Filling the Void with Love

The deepest need in every player’s heart is to be loved. It doesn’t matter if you are team captain-valedictorian-quarterback, the tougher than nails-spit in your face middle linebacker, or the 110 lb freshman water boy, they all need to be loved. Until players get that basic need filled, they will continue try and fill that need with other things.

Mother Teresa used to say that the people in India would be so hungry that they’d actually go around and pick up dog dung and eat it to try and fill up the emptiness. Likewise, many of our players are so unaware of being loved that they also take all kinds of “dung” and eat it to try to fill up the emptiness.

Think about how many wasted hours our players spend searching after “dung” to fill the voids in their lives: video games, texting, face book, MTV2, possessions, clothes, drugs, alcohol, sexual gratification, food, popularity? All of these can occupy and elate their senses and bring them temporary excitement, but it always returns them to a place where they feel even more lonely, empty, and unloved.

We coaches can help fill the void in our players lives with something lasting, something of substance.


If you have read Jeffrey Marx’s book “Season of Life”, I am sure that you remember Joe Erhmann’s standard question and answer sequence to his players. If you haven’t read this book, go buy it today and read it. The sequence goes like this:

Joe asks “What is our job as coaches?”

“To love us,” the boys yell back at him in unison.

“What is your job?” Joe shouts back.

“To love each other,” the players respond.

To be honest with you, when I first considered using the same question and answer sequence with our players I was a little scared. I was afraid of a negative reaction from the players. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The kids love it. Today’s players more than ever, need to know that we love them unconditionally. This is where it starts…love. This is how we fill that void. First speak the words. Then let your loving actions speak so loudly that they can’t hear what you are saying anymore.

Thousands of football coaches traveled to hundreds of coaching clinics this spring to discover that secret the “state of the art” offensive play package that will give them the winning edge. What a waste of time.

You want the winning edge? Fill the void in your player’s lives, and start by using Joe Erhmann’s question and answer sequence. I guarantee you at least two more wins this season if you do.