Dazed and Confused


I'm a high school football and basketball coach, so I encounter teenage kids everyday…all year long. With this in mind, when did kids start measuring toughness by who can talk the most? All talk, no action. We follow appropriate programming in our weight room and produce only physically strong kids; no mental toughness. Where did the competitors go? The warriors who used to go to battle? The hard-hat and lunch pail kids who clocked in everyday for work? Everyday, all I encounter is pissing and moaning. We do our best to challenge our kids, but when did a challenged become a bad thing? When we train a kid will fake hurt, cry or whine , or my personal favorite...tell mommy and daddy how hard the coach is on them. I don't know what to do...and it's driving me insane. How do we teach them to man-up and break the cycle? Thanks for all your help and all you do.


dazed and confused #1Shane,

More than a few educators have felt the same way.

"What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?" - Plato (437 BC - 347 BC)

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers. – Socrates (469 BC – 399 BC)

"We're the middle children of history.... no purpose or place.  We have no Great War, no Great Depression.  Our great war is a spiritual war.  Our great depression is our lives." From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk

"One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its results and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community." – Albert Einstein

"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is the dearness only that gives everything its value." – Thomas Paine (1773 – 1809)

This attitude starts at home. Parents are no longer holding their kids accountable for their actions. If you are more afraid of what is going to happen when you get home, you won't fuck around when you are away from it.

Children learn by watching their parents. They learn to walk by watching their parents walk. They learn to talk by listening to their parents. Kids learn work ethic from watching their parents work. If a kid grows up watching her parents bust their ass, she will learn to bust her ass.

I know this is true of me. My parents hate lazy the way you would hate getting kicked in the balls...by Sebastian Janikowski...with steel toed boots.

dazed and confused #2

If you want to change the youth in your program, start by creating a shining example. Teenagers, whether they believe it or not, want an example of what to do. The problem is the examples they see around them are all bullshit. Their "heroes" are bullshit. And kids can smell insincerity and bullshit a mile away.

I asked Nate Austin what he thought was wrong with kids today. He has 2 younger brothers ranging in ages 11-17, so he might have a good answer. He said to stop taking your teenage boys to see Twilight movies.

Jim Wendler asked me why I played in the NFL for a decade. I am a white kid from an upper/middle class background, not the standard MO for most NFL players.

I told him, "Don't have heroes." I never wasted my time trying to emulate someone else. What I did was bust my ass to gain approval from those I felt had earned the right to judge me.

If you want to influence your kids, start by creating an example. If you don't want your kids to drink or do drugs, then don't sit back and slam a fifth of Jack Daniels 3 nights a week.

If you want your kids to treat people with respect, let them see you treat people with respect. Treat your kids with respect. When I say respect, I don't mean you should bow to your kids. Respect them enough to know that a teenager needs to be put on a short leash, needs direction, discipline and hard work.

If the kids won't work, out work them. It is hard to get your kids to train hard if you are 50 lbs overweight and the only exercise you have done this week is walking from your car to Krispy Kreme.

Kids don't give respect because you are an adult or administrator. The give respect to those they fear, respect and love you.


Posted in Mental, Talk to Me Johnnie, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

35 Responses to Dazed and Confused

  1. Another quote for you:

    It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.
    Niccolo Machiavelli

  2. Mike

    As a fellow educator (9th grade geography) I couldn’t agree more. Kids respect what is worthy of respect; just like anyone else.

    I can’t make the boys I teach not read Twilight books, but I can damn sure raise my own 3 boys to be men.

  3. Wade

    John, you are quickly becoming one of my favorite people. Take that as a high complement. Right on.

  4. 😀
    WEll said John!
    I see this shit all the time as a Professor! Fucking bullshit – I get it all the time, well I deserve an A… well Sloth (goonies ref) could outperform you the basic tenets of education: reading, writing, and math! These kids are fucking ridiculous. I also see it in my garage gym – some kids come in and just go through the motions. FUcking kills me. However, like you said, show by example and many will step up.

