SI’s 100 greatest superbowl photos

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.

Bad NFL lip-reading

Not sure why they call this “Bad” NFL Lip Reading. We think it is pretty good. Submitted for your pre-superbowl pleasure.

Reaction to “Everyone Calm Down”

Our article in yesterday’s OnDeck Newsletter, Everyone Calm Down, has caused quite a stir. Below is an email we received from a coach who brings up an important point relative to these situations, and our response:

Horrifying….

I’ve been coaching for 14 years, the last 6 in club.

I have learned to solve this issue at the source….that is, parents need to learn very early on that they are a match set with their kids. I would not have that parent on my sideline, and if necessary their child on my team.

In other words, I see this as a Coach’s responsibility to quash this behavior.  Especially early on in a players career when their parents may be learning how to be the parent of an athletes.  You tend to see a whole lot more of this abhorrent behavior at younger matches, than olders (where parents have been to a few hundred matches, versus 5 or 6).

This poor kids career is probably over before it starts as he will not have fun, and will not keep playing just to avoid Dad.  Very sad.

Good article though!

Our response:

Thanks for the note. There is no question, I didn’t put this in the article, but I actually waited that day in the parking lot for the coach because I wanted to let him know he needed to get control of this group of ridiculous parents. They were all swarming around him chatting and I didn’t have time to wait around, so I left. The problem, I theorized, was that this is an affluent area with some very well-off parents, and the coach appeared to be in his early 20’s. My guess is he’s intimidated and doesn’t feel comfortable telling them to shut up. I was hoping to explain to him that he should absolutely take charge and get them in check.

January, 2014 OnDeck Newsletter

If you didn’t have it delivered to your inbox, you can check out this month’s OnDeck Newsletter by clicking here for our baseball issue, or here for soccer. This edition is one of our most-read in recent memory.

January OnDeck Newsletter out tomorrow

Make sure to have this month’s issue of OnDeck delivered to your inbox by signing up here. You’ll love the articles and offers we have for you in this edition.

Everyone calm down!

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 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 brian@coachdeck.com.

© CoachDeck LLC All Rights Reserved

33 Hitting Cues

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.

Coaching your child: Expert advice from T-ball to high school and beyond (Part 2)

By Steve Henson

What follows is a short guide to coaching a son or daughter found in the Proactive Coaching booklet, “Youth Coaching, Four Keys to a Successful Season.” The examples are from baseball players, but the lessons can be universal to any sport:

• Understand when to be a coach and when to be a parent: As soon as a game or practice ends, make a quick transition back to the unconditional love of a parent. Do not be the coach to your child at home; do not parent your child on the field. Develop a clear separation of roles. Keep in mind that you will be a parent for life; you will only be a coach for a while.

New York Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes admits his dad was tougher on him than on his youth teammates. Even today, Hughes’ father will call him after games.

“He’ll leave these hour-long voicemails about everything I need to remember,” Hughes said. “He especially leaves a message on my phone if he watches the game and knows I struggled a little bit. He’ll leave questions like, ‘Was your sinker working?’ Then I’ll call him back and say, ‘I don’t throw a sinker.’ And he’ll say, ‘Then why don’t you throw one next time, or learn one?’ ”

Suggestion: Talk to your child about the difference between your role as a coach and as a parent. Have him or her call you “coach” during practice and games, and have them transition back to “dad or “mom” immediately afterward.

• Avoid playing favorites or being too tough on your child: Showing favoritism to your child will strain his or her relationship with teammates. It will be obvious to everybody but you. On the other hand, being too tough on your child can make the child feel as if he or she is being unfairly punished just because dad is the coach. Treat your child as a member of the team – nothing more, nothing less.

“My dad didn’t ever want other kids or parents to think he was showing favoritism toward me, so I always had to prove myself on my own,” Chipper Jones said. “My dad taught me the fundamentals of the game, but he had the other coaches take care of the discipline end of the game. It worked out great.”

Suggestion: Ask a trusted an assistant coach or parent to be brutally honest with you and inform you if you are showing favoritism or are being too hard on your child. And don’t get defensive when the person says what you might not want to hear.

• Don’t discuss coaching issues with your child: Do not discuss teammates. Do not compare players or siblings. Let post-game analysis wait until you are again in the role of the coach. Make the transition to parent and if your child wants to bring up the game to you, answer from the parent perspective.

The father of Sean Rodriguez, an infielder with the Tampa Bay Rays, was a professional scout and coach who also coached Sean since he could swing a bat.

“He was never hard on me, never screamed at me, never got mad at me, and never called me out on the field,” Rodriguez told Tobin. “My dad was great. Whenever I did something wrong he was more quiet than anything else and then I knew something was wrong. He wouldn’t even say anything when I got back to the car. He always wanted me to figure out what I did wrong.

“That was his biggest thing – for me to figure it out on my own. It was his way of teaching me a lesson – a lesson for me to self-teach myself, self-correct myself, and self-discipline myself.”

