Are you keeping athletes accountable?

From our friends at TrueSport:

Participating in youth sports is a great way to learn ways to keep yourself accountable, especially if you’ve got a team encouraging you along the way. But what happens when you’re a young athlete that participates in individual sports where the results are directly reflective of your performance alone? Check out these tips for teaching accountability in individual sports.

How to Work With Umpires (Part 1)

By Dave Holt

A baseball umpire is in a no-win situation. Every close play and every close pitch are going to have one side or the other upset.

Umps are rarely ever going to measure up. Since we know we are going to be on the bad end of calls much of the time it is best to make the baseball umpire nearly irrelevant.

Do not take up the umpires as big issue. Swallow your medicine and hope you get the next one to go your way.

If the baseball coaches take their focus off the umpires then the ballplayers will follow suit. If the coaches make a big issue of the umpires and consistently belly ache on numerous plays during the games then the baseball players and the baseball parents are going to imitate the baseball coaches.

Baseball Parents and Players: Don’t Worry With the Umps

Right off the bat we are going to make sure our players and baseball parents clearly understand how they are to react to umpires calls.

They are not going to be shaking their heads, pouting, or say anything to the umpire. Me, as the coach, will take care of that. I will say something when it is appropriate to say.

I am really making the player’s job easier. The kids just have to play ball and realize I (the coach) will be the one dealing with the umpires.

Parents: your job is much easier too, you just have to make sure the kids get to and from the games and baseball practices and show your support by enjoying the game.

Mr. Umpire. What is Your Name Sir?

We will not be addressing the umpires as ‘BLUE’. This is just about the most disrespectful way to treat another professional.

We will find out the umpires names and address them by name during the ball games.

Me, as the coach will write the umpires names on my lineup card in the dugout so we all get to know the umpires by name.

At no time will we call the umpires ‘BLUE’.

SIDE NOTE: I did have one private high school baseball team address me as ‘Mr. Blue’. I’m like ‘hey, at least the coach told the kids to throw a Mr. or a ‘Sir’ in there.’

Helping the Umpires With Foul Balls

Introduce yourself and call the umpire by name…NOT ‘BLUE

Any time a baseball umpire behind the plate needs baseballs we will have a baseball player or extra coach hustle out to the homeplate umpire and ‘HAND The UMPIRE’ the baseballs between pitches.

NEVER roll or toss the baseballs to the umpire and make the ump pick them up or try to catch the baseballs.

Watch the professional baseball teams next time you are at a professional baseball game and see how the batboys run the baseballs out to the umps between pitches. Make sure your on-deck hitter shags the foul balls around the backstop area so the umpire does not have to stop the game to pick up the foul balls.

Baseball Parents Your Job is to Do Nothing

Umpire meeting to go over ground rules and exchange line up cards.

If you ask most kids what they want their parents to do during the game, they would say, “NOTHING”. What that means is you do not have to say anything.

The kids just want to know that you enjoyed watching them and you really hope they have fun.

You do not ever COACH from the stands,

YELL encouraging things to your kids when they do well,

or SAY anything to the baseball umpires. Now, that does not mean you cannot clap for your children when they do well.

The main point is that you just have to hand your child to me as the coach, stand back and let me do my job.

Next month: Coach/Umpire Checklist

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, coachandplaybaseball.com is a wealth of information for baseball players and coaches of all levels.

Players Must Train with Intention

By Dan Abrahams

Soccer players must train with intention. They must walk out onto the training pitch with a mind focused on improving. They must engage their brain so the skills they’re learning stick…and stick hard!

This sounds obvious right? This sounds like something every footballer would do. But in my experience this doesn’t necessarily happen. Too often footballers are willing and able to train with physical intensity, but lack the kind of mental intensity that helps them develop skill.

Let me be clear, it is mental intensity and NOT physicality during training that will separate a player from his or her peers. It isn’t good enough to just train with physical intensity. That won’t re-wire your brain to learn the kind of skills you need to be the very best you can be.

“I trained hard” shouldn’t mean that you ran about a lot. Training hard should mean that you set yourself a goal to improve a specific area of your game. It should mean that you found a way during your training session to improve this specific skill. It should mean that it felt uncomfortable as you worked on this skill – you risked looking stupid, you risked failure.

