How Youth Sports Can Lead to a Better Job Later in Life

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As parents, we all like to think we’re steering our children toward activities and opportunities that will help them lead happy, productive, and fulfilling lives. We encourage them to work hard, have integrity, take risks, show gratitude, be respectful, etc. But at some point, deep down, every parent realizes there are no guarantees. There’s no formula that ensures success, but there are definitely behaviors, activities, and opportunities that increase the chances your child will become a successful, ethical, and happy adult. According to recent research, participation in youth sports is one them. A 2014 study by Kniffin, Wansink, and Shimizu examined how participation in high school sports correlated with a person’s behaviors and accomplishments later in life. Here are some of their findings. Read Article

Don’t miss OnDeck!

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Baseball and Softball Safety

By Brian Gotta

We all want the safest environment for children to play in our leagues. When kids play baseball and softball, some injuries are unavoidable. However, as league administrators, it is up to us to do everything we can to ensure that the number of avoidable injuries that occur is ZERO. Did you know that coaches and board members could be liable for preventable injuries?

I have been involved in youth baseball and softball for 35 years, beginning as a high school player when I was paid to coach a summer recreational league. Four kids, thousands of games and countless practices later, I have pretty much seen it all on the diamond. And, unfortunately, I’ve seen my share of injuries and potential injuries. I can’t seem to walk by a youth league practice or game and not notice something that needs to be corrected for the sake of safety.

So I have produced what I hope I will look back on as one of the most important pieces of work in my career. I have started Safe Baseball LLC, and our flagship product is our Baseball/Softball Safety Course which is designed to allow youth leagues to educate their coaches, team parents, board members and other volunteers on how to foresee potentially dangerous situations and how to avoid putting players in harm’s way.

The course is fully interactive, containing quizzes, photos, and tons of videos showing actual footage of youth league practices and games which are lacking in adult supervision, adherence of rules and, in many cases, common sense. There are sections on first aid, treatment of injury, concussion awareness, but mostly the course is designed to get your volunteers to be hyper-aware of everything that could go wrong on the field so that they’ll see accidents coming in time to prevent them from happening. I believe every league should invest in this course and guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

What’s so special about this course? Unlike other courses which only discuss treatment of injuries, this course shows actual video footage of mistakes being made so that viewers fully understand how to prevent them in their own games and practices. Do you believe all of your coaches are fully versed in when players should be wearing helmets, when they should swing bats, come out of dugouts, where they should be in position on the field? You can’t be at every game and practice to ensure there are no gaps in supervision or judgment. This course aims to drive home the importance of safety in a no-nonsense, easy-to-understand format. Students can take the course on their desktop computers, tablets or phones, at their own pace with a total time investment of around an hour.

If you’ve read this far and you’re wondering what the investment is for your organization to participate, that’s the best part. Most online courses with this much rich content and information charge per student from $49.00, to upwards of $100.00 each. Multiply that times the number of managers, coaches, board members, etc. and it could get very pricey. We didn’t want there to be any barriers for your organization to offer the course to everyone who can benefit….so the course is being made available for just a flat $360.00 for unlimited users. And, in the unlikely event you sign up and decide the information wasn’t all that helpful then we’ll just give you your money back. If only one avoidable injury is prevented in your league because of Baseball/Softball Safety, I’m sure anyone reading this will agree it was worth it.

Ready to get started or want to learn more? Go here to see a preview and to sign-up. We can give you immediate access and get your volunteers thinking SAFETY the rest of the season. This may be the best investment your league makes all season.

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

To: Baseball Dad and Mom

By Dave Holt

Baseball Dad and Baseball Mom: The baseball parent I have found is the biggest problem in youth baseball and youth sports. I think we should get everything straight and out in the open before we go any further.

From here on out the youth baseball experience is going to be all about the kids. Nothing here is going to be about you (baseball parents).

My goals for the team are to teach the kids how to play the game of baseball the right way. I will be positive with them and hope to have an encouraging, uplifting impact on the kids.

(Coaches, ask yourself):
How will your team conduct themselves in all situations?
Are you coaching to win the pennant? tournament? All-Stars?
How will you and your players and parents react with umpires? opponents?
What kind of outfit do you want others in the game to say about the way your team operates?
How will we do our business in all situations?

What is The Role of Baseball Dad and Baseball Mom?
I think the biggest role for the baseball dad (and mom) is to be a quiet, steady source of encouragement.

You know, if you ask youth baseball kids what the kids would want their parents to do during the ballgames, you know what most would say?
Is youth baseball invented for youth baseball players or the parents?
Is really loud cheering best for the baseball players?
Can coaching from the bleachers help or harm your players?
Have you ever witnessed a ballplayer getting embarrassed by actions of their parents in the bleachers?
Is watching your kids playing baseball stressful?
Have you ever wanted to stick up for your kids when something doesn’t go right for them on the field?
Is it hard to turn over your kids to the coaches for a couple hours without interjecting your two cents?

