Thriving or Surviving: Signs Your Kid is Stretched Too Thin!

More great stuff from our friends at TrueSport:

There’s a limit to how much any of us – adults or kids – can pile into our schedules. Unfortunately, young athletes have neither the experience to know where their limits are, nor the autonomy to make appropriate changes. Read this article for tips and strategies to help your young athlete adapt and thrive with a challenging schedule! 

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Six Things Parents Should Say to Their Player

By Bruce Brownlee

A lot of soccer parents with good intentions give a 30 minute lecture, covering all the players supposed deficiencies and giving playing advice, in the car on the way to each match. The kids arrive far off their optimal mental state, and dreading the critique they are likely to hear, whether they want it or not, on the way home. Kids who are massaged in this way tend not to play badly, they just tend to not play, possibly to avoid making mistakes.

The easiest way to detect this problem is just to ask the player if it is a problem. Kids are more than willing to share this grief. The easiest way to correct this problem is to speak to the parents, as a group, about your expectations, and to cover this as a routine problem. Many of the parents will recognize themselves if you can present this problem with humor and illustrate the importance of the kids having fun and arriving in a good state of mind.

For best results, parents should memorize and use the following.

Before the Match
1. I love you
2. Good luck
3. Have fun

After the Match
1. I love you
2. It was great to see you play
3. What would you like to eat?

Bruce Brownlee coached boys soccer from 1978 to 1988 in Marietta, Georgia.  Coached girls teams from 1988 to 2003 for Tophat Soccer Club in Atlanta and AFC Lightning Soccer Club in Fayetteville, Georgia.  Served as a staff ODP recruiter and coach in 2002-2003.  Returned in 2010-2011 to help coach his granddaughter’s U11 team.  Won 4 state cup championships at Tophat.  Proud of his four children who played top-level club soccer and amateur and college soccer later. His site Soccer Coaching Notes.com is a terrific resource for club and amateur soccer coaches.

To Baseball Dad and Mom (Part 2)

By Dave Holt

Baseball Practice
What is the common denominator that we see in major league baseball players and their offspring? Ever notice how many sons of major league players go on to become major league baseball players? Why is this happening so often? Obviously they get some athletic genes passed on to them. The biggest factor I see is the amount of time the kids are around the game just playing catch and taking swings and watching good players play baseball.

Discussion Topics:
Does it really matter if ball players play ball on their own time?
Does it help at all to practice outside of the team functions?
Ever get mad at the coach because your kid is sitting on the bench too much?
Want to know what you can do to help your kid get better at playing baseball?
Ever take your kids to a minor league or major league baseball game? College baseball game? Cooperstown to the Hall of Fame?
I would like to help you and your children get the most out of playing youth baseball and make it enjoyable for you all. Look for the options here available to you.

The Best Scenario for Baseball Dad
The best scenario for all of us is to have you plan on dropping your player off with me and the other coaches for a couple hours for the ball game or the baseball practice plan. I am going to help my ballplayers learn how to take responsibility for their own equipment.

My ball players will be able to sustain themselves with their own drinks and refreshments. There is no need to for any parents to be loitering or hovering around the dugout area checking to see if their players are hot or thirsty. If someone has a serious injury then certainly I would welcome your assistance. Other than an injury situation you can just sit back and enjoy the pleasure of
watching your child.  I will have a brief post-game meeting with the team only and then you can have your kids back.

Playing Time, Positions and Batting Order
Playing time and playing positions are often sore subjects by baseball dad and mom. Your child will get plenty of opportunity to play and I will work them into the positions they like as the season progresses.

Discussion topics:
Is it best to focus on one position or try and play multiple positions?
How important is it to try and be a pitcher?
If your child throws lefthanded these are the positions they will be playing.
I use several variations of batting orders so do not even try to figure out my line-up card system.

Let me say this. I know how important hitting is to all my players. If you are going to play for me then you will be swing the bat

Now, this may cost us some games, well so be it. I will make sure the hitters swing the bat. Hitters will go as far as their bat takes them so we will be encouraging a very aggressive hitting approach. We will not be looking for walks. We might even swing at a few bad pitches.

Kids who do not learn to hit will quickly drop out of the game or sit the bench too much. I would rather us go down swinging the bat than looking for walks. Plus, there are not many things better in sports than hitting a baseball squarely.

Ready to Go
The ballplayers should show up ready to go with shirts tucked in, pants pulled up and hats on straight. We will hustle on and off the field. Players will take up a fast jog when taking and leaving the field or returning to the dugout after an out. We will run out all the plays. Players who do not run hard or hustle will take a time on the bench. We will find a place to go to backup a teammate on every play. Never will we throw bats or helmets. Players on the bench will have duties so there will be no time for messing around in the dugout. Players will constantly be looking for opportunities to help and support their teammates.