That’s what intentional training is – it’s specific, it’s uncomfortable, it’s risky. It’s mental intensity…

I’ll give you an example. You’re right footed and you want to improve your left foot. So during a small sided or keep ball game you decide to pass with your left foot every single time you get on the ball. You have to adjust your body position to receive the ball in this way. You have to be aware of the players around you that you can pass to using your left foot. That will be uncomfortable…it will be risky.

You see, players who train with intention are no excuse players. They don’t wait for their coaches to tell them what to do. They don’t moan or groan about training because they’re too busy getting the very most out of each and every session no matter what.

So if you’re a player reading this I urge you to train intentionally. If you’re a coach I invite you to help your players to train with intensity.

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 https://danabrahams.com/books/

Are punishment drills a productive coaching tool?

From our friends at TrueSport.org:

Do you make your team run laps as punishment?

Using exercise as a form of consequence isn’t a new tactic in coaching. But is it an effective and healthy tool?

Framing physical activity as fun, instead of punishment, can offer long-term benefits. Check out these alternatives to using exercise as punishment in your sport.

Bad Calls Happen

From our friends at TrueSport:

From viral videos of youth sport parents fighting on the sidelines, to youth sport communities posting signs like this…

Youth Sports Good Behavior Reminder Sign

There is an increasing need to explicitly remind spectators that sport is meant to be fun for kids.

Bad calls happen. But how you react on the sidelines makes or breaks the atmosphere on the field.

Continue reading to learn the best ways for coaches and parents to respond to bad calls.

Benched by the Coach in Youth Sports

We found this article by Helen Laxner to be very interesting. What are your thoughts on her perspective? Courtesy, WeHaveKids.com.

Youth sports teach more than just skills and drills – don’t you think?

From our friends at TrueSport.org:

It’s become a growing concern for some that today’s youth are becoming more dependent on everything from their parents to technology. Thankfully, that’s where youth sports come in. From accountability to confidence, youth sports provides coaches and parents the opportunity to create teaching moments that help build an athlete’s character from a young age.

Do you know how to keep your team safe in the summer heat?

From our friends at TrueSport.org:

You see it on the news every summer. Youth athletes hospitalized due to heat illness. As parents and coaches, it is important to recognize the signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Keep your athletes safe by learning how to detect and prevent heat illness from happening on your watch.

Setting the Tone for a Positive Experience

By Dr. Darrell Burnett

Some coaches have a difficult time handling the youth sports atmosphere, and some may underestimate their importance to their players.

The No. 1 reason why kids come back is positive coaching. Coaches must grasp the idea that their role is important. When I talked to coaches and we define a successful coach, it isn’t determined by their win-loss record. The coach has to keep the kids involved.

There are four needs a coach must establish for a child to keep him or her returning to youth sports.

  1. A sense of belonging.
    If the children cannot find a group to come to them, they’ll go to the group. The coach can add to that sense of belonging by making the child feel like part of the team. This point leads to the second need.
  2. To feel worthwhile.
    If the coach relates to the kid as a person and as a member of the team, it will add to the value of youth sports.
  3. A sense of dignity.
    The coach’s job is to treat the children with respect, and let them know they will be treated with respect simply for coming out and playing.
  4. A sense of control.
    The coach lets the children know they are in control of their own destiny, and lets them work their way into a role on the team.

The other job of the coach is to control the parents to prevent a situation from getting out of hand. The first step is to define unruly behavior.

If you’re going to deal with unruly parents, you’ve got to have it all spelled out before the season begins. A preseason meeting with the parents can help prevent any unwanted situation. Coaches need to tell parents that offensive language, and the berating of players, coaches and officials are unacceptable. The coach also must provide consequences for any action considered inappropriate.

If there is a situation, the first step is to remain calm, otherwise you can feed the fire.

When a situation occurs, the coach has to have some way of dealing with it. One way is to have other parents who participated in the preseason meeting talk to the offending parent to try to calm him or her down. After the event occurs, the coach must become the teacher, so the parent understands what he or she did wrong and why it was considered unacceptable. The coach has to look for the positives in every situation.

Darrell Burnett is a clinical psychologist and a certified sports psychologist specializing in youth sports. As a member of the National Speakers Association he is active on the lecture circuit. His book, IT’S JUST A GAME!(Youth, Sports & Self Esteem: A Guide for Parents), is described at his website, www.djburnett.com, along with his other books, booklets, and audio cassettes on youth sports and family life.

