Archive for January, 2010

Tips for Skill Development

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Tips for Skill Development

1. Use a variety of activities to teach the skills.
2. Repetition….practice, practice, and more practice.
3. Provide positive reinforcement.
4. Use skill assessment to gauge progress.
5. Set realistic goals. These are based on each individual’s abilities.
6. Demonstrate the skills in four different ways to accommodate the needs of the “watcher”, “doer”, “thinker”, and “feeler”.
7. Provide activities to help with muscular development.
8. Provide activities to help with increased endurance and stamina.
9. Teach activities that are developmentally appropriate.
10. Use good communication, positive communication.
11. Use video, charts, and other instruments to support skill development.
12. Use good verbal cues that help the player perform the skill better.
13. Use physical prompting when necessary.
14. Teach the skills in a simulated game situation.
15. Make the activities fun.
16. Let players evaluate their own progress.

Tips for Coaches

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Tips for Coaches

1. Motivate your players.
2. Communicate in a positive manner with your players.
3. Model appropriate behavior for your players.
4. Teach patiently, take your time and provide great encouragement.
5. Give a tremendous amount of positive reinforcement.
6. Demonstrate good leadership. Lead by example.
7. Be well organized.
8. Obtain as much knowledge on the sport and skills as possible to teach your players the basic fundamental skills.
9. Be consistent with your communication and how you treat all players.
10. Be honest with your players. A coach has such a strong impact on young children, it is important to demonstrate proper behavior at all times.
11. Be fair with all players.
12. Set team rules that promote team unity and allow players to grow as athletes and young people.
13. Develop realistic goals for each player. Goals should be high yet attainable and should be developed with regards to the individual player.
14. Have fun. If the coach is not having fun then the players are not having fun.
15. Self-evaluate your efforts. Did you plan a good practice? Were you prepared? Did you encourage your players? Did you teach the basic skills?
16. Assess your players at every stage.
17. Get to know your players.
18. Listen to your players. Why are they playing sports?
19. Find some great enthusiastic assistant coaches.

The Grand Performance

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The Grand Performance

Going to a movie theater to watch a newly released blockbuster is such an event. Audiences typically try to arriver early, gather up the assortment of refreshments and munchies and find their favorite seating location. As the feature presentation begins there is a sense of expectation and enjoyment. Sometimes after a movie has finished the audience applauds the action and drama seen. Emotions were touched and the audience leaves the theatre with hopefully with a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction. Going to watch your child play basketball should result in the same experience. But more so since there is an emotional attachment to the performance (game) you are watching (your child). If your child, no matter the age, is playing and performing and it can be observed that they are enjoying what they are doing then parents should be happy for that performance and appreciate the game for what it was. An opportunity for your child to play a sport he or she really enjoys. It is as simples as that. Watch your child perform and applaud the action, the effort, the teamwork, the sportsmanship, and he effort of the opposing team (yes, applaud the effort by ALL players on the court) and you will see and feel a change in the atmosphere to on that is positive and reinforcing for children to participate in youth sports and have fun in the process.

Why Kids quit sports – Cues for Parents

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Why Kids Quit Sports for Parents

* Playing favorites
* Taking kids sports to serious
* Yelling at their kids
* Fighting with other parents
* Fighting with coaches
* Over emphasis on winning
* Making their kids play sports that they do not want to
* Not taking the time to help their kids
* Pressuring kids to much
* Focusing on sports more than their studies

In today’s society children seem to have an endless amount of things they worry about such as: Are my grades high enough? Did I pass the state education test? Are my parents getting a divorce? They even worry about participating in youth sports: What position am I playing? Am I good enough to start? Are my parents coming to the game? Children should not have to worry about whether or not their parents are going to overreact to the outcome of a youth sporting event. Parents cause more children to quit youth sports by yelling at the child, fighting with other parents and/or coaches, and overemphasizing winning. Parents need to realize that winning doesn’t really matter. What matters is whether their child is having fun, learning, and developing new skills. The final score, trophies, or newspaper articles will not make their child any better. They should focus on the process of goal setting and skill development. An integral part of goal setting for young athletes is to have a good support network that includes coaches, teammates, and most importantly parents. Parents can provide positive reinforcement for the effort expended to achieve a goal, the lessons learned along the way, and the outcome of the contest, regardless of the score. Positive reinforcement doesn’t always have to be material rewards. It can be as simple as a pat on the back, a hug, a high five, or even a simple statement recognizing a good effort. Parents can make all the difference in determining whether their child will be involved in youth sports.