These are the type of discussion points I will go over in my message to baseball parents.

Baseball Umpires Are Not Going to Measure Up
We know this going in that the umpires will not be very good. They will call pitches too high and low strikes but we will not bellyache.
The calls usually have a way of evening out with both teams anyway. Our baseball team and parents will not be allowed to show emotion toward umpires. We will not allow complaining about the umpires, dropping our heads and moping about the umpire calls. We will address the umpires by ‘Mister Umpire’ (or the umpires real name). We never call the umpire ‘Blue’. I will take care of saying things to the umpires when appropriate.

I am really trying to help make the job of baseball dad and baseball mom easy. I am taking all the stress and worry out of the equation.

Discussion points:
Do you know what your main job is?\
Ever just sat back and tried to enjoy watching your kids play ball?
Do you know the one thing I want you to ask your kids after you watch them play?
When you try and coach your kids from the bleachers and behind the fences you probably don’t realize the damage you can cause.
Do you know what the appropriate responses should look like when applauding good play?

I just want you to know how to let the kids go for a couple hours and trust me to do all the coaching and managing.

After finishing his professional playing career Dave spent eleven seasons managing in the Red Sox minor league system helping to develop several major league ballplayers. After leaving the Red Sox Dave managed and recruited in the Independent Professional Baseball leagues. He has also coached collegiate wood bat and high school teams. His site, is a wealth of information for baseball players and coaches of all levels.

Coach Communication Part Two

By Craig Sigl

Let me just re-establish in Part Two here of this series that improving your communication with your athletes is the one area where your efforts will not be a choice between creating a fun/learning experience and striving for better wins/performance. It improves both!

Unfortunately many coaches far underestimate and underuse the power they have at their disposal and I aim to change that with these 18 tips in whole series!

Before I go on, one thing I failed to mention in part 1 is the importance of REPETITION of these communication messages. And if you missed Part One of the series, you can read it here.

In simple terms, don’t think you can just say any of these things once or twice in a pre-practice meeting and the kids will get it and you’re done. You need to give them spaced repetition (just like physical skills) on all of these communication techniques you are learning here and you must be consistent in applying them to ALL players, all season long, to have the maximum effect you want.

So here we go:

5) Identify and use each individual’s most powerful motivation strategy. The corporate world learned the lesson long ago that individuals respond and become motivated from different methods and means.

Some athletes do better when you leave them alone. Some actually like being pushed hard. Still others do better when they get positive encouragement. Many need to constantly be assured that they can make mistakes and not be punished and do best in an environment where their fears are allayed.

Do NOT make the mistake of falling into communication ruts of: “Well, this is the way I always do it for my players and it seems to work just fine.”

It may be working fine for you but you are missing out on bringing out your player’s full potential, or worse, contributing to their performance blocks with your rigid style.

Like I mentioned in part 1 and it bears repeating here, coaches sometimes need to be sold on how this type of communication flexibility not only contributes to a better environment for everyone, it results in better performance and therefore, more wins.

How do you find their motivations and what works for them? Just ask!!!

It shocks me to find when I ask a room full of coaches how many of them actually just ask their players (and/or their parents) what is the best way to motivate them.

Now, their answers won’t be the full picture and you might need to suggest some options like I mentioned above, but you can then just try different things and give your player permission to come back to you later and tell you that motivation method did or didn’t work.

Over time coach, with this new intention, you will find that you pick up on their motivations without even asking and you will find that next level of effort you so want from your players.

6) Do NOT underestimate the authority and influencing power your players give you. Many many athletes have told me in private sessions how a particular coach has literally played a significant part in shaping their lives beyond sports.

Now, you probably know about this, to some degree but I am telling you to take it more seriously and be mindful more often of how you use it. Even if you are coaching little kids in a rec league, in any given game or practice, you can have MUCH more influence over a kid than even their parents or teachers.

To maximize this idea, take a moment, right now, and consciously decide on what you want to impart to these kids as their coach. What will your theme or centerpiece idea of your coaching be that you want to impact your players with for the rest of their lives?

If you don’t choose this, then your communication will be more haphazard and random and not only risk underperformance, but dampen YOUR enjoyment and passion for being a coach. Why not go for a total satisfaction for the experience of coaching that’s WAY beyond winning in this way?

Wouldn’t it be amazing if, for an example, you chose to make your central coaching theme to be: Courage…and then at the end of the season, a parent or two comes up to you and reflects that back to you because they witness a more courageous kid at home from your coaching?…and oops, sorry – don’t you think a team full of kids who are more courageous than when you first got them are much more likely to get more wins? But then, winning is just a byproduct….hope you won’t be mad at me when your teams win more.


Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his freeebook: “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:

7 Crazy Quick Ideas to Improve Your Soccer Game

By Dan Abrahams

Working on your soccer psychology doesn’t need to be complicated or time consuming. I’m going to keep this brief. I’m going to keep this simple. But I promise each point works, and each point is powerful.