    Sorry to hear about your kids dogging their workouts and such. That sucks!
    Great write-up!

  5. JT

    Nate Austin?! He is the one driving his two younger brothers to the twilight movies.

  6. CMD

    I grew up in a military family. My dad was a fighter pilot, he was my idol not actors or athletes. My ex mother in law used to say I was to strict on my step daughter, yet she had two sons in their forties who never held a full time job.

    I went in the military myself and when I got out the lack of work ethic in America sickened me. Last xmas my mother in law said she wished I was.still around to control my old step daughter. I read a lot of ttmj and this one is spot on John.

  7. beavis


    ““Don’t have heroes.” I never wasted my time trying to emulate someone else. What I did was bust my ass to gain approval from those I felt had earned the right to judge me”

    very well said

  8. I had an issue with college athletes I am training at the beginning of the year. I attributed it to none of them playing football growing up, and only lacrosse. I am only 25, so not much older than the senior ‘captains’. I gave them programs, but few would follow. Team workouts were getting piss poor effort. I was getting pretty short with them, and when they started talking back I knew it was time for a change.
    The adjustment I made was to participate in the workouts with them. Everything I asked of them, I was doing and destroying them at. I was in their face before, but now I’m kicking their ass and in their face. Efforts are up and some leaders are emerging. Winter break in two weeks and a month on their own without a S&C coach, so we’ll see how the intensity carries over when they’re on their own before season begins.
    Thank you again, John, for the programming. Those that I have committed are dominating weight room and lax field.

  9. Petr

    Could be easily mu favorite article on TTMJ 🙂 but I could say it about all the rest as well. Thanks, I’ll make sure to forward this article to all my friends who are parents now.

  10. Thanks for the props, Ingo B.

    HTFU is what they need – but John shows why this means something entirely different (or nothing at all) to kids these days.

    I go to my 9 yr old daughter’s school for some “award presentation”. Every fucking kid in her class got an award. From those who deserved actual shit down to awards like, “best improved”, “good attitude” and “managed to figure out how to wipe his own ass”. WTF? The mindset of the current generation is soft.

    It’s a product of what we’ve created. Some say the down-turn started when they took prayer out of schools. That’s retarded. I’m pretty sure it started with the elimination of dodge ball in schools.

  11. Mike

    @ McQuilken: That’s Badass! I always respected the coaches who would get in the ring w/ us. And everyone cracked jokes on the coaches who were overweight.

    Good luck w/ your team!

  12. Cory B.

    Nailed it, John. As a Middle School P.E. teacher and Varsity football coach, this post resonated with me big time. I’m definitely forwarding this to some colleagues who I know would value it too. It always seems when I’m having my worst days, when I feel like I’m just not reaching the kids, thats when I’ll catch a snippet of conversation in the halls about PRing Tabata Squats or two 8th grade girls talking shit to eachother about their mile times. I also make a point to eat lunch in the lunch roomwith the students at least once a week, so they can see my chicken breast and brussel sprouts. Was it Ghandi who said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”? Hang in there, Shane. All you can do is lead, and when the soldiers are ready, they will be led.

  13. Sheldon

    My first-born daughter is set to arrive in the next 2-3 weeks, so this couldn’t have come at a better time.

    The only “hero” I had growing up was my Father. He was 19 when I was born, owned and operated his own business by the time I was 5, kept our family comfortable, and managed to coach me in just about every sport I chose to participate in (and did it with passion).

    Thanks for the motivational kick in the pants!

  14. John H.

    Thanks John,

    That totally hits home. Shane I’m in the same boat. Hearing your frustration makes me feel like I’m looking in the mirror, hearing a playback of my own life. John is absolutely right. I’ve had to learn these lessons the hard way to a degree. I spent so much time and effort building a program only to lose connection with the boys myself. My philosophy, organization, X’s and O’s, practice plans, etc. were fantastic but in the process a disconnect had developed and they wouldn’t buy in no matter how hard I tried. It came down to the fact that the teenager today (always?) cares more about the messenger than the message. I should’ve spent less time on scheme, practice plans, etc., and worked out with them, showed myself as a person, etc.

