It’s so Friday!

So be sure to get outdoors, (weather, schmeather) and make that heart pump! Take a walk or a jog, kick the ball with your kids, shoot some hoops, do something to work off some of that future turkey! Have a great weekend!


Seven Steps to Teaching Youth Athletes to Respect Umpires and Referees

Our friends at TrueSport have provided us with another great tip sheet. This one on the topic of our treatment of umpires and referees in youth sports. It is a terrific read and recommended for all players, parents and coaches.

ABF Lead-off dinner

Please consider sponsoring the February Lead-off Dinner held by our partners at the American Baseball Foundation:

In a couple of months, the ABF will host Mr. Tommy John as our guest speaker at our 17th annual fund raising dinner on Friday, February 2nd, 2018.  Tommy was a very successful Major League pitcher who won a total of 288 games. He is remembered as the pioneer in having ligament replacement in his throwing elbow to allow him to continue to pitch. After his historical surgery, Tommy won 164 or 57% of all his games. Tommy knows how to overcome obstacles.

Several of the children that the ABF works with each week in our after-school programs with Better Basics Inc. face formidable obstacles. The following passage summarizes these obstacles.

“What we know about the development of literacy skills is really quite clear. We know, for example, that literacy begins developing at birth and that the years before a child enters school are integral to this development. In fact, this is the time when the foundation of one’s literacy skills begins to develop. This explains why the earlier in life one tries to learn a second language, the easier it is. When the foundation for acquiring language skills is not laid properly, a child is placed at a disadvantage that will, in all probability, last a lifetime. For policymakers to pretend this isn’t true and create policies as if schools can undo the damage done by parents who aren’t properly engaged in their child’s earliest educational development does a horrible disservice to our youth. It is particularly harmful, as a rule, to children who are raised in poverty and who do not receive the at-home stimulation they deserve. 

The fact is, a child’s out-of-school experiences, not the school he or she attends, is the single most important factor in literacy development. We know that a child is given the greatest opportunity to thrive when he or she is provided an enriched learning environment in a home in which a parent, grandparent, sibling, or other caregiver properly interacts with him or her. Having an adult read to, talk to, sing to, and otherwise immerse a child in an enriched language environment beginning at birth provides him or her an advantage over a child who is not likewise engaged.” From Reading for Life: Why Childhood Literacy Matters Pages 54-55

The obstacles are many but the will to have fun with reading runs strong in children. After a normal reading session, we have all the children become one team. They have to answer two of three questions based on the reading to begin the sports section of the after-school enrichment. Not all the questions are answered by the readers. Our poorly-nurtured students jostle their peers to answer. They have been attentive and desire to help the group. They have the Tommy John will to succeed as a reader.

Please consider assisting and attending the ABF’s Lead Off Dinner with Tommy John.
$2500- Platinum Sponsor
Table for 8 in front of guest speaker Tommy John
8 tickets to VIP Cocktail Party-meet and receive photo with guest speaker
Name/Logo recognition in event program, all marketing materials and social media
$1200-Gold Sponsor
Table for 8 in priority seating area
2 Tickets to VIP Cocktail Party
Name/Logo recognition in event program, all marketing materials and social media
 $750-Bronze Sponsor
Tickets for four
2 Tickets to VIP Cocktail Party
Name/Logo recognition in event program
 $150-Ticket for dinner and event
For sponsorship, table and ticket information, please contact the ABF at 205-558-4235.

Plan your coaches meetings

Baseball and softball league administrators, it is not too early to begin planning your preseason coaches meetings. And if you want to add excitement, hand every coach a CoachDeck. Our handy deck of 52 good drills that can be made into fun games will make your meeting!

Race car driver stops mid-race to save dog

Hats off to race car driver Carlos Matos. While speeding toward victory in the Constalica Rallye Vouzela competition he turned a corner to see a stray dog in the road. You can see what he did next here. He didn’t win the race, but the won the admiration of the fans.

Another comment on Parents and Playing Time

One of the most-read articles we’ve published through the years is, understandably, our piece, Parents and Playing Time. Below is a recent question we received, and our response:

I saw a letter you wrote online about Parents and Playing Time.Can you give me a suggestion on how to handle a situation?

I am a 1st year little league coach. I stepped up to coach because there was not enough coaches. Instead of having 8 teams with 12 kids we would have had 6 teams with 16 kids. So I stepped up.. We are in the intermediate division; real baseball now. 9 outfields instead of 10, 70 feet bases instead of 60 and the pitchers mound pushed back as well and pitchers throwing 50/60 mph.I have two parents that are complaining about playing time for their sons.

Each of the sons have never picked up a baseball until this year. Can’t hit, field, throw and do not pay attention during a practice and many times not in the game.

I play the kids that can field in the infield. I play the kids who can’t in the OF. I rotate the 6 in and out each inning. I also will move on of the guys who can field to CF and will sit him as well. BTW my son is also an OF I rotate as his is not very good. I do occasionally move a player who can not field to 2B as well to give then a chance to show if they can play the position. I have put each of their sons at 2b. One did not move any time as ball was hit his way. The other one the coaches had to ask him to stop dancing and play the position. When we put him in the OF he does not pay attention. He throws his hat in the air and chases it.

I don’t want to put a kid who can’t catch at a IF position when he could get injured.

Greatly would appreciate your insight?

Our response:

Thank you for your note. I would need some more information before really being able to help. I’d need to know what age these players are, how much emphasis is there on winning, etc. From what I can glean, you are sort of in the transition stage between the level where everyone plays and where it gets more competitive.

I do find it odd that you have exactly six players who can’t field and then the rest of the team can. And clearly, your job as a coach at this level is to try to improve players so that they are able to make plays in the field. With your being a first year coach, I can tell you that having one of our CoachDecks would definitely help you in that regard.

As for the two kids’ parents, if the way you portray them is true, then I recommend you suggest that their parents come to practice and help out. You can have the extra helpers rolling ground balls and tossing pop-ups to the less-skilled players giving them much-need repetition. The other benefit to this is that, hopefully, these parents will see that their kids don’t pay attention and will understand their limitations. If they say they can’t or won’t come out to practice then you can let them know that things probably won’t change much because their kids need extra attention you aren’t able to provide yourself, and it isn’t fair to the players who do focus and try to improve at practice to have them lose their playing time just so that everyone else gets equal treatment, regardless of merit. (By the way, I wouldn’t recommend you use the “we are not playing a kid in the infield because we are afraid he’ll get hurt” excuse. They may make errors and cost you the game, but they aren’t any more likely to be hurt by a batted ball than a player who is skilled).

But the bottom line is this: At this age you are not there to win games, but to help players improve and have a positive experience. The way to grade yourself at the end of the season is not in wins and losses but in how many players come back to play again next season. Whatever you can do to help every kid enjoy practices and games enough to want to do it again next year would be what I’d recommend.


Sad state of high school basketball

The San Diego Union Tribune’s Mark Zeigler has written a terrific if not scathing article on the situation gripping high school basketball.