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!

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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 TrueSport.org.

Sports on television viewership down in young people

Our partners at PHITAmerica.org 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!

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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 www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com

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 tearp@superkickcolumbus.com