PREVENTING KIDS FROM QUITTING:

* Have realistic expectations
* Ensure the activity is fun
* Make sure they have a social life
* Schoolwork comes first
* Instill internal motivation
* Teach winning is not everything
* Try not to compare them to others
* Encourage after success or failure
* Support your child all of the time
* Monitor the child’s nutrition

Parents need to help children set realistic expectations for youth sports because the child can become overwhelmed with performance stress or anxiety. Also, parents could ask their child some questions before each season: Do you want to play? Are you having fun? Do you enjoy playing? If the child is not enjoying the sport, they are more likely to quit indefinitely or experience a decline in self-confidence. Next, parents can try promoting social functions other than sports. Children need a life outside of the sporting arena to play with friends, hang out, or just to talk on the phone. Thirdly, a parent can prevent their child from dropping out of sports by teaching ideas that strengthen internal motivation and emphasize that winning is not everything. Instead of emphasizing winning, parents could concentrate on how well their child performed during the game. Teaching that wining is not everything will help promote self worth and self esteem. Next make sure not to compare you child to other players or siblings. Parents should encourage their child after every success or failure, and support him or her at all times. By supporting their child no matter how they perform will teach them to develop a strong sense of self, and in turn improve their skill performance. This will make them confident in their playing abilities. Finally make sure your child has the proper nutrition to keep their body healthy. A healthy child makes a strong athlete.

PARENTS ROLE

PREVENTING KIDS FROM QUITTING

Questions parents should ask their child before asking who won.

* How did it go?
* Did you have fun?
* Did you play in the game?
* What team did you play?
* When is the next game or practice?

Questions parents should ask themselves

* Is playing sports fun for my child?
* Do I push my child too much?
* Is winning in youth sports really that important?
* Am I a good fan?
* Is the coach competent?
* How can I help?

Why Kids quit sports – Cues for Coaches

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Why Kids Quit Sports – Cues for Coaches

* Unrealistic expectations
* Too much pressure
* Not enough rest
* Favoritism
* Negative feedback
* Constant criticism
* Competitive stress
* Bad role models
* No established relationship (unapproachable)
* Inconsistency

Sometimes coaches see an athlete’s potential and get so wrapped up in how good they can become, they forget an athlete needs rest or fair treatment among other team players. A coach needs to be empathetic to each individual athlete and set realistic expectations for them to prevent injury and burn out. A favored athlete is presented with a great deal of stress, and creates resentment among the rest of the team. If your players lose their respect for you as a coach, then it will be much easier for them to quit. A coach should avoid negative feedback at all times. If the athlete senses that no matter what they do, they will be criticized, then they will soon begin to stop trying. Positive feedback at every opportunity will do wonders for an athlete’s self-esteem. A coach must be a positive role model, which requires consistency and the earning of respect from the team players. Establishing a relationship with an athlete’s parents also helps to establish a relationship with the athlete.

PREVENTING KIDS FROM QUITTING:

* Coaches’ philosophy about winning
* Reactions to desirable behaviors
* Reactions to mistakes
* Misbehavior, discipline, and lack of attention
* Being a role model
* Communication
* Knowledge of the sport
* Motivation
* Empathy
* Expectations of performance