  15. Mike Bradley

    You are great John!!! I am a 60 y/o CF Certified Trainer, Oly lifting coach, and 40 year firefighter. Guess what? Both of my sons are firefighters and outstanding CF atheletes/trainers. I never asked them to be or do either one. They just thought that if that was what the “old man” was doing, they should be too. Strange how that works.

  16. I’m no expert, but I do have an opinion and I hope to raise my newborn son to be better than a lot of what I see in kids today. Kids have been lied to for several years, probably decades by now. They have been told repeatedly by a teacher, peer, “coach”, etc., winning and losing doesn’t matter… Everyone gets a trophy for participating… It’s not your fault for coming up short… It’s because someone else did this to you… You’re a victim… The guy/gal next to you is a son-of-a-bitch/cunt for beating you because they busted their ass to win…. They have been taught to lay down. They have been allowed to become losers and quitters way before Shane has came into contact with them. So many haven’t been taught perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority. Additionally, look at who their “heroes” are and who many of our youth try to emulate. Sadly, this is present among young adults as we all know and will most likely perpetuate this mentality.

    John makes very solid points in his response in my opinion. “What I did was bust my ass to gain approval from those I felt had earned the right to judge me.” I never wanted my teammate to the left or right to view me as a pussy. The same is true today. I don’t want to show up at work and have my guys look at me as a liability.

    I’ve thought and thought about this post and have been lucky to have some great coaches over the years. My O-Line Coach, Chris Scelfo, made a huge impact. Good luck, Shane. Be the example and set the standard.

    Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. – Tyler Durden

  17. C. Lake

    Solution: restore the use Agoges.

  18. Ingo B

    They banned dodge ball??

    Should’ve seen it coming when they stopped letting us call it War Ball.

  19. brandon

    when i was 15 i put down my skateboard and picked up a barbell. i started training with my father . i love that man he could out bench me and kick my ass too. my step father was a marine and a crazy hard working dude that would call me maggot and stomp a mudhole in my ass and march it dry , i heard that phrase at around 7 years old. i love that man too. my mother didnt baby me and told me to stop crying or she would give me something to cry about and rub some fucking dirt on it and walk it off. i love that woman . my stepmother taught me that i dont have to like my job but i better damn sure get my ass to work. i love that woman . i the proud father of a 10 year old boy . he just did a karate comp two weeks
    ago , submitted both of the kids he competed against in seconds , first kid cried holding his throat. i am proud . nothing makes me feel better than breaking my ass hard . i am a father a fire fighter a gym owner operator a coach a nice person and a mean sob when i need to be . i hear the whining at the gym and at my other job . america needs to butch the fuck up . im trying my best to make sure my boy is tough and ready for life . just like rocky says , life will beat you down but you have to keep moving forward ….. i like getting back up i never want to stay down. god bless you john and all the other proud tough men

  20. Tim

    Hey love the comments John and the quotes. Its nice too see such depth from individuals driven not only by the pursuit of strength but of mind. Please check out Adam corolla latest comments on the youth in America and his insight into the loss of heart and nuts. Its rings so similar and true.

  21. Nathan Greaves

    I recently got a new coaching job as head of S&C at a local college. Some of the horseshit the head coach comes out with, I’m surprised any of them even turn up for training! I got a text off him once, telling me “trainings off, they dont deserve it” after a loss during a midweek game. I shit you not! Some people are breeding into younger generations that not giving a fuck is perfectly acceptable. How would you tackle the head coach situation? get him to take part in a workout and kick his ass?

  22. Ingo B

    Tim – get it on! No choice, but to get it on. Mandate: get it ON.

  23. A friend of mine has 10 children: An Army Captain, 2 Marines, 1 NFL player, 2 attorneys and the other 4 are successful in their professions. When I asked him what the secret is he replied, “My kids watched me go to work everyday. They watched their mother work hard to keep them and the house in order. We had no television. They went to school, did chores and for “recreation” they did martial arts, played sports and ran in the hills where we live. Most of their free time was spent outdoors.”

