Get out and enjoy the weekend!

If you’re one of the lucky ones finishing up the work week today, we want to encourage you to get out, get active and enjoy the pleasant fall weather tomorrow and Sunday. Take a hike, play a round of golf, hit the tennis ball, shoot some baskets, go for a run, play in the yard with the kids…do something that gets the heart pumping and lets your lungs breathe in the crisp air. Have a great weekend!

Six fast and nutritious breakfast ideas from TrueSport

Energize your child with these 6 quick and easy breakfast ideas. Breakfast is crucial for academic and sport performance, so here are 6 easy and quick breakfast ideas to get your young athlete ready for the day, from our partners at

Sports on television viewership down in young people

Our partners at are trying to get America active. So why be concerned that fewer young people are watching sports on TV? A decline in viewership corresponds with a decline in overall interest in sports. Read the article to see why we should be alarmed.

OnDeck Out!

If you missed today’s OnDeck Newsletters don’t fret! You can spend a leisurely afternoon reading them along with as many previous issues as you’d like! Don’t forget to sign-up to get OnDeck delivered to your inbox every month from here on out!

September OnDeck Newsletter arrives tomorrow

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Where Are They Now?

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

It’s been almost four years since I wrote an article entitled, Everyone Calm Down, which went viral. In it, I related an experience of walking past a youth soccer game and seeing some very bad behavior from the parents on the sideline. The other day I was thinking about those parents and those kids and it got me wondering where they are now.

As I wrote back then, the boys on the field appeared to be around eight or nine years-old. That would put them at twelve or thirteen now. According to a study by the National Alliance for Youth Sports, about 70% of kids quit playing sports by age thirteen. So, statistically, most are either out or on their way out of the game I watched them play.

The aforementioned NAYS study attributes the drop-off to kids not having fun anymore. And while I’m sure that’s what most who were surveyed answered because it is a simple explanation, the true reason may be a little more complex.

One issue is that there is just nowhere for many kids to play as teens. I was a board member in a Little League with 900 players. After Little League, kids who wanted to continue could play in the Juniors division for ages 13 and 14. But after that, unless they made the high school team, I don’t know of the existence of another option. Our league fed into four high schools. With a varsity roster of approximately 25 each, that means only roughly 100 out of 900 were still on the field just a few years after Little League. So are high school-age kids not playing because there no leagues for them, or are there no leagues because kids that age just don’t want to play?

Many soccer and basketball organizations still offer recreational opportunities through the age of 18, which is wonderful. But the number of participants is much, much lower than, say, ten years younger. One of the big issues is that playing sports as a teenager, unless you’re pretty good, is just not cool. And we all know how peer pressure affects teens. When questioned why he is doing rec sports it is probably the rare high school student who has the self-assurance to say, “I’m terrible at it but I just enjoy playing.”

So not all the blame can go to the lack of fun caused either by overbearing coaches, parents, or both. But I wonder about those little kids from that competitive soccer team I observed on two occasions four years ago. What effect did it have on them when the parents exploded at a referee’s call and the ref had to blow the whistle and warn both sides that he’d clear the benches after one more outburst? The parent who repeatedly screamed at me to “Keep walking,” with veins bulging out of his neck and temples when I admonished them. Or the first time I saw this team and the little boy who cried like a baby after a minor collision on the field, inconsolable by his mom or by his dad who had earlier tried to intimidate a teenage ref into making a call.

Who would be surprised if many of these youngsters had given it up by now? Did any of us have that kind of pressure on us at that young age? How would we have liked it? Maybe some thrived in that environment, are still moving up the ladder in competitive sports and will someday be high school and even college stars. I know of at least one kid who I’m betting is in the 70%.

As a society we ought to be looking at ways to encourage young people to continue playing sports, even if their dreams of being superstars have ended. But we also need to be sure that, were those opportunities to exist, there would be kids who still loved the games enough to join in.

Brian Gotta is a former youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels and a baseball coaching book which can be found at He can be reached at

When A Coach Promises Scholarships

By Tony Earp

Run. No, seriously, run as fast as you can in the other direction. Like a late night TV ad on how you can get rich quick if you follow a simple 3 step plan, you NEED to change the channel. One of the most ridiculous things I hear around youth sports is a coach promising a better chance to receive a scholarship to play in college if a player plays or trains with that “coach.” What is even more frustrating is that some parents actually believe it. As a player who did receive a scholarship to play in college, I want to say that NO COACH, I EVER PLAYED FOR OR TRAINED WITH, EVER PROMISED ME, ANYTHING! Scholarships are not given. They are earned. Great coaches know that, and I had great coaches. That is why none of them EVER talked about scholarships. They only talked about what I could do to get better. Why? Because that is all that matters.

First, receiving a scholarship to play college sports is very rare compared to the number of kids who play sports. If you’re curious, it is around 2% (according to CBS sports). Some stats may vary some, but I think you get the idea. There is about a 98% chance your child will not receive a scholarship to play college sports. Your kid should be focused on academics to get themselves into college. Sports is not going to be the vehicle that gets them there.