Here are some guidelines that a coach should use in order to prevent kids from quitting sports. A coach should have a healthy philosophy of winning. Winning is neither everything nor the only thing. Reactions to desirable behavior should include positive reinforcement, which includes reinforcing the player’s effort as frequently as possible. Reactions to mistakes must be handled with encouragement rather than punishment. A coach’s reaction to misbehavior, discipline problems, and lack of attention must be established with team rules that are clearly understood by all. Setting a good example as an adult role model will portray organization, leadership, and sportsmanship to a young athlete. Communication in sports as well as in life is more effective when using a positive approach. The positive approach helps athletes value themselves as individuals, and it gives the coach credibility. Knowledge of a particular sport is very important when coaching because the coach must be able to demonstrate, strategize, and conduct practices in a productive manner. In order to keep the concentration and attention of your athletes, motivation from the coach has to come from within. The coach must be willing to commit the time necessary to ensure the success of the team. Empathy in a coach is the ability to readily understand the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of their athletes and convey understanding in a positive manner. Finally, a coach should set realistic expectations and goals for their athletes. It is the coach’s job to make young athletes feel as comfortable as possible and to put them in positions to have fun and to succeed.

Is your child ready to play?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Readiness, the presence of necessary prerequisite skills for successful completion of a task or skill forms the basis of appropriate participation. What does this mean? All children no matter the age develop at their own rate and develop skills accordingly. Developmental growth consists of three components: motor (skills), cognitive (understanding), and social (peer and adult interactions and feelings). All three of these components develop separately but greatly influence each other. For example, a young player may be able to shoot a basketball from 10 feet but not recognize that if he had taken a few more steps he could easily have made a lay-up with no one covering him. This awareness of the game involves the cognitive component. While the motor component was developing, the cognitive aspect was slightly behind. Staying with this example, let’s look at how teamwork comes into play. This young player may not yet understand that he could also easily havepassed it to a teammate under the basket for a simple lay-in. Working as team is an aspect of the social realm. Very young children do not develop a team concept until around 8 years of age. That is why children in early age soccer leagues run around in groups circling the ball. With continued exposure to playing and experience these players will later learn how to pass to teammates, play a certain position and understand their role in the team strategy. Readiness is therefore related to personal and cognitive growth as well as physical ability.

So then how does a parent know when their child is ready to play? The first clue is if the child asks to join a team or express an interest in playing. This can be observed by watching the child play along with peers and with family members. Do they enjoy the activity? Are they freely getting involved? Are they persisting at the activity? The next step would be to ask them if they would like to play the sport on a team? For older children aged 8 to 16 years the same idea is important. Do they want to play on a team? Why do they want to play on a team? Perhaps to meet new friends, be around others and to improve on skills. As long as they have a reason for wanting to play this shows a step toward readiness to play. However, just playing on a team does not necessarily mean they are ready for more complex concepts in sport such as competition, running called plays, following along a team strategy or recognizing their individual role on the team. This is where the necessary prerequisite skills come into play.

The necessary prerequisite skills for successful sport play include (1) the fundamental skills involved in the sport (i.e. in basketball, the ability to dribble, pass and shoot a ball); (2) the cognitive understanding of what they are doing, and (3) the experience or desire to participate with others either on a team with other players or as an individual (i.e. diving, tennis). A young player must achieve the basic fundamental skills in order to be successful and prior to moving forward. For example, if a 9 year old cannot catch or field a baseball consistently during the season, and then joins a baseball league with more competitive athletes this player may wind up sitting on the bench more, and thus decrease his self-esteem and the desire to continue playing. In this instance the player did not have the necessary skills to be successful and thus was not ready to move on to another team. How then can the player obtain the necessary prerequisite skills so he/she can become ready for the complexities of organized play?

Parents and coaches can help players get ready for organized play by helping them gain skills, reinforcing their interests in the sport, supporting their efforts, and presenting a fun and positive environment in which they participate. How your child feels about their skills, their efforts and the feedback from teammates and coaches impacts their self-esteem and desire to continue play. If they feel good about what they are doing regardless of their skill level they will continue with the effort. This continuation leads to improvement of skills through practice and repetition. And the more they play the greater the understanding of why they need to perform a skill a certain way or at a certain time. Pulling the three major domains together (motor, cognitive, social) successfully leads to an uprising spiral. The more they play, the better the skills. The better their skills the more success. More success leads to greater self-esteem. The greater the self-esteem the more they play, and so on. When is a child ready to play? When they have the necessary prerequisite skills for the level of play they are to participate in.