    Some folks have confused providing for their children as never allowing them to experience struggle. This is why a “challenge” is viewed as a negative experience. Combine this fact with many parents allow their children to watch endless hours of garbage television and don’t supervise what internet sites are being visited and it’s a recipe for the making of a young adult not ready for the real world.

  24. Phil

    Well put John,

    Leadership by example is a completely under rated concept. What this coach seems to be asking isn’t a training, nutrition, or programming dilemma. It is strictly a failure upon the leadership; perhaps in part by the parents, and in part by the coach himself. I personally am biased to this , although military in nature it really focuses on leadership and can be applied to all walks of life.

    Thanks for everything you offer here John.

  25. Steven

    “We are both the hero and enemy of our life story….”

  26. Cort Arthur

    Sweet read. I think, as evidenced by my own personal experience and that of McQuilkin above that working out w/the kids is a great idea. 3 years ago I started coaching as a volunteer Powerlifting coach in a small high school. In our workouts we went from having 5 or 6 kids a workout to upwards of 40. This football season we set a school record for most wins (sadly it was only 7) with an offseason program that consisted strictly of CFFB stuff. The difference is exactly what McQuilkin said. I worked out w/the kids. I suffered w/them as hard as I could.

    Last year we had our first state champion powerlifter (148lb Girl). This year I know we will have a few more. It’s amazing what success a little hard work and co-suffering can achieve. I’m proud of my kids, and the transformation this school has seen. It’s sweet to see.

  27. Andrew Saltz


    I actually read this when you posted but came back to read it again.

    Seriously, I teach High School in West Philadelphia. I’m no super teacher, but I give respect, work hard, listen before I talk, and try not to lose my temper. Other teachers think the kids like me because I’m “too nice”…I beg to differ (although I’m probably too nice).

    Great post. Especially like that you ignore the “Kids these days are so much lazier” BS.

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  29. John,


    I find that most people, especially young people, will go with the flow and become one of the herd.

    Now, we in this business are usually very fast to scream “Fuck the herd! Don’t follow anyone else!” or even “Don’t have heroes”.

    I’m right there with all of the rest (tongue-in-cheek).

    However, when it comes to desirable behavior, such as a strong work ethic and so on, it behooves us for the athletes to follow a culture. Just as you said to be the example, it helps to celebrate that culture. No kid wants to be the one that isn’t toughing it out when all of his teammates are, or if he does then he won’t last long.

    For a coach that wants to build that culture it starts with himself and leading by example, not just telling the kids to toughen up like every other adult in their lives. Then right after that is celebrating the ones who do what he’s looking for and building from there.

    Look at Zach Even-esh’s kids: By and large there’s a culture of focus and hard work there that’s pretty rare among the current generation. It’s there because he built it.

    Good one.

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  31. shane

    “Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” Heraclitus circa 500 B.C. 1 out of 100 shane 1 out of 100.

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  33. John

    This rings so true with me. I was an MTI(drill instructor) in the Air Force. Every single day I see this with the new recruits that come in. I got court martialed because I had a flight turn me in because they said I was being to mean and made them uncomfortable. They had been there a week and a half. Of course I’m gonna be mean and challenge them in every way shape and form that’s my job. So instead of manning up and saying” ok “I joined the military and this is basic training they turned me in and I got my entire career yanked out from under me. All by little kids who didn’t like that I held them accountable for their actions and challenged them.

    I also got a congressional done on me because a civilian saw me at the airport picking the new trainees up and I was yelling at them?? Oh how dare I!! She called her congressman on me and that was the beginning of the end for me.

    I’m still in the military and have to deal with these kids all the time. I’m so glad my parents raised me the way they did. That sometimes it sucks but you have to press through and do what is right. Instead of telling me its ok its not your fault. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Whatever happened to suck it up? Whatever happened to being an adult? Whatever happened to doing what is right even if it’s harder?

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