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.

Coach Communication (Part 3)

By Craig Sigl

You can read Parts One and Two here.

7) Be on the lookout for and take leadership in resolving player conflicts. Getting in the middle of and/or acting as the referee for 2 or more players’ personality conflicts is probably the last thing a youth sports coach wants to do. I get that and I sympathize with you for when you are faced with it.

Competition for playing time, jealousies, bullying, insecurities, back-stabbing, gossiping, bringing conflicts from home to sport, etc. You name it, if you coach long enough, you WILL see all of this and more…and it’s not fun for a coach to deal with, but you have to.

You need to understand this: You are only hurting yourself if you brush it off, ignore it, or otherwise minimize it without dealing with it head on. Before I go on about this point, make another conscious decision that it is in YOUR best interests (as well as the kids, of course) to make this an important piece of your coaching protocol.

Decide that you are going to do whatever it takes to eliminate team internal strife because it makes your life worse and, of course, hurts the team’s performance and their ability to take in your brilliance!

For starters, the best medicine for this is prevention. A strong statement about what you will NOT tolerate on your team and the consequences to those that violate that will go a long way toward preventing it. You also need to periodically remind them and confront any inkling of an issue head on and swiftly when you FIRST hear rumblings of any conflicts.

Bottom line? Nip everything in the bud BEFORE it can fester and grow bigger.

Make sure that everyone knows that not everybody on a team needs to like each other personally in order to play well as a team. Adults know this, kids do not. Sports is the perfect place for them to learn this valuable life lesson. How many times in these kids’ future are they going to have to work with someone that they don’t personally like, on a project in the real world, right?

Let them know that they can put aside their differences when they show up to practice or game and just get to work when it’s time regardless of what they feel about the others, or even you! Believe me, this is a novel concept to kids and well worth you communicating it regularly.

8) Manage and keep the “superstar” mentality in check These days, with our technology and the opportunity for just about anyone to become famous through the internet, achieving self-importance seems to be a growing goal among this selfie generation.

While some of this has always been a part of sports, showboating, trash talking and unsportsmanlike behavior will hurt a team’s performance when taken too far, which many coaches have told me is worse than it’s ever been, making it another priority for coach communication.

When too many players are all trying to grab the spotlight and hog the glory at every chance, then other players shrink away from giving their best thinking something like: “whats the use, they never return the favor.”

In addition, these supporting players certainly aren’t interested in fueling the bravado and, at worst, sometimes it can turn into active conflicts (see #7 above).

Again, don’t put your head in the sand about this issue either. The danger is that this is sometimes very subtle, hard to detect, and the players themselves may not even admit to the problem. But do not fool yourself that it is not affecting your overall team’s performance, it is and you need to keep your radar on high sensitivity to identify it.

On the other side of the coin, sometimes, this subtle jealousy shows up directed at players who are simply very good and continually make great plays from their talent and skill even if they don’t flaunt it or seek the spotlight. This is very common in girls sports and can turn into “fear of success” for the talented player. This unconsciously causes the girl to throttle down performance for fear of being shunned or gossiped about.

You can manage this by balancing out your praise and giving plenty of it to the lessor players when they exhibit successful team behaviors such as great passes, assists, cheerleading from the bench, etc.

You minimize the issue by constantly emphasizing skill development and effort and not going overboard in celebrating and praising performance.

Coach, you get more of what you promote. If you promote (by praising) the big scores and the flashy moves, you will get more of that. If you promote skill execution, you will get more of that…simple logic.

For the out of control glory hogs, you just need to make a calculated decision that pulling them out of the game because of these team-destroying behaviors is worth it in the long run. Don’t be afraid to use that weapon even if the wrath of some parents may come down on you later.

Coach, one play, one game does not a season make. Think long term and keep your own ego in check and you will be more effective towards getting maximum performance out of your players which makes everyone happy….win or lose.

Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his free ebook: “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: http://MentalToughnessTrainer.com

Baseball and Softball SAFEty

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 of my own kids, thousands of games and countless practices later, I have pretty much seen it all on the diamond. And, unfortunately, I’ve witnessed my share of injuries and potential injuries. Now, I can’t walk by a youth league practice or game without noticing 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, 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.

We’ve made the course extremely affordable so that there are no barriers to providing access to everyone in your organization. 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 to SAFEBaseball.com to see a preview and to get your league signed-up. We can give you immediate access and get your volunteers thinking SAFETY the rest of the season. And, because the subscription is for a full year, you can use the course to train your fall ball coaches and even new coaches early in 2019.

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