With this in mind, it seems ludicrous for a coach, trainer, or organization to dangle scholarships as a selling point for their program. If they are going to lie to people, why stop there? How about they offer a winning lottery ticket or some ocean front property in Kansas? In terms of trying to sell their ability as a coach, and to help a player improve, those type of “selling points” mean just as much. In other words, they tell you nothing about what your child should expect when playing and training with that coach. A scholarship promise just tells you that the coach is pretty confident in his ability to make promises he or she cannot keep.

Scholarships are earned by the player. They are earned over years of hard work and dedication. It is something that is mainly influenced by the player. It does not matter how good a coach is if the player is not willing to put in the time and effort to train that is required to play at a higher level. In terms of earning a scholarship to play, that is a completely different commitment level, effort, and sometimes….luck (right place, right time) that goes way beyond the amount of work needed to just play at the college level.

A player has never earned a scholarship because he trained or played with me. Any player who I have coached who earned a scholarship did not get a scholarship because of me. I have never used a player who has earned a scholarship as a sales point for other players in an attempt to try to convince them to play or train with me. Why? Simply, it is wrong. Doing that completely takes credit away from the person who earned the scholarship, THE PLAYER, not the coach. It is trying to boost yourself up on some else’s achievements.

Coaches should be proud of their players’ accomplishments, celebrate with them, be happy for them, and continue to help them achieve great things, but they should never take credit for it. That is not what great coaches do. Great coaches do not want the accolades. They do not need the spotlight. They work hard to put their players’ goals and ambitions in front of their own, and when their players achieve great things, they let those kids have the stage to themselves. Although coaches play a big part in a player’s development, we are only one of MANY guiding forces and factors that lead kids down their chosen path.

If it was just the coach, if the coach was really the only key difference maker, than every player who worked with a certain coach would all rise to nearly the same level. But, we know that is not the case. Even in the most prestigious training academies around the world, where they have tried to get development down to a science, most players never make it all the way through to the end.

In the end, it is very disingenuous to use scholarships and hopes of playing in college as a recruiting tool or selling point for any coach, team, or program. It is simply something NO ONE can deliver on. What you can sell is who you are as coach, how you train, your core beliefs about player development, and who you are as a person. These are the only things any coach can control, and the only thing a coach can ever promise a kid who plays for them.

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

How to Field Like a Pro

By Doug Bernier

Everyone loves offense, but pitching and defense win games.  These pro tips for how to field a baseball will help you win games.

Tip #1: The Secret is to Use Your Feet

Many smooth fielders look like they have soft hands, but it is actually their feet that allow their hands to work so freely. In other words, FOOTWORK COUNTS! The better your footwork, the easier your glove work becomes and the smoother it looks. Once you stop your feet, your risk of letting the baseball dictate what is going to happen skyrockets. When your feet shut down, your hands follow, and your body tends to get stiff. So keeping your feet moving is a huge key. This is something I will explain in more detail in the following articles on fielding.

Tip #2: Position your Glove for Maximum Benefit

Another MUST for fielding ground balls is to take your glove hand and push the heel of your wrist toward the baseball (see pictures below). Ideally you want it more perpendicular than parallel to the ground. This allows you to use all of your glove. It will also prevent balls that take a little hop from rolling up your arm. This is something many infielders don’t get taught but helps a lot when the baseball takes a late tricky hops. To illustrate, this glove position (below) is NOT ideal, because doesn’t make full use of the glove’s surface area:

how to field a baseball - wrong way view 1


How to field a baseball - This is what NOT to do, view 2








This position (below) is much better because it lets you use the entire surface area of the glove, and it doesn’t allow balls that take late hops roll up your arm.  You’d be surprised how many fielders overlook this important detail.

How to field a ground ball in baseball - correct, view 1


Proper mechanics of how to field a baseball - correct, view 2




A good drill that incorporates proper glove position and moving your feet.  Start with your arm and glove exactly how you want to field the baseball.  Now when a ground ball is hit, move your feet ONLY and don’t move your hand or glove.  Use your feet to get the baseball.  Pre set your glove and field with your feet.  If you can get good at this drill you will make fielding a lot easier.

While we’re at it, here are a few more defensive tips for how to field a baseball.  Each of these tips will be talked about in more detail, in some of the following defensive articles.

  • Keep it natural

    When fielding a ground ball, do not make your glovehand cross your body. It is NOT ideal to catch the baseball in the center of your body or to your right side, but rather more to the side of your glove hand.  In other words, the ball, your glove, and your left pectoral should be in a straight line. This allows your glove to work more freely in front of you, since it doesn’t have to slide across your body. When the left hand is trying to work on the right side of the body, people tend to get tense. This is when mistakes happen.

  • Keep your hands extended

    This is for two reasons: (a) the ball and glove are always in your line of vision (!!!!); and (b) on a bad hop, you still have room to bring your glove into your body to make the play.

  • Relax your glove hand

    Relax your glove hand while fielding a ball. All of your reflexes are quicker when you are relaxed. Also, the ball seems to stick in your glove easier without tensing up and fighting it.

