Friday, December 31, 2010

Youth Basketball - How to Keep Score (Part 3)

How to keep score in basketball - Advanced

Once you mastered How to keep score in basketball - The Basics you can start adding the "nice to have" stats listed below. There's so much more to basketball than scoring. These more advanced stats help a coach understand the contributions of each one of his players beyond scoring. 

The "nice to have" stats include:
  1. Individual player scoring 
  2. Individual player assists 
  3. Individual player rebounds
  4. Individual player steals
  5. Individual player turnovers
  6. Individual player Field Goal %
  7. Individual player Free Throw %
  8. Team total assists
  9. Team total rebounds
  10. Team total steals
  11. Team total turnovers
  12. Team total Field Goal %
  13. Team total Free Throw %
  14. While I call this advanced, there are many more stats that can be captured
For the definitions of the stat lines above, go to Understanding the Stat Sheet section of the first post in this series called Youth Basketball - How to Keep Score (Part 1)

These "advanced" stats are actually fairly basic stats. For even more advanced stats options like the PER (Player Efficiency Rating) and EFG% (Effective Field Goal Percentage) go to Basketball-Reference website. 

Step One:

Add Field Goal Attempts

This is easy. When a player attempts a field goal or a free throw mark it down a 1, 2 or 3 on the scoresheet next to the players name in the column that corresponds to the quarter that the shot was taken. If the player makes the shot, circle the number.  You will see below that Bobcat player #5 (Parker) attempted and made a 3 point shot in the first quarter, missed two consecutive 2 point shots in the third, and made two free throws in the fourth quarter. 

At the end of the game, add up all the circled numbers to determine how many points the player had and recored that in the far right-hand column (pts.)

Calculate Field Goal Percentage (FG%)

To figure out the Field Goal Percentage (FG%) count the number of field goal attempts. You do this by counting the number of 2s and 3s, both circled and not. Tigers player #1 (Hawk) attempted five 2 point shots (made three of them) and attempted two 3 point shots (missed both). Hawk attempted 7 field goals and made 3. In the FG% you can put 3/7 or 43%. You will notice that Hawk also attempted four free throws (made two of them). These do not factor into the FG%.

Calculate Free Throw Percentage (FT%)

To figure out the Free Throw Percentage (FT%) count the number of free throw attempts. You do this by counting the number of 1s, both circled and not. Tigers player #1 (Hawk) attempted four free throws (made two of them). In the FT% column, mark down 2/4 or 50%. 

Calculate Team Field Goal Percentage (FG%)

To figure out the Team Field Goal Percentage count the total number of field goals attempted in each quarter by all players. In the first quarter, the Tigers attempted three 2 point shots (made 2 of them) and two 3 point shots (made one). At the bottom of the Qtr. 1 column next to the Shots FG / FGA line put a 3/5 or 60%. Do this for all the quarters. 

To calculate the team total FG% at the end of the game, add up all the denominators (the bottom numbers or FGA) and add up all of the numerators (the top numbers or the FG made).  In the example below, the Tigers took 39 shots from the field (5+11+8+15) and made 16 of them (3+5+2+6). At the bottom of the FG% column record 16/39 or 41%.

Hint: You might find that it is too difficult to keep the attempted shots by the individual players of the opponent. I only keep FGA for my son or daughter's team.

Step Two:

Add Individual Non-Scoring Stats

Simply add a slash in the column next to the player who made an rebound (Reb.), assist (Asst.), steal (Stls.) or turnover (TOV). 

Sometimes a coach will assign these non-scoring stats to another parent so that the scorekeeper can concentrate on the vital stats.

Hint: If you are the lone stat keeper for the team, keep the vital stats for both teams and only the individual stats for your team. If the coach wants the individual stats for both teams, I would recommend one parent keep the vital statistics + the field goal and free throw attempts as indicated above and have one parent keep all the individual non-scoring stats.

The Main Point

Basketball is a wonderful team game. The fans, sports shows like ESPN and even coaches give too much credit to the scorers. Great defense, passing and rebounding are just as important to winning a basketball game. As such, I highly recommend that each coach find a scorekeeper to keep track of assists, steals, rebounds and turnovers and after each game highlight the contributions (assists, steals and rebounds) of the non-scorers. This will keep the entire team motivated to make the extra pass instead of taking an ill-advised shot, crash the boards and get on the floor for a loose ball. 