Suggestion: Never rehash the game in the car with your child on the drive home. As soon as you turn on the ignition and pull out of the parking lot, you are a parent, not a coach. In your mind, every traffic sign you see as you approach your house should read, “Dad’s Home.”

• Know when to stop coaching: Recognize when the time comes to step aside and let someone else coach your child. This may happen either because of ability (yours or the child’s) or because your child makes it clear he or she doesn’t want you on the field anymore. Brown said this often occurs when youngsters turn 13 or 14.

Curt Schilling’s father, Cliff, never got to see him pitch in the major leagues. (AP)
“Make a smooth transition from coach to parent-spectator-encourager,” Brown said. “Don’t hesitate to do some scouting to make sure the coach who succeeds you is a good one for your child. Remember the kind of parent support that you appreciated when you were coaching and give it to your child’s new coach.”

Maddux recalled when his father came to this realization, saying, “At that point he stayed completely out of it. He let the other coaches coach. Yet, he was still there every game I played.”

Youngsters absolutely appreciate parents being involved in their sports careers, from T-ball all the way to the big leagues. And the dad’s voice lingers in a child’s memory long after they cease taking the field together as coach and player.

Former All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling’s father, Cliff, coached him throughout youth league and predicted early on that his son would make the major leagues. He was thrilled when Curt was a second-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1986. But Cliff died of a heart attack in 1988, a few months before his son made his major-league debut.

Curt went on to start 436 major-league games, and he left a ticket for his father at will call at every one.

Steve Henson is Senior Editor, Major League Baseball at USA Today Sports Media Group. You can follow him on Twitter at @HensonUSAToday

Small Sided Games Good for Parents Too!

By Tony Earp

There is plenty of information out there from all the top experts from around the world and the US in regards to the benefits of youth players playing small sided soccer games (4v4). If you search the internet for “small sided soccer games” and “youth soccer” you will find a plethora of information talking about the benefits of small sided games for developing players. Especially at the youngest age groups, small sided games give players more touches on the soccer ball, more opportunities to try skills, more involvement in the game, and puts players in a game environment that is cognitively appropriate for their age. Outside of all of benefits for player development, is there another argument to be made for the use of small sided games in youth soccer? Believe it or not, the use of small sided games also benefits the parents!

What would the benefits be to the parents if teams played small sided games each weekend (festivals) versus playing in leagues and in tournaments? Below, I have outlined just some of the benefits to the parents (some also benefit the kids as well). Mainly, playing small sided games eliminates many of parents’ biggest frustrations with youth soccer. If players up to U9 played in these types of formats, youth soccer at the youngest age groups would not only become more about the kids again, but create an environment that is beneficial for the parents as well.

Playing Time
For parents paying “X” amount of dollars every season for their kids to play soccer, it is normal for those parents to have the expectation that their kid gets time to play in games (especially at the young age groups). Those games should be about development and the kids having fun, right? Even if a coach divided time up evenly for a team of 10 players, playing 6v6, in a 50 minute game, almost every player would play less than 50% of the game. I will go out on a limb and say most parents probably want to spend their time on the sideline of the soccer field watching their kid get to play, not their kid watching the game from the other sideline.

If you take the same 10 players on that team and break up into two 4v4 games against another team with 10 players, the two teams could play two smaller 4v4 games and each team has one sub. In this scenario, the kids would get a drastic increase of time on the field playing (which is needed to improve). For a parent, the games would be more enjoyable to watch if you got to watch your child playing the majority of the time. Could you just have fewer kids on a team playing 6v6? Yes, of course and playing time for all would increase. Although, still with larger numbers and field at the younger age groups, how often would a parent’s child be involved in the game?

Positions
Another issue parents tend have is kids getting stuck in certain positions. Maybe their child plays defender every single game because it gives the team the best chance of winning, despite not being developmentally beneficial for the player. In a small sided game, positions are fluid; you really do not have forwards, midfielders, or defenders. Everyone does everything! Every player gets to attack and defend all the time. The players just need to make sure they are not crowding each other and finding space on the field. For the parents, again, it would be nice to get to see your child get the same opportunities on the field as every other player and not have a “position” labeled too early keeping your child from getting to do learn different aspects of the game. Next: Cost and Travel + Happier Kids

Tony Earp directs SuperKick/TeamZone Columbus’ Soccer Skills programs. Tony has a Masters in Education from The Ohio State University. Tony was a standout player both academically and athletically at The Ohio State University, earning multiple honors both on the field and in the classroom. He can be reached at tearp@superkickcolumbus.com

 

Simply honest, or classless?

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman created a sensation with his post-game rant after Seattle’s NFC Championship win over the San Francisco 49’ers Sunday. Some have rallied behind him, reminding viewers that he was second in his Compton, (CA) high school class and a Stanford graduate, others call him a classless thug. The New York Daily News’ Mike Lupica has written a fair and balanced article on the situation. What is your take?