Three Blind Mice

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Hearing the words “Three blind mice”, “Zebras”, “Blue”, and “Striped clowns” conjures up images of youth sport events we are all familiar with. Officials are an integral part of every game and oftentimes their value is under appreciated. Officials are looked upon as the cause of a team losing, the cause of a disruption during the game and the cause of much grief to parents, coaches and players. None of this would be accurate. Officials “facilitate” a game, act as supporters and reinforce the values of a league. Perhaps the reason officials are held in such high contempt is because of what we learned from our parents and others while we were growing up.

It was common to hear parents yell out at officials with derogatory statements and hatred. Players were taught to yell out complaints in chants and coaches lived for the chance to kick dirt onto home plate to antagonize the officials. This has all reinforced the current behavior we see occurring in just about every adult and youth game. What then can be done to turn this around? Educational programs for coaches and parents can be a first step. Clearly there is a fondness or belief that it is ok to yell at officials and to encourage children to utter vile chants. This seems counter to what true sportsmanship is all about.

Sportsmanship is the recognition of athletic performance at any level purely for the performance itself. Coaches are not the sole determiners of what constitutes sportsmanship but rather are but one entity in the paradigm we call sport. Parents are so very crucial to sport and by default to the emergence of sportsmanship in their children. Officials likewise offer yet another avenue for creating an atmosphere that cherishes sportsmanship. The interaction between official and player is a teachable moment that has the potential if taken seriously to encourage sportsmanship, and breakdown any barriers to acceptance. The role of the official is more than blowing a whistle, throwing a flag or handing a ball to a player. The role of the official is to be an educator. One who teaches the game, not only to players but to coaches and parents as well. They facilitate a game. They control the tempo and keep in check the aggressiveness of players, coaches and parents that detract from enjoying a game.

So how do we go about demonstrating greater appreciation for officials? It starts with coaches, players and parents working together. Officials are part of the game. Let’s teach our children that officials should be respected and treated just as they treat their own coach. Coaches can reinforce this message by teaching players correct behavior at games and how to thank not only the opposing team but officials also at the end of the contest. Officials can do more to help their image by using the game as teachable moments when the need for a call is made. It will take the efforts of all involved in sport to change the poor attitude many have for officials. So next time you are at a game remember to call out and tell the official they are doing a good job. Sportsmanship dictates the value of every participant, every coach and every official. Be a true sport. Good job, Blue.

Recreational vs. Competitive Youth Sports

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I have had the opportunity to observe youth games in every sport throughout Clark County. From city parks and recreation leagues to travel baseball clubs, I have noticed more commonalities than differences when it comes to youth sports. First, let me tell you some of the comments I hear from league directors, coaches and parents involved in so-called competitive leagues. Basically, they have expectations of winning, and committed performances from their children. There is seldom mention of kids having fun. How then does this compare with recreational play? League directors, and parents describe it as children playing to have fun and to work on skill development. This really is the idea of youth sports. However, all surveys asking children why they play sports find that children play to have fun. It is disappointing to find that a very high percentage of children and youth involved in competitive sports quit playing.

Recreational play and competitive play are simply opposite points on a continuum. Both are essentially the same concept. When a child first enters youth sports they are developing fundamental sport skills and learning to work in a team environment. Expectations by parents should be based on their child having fun, developing skills and wanting to continue playing. With increased skills comes success, which leads to an increased desire to continue playing and greater self-satisfaction on effort. When skills have been improved to a point where the child demonstrates consistency in play, and has the desire to move towards competitive they are ready. Being ready to raise their level of involvement suggests that they have acquired the necessary skill prerequisites, social confidence and cognitive understanding of what is involved with moving towards competition. Competition is not a bad thing. Competition provides an opportunity for children to learn about strategies, teamwork, effort, sportsmanship and commitment. Concepts that are developed in recreational play as well. Hence another similarity. However, on competitive teams players often relate their skill performance with their self-identity. Those players who perform better play more while others sit the bench. Players on competitive teams in response to surveys respond that they would rather play on a losing team then sit on the bench on a winning team. Perhaps a difference between recreational and competitive play is determined by playing time.

