Pretty funny

Golfer Rickie Fowler has adopted an alter-ego, Dick Fowler, P.I. to patrol golf courses looking for those who don’t understand etiquette. These 90-second bits are hilarious.

You be the judge

In his usual, whimsical style, the L.A. Times’ Chris Erskine has written another article about youth sports with a touch of humor. But is this soccer league for toddlers simply a good way for them to be active, or pushing the limits of over-zealousness?

We’re ready for some football!

At long last, it’s here. A day we look forward to like Christmas and Thanksgiving. The long, yawning summer of few view-worthy sporting events has come to an end and college football kicks off tonight. You can see the full slate of games for tonight and the entire season here.

College football players doing what they should do

These college football players wandered into a store they believed to be open, only to realize it was supposed to be closed. They needed a couple of items and needed to get to practice quickly. So what did they do? Read here to find out.

Get your copies of the August OnDeck newsletter here

Our August, OnDeck Newsletters were sent out today. If you missed them you can read OnDeck for Baseball or OnDeck for Soccer. We recommend you read both!

August OnDeck Newsletter goes out tomorrow

Our August, 2013 issue of OnDeck goes out tomorrow with terrific articles and excellent offers from our sponsors. If you’re not signed up to receive your online copy, you can do so here.

The Pros and Cons of Coaching Clinics

By Brian Gotta

Every year, as we talk to youth sport leagues across the country, we hear of organizations conducting coaching clinics for their volunteer coaches. We’re big believers in this type of training and think everyone should do it. However, there are some ways to make clinics more effective and, even at their best, coaching clinics have limitations.

Attendance
No clinic I ever attended, or ran as my league’s Coaching Coordinator, boasted 100% perfect attendance. I know some organizations “mandate” that all volunteers go through certification of some kind before allowing them to step on the field. But in the majority of leagues, where it is an annual struggle to convince enough parents just to take a team, “mandatory” training usually means, “highly-suggested.”

Retention
The biggest drawbacks to clinics is that even those who do attend can only retain about 30% of what they see and hear. And that diminishes as the season goes on. Many coach trainers assume they’ll have the complete, undivided attention of their attendees. Then, weeks later, can’t understand why something covered in an hours-long session is forgotten or hasn’t been learned. Trainers often don’t anticipate this phenomenon because, if the situation were reversed, they would hang on every word of instruction. They would take copious notes. They are passionate about the sport and its proper teaching. Most parent-volunteers don’t share that same level of fervor.

So while there are some limitations to coaching clinics, the benefits still make them important cornerstones of your coach training program. However, be sure to pay attention to three aspects of your session: Duration, Format and Approach.

Duration
It would not be accurate to simply say, “The shorter the better,” since, obviously, a one-minute clinic or a five-minute clinic would have no value. However there is an amount of time where, once exceeded, attendees become like saturated sponges. All additional information poured on to them just flows over and off. I attended a mandatory soccer coaching clinic when I wanted to coach my daughter’s U6 recreation team. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I knew little about coaching soccer and needed some instruction. But this clinic began at 9:00 AM, broke for a 30-minute lunch, and then ended at 3:30. After a few slices of pizza, in the baking sun, many of the dads were nodding off while on their feet. There wasn’t much we were learning at that juncture.

Format
Coach training sessions can take the form of a static lecture, or a hands-on participatory event. Most fall somewhere in the middle, but the more interactive they are, the more effective. Don’t just tell, show and tell. No one wants to go to a clinic and sit in hot aluminum bleachers for an hour or two and listen to someone drone on about how to run a practice. In a perfect scenario, every coach will be able to participate. However, I’ve run baseball clinics with sixty coaches and to get all of them up in pairs, throwing baseballs back and forth, while still in a position to hear instruction, would have been unfeasible. Yet by choosing a different group of volunteers to demonstrate each drill for the group so that everyone was involved at some point, I believe the they got more out of it than if I had just done it for them.

Approach
Some instructors put on elaborate and complex trainings because they like showing off their immense knowledge. Others do so because they simply misjudge their audience. Either way, spending hours teaching the advanced skills you learned in college or the pros to a group of moms and dads who will be in charge of grade-schoolers would be like sending them to a graduate-school foreign language class and expecting them to be fluent by afternoon. They need a few things they can take with them: Make it fun; Turn every drill into a game; Encourage instead of criticize; show instead of tell, etc. Kids this age are not like cement. They won’t be ruined for life if not taught the precise fundamentals at an early age. Eventually, those who continue playing and want it will get expert coaching. But if they quit playing because practices were a chore, they’ll never have a chance.

