Must see for any pro football fan getting ready for Sunday’s big game. Enjoy this look back at the greatest shots of the greatest game.
By Brian Gotta
I was taking my dog for a walk at a nearby grade school one Saturday morning and I passed a youth soccer game on the field. I knew from the uniforms that one of the teams was a local, competitive club. From the the sizes of the boys, I judged them to be around eight years old. I was stunned by the vociferous parents, yelling at the teenage referee about every call, and screaming instructions to the players each time they touched the ball. I kept walking that day. But a few weeks later, on the same route, I encountered the team again. As I approached, there was a huge blow-up from the parents of the local club. It escalated back and forth between both sides. The referee, an older gentleman this time, halted the game and warned the coach that if there was one more outburst, he would clear the sidelines. This time, I couldn’t help myself. I stopped and said something.
I know it was none of my business. I’m not the youth sports police, although as I write that phrase I’m thinking maybe it would be wise if there were such a thing. After the ref threatened to remove the spectators, I paused behind the dad who had just gone ballistic, screaming for a foul. I said, “Do you act like this at every game? What are these kids, eight years old?”
He whirled and asked if I’d seen what just happened, claiming the other kid nearly broke his son’s arm. Two other fathers jumped in and told me to to butt out and keep walking. I stayed there for moment and said I didn’t know how they thought they were helping the kids. The ballistic dad told me to mind my own business, but I got the sense he was a little embarrassed. One of the other fathers began screaming at me to leave, the veins in his temples bulging. Knowing I wasn’t accomplishing anything positive, I shook my head and continued down the sidewalk.
A short while later I heard the whistle blow, signifying the end of the game. As I made the loop back toward my house, the ballistic dad was walking through the parking lot on his way to his car. He was holding a chair that I don’t believe had been used much that morning. He wouldn’t make eye contact with me. I just had a hunch that he was not a bad guy. That he had gotten too wrapped up in the emotions of the game. I didn’t say anything else to him, but, looking back, I wish had stopped and said this:
“You’re putting so much pressure on these little kids. It’s not supposed to be that important at this age – maybe not ever – unless they’re getting paid to play. When they see you get this angry, this crazy, they’re going to become terrified of the sport. Instead of waking up on a Saturday morning looking forward to the fun game they get to go play, they’ll have a pit in their stomachs, full of nerves, knowing what they’re about to do is so life-and-death important to you. Surely, that’s not what you want.
“Plus, you’re going to be embarrassed when you look back in 10 years. Trust me, I know. I have two kids playing sports in college and two more playing in high school. When they were young, I was intense, sometimes too intense, though hopefully never to this extreme. But in retrospect I feel ashamed about the way I behaved at times when the emotions got the best of me and I forgot what the game was really supposed to be about.”
As I said at the beginning, I’d seen this team before. On the first occasion it was a different dad, and his wife, who were doing the bulk of the screaming and yelling. I heard this particular father shout, “Don’t even think about it!” to the teenage ref who had blown his whistle after a foul. Though I didn’t say anything that day, I did stop and watch for a while. A few minutes later two boys collided and one stayed on the ground. It turns out to have been the angry couple’s child. The coach helped him into a chair on the sideline and the little boy cried, bawled, like a baby. He was still sobbing uncontrollably when I left. If I had to make my amateur diagnosis I’d say he was crying not from physical, but rather, psychological pain. All of the built-up anxiety and frustration along with the overwhelming relief he felt not to be on the field anymore combined and gushed out through his tears. His injury wasn’t inflicted by the opposing player, but instead by the grown-ups who are supposed to have his best interests at heart. For those of us who love youth sports, is there any sadder scene we can imagine?
Brian Gotta is President of CoachDeck LLC (www.coachdeck.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By Miles Noland
Use the cues to keep things simple for your hitters, and you will notice the improvement. A certain cue can have a profound effect on a hitter’s swing.
1. Hold the bat so loosely if the wind blows it should move your bat
2. How you do you jump? You bend your knees, which is how you get athletic. Hitters need to be athletic to hit, so they need to bend their knees
3. How does a boxer throw a punch? He loads back and punches. He does not punch without loading, because momentum equals force created. Hitters must load to be successful
4. Get all your energy flowing in a straight line.
5. Take the effort out.
6. Take a slow, long breath before stepping into the box. The muscles need oxygen to function properly
7. Focus on the task at hand, which is getting your best look at each pitch.
8. Focus on each pitch independently of each other. The best hitters eliminate the past and the future to focus on the present.
9. You are good enough; don’t play for anyone else but yourself, because it is not your job as a hitter to please everyone.
10. See the ball, and be easy.
11. Loose muscles are quick twitch muscles.
12. Drive the back knee to the pitcher.
13. Be aggressive with the lower half, loose with the upper half.
14. Have flex in the back knee when the stride foot lands.
15. The knob must be pointing towards the back foot when the stride foot lands.
16. Develop a plan for seeing the ball (ex.-early: whole body, one windup starts move to bill of hat, late: shift eyes to release point).
17. Tension causes poor decisions and loss of seeing the ball well.
18. Eliminate tension by visualizing what you want to happen.
19. Eliminate tension by taking long, slow deep breaths, which allows your muscles to breathe.
20. Good hitters get jammed, bad hitters are always early.
21. Great players love hit by pitches and walks, because they know they are helping the team, on base percentage is huge.
22. Great hitters make their living off hitting fastballs.
23. Eliminate offspeed pitches unless you have 2 strikes.
24. If a pitcher proves he can throw offspeed for a strike, then live by the motto, “if it’s high let it fly, if it’s low let it go”.
25. Figure out the umpires strike zone in the first 20 pitches of the game and adjust our approach.
26. Look for pitches you can drive early in the count.
27. With 2 strikes shorten your swing and put the ball in play.
28. Stay on balance throughout entire swing, ensures a good jump to first base.
29. Goal should be to hit the ball on the barrel everytime; if a pitch won’t allow you to do that, take it.
30. Learn about the pitcher and umpire from paying attention to teammates’ at-bats.
31. Handle adversity well, realizing baseball isn’t fair (but better than losing a job), but you move on to focus on the next play.
32. The pressure is on the pitcher with the bases loaded; be patient and don’t try to do too much.
33. Great hitters are constantly working on their craft.
Miles Noland operates Noland Fitness LLC. His website, www.athletehitting.com is a wealth of information for young hitters.