The coach may also learn that a non-scorer who he or she typically keeps on the bench is more valuable that a scorer with a low field goal percentage and a penchant for turnovers.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Youth Basketball - How to Keep Score (Part 2)

How to keep score in basketball - The Basics

Keeping the basic stats of a youth basketball game is not that difficult. You really only need to capture four vital stats as outlined in Youth Basketball: How to Keep Score Part 1.
  1. The running score
  2. Player fouls
  3. Team fouls in each half
  4. Time-outs
For more advance scoring click here: How to keep score in basketball - The Advanced (Coming Tomorrow)

Refer to the basic scoring sheets below where the Bobcats defeated the Tigers 41-40


Step One: Prepare the sheet prior to the start of the game

  1. Write down the team names for the home and visiting teams on the scoring sheets. 
    • You will be required to capture the vital stats for both teams. 
  2. Write down the names and uniform numbers of each player for both the home and visiting teams. 
    • Hint: List in order of the uniform number lowest to highest. The action on the court moves very fast and you will need to identify players on the sheet fast too.
    • Prior to the game meet with the scorekeeper from the other team (if there is one) and exchange rosters with players names and uniform numbers.
    • If the other team does not have a scorekeeper, get the roster from the coach.
Step Two: Capture the Vital Game Statistics

  1. The overall running score – on the bottom of each team sheet you will see that the running score boxes. The score of the game between the Bobcats and the Tigers was 41 to 40. The Bobcats won. Every time a 1 pt., 2 pt. or 3pt. shot is scored cross out 1, 2 or 3 boxes on the running score section of the scoresheet. 
    • Check the scoreboard often to see that the scoreboard score matches your running score. If they are different, find your mistake and correct it. You can find your mistake by counting the individual points scored by each player or by referring to the scorebook kept by the opposing team. If you determine that your book is correct and the scoreboard is not, notify the scoreboard operator that they missed some points. This happens more times that you would think. A good scorekeeper can save a game. 
    • Ironically it is not critical to keep track of the points by each player, however it is recommended that after each basket you mark 1,2 or 3 points next to the player’s name in the column of the quarter that the basket was scored. 
    • You will notice that Bobcats player #24 (Williams) scored 9 points in the game. He made a 2 pt. basket in the first quarter. He made two free throws worth one point each in both the second and fourth quarters (total 4 points) and he sunk a 3 pt basket from beyond the arc in the third quarter. When a player makes a shot beyond the 3 point arc, the referee will put both hands up in the air. 
    • At the end of each quarter add the total points for the quarter. Make sure that the totals of the columns equal the total captured on the running score. 
    • If you look at other scorebooks, you may notice that some scorekeepers use a circle and lines to capture free throws. A circle with no lines means free throw attempt, add a slash when one free throw is made and add another slash to make an X to indicate two free throws made. I use the simpler method of marking 1 point for each free throw, but feel free to use these symbols.
  2. Fouls by each team in each half - When a foul is committed by a player the ref will blow the whistle to stop the game and turn to face the scoring table. He or she will then indicated the type of foul and the uniform number of the player committing the foul. You simply cross off the number of the foul next to the player who committed the foul.
    • Hint: If the foul was made in the first half, put a slash through the corresponding number. If the foul happens in the second half, put an X across the number. You will see that Bobcats player #38 (Rizzo) committed 1 foul in the first half and 1 foul in the second half. Making a distinction between the first half and second half fouls by player is not required but it helps you keep track of team fouls by half. After you mark the box for the foul on the player line, mark the box on the team fouls line too (see 3. below). 
    • Each player is allowed 5 total fouls in a game. 
    • After the 5th foul, that player will be ejected from the game. You will see (above) that the Tigers' player #1 (Hawk) fouled out of the game.
    • When a player gets five fouls notify the referee. 
  3. Fouls by each team in each half  - When a player commits a foul, the team is assessed a foul too. After you mark the box for the foul on the player line, mark the box on the team fouls line too.
    • A team is allowed 6 team fouls in each half. 
    • A bonus is awarded to the team fouled by a team that has already committed over 6 fouls in a half. The team fouled is in the bonus and is awarded a 1 and 1 for non-shooting fouls. A player gets a free throw for a non-shooting foul and is awarded a second free throw shot if and only if they make the first free throw. 
    • A double bonus is awarded to a team if a fouling team has committed 10 or more fouls in a half. The double bonus is an automatic 2 free throws to the team fouled on a non-shooting foul. 
    • Note: All shooting fouls are awarded 2 or 3 free throws depending on the position of the shooter on the court when he or she was fouled. If the shooter was fouled inside the 3 point arc then 2 free throws are awarded. If the foul happens outside the 3 point arc then 3 free throws are awarded.
    • The number of fouls are often captured on the scoreboard too. Make sure that the number of fouls on the scoreboard are consistent with the numbers in the book. If the numbers do not match consult with the other scorekeeper. (Typically – both teams keep a book) 
    • Keeping track of fouls is very important because many games are won or lost at the foul line. It's important to keep accurate count so that your team gets the 1 and 1 bonus shots they deserve.
    • Note: Fouling is a strategic part of the game. Teams will often foul a player on purpose to 1) stop the clock or 2) force the opposing team to shoot free throws. A team would want the opposing team to shoot free throws for a chance to get the ball back late in a game. There is always a chance that the shooter will miss the free throw and the defending team can then secure the ball.
  4. Time outs by each team – Typically, a team is allowed three full (1 minute) timeouts and two 30 second  timeouts. After a team calls a timeout, cross out of the corresponding number on the timeout boxes at the top of the scoring sheet above.
    • When a coach asks for a timeout, the ref will blow the whistle to stop the game. The ref will then ask the coach if he or she wants a full or a thirty second timeout. If the coach wants a full timeout, the ref will turn to the scoring table and put both arms straight out to each side like a T. If the coach wants a 30 second timeout the ref will put both arms straight out to the sides like a T then touch his or her shoulders. 
    • Hint: The number of timeouts allowed by each team can vary depending on the league or tournament so it is a good idea to ask the ref prior to the game. 
    • The number of timeouts are often captured on the scoreboard too. Make sure that the number of timeouts on the scoreboard are consistent with the numbers in the book. If the numbers do not match consult with the other scorekeeper and correct your book or the scoreboard.
    • Note: Basketball is a very strategic game and timeouts are key to the execution of the strategy. The timeout can be used to 1) set up a play, 2) to stop the clock or 3) stop the momentum of a hot team on a scoring streak. 
    • The strategic importance of the timeout makes this stat line important. 
    • The refs do not keep track of timeouts, they will look to the scoring table to get this key information. 
    • The coach of your team will also look to you for this information.
    • Important Note: if your team takes too many they will be assessed a technical foul – the penalty is free throw shots for the opponent and loss of the ball.
The Main Point

