Should tackling be banned from youth football?

Some experts feel that tackling in football, checking in hockey and heading the ball in soccer should be banned until players go through puberty. Though not related to head injury, you can add throwing curve balls in baseball to this list as well. Here is an article weighing the pros and cons related to concussions.

Bounties offered at the Pop Warner level?

Controversy surrounding allegations that a Southern California Pop Warner team rewarded its players for big hits with cash bounties.

Get kids out playing!

Nike has launched a new initiative, Designed to, aimed at creating a grassroots campaign to get kids more active. For the first time, children are projected to have a life expectancy of less than their parents. Childhood obesity and the overflow of technology are among the culprits. Get them out there moving around!

Wooden on race

In the terrific book, Wooden, with Steve Jamison, Coach Wooden details his attitudes on race which were derived from his father. The fact that his father was and Indiana farmer living at the turn of the 20th century, makes his philosophy even more remarkable.

Dad helped me set my thinking in place on the issue of race. He told me and my brothers many times, “You’re just as good as anyone, but you’re no better than anybody.” Because of him I’m better than I might have been on many matters, even though I fall short of what I should be.

One of our players said to a reporter once, “Coach Wooden doesn’t see race. He’s just looking for the players who will play together.” I’d have to say that gave me about as good a feeling as I could have.

My dad was a very wise man.

Inspiring high school football story

From Sports Illustrated’s “Underdogs” series on high school sports comes an uplifting story about the California School for the Deaf football team and their effort to overcome adversity and succeed on the field.

Read the latest OnDeck newsletters

If you missed them, you can check out the latest OnDeck newsletters for baseball and soccer here. Subscribe and make sure you get every issue emailed directly to your inbox!

OnDeck Newsletter goes out tomorrow

Our September 2012 issue of OnDeck will be sent out tomorrow. We’ve got some great articles to share and new partners to tell you about. If you aren’t on the list and would like OnDeck delivered to your inbox you can sign up here.

Don’t text and drive!

We should have our kids, (and ourselves) take the pledge to stop texting and driving.

May we all hear this

In our previous issue we told you about the “My Positive Experience” page that Cheyenne Little League in Nevada added to their website, allowing parents and coaches to relate great things they’d seen or experienced in their league. A coach posted something that really caught my attention. If this doesn’t sum up why we’re involved with youth sports, I don’t know what does.

As a coach we all have times when we say to our self “why do I do this to myself?”. Sometimes the parents and the kids can get to you. Most of us do it because we love the game and want to pass on our knowledge to the kids. Some of us have our own kids on our team and want to be involved with our kids’ life. We dedicate a lot of time , money and hair to try to make it the best experience possible. Our season isn’t going as well as we would like it to go but I try to keep the kids to have a positive attitude and to remember that the saying “ It’s not whether you win or lose it’s how you play the game” comes from a Baseball Diamond. It’s all about having fun. At our last game I was reminded why I am here. We all have kids who this might be the first year of playing and are just learning the game. In my case I have a player who tries his best but had yet to make contact with a ball. Two games ago he did it twice then last game he hit the ball to drive in our tying run . When he came into the dugout I said to him “great job! Where did you learn to hit the ball like that?” He looked at me and said “from you”. That was it. It hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s why I’m here. That’s why all the coaches are here. I will never forget the feeling that ran through me when he said that. If you believe you have a good coach, let them know. We all hear the comments made during the games about how we could do things better. Believe it or not it can hurt. We try our best to do the best we can with your kids. Tell your coach “thank you” and have your kids do the same. Even if you don’t like your coach, he still was there and tried his best. Let them know that the time and dedication they give is appreciated.

That little guy who said that to me meant more to me than anything said to me in a long time.

Be positive with your kids. Remember what it felt like to be yelled at when you were that young. No one wanted to make that play or hit the ball more than they did. All I can say is “Thank you little buddy. I needed that.”

I can’t remember ever hearing a more powerful reason to coach kids. And this is also why we developed CoachDeck. We know there are millions of well-intentioned volunteer coaches everywhere who are trying their best, sacrificing time and money and often pride, to coach kids in sports they love. If we can help them do a better job and have some fun with their teams, then we feel as good as this coach when he heard his player’s simple two words that made all the difference.

When should you teach youth pitchers how to throw a curveball?

By Dan Gazaway, Owner of The Pitching Academy

This has been a debatable topic for many years now and there are many theories as to when a youth pitcher should learn how to throw a curveball. The fact is that there is no magical age to start teaching the pitch. Here is my take on youth pitchers who learn how to throw a curveball .

First and foremost, a pitcher should not mess around with any other pitch until they learn proper fastball mechanics.  When one of my pitchers can throw a decent fastball, the first pitch I will teach them is an effective changeup.  Change of speed and location (hitting your spots) is important and before a pitcher reaches the high school level he can be very successful with just two pitches; if they are great pitches of course.

There are many dangers if youth pitchers don’t understand a few key points about throwing the curveball .  Here are a few of them:

  • They don’t know how to throw a curveball properly.
  • They fall in love with the pitch, because they have found success with it and they tend to overuse it.  A curveball, even at the major league level, should not be thrown more than 20% of the time.
  • The curveball, regardless if it is thrown correctly, will put more stress on your throwing arm than a fastball because of wrist and forearm angle at the release of the pitch.
  • Youth pitchers who have not hit puberty haven’t developed enough in their bones and connective tissues like tendons and ligaments that help support larger muscle groups; therefore, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Youth pitchers hands and fingers are short so most of them have problems with the pitching grip affecting the proper release of the baseball which can also lead to injury.

What is the solution?  Educate yourself on the proper mechanics of the curveball.  Understand the risks that are associated with the curve.  Also, don’t be too hesitant to teach the curveball; it is a very effective pitch to have in your arsenal.  If you wait too long to learn the curveball, you may not have time to throw a “great” curveball. Teach the proper pitching grip first, then wrist and forearm angle at release of the baseball.  It is important not to teach a pitcher that they have to snap or twist their wrist a certain way at release of the baseball.

I have all of my pitchers practice gripping and throwing the curveball on their knees, throwing the pitch to a net much closer than they would off a mound.  You reduce the risk of injury this way because you have taken the momentum out of the pitch (they are not exploding to foot strike).  This way, with the knee drill, they will be able to throw more curveballs, learning the pitch much faster than they would throwing off a mound or on their feet on flat ground. In conclusion, before you learn how to throw a curveball, learn proper pitching mechanics first.

Dan Gazaway is Owner and Founder of The Pitching Academy. He has instructed over 2,000 pitchers in the last seven years and received a Bachelor’s Degree as a Health Education Specialist at Utah State University. He is a motivational speaker for topics ranging from attitude, goal-setting and leadership and be contacted at