One Question

By Tony Earp

Can you play? It is simple question and the most important one. All the evaluations and feedback, opinions about what makes up a great player, and debate about the most important skills a player can possess, all come back to that simple question. The only thing that matters when determining a player’s ability level is if or if not that player can meet the demands of the game. When players are training, focusing on improving different skill areas of the game is very important, but will it translate into the players being effective and better in the game?

As many coaches have seen, there are players who are technically sound, physically capable, understand the game, and work hard, but struggle to be effective in games. They have the tools, but cannot seem to use them when needed. All the pieces of the puzzle are there, but they cannot put them together to meet the demands and challenges of the game.

These players have worked hard fine tuning their technical ability on the ball. With both feet, they are sound in receiving, passing and dribbling with speed and control. Tactically, they understand their role in their position, the principles of attacking and defending, and the coach’s expectations on how the team should play. The player is physically capable of playing the game, and the player is competitive and wants to win. Again, all the critical skill areas to play the game are possessed by the player, but for some reason, the player is unable to use them in the game effectively.

Something was missing in the player’s training. Something very critical. Although the player has learned all of these skills and has these tools, he has never learned:

  1. HOW/WHEN/WHY TO USE THEM.
  2. HOW/WHEN/WHY THEY ARE CONNECTED

Often this occurs when learning of these skills are done in a vacuum, isolated of one another, and not within the context of the game.

Think of it this way… like many people, I enjoy watching the many YouTube videos of people doing crazy tricks and skills with the soccer ball. From juggling, skill moves with the ball and finishing, there are some amazing things people can do. Many may watch these videos and just assume these people must be great players based on what they can do with the ball, but that assumption may be very wrong.

The only thing I know watching that type of video is that the player is exceptional at that one skill. I have no idea if the player is actually an effective player in the game. I know he can juggle, do a wicked (insert Boston accent) skill move, or hit a crazy bending shot, but I have no idea if that player is any good at playing the game.

I am not being critical of those players or those videos. I actually think they are tremendous tool for young players to watch and get ideas to train on their own, spark their own creativity, and expand their understanding on what is possible to do with the ball.

The point is that a player’s goal is NEVER to just get good at a single skill movement or an activity in training. It is not to be a better juggler or be able to do a skill move with the ball. A player’s goal should ALWAYS be to improve their ability to play the game. So when training, or practicing any skill, it always needs to be done in the context of how it will be used in the game.

When training, without the context of the game, or a clear understanding of the application of the skill being worked on, it is possible to develop players who are excellent at training but struggle to play the game. Just like in the classroom, information and skills learned are most effective and useful when applied to their required use when it really matters (in real life).

In contrast, there are players that in training seem to struggle, but when the game starts, they are able to play at a higher level than expected. They may not be as technical on the ball or physically good as we think they should be, but when they step into a game, the player can find ways to be successful and very effective in helping his team. On an evaluation, a coach may have a slew of areas the player needs to improve on, maybe a lot more than other players, but at the same time, the player seems to be more successful than a player who would rate better on a written evaluation.

This type of player shows a clear understanding of several important things:

  1. His own strengths and weaknesses. He understands how to play towards his strengths and hide his weaknesses.
  2. The game. Really understanding nuances of the game, the critical points, that allow the player to make exceptional decisions and anticipate the game.
  3. Competitive spirit. Let’s face it. Some players are better because they just want it more.

The larger point is that all players are deficient in some skill areas comparatively to other players, but that may have little impact on their level of play. Despite not being as strong in some areas as other players, their “total game”, or their ability to be effective in games, is much higher than players who have considerable better technical or physical abilities.

Again, the real “evaluation” or the only “test” that really matters in determining a player’s level is how they do when the whistle blows. I have always been one who believes in player evaluations and feedback, but when we cut through all of the fog of player development and determining a player’s level of play, the only true evaluation is the game. The game is the only real measure of a player’s level of play.

The game is not biased, it is not political, it has no self-interests, and does not care about getting phone calls or emails from parents. The game will always be the most honest person with any player about what they are and are not able to do. Simply, either you can play or you cannot play.

When training, keep this in mind. Your goal, whether on your own, with your coach, or with some friends, is to get better at playing the game. Find ways to train yourself to be more effective in a game, when it counts.

Skills are necessary, juggling is important to improve your touch, YouTube is fun, but the game cares very little about how many “views” your last video post received, how many times you can juggle, or how crazy your skill moves look. It will only ask you one simple questions once the whistle blows… Can you 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