  • Start low

    With a short hop from a throw or a hard hit ball, start with your glove on the ground and work up to field this ball. These are very difficult plays, but it is easier and quicker to move up than down.

  • Attack

    Attack with your glove but most importantly with your mentality.  It is necessary to have an aggressive (but under control) attitude when approaching a ground ball.  A quality infielder dictates how he is going to field the ground ball.  A below average infielder lets the ball dictate how he is going to field the ball.

  • Stay balanced

    When the ball is secure in your glove, bring it to your chest. Keeping the ball in the middle of your body helps keep you balanced and in a strong position to throw.

  • Left arm as your guide

    After your glove is at your chest, get your shoulders turned to the base you are throwing to. Use your left shoulder and elbow, as your guide, keeping them in line with the base you are throwing to.

  • A Four Seam Grip is a must for an infielder

    Every time you throw a baseball, get a four-seam grip on the ball. This means your index and middle finger are across the horseshoe. No matter where on the ball your fingers are, you are never more than a quarter-turn of the ball away from getting that ideal 4-seam grip. This may seem difficult, but all infielders do this. This grip keeps the ball flying straight and with the proper backspin, and will help your throws to be more accurate. If you only get a two-seam, one-seam, or no seam grip, the ball will most likely sink, run, or dive. So work on getting a four-seam grip every time. (Click here to get these tips in a printable cheatsheet.)

    Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After batting .200 in 45 at-bats and fielding .950 during 2017 spring training with the Rangers, Doug was assigned to the Ranger’s AAA team the Round Rock Express

Decision Declaration

By Craig Sigl

I’ve worked with countless youth, college, and pro baseball players over the years and I am shocked at how few of them have taken advantage of a very simple, yet powerful mental tool to get their play to the next level.

Usually, they come to see me because they have problems…they are in a slump, or have the throwing yips, or just not playing to the talent and skills they know they have.
I often start out by asking them about the decisions they have made about their game. They usually answer something about deciding to play for this team or that team, or maybe deciding that they want to play a certain position.

Rarely do players make a powerful decision to achieve a goal they have in mind and that can be the real problem! Here’s what I mean:
You can have a goal, like playing at the next level of competition, and you “want” to achieve that goal…
But, DECIDING that you will achieve that goal is twice as powerful.
Let me explain…

Imagine 2 people on one side of a canyon with a rickety footbridge as the only way to get to the other side. Both of them “want” to get to the other side. The bridge looks risky and dangerous, but passable. They both pause and look at each other and then the first person makes a DECISION to cross. Who is more likely to get to the other side?

Pretty obvious, right? Now, let’s magnify this power.

The second person, 10 seconds later, makes a DECISION to cross and then tells the first person: “I’m going.”

Now who’s most likely to be the first one to the other side?

That’s the power of a DECLARATION!

You want to start making solid decisions and then declare them to yourself, and even better, to people who support you.

Goal setting is great and I encourage it. The way to increase your chances of actually making your goals reality is by coming to a solid decision and declaration that you are going to achieve them. You want to do this on goals that are do-able, but tough and something longer than a month or two out.

Here’s a couple examples of what this might be like:
“My goal is to start on Junior Varsity this year”
“My batting average is .350 or better by the end of this season.”
“I’ve decided my goal is to play soccer on a D1 college team.”

Without making a decision, you are operating at only half speed. You also leave yourself wide open to a destructive force called “procrastination.” This is where you keep putting things off or make up reasons why something else is more important to do now instead of your training or workouts.  Once you make a decision, your mental wheels will start turning and you will come up with a plan of attack. Your body will get antsy to take action. You will naturally want to do things like go down to the cages and work on your swing…or take some grounders at the field.  Your DECISION is like a match lighting a fire. A DECLARATION is like pouring gas on the fire.

A declaration has double benefits. When you do this, you trigger inside of you a strong internal program we all have to follow through on what we say we will do. And secondly, you will be amazed at how people around you support you in your goal because they now know how serious you are.

Check this out… when you do this…life actually gets easier …because you now have Direction and you don’t have to force yourself to practice or train any more. It all happens naturally! You become a powerhouse of action and that actually feels really good to do things on purpose like that on a daily basis.

You have it in you to do this.

So go ahead and make sure you DECIDE on something you want to achieve in sports this year. Write it down on a piece of paper. I like using 3×5 cards for this and I put them everywhere. Whenever you read it, stop for a moment and put some thought energy and emotion into it. This makes it solid in your nervous system and creates all sorts of amazing changes for players of all ages.

Even kids as young as 8 years old can take advantage of this.

Watch yourself over the next week and see how things start changing and lining up to help you reach your goals. Acknowledge the positive changes and you will keep getting more – I promise!

Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his free ebook: “The 10 Commandments For a Great Sports Parent” and also a free training and .mp3 guided visualization to help young athletes perform under pressure by visiting:

Quote from Malcolm Forbes

American entrepreneur most prominently known as the publisher of Forbes magazine he said, “To measure a man, measure his heart.” Let’s make the most of this day by showing our heart!