Conclusion
And here’s my pitch for our product, CoachDeck. The feedback we get from organizations everywhere is that CoachDeck is the perfect supplement to help coaches put into action what they’ve seen and heard a their coaching clinics. And for those who can’t attend or don’t retain much, it’s even more valuable. When volunteer coaches take the field to run a practice where other parents are watching, they know they’re on stage — their performance being judged. Imagine training someone for a big speech but then telling him to get behind the podium without any outline, and just go from memory. I doubt many of us would enjoy that challenge. That’s why providing your coaches with a CoachDeck is like giving them notes they can slip in their pocket to ensure they look and perform like pros at every practice, all season long. Coaching clinics are tremendously valuable. But by recognizing their limitations, we can better formulate a training program that benefits the greatest number of our hard-working volunteers.

Brian Gotta is President of CoachDeck LLC (www.coachdeck.com). He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com.

The Crucial Power Swing Sequence

By Dave Hudgens

I recently bought a car for my daughter that is a 5-speed stick shift. Teaching a teenage girl how to drive a stick has been interesting. There is a sequence to the process. When driving a stick, you have to:

  • Push the clutch in
  • Turn the key
  • Combine the clutch with the gas pedal
  • Ease into first gear

It sounds easy but takes a while to get to work smoothly. That process only puts you in first gear. You now start another sequence to get into the next gear and so on. Just as there are sequences to driving a 5 speed, so it goes also with the swing. The proper sequence is essential to having consistent success at the plate.

SWING SEQUENCE

  • When your stride foot comes down, your weight needs to be balanced to 60% back with your hands around the back foot. This is a critical position to be in to hit for average and power.
  • The stride should start early, it should be easy and your stride foot should be down by the time the ball gets half way to three quarters of the way to home plate.
  • After the stride, as the front heel lands, the back heel should start to lift off the ground. This will start the proper sequence with the lower half of the body.
  • This is not a two part movement.
  • As the back heel comes up the rotation of the hips will start.
  • You don’t want to push forward off your back foot – this will force your hips to slide forward, you want more of a rotational movement at this point.
  • Just after the backside starts turning, your hands will start their path to the ball.

PROPER TAKES
I can tell by looking at a hitter’s take whether or not he has a good approach, if he is going to over swing, or if he is going to be under control. The take is so important because it is the first sequence in the approach to the ball. If the take is hard, the swing is going to be hard and out of control. Many mechanical breakdowns occur when the swing is out of control. If the take is easy, more than likely the swing is going to be under control. If the swing is balanced and under control the sequence will work properly so you will be able to repeat your swing and have a good feel for what you are doing. As a hitting instructor, when I see a hitter that has a nice take, not too hard and not too easy, I know he has a chance of success regardless of whom he is facing.

A proper take is one with good balance and proper heel – toe action. If the heel – toe action is correct, the hip sequence is good. If I don’t see the proper heel toe action, I know the hip sequence is incorrect. If the lower half action is correct, my eyes go to the hitter’s hands. I want to see the hands start to every pitch. So as the back heel starts its turn, the hands will start their approach to the ball.

HAND PATH
Let’s examine the path the hands will take through the swing. The goal of the swing is to keep the barrel of the bat in the strike zone for as long as you can.

  • Get the barrel of the bat in the strike zone with the shortest possible angle.
  • Keep the barrel of the bat in the strike zone for as long as possible.
  • Finish with extension out front with a good follow through.

If you do this, you will have an efficient swing, one that will be consistent and repeatable. Staying inside the ball will:

  • Allow you to make adjustments with your hands on different types of pitches
  • Help you to keep the barrel of the bat in the strike zone for a long time
  • Keep your wrists cocked and the barrel back for better bat speed.


Dave Hudgens has been involved with the best of baseball for over 30 years. He is currently the Hitting Coach for the New York Mets. Prior to that he was a longtime hitting coach in the Oakland Athletics’ organization.

He wasn’t late yesterday

Los Angeles Dodgers rookie sensation Yasiel Puig arrived late for Tuesday’s game against the Marlins and was subsequently fined an undisclosed amount by manager, Don Mattingly. Puig, staying with family in Miami, said he was caught in traffic. Yesterday he made sure everyone knew he was on time.

Little League World Series – Tonight’s the Night!

Tonight is the night, (9:00 PM Eastern) when the boys from Chula Vista, CA who look like they might be unstoppable, play CoachDeck client Westport, CT. in the American semi-finals. The winner of tonight’s game will only have to win one more to get to the International Little League World Series. The loser will need to beat a tough team from Washington and then come back and win a rematch of tonight’s game. Good luck, Westport!