HAPPY NEW YEAR!

CoachDeck would like to wish you a happy and prosperous 2018! We have many new and exciting things on the horizon that we can’t wait to share with you. Stay tuned!

Advertisements

Should Kids Set New Year’s Resolutions?

Food for thought from our friends at TrueSport. Adults don’t have a great track record of following through with New Year’s Resolutions, so should we encourage kids to do it? You might be surprised.

Year-End Reflection: Why Kids Benefit From Reviewing the Past 12 Months

Self-reflection is a valuable skill that promotes brain development in young kids and teens. Learn how to lead your kids through this important exercise. From Leslie Rutberg and our friends at TrueSport.

Merry Christmas from CoachDeck!

We wish you a happy and joyous holiday season with much peace and goodwill. And our gift to you is that the day after Christmas our December OnDeck Newsletter will be sent to our subscribers. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Do Not Stress Over Your Competition In Sports

By Stan Popovich 

Many athletes sometimes get anxious when they go against a tough opponent. They get nervous on who they are competing with and they get so worked up that they lose focus on playing their sport. In the end, they make mistakes and end up beating themselves up if they do not win. As a result, here is a list of techniques that an athlete can use to help manage the stress of going against the competition.

The first step is to learn as much as you can on your opponent. Although this may seem obvious, some athletes may think they already know what they need to know. Remember there is always something to learn about your competition. Read the reports about your opponent and watch him or her performance. Try to figure out an angle on how you can beat your competition. The more you know about your competition the better your chances are you will win. This will also help to reduce your worries in the future.

Do not assume anything about your competition whether they are stronger or weaker than you. Every athlete has his good and bad times and just because you may be facing a stronger opponent does not mean that you will lose. Remember that you and your opponent both have an equal chance of winning. You are both starting from scratch. This should help you to give you confidence going into your next event.

Focus on how you can best strive for perfection in your own event instead of worrying about your opponent. For instance, you are going against the number one athlete in the tournament and you are nervous. Instead of focusing on how good your competition is, focus on your performance. Concentrate on how you can perform your event and how you can best improve on your problem areas.

Realize that you can’t win all of the time and that also includes your competition. You may be the best athlete in the world, however you will still sometimes lose. No one can win all of the time.  When facing a tough competitor, use this fact to your advantage. Even the best athletes will make some mistakes.

It is not uncommon to get nervous when you go against a better opponent.  All you can do is to focus on your skill sets and do the best you can. This will help you in the long run.

Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear” – an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to: http://www.managingfear.com/

Ten Years – What We’ve Learned

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

The release of today’s issue of OnDeck marks the anniversary, almost to the day, of our CoachDeck launch ten years ago. When that very first, small batch of decks came from the manufacturer we didn’t know if we’d still be sitting here ten years later looking at them in our warehouse. But then we started sending them out to youth leagues around the country and right away we knew we were on to something.

The feedback we received was 100% positive, overwhelmingly so. We immediately got to work on our soccer title, followed by basketball, softball and football. Now, as we head toward a milestone of over four thousand youth leagues using our products we look back on some of the things we’ve learned and changes we’ve seen.

First, the reported demise of youth sports is exaggerated. Not only do statistics show a rebound in participation numbers virtually across the board, all one has to do is take a walk around city park fields on a spring day to see that organizations catering to recreational sports are still alive and well. As long as there are active young children, there are going to be games played among them on weekends.

It is true that the landscape has changed. Travel or competitive sports have seen explosive growth in the past ten years. More and more players, or perhaps their parents, are opting for this avenue of athletic participation. There is much debate about the effect travel sports are having on the kids they are gobbling up, as well as their families. Regardless of the pros and cons, travel sports are not going away anytime soon and it will be interesting to see what the next ten years brings on this front.

We’ve learned that, by and large, volunteer coaches and league administrators are really good people. The comments we’ve received from articles we’ve written through the years, the conversations we’ve had with league board members, shows us again and again that there are a lot of wonderful, self-sacrificing folks who share our core mission which is to see to it that children have a safe and fun environment in which to play the sports they love. We can’t show our appreciation to each individual who has touched us with their passion, kindness and good intentions over the years. So we would like to say a collective “thank-you” to everyone we’ve gotten to know and to those we haven’t, who do their unpaid jobs quietly without the expectation of any reward other than the knowledge that they made a difference.

And we know that these coaches love our product. Since our inception we’ve seen coaching books, manuals and DVD’s that were supposed to be the “next big thing” to help coaches. Online services promising to help parent-volunteers run professional practices with the click of a mouse or a swipe of your screen are now voluminous. So why, through all this, has CoachDeck continually grown and become the number one resource for coaching drills in North America? We believe there are many reasons. First, a deck of cards is fun. Leagues tell us they love to hand them out at preseason meetings. Coaches love cracking the seal and fanning out the cards, looking at the illustrations, imagining themselves recreating them on the field.