Perhaps the perceived differences between recreational and competitive play rest with the expectations of league directors, coaches and parents, which conflict with the playing interests of the youth. The structure of youth sports has changed very little over the past decades but the results and behavior at games has changed tremendously. Recreational play and competitive play offer opportunities for youth to find success, improve their skills, be around friends and most importantly to have fun. Allowing youth an opportunity to increase their skills, enhance their self-confidence and desire to play they will let you know when they are ready for competitive play. A quick check on whether your child is ready to play is to observe whether they are having fun and enjoy participating. If they are not having fun, take a step back and find a way to bring the fun back. In either case whether youth are involved in recreational or competitive play they should be having FUN.

Sportsmanship 101

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Recently I went out to watch a Las Vegas Wranglers Ice Hockey game. Several fans seated nearby found a venue for their obnoxious commentary. Throughout the game fans were heard shouting out negative comments and obscenities to the visiting team. When fights on the ice broke out fans cheered in delight as the players pounded on each other. Noticeably present were children of all ages seated next to these unruly fans. Unfortunately, many of these children watched as their parents behaved in this manner. Is it any wonder that parents act the same way at youth sporting events?

Lets take a look at a different sport. Rodeo. While watching the National Finals Rodeo in December it occurred to me how great the sport truly is. With a sold-out crowd the energy remains positive and quite supportive. Fans cheer for every cowboy (and cowgirl) during all events. All those in attendance appreciate the efforts. Never does one hear the cheering for the horse to buck the cowboy or for the bull to gore the rider. The efforts and performance of all cowboys is valued and celebrated by cheers and claps.

Every four years the world takes a pause to celebrate athletic performance by way of the Olympics. While support is given to individuals from their own country fans still cheer on performances from all. We rise collectively and clap as the last runner in the marathon finishes the race. It is about the competition and the performance in its truest sense. Yet at our own child’s youth sporting event we somehow lose sight of what is important.

Sportsmanship is the appreciation of athletic performance. Spectators should applaud all action, root for both teams and the performance and success of both teams regardless of affiliation. Rather than cheer only for their “own” team, spectators (parents, friends and siblings) should applaud even the efforts of the opposing team. Players themselves should recognize the good play of opposing players. In tennis, players raise a hand to their racket when they earn a point that is perhaps less than deserving. Other sports have similar protocols.

Why is it that parents and coaches teach their young children to talk trash and berate opposing players? Attend any youth baseball game to see this reality. Parents seated in their lounge chairs next to the dugouts and those seated in the bleachers yell out negative comments about the opposing players. Parents and coaches celebrate when a player strikes out. Players yell at their opposing counterparts and cheer when errors are made. Is this a behavior seen only in baseball? No. It is common in all sports. This disappointing trend continues and is invariably a cultural problem.

Now let us try to change this situation. Is it easy to change? Will change make a dramatic improvement in youth sports? Definitely. Parents can make a huge difference by modeling appropriate behavior to their children. Start by cheering for both teams and the play of all team members. When your child asks why are you cheering for the other team, explain that sportsmanship is about applauding effort and performance not just for one team. Teach your child to appreciate the play of opposing players and their own teammates. Reinforce their recognition of the other team and show them how to tell opposing players and coaches after the game that they played well and it was a good game.

Coaches can model appropriate behavior by talking about sportsmanship and what it truly means. Obviously this presumes that coaches themselves know what sportsmanship is all about. How can a coach (or an observer) know if they truly understand sportsmanship? It only takes a moment to watch a coach in action. How does the coach interact with his/her players? Are they concerned with teaching skills, helping young players grow as individuals or are they more concerned with winning? Winning has its place, however youth sports is about so much more. Coaches can teach players how to cheer appropriately and not to say negative things to opposing players. Coaches can talk friendly to the opposing players and opposing coaches. The real key is to create an atmosphere where young players thrive amidst a culture of positive good feelings and interactions.

Sportsmanship is a celebration of athletic performance. Make it contagious. Help your child to become part of this celebration.