1. Picture you best games – memory is one of the most important psychology tools in football. Soccer players should spend five minutes everyday remembering their best games.

2. Picture your dream games – imagination isn’t just a mental quality reserved for the pitch. It’s useful mind medicine for your confidence and self-belief – especially leading up to a game. What does your dream game look like? Feel like?

3. Train with confidence – don’t just train hard. Don’t just train with intensity. Train your confidence muscles as well. Stand yourself confidently on the pitch. Run with confidence. Pass with confidence. Act with confidence non stop.

4. Love developing your game – too many soccer players obsess the result of a game. I want my clients to fall in love with the process of improving their game more so than winning. Love to learn, love to improve, love to develop.

5. Love OFF the ball – It’s vital that soccer players fall in love with the ball. It may be even more important that they fall in love with OFF the ball. The space, the movement, the runs made by opposition and team mates. Fall in love with everything OFF the ball as much as the ball and you’ll become a much more aware player

6. Play present – when you play do so on your toes, always ready, always alert, and always in the present moment. Forget the past, especially mistakes that have happened, and don’t project yourself to the future. The now and the next 5 seconds is an optimal focus.

7. Play free – play on the front foot and never the back foot. Play to win and never not to lose. Play with freedom and without fear. Take risks. Have fun. If you go a goal down see the situation as a challenge. Play with incredible body language. Play for your team mates, and be the best you that you can possibly be every second of the game.

Dan Abrahams is a global sport psychologist, working alongside leading players, teams, coaches and organisations across the world. He is known for his passion and ability to de-mystify sport psychology, as well as his talent for creating simple to use techniques and performance philosophies, and he is the author of several sport psychology books as well as the founder of the Dan Abrahams Soccer Academy. You can order his books and contact him at

Make Practice Fun and Meaningful

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

There are two things that kids want from practice. They want to get better, and they want to have fun. There are many coaches who are great at teaching fundamentals, but don’t have much fun doing it. And there are other coaches who run fun practices, but don’t teach much in the way of skills. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Coaches who make their practices enjoyable while teaching the basics usually get the most of their players.

Don’t get me wrong. Practice isn’t supposed to be just amusement. But think about a job you may have had (or currently have), that was actually kind of fun. Sure, you were working and getting things done, but it was more of a pleasure than a chore. Why can’t we make our practices the same way?

Here’s an example of what I mean: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked by a field and seen a group of kids, standing line, each taking a turn dribbling to a cone and back. If the ball is not controlled properly or a player takes his time moving down and back – no big deal. The coach might tell them to speed it up or keep the ball under control, but other than a verbal correction, there are no consequences for lack of effort or poor performance. Meanwhile, seven kids are always standing still, bored stiff.

Instead, why not divide that same group of kids into two teams and run a relay race down and back? A coach can incorporate a minimum number of touches or require a zig-zag through middle cones to teach ball control, but now, as the two teams come down the stretch in a close race, everyone is involved and excited. And when the drill is over, they want to do it again.

But maybe most importantly, what you’ve also done by conducting the drill in this manner, is to simulate game competition. Now, when one of those players has the chance to put those skills into action during a game, they’ve been there before. They’ve experienced the same pressure in a practice setting and thus, are more likely to perform.

We’ve tried to build this coaching philosophy into CoachDeck. Beyond being a simple pack of 52 good, fundamental drills, each card has a unique, “Make it a Game,” feature that turns an ordinary drill into a fun and exciting competition kids will love.

We believe this is one of the reasons that baseball, basketball and soccer leagues using CoachDeck are reporting that more kids are coming back to play year-after-year. This obviously means more registrations and a healthier bottom line for the league. In this way, leagues using CoachDeck tell us they don’t look at CoachDeck as a luxury, but as an investment that pays dividends.

Which is all nice. But our bottom line is that more kids are playing sports – and sticking with it. If we can have a little to do with that happening, than that makes coming to work a little more fun for us too.

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

Sports alive and well in the United States

There are some doom and gloom prognostications about the state of professional sports in the United States. Football has a concussion problem. Parents are no longer allowing their children to play. Baseball has a millennial issue. The game is too slow for the new, “I need to know everything now” generation. Pro basketball does not relate to the common fan.

Well, over 100 million people watched the Super Bowl, Major League revenues continue to soar, and the NBA’s ratings are up 30% this year. What is America’s pastime? Watching sports, enjoying our teams, and rooting for athletes. We believe it always will be.

What would your sport be?

So if you’ve been watching the winter Olympics you’ve seen a lot of crazy sports that you’ve never tried. If you could be one of the world’s best at a winter Olympics sport, which would it be? Luge? Skeleton? Downhill? Speed Skating? Maybe Figure Skating? Whatever your choice, enjoy the competitions and marvel at the athleticism and dedication of these great athletes.