Next, less is more. Using our product couldn’t be any easier. If a league tells their coaches to go to a website for drills and practice plans, it is the rare volunteer who gets excited about this prospect. They spend all day on the computer for work. When they finally remember they even have practice today it’s time to get in the car and head to the field. At this point there is only one tool that will allow them to get all the information they need to run a fun and effective practice in a matter of minutes. And unlike other resources, they won’t forget about CoachDeck because it is tangible and always with them.

We’ve had a great time over the past decade and we know, based on the feedback we get and the number of organizations who re-order our product year after year, that we’ve done a lot of good in community youth sports. When those humble first baseball decks came off the truck all those years ago we couldn’t have imagined what this would become, the friends we would make, the stories we’d hear. So here’s to the next ten years and beyond. We’re grateful and proud you’ve trusted us to help your players and parents, and we hope to always be that little coach in your pocket. Happy New Year!

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

Train the 90

By Tony Earp

In business, an “80/20 rule” is often talked about in regards to productivity and profits. It is believed that 80 percent of a company’s revenue/success/profits comes from 20 percent of its activities. Now, when thinking about soccer and what helps a player be successful on the field, how does that translate? This stat made me think about the way I train players and where do I focus their energy during training sessions. What activities and game situations do I put them in to help them improve their level of play and be prepared for the game? Over the years, it has changed the way I approach my training with players. I decided to spend the vast majority of my time with players to “Train the 90” during my training sessions, not the 10.

I believe high level players are high level because they can do the basic and consistently used skill movements the game requires of them at an extraordinary level (the 90 percent). Both the speed and effectiveness of their ability with those skills makes their level of play beyond the common player. Simple tasks in the game are done with very few errors, and are performed without much thought… almost subconsciously.

If you watch a professional match, you see all players doing the same things 90 percent of the game. Receiving the ball, passing over different distances, dribbling, moving off the ball, and defending are the most common activities of each player on the field. When players are excellent in these areas, they can do what the game requires of them 90 percent of the time. Often progress and development in these areas comes in three forms:
  1. Speed in which these skills are executed.
  2. The less time and space needed to execute them.
  3. Recognition of when, where, why, and how to use them.

During training sessions, I tell players all the time that if they can do the simple, every game activities, with consistency and speed, they can be a higher level player. I tell them to “Train the 90” on their own as often as they can, and spend less time on the 10. Frankly, when the 90 can be done at a high level, the 10 is much easier to learn and perform when needed. Unfortunately, with a generation of YouTube watchers and street soccer style moves, the players tend to spend more of their time on the 10 when training on their own. I believe all practice with the ball is beneficial, but what type of training is the most effective? What gives the best return on your time?

Think of it this way… if you go to the gym, that is obviously better than not going. But when you are there, do you make the most of your time and effort to see the results you want?

Now, as I said before, I think many of the YouTube channels with crazy skill moves and trick shots do serve a great purpose for players. It provides players with ideas and spurs imagination and creativity with the ball. Although, many of the activities are overly complicated or require a lot of expensive equipment to do on your own, and I think it has re-focused players on training and practicing the 10 percent (or sometimes 1%) of skills they rarely ever use in a game.

Why do I say that? I have worked with players (and played with players) that can do some crazy tricks with the ball, but lack the fundamentals. They struggle to receive and pass or even run with the ball at speed while keeping it under control, but can dazzle you with a couple juggling tricks, and fancy lift, or one “sick” skill move. All while their passing and receiving, two areas that are critical for a player to have success, are not at the level required to play the game at an average level. Although the tricks are fun to watch and impressive, it does not make up for how often the player loses the ball.

In short, when the whistle blows, it is not a YouTube trick competition. It is the game, and if you are not prepared to do what the game requires you to do, “The 90”, the game will expose your lack of ability in the fundamental areas of the game.

I know the basics are not as much fun as the fancier skill moves to do in training, but then again, you have to consider what you are training and practicing to do. Are you training to be able to perform tricks or are you training to improve your level of play? It is not always the same type of training.

As coaches, our goal is to help kids play the game at a high level. It is not to help them perform training activities at a high level or be great on video clips. With that goal in mind, what do our training sessions look like? Are the activities all about improving skill areas and movements commonly used in the game? Does the activity look and feel like the game?

As I tell players all the time in training, I am not trying to get them to improve their ability to do a training activity, I am trying to help them improve their ability to play the game. Within each activity, I ask them not to focus on the activity, but play the game within the task. Nothing is done in a vacuum in the game. Every movement and action in a game leads into another movement, has a consequence, and requires adjustments (constantly). This is how I ask players to train. It is always about what is next, what was the result of their action, and how they can adjust when needed.

I am not demonizing the teaching of tricks and complicated skill combinations as I teach those as well. BUT, and this is important, I think these items should make up a very small percentage of a training session. Let’s say about 10%. When you consistently “Train the 90”, the things your players will repeatedly and consistently be asked to do in the game, they will be more prepared than players who spend too much time on the 10%.

Now if you are training the next generation of YouTubers, than spend more time on the 10%. But if your goal is to help develop the next generation of high level players, you should be focusing on the 90%. “Train the 90” and make sure your players are prepared for what they will be asked to do when they step on the field to play.

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