Wiping out malaria

More from Rick Reilly and his terrific cause, Nothing But Nets, created to stop the spread of the deadly malaria virus in third world countries. You can read about the progress they’re making and see how you can save a life for just $10.

Want a new, favorite NBA player?

We have one, courtesy of another terrific article by Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated. Read about how Chris Paul feels about the young men, all about his age, who murdered his beloved grandfather.

18 month-old signs pro soccer contract

What? We’ve heard of eighth-graders committing to college scholarships, but has everyone lost their minds? Check out the 30-second video from CNN, which will bring a smile to your face.

Golden Gate giving back

Here is a nice article about a High School football team helping out in the community. Maybe a good idea for more coaches and Athletic Directors to plagiarize? It would be so easy for teams to do this or something similar, and would be a great team-building experience.

Sacrificing quality for winning

The fall season presents me with the opportunity to go and watch all levels of soccer games from recreational to collegiate. And as every player steps on to the field, they do so with a desire to win that game. Coaches, players and parents all want to win because the game of soccer is competitive, with the object of scoring more goals than your opponent.

Many youth soccer leagues throughout the country measure results week in-week out by league standings, and when teams travel across the states on weekends to participate in tournaments, their success is measured on whether they return with a trophy. So if the emphasis is predominantly on winning, are coaches, players and parents sacrificing the bigger picture of player, team and club development?

After watching some of the better players and teams from Kentucky compete in this spring’s state cup and regional events, I was not overly impressed with the performances, and the same pattern seems to have carried over into the games I am witnessing this fall soccer season. If success and winning could be redefined by how well a team plays, not the result, perhaps these games would be more fun to watch.

Although soccer is a team sport, it allows both players and coaches the opportunity to stamp their own personality on the game. I understand no matter what level you play or coach you will have a different style than your opponent, but you have to find a style that will meet the needs of your personality, not for the needs of winning a game.

Winning does matter to the players and they do care about the result, but ever since I have been involved with the game I know that coaches and parents take a defeat much harder than the person who just left everything on the playing field. The better coaches know how to find the right balance between educating the team to play and to be successful in the same process. The reason they have found this success is because they look at the long-term picture by following some of the simple steps below.

* They have gained appropriate soccer coaching qualifications.
* They encourage  players to express themselves freely and learn from the game
* They allow all of the players to have equal playing time (especially important with the younger age groups)
* Continuously review their coaching methodology to update it with the needs of the players and the team
* Establish a fine balance between friendly and competitive games throughout the season
* Allow and encourage their players to experience other sporting activities (especially important with the younger age groups)
* Educate the parents on their plans of long-term player development

Coaches have to be brave and stick with this philosophy, because with so much competition out there, no matter how many articles are written about how youth soccer players should be developed there will always be those coaches who believe winning at all costs is what is important. I use the terminology of “Soccer Gypsies” for those families that move from club to club depending on whether the child is selected for the “A” team or if the team won the league last season. Coaches who put winning first will often attract these families. The reality is that a coach that puts development first will eventually be more successful, because they help children love and respect the game.

You will find that the teams that work hard, learn and have fun are more likely to successful in the long term. Not only will coaches who emphasize winning at all costs be less successful, they might not even be around because their players choose to do something completely different than soccer since it wasn’t fun.

Winning is a direct result of development and fun and you can be successful in gaining these results by encouraging quality soccer to be played. I have yet to see a youth soccer coach get fired because their team was not successful, but I have seen them been released from their duties because they did not develop the players.

Adrian Parrish is the Director of Coach & Player Development for the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association. He is responsible for the Coaching Education Program and the management of the Olympic Development Program. A native of Louth, England, Parish currently possesses a USSF “A” License, UEFA “A” License (Pending), and the US Youth Soccer National Youth License. He can be reached at adrianparrish@kysoccer.net

Soccer mom compared to tee-ball dad

There does seem to be quite a difference between the way American parents “watch” their young kids’ soccer and baseball. This humorous comic sums up those differences quite well.


Let Stop Sports Injuries.org help with your sports safety event

Our partners at STOP Sports Injuries.org are offering to assist organizations hosting a sports safety event. The STOP Sports Injuries Campaign is interested in helping support your event by encouraging attendance and participation. Submit your event with this link and receive a free campaign starter pack. This can be used in conjunction with coaching clinics, first aid seminars and the like.

Fixing throwing mechanics

Recently, a baseball coach inquired through our “Ask the Coach” link on our CoachDeck “Extras” page, (www.coachdeck.com/extras). His questions are below:

1) My son (11 yrs-old) has been playing ball since tee-ball and he’s developed a bad throwing technique.  He keeps his elbow bent and in close to his body when throwing. I keep telling him that he needs to keep his elbow up when throwing…but he’s so used to this bad technique that he can’t stop.  It really effects his power, distance, and accuracy.  Plus, it just looks bad…like he’s shot-putting or throwing “like a girl”.  Are there any drills I can have him do to fix this?
2) I have a boy on my team that has great speed on his pitch…but he has very little accuracy.  It’s like his release point is way early…and his balls sail.  However, occasionally he’ll lay a strike right down the middle that looks great.  I don’t know what I can tell him to get him to be more consistent with his release point. Any ideas?

One of our resident pitching experts, Dan Gazaway of The Pitching Academy, has provided us with some feedback, and even videos to explain and correct the problem:

Answer #1: Nothing gets rid of these habits better than using an elastic band to track mechanics and arm motion. Here is a sample video of how he can use elastic bands to help with dropping the elbow and keeping a good equal and opposite going. Here is a quick video explaining equal and opposite first.

The solution to question  #2 is the elastic band: Here is another video that will help.

Another excellent drill I would highly recommend is this knee drill where you can focus on arm slot.  Look at minute four of this video and I show how to do the knee drill.

Thanks, Dan! Visit The Pitching Academy for more great tips and free information.

Sports giving back

Have you ever wondered about athletes who give the most back to the community? Here is a link to the charitable organizations aided by professional sports leagues and teams. Below is a list of some charitable foundations established by athletes around the world. There may be some names you wouldn’t have thought of (or hadn’t thought of in a long time):

Manchester United legend Bryan Robson visits at-risk adolescents in Kuala Lumpur

Great article from our friends at UNICEF about a soccer legend making a difference.