhelmingly, coaches want the ability to select the gift themselves. This is for two important reasons.
1. We don’t generally need more ‘stuff.’
2. We have specific life needs, and money is always tight.
The best football coach gift, the only gift that your coach wants, is choice. This choice lets the funds that would go to an otherwise hit-or-miss gift be used 100% efficiently 100% of the time.
I know this because I have interviewed hundreds of coaches, not to mention teachers, nurses, first responders, camp counselors, and others, on their gift preferences. They consistently say the same thing – in two parts:
- They love being recognized with a personal note, in writing (digital is excellent), with a message about how they made a unique impact, AND
- Having the choice of their gift.
These two pieces, combined, are what they really love.
Over and over, football coaches tell us what they don’t need: another dry-erase clipboard with the field layout, an engraved whistle, a jersey, a hat, or a rain jacket. BTW, Teachers tell us they don’t want another scented candle or lotion, apple-related [anything], a coffee mug, desk decoration, coffee, or chocolate. Coaches and Teachers are almost always parents and spouses with household needs that are as varied as the days are long.
So, what’s the best football coach gift idea?
A gift card, but not just ANY gift card…
The ability to choose their gift card.
But wait, did you catch the catch? This is a group gift, and how do I let Coach choose? What about Criteria #1 and #2?!?
Here is THE Solution for you: A free service that only takes 3 to 5 minutes to set up for the whole team. What?!? Does that exist? Why didn’t you tell me?
Drumroll: The perfect solution!
Busy moms don’t need ANOTHER to-do to check off – my wife tells me this all the time, and she is right.
Use a digital group-gift solution that ties all three criteria above together. Then, in the same amount of time it takes to get a cup of coffee or select a lousy gift on Amazon, you can nail this perfect appreciation experience for Coach.
The Appreciation Company was founded to solve gift-giving quandaries for busy parents – organizers, and contributors. And we address the exact criteria for the perfect gift coaches have told us are the most meaningful to them: notes of appreciation from the group and choice.
Here’s how it works:
- Organizing a digital group gift is as easy as a few clicks:
- Give the Appreciation a name like “Coach Hank, Vikings Football 2023”,
- Assign Coach as the recipient with a name and email address and
- Invite other contributing parents with a link via email or SMS generated by the service.
That’s it! There is even a template for email or SMS.
- Each parent can write Coach a personalized note and contribute to a gift card balance. Notes and gift balances are collected in a permanent album that Coach can see over and over for years. (Criteria #1 and #2) BONUS: With this service, parents can contribute after the deadline.
- A coach can see all those personalized notes as albums AND convert that balance into gift cards (Criteria #3) from merchants of her choosing.
By the way, there is no cost to organize an appreciation event. You can use The Appreciation Company to recognize coaches, teachers, instructors – anyone that leads a group experience.
P.S. A final note: You are HELPING the other parents out.
We get how busy life is (I have four kids). The end of football season falls at the busiest time of year. (There are only about five days of the year that AREN’T busy, right??) By organizing a group gift using this service, you, yourself, are a real hero to other parents that are also busy! You save them time and make this as easy as a digital service like Venmo or PayPal.
Parents have told us that the idea of appreciating Coach will arise at the last minute. Then, panic and anxiety arise because they feel it is too late to do something meaningful and genuine. More than 50% of parents are late to appreciate, only realizing it either the day before or the day of the last game of the season. So, if you are reading this and you are EARLY — and by early, we mean there is still time on the clock before the last game wraps — there is something AMAZING you can do in the next few minutes. Sign up, organize, and use the template message to send to all the other team parents. You are helping them, too.
P.P.S. – Recruiting a new coach next year is hard – How about I help you to keep the one you have?
Have you ever received that email saying: “Player participation is high, and we still need a few more parents to volunteer to coach”? Well, sometimes it is true that there are more players this year than last. But what is ALWAYS true is that there aren’t enough returning coaches. So guess who does coach again the following year – a coach that feels appreciated. If you want your coach to coach again, this is a chance to help make that happen.