Keeping the basic stats is not hard to do if you have a basic understanding of the game, know some terminology and are attentive.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Youth Basketball - How to Keep Score (Part 1)

I recommend that you volunteer to keep the scorebook at your kid's youth basketball games. It's fun and it's really not that hard to do once you get the hang of it. Plus, you'll be close to your kid and involved in the game. Finally, a good scorekeeper is a valuable asset for the coaching staff.

Read this three part series of posts to learn how to keep score.

Understanding the Basketball Score Sheet

There are stats that are vitally important for the management of the game and there are stats that are "nice to have" for the coaching staff to evaluate a game.

The vital stats include:
  1. The running score
  2. Team fouls in each half
  3. Player fouls
  4. Time-outs
The "nice to have" stats include:
  1. Individual player scoring 
  2. Individual player assists 
  3. Individual player rebounds
  4. Individual player steals
  5. Individual player turnovers
  6. Individual player Field Goal %
  7. Individual player Free Throw %
  8. Team total assists
  9. Team total rebounds
  10. Team total steals
  11. Team total turnovers
  12. Team total Field Goal %
  13. Team total Free Throw %
16 Stat Sheet Abbreviations
  1. Pts. = Points. The total points scored by a player or team.
  2. Asst. = Assist. An offenisve player is awarded an assist when a successful pass leads to a 2 or 3 point basket. The scorer must move directly toward the basket when they get the pass for the passer to be credited with an assist.
  3. Reb. = Rebound. A player is awarded a rebound when they successfully control the ball after any missed shot whether it rebounds off the basket or rim or not. If you want to get crazy with stats you can record offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds. Offensive rebounds are rebounds recovered by the shooting team that extends the possession for the shooting team. Defensive rebounds are rebounds secured by the defense and result in a change of possession.
  4. Stl. = Steal. A defensive player is awarded a steal when he or she successfully takes possession of the ball from an offensive player. This can be done by intercepting a pass, deflecting a pass to a teammate, swiping a ball from an offensive player and controlling it or batting a ball from an offensive player's hands to a teammate. 
  5. TOV = Turnover. An offensive player is credited with a turnover when they lose possession of the ball to the other team. A player can turn the ball over by stepping out of bounds, making a bad pass that goes out of bounds, committing a violation (double dribble, carrying, 3 seconds or traveling), committing an offensive foul or having the ball stolen from them. (See steal above).
  6. FG = Field Goals. A 2pt or 3pt shot made from the field (does not include shots made from the free throw line). A 2 point shot is a shot made inside the arc and a 3 point shot is a shot made beyond the three point arc.
  7. FGA = Field Goals Attempted. This is the number of shots attempted from the field (does not include shots attempted from the free throw line.)
  8. FG% = Field Goal Percentage. The percentage of shots made from the field versus shots attempted.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Youth Soccer: Why Futsal?

Like it or not, the best soccer players play year round. I'm an advocate for playing multiple sports at younger ages, but in this day and age the kids who specialize in soccer are the ones who will likely get the coveted high school roster spots.

Year round training means winter training. There are three choices for winter training in the colder climes of the US; indoor soccer with walls, indoor soccer on turf without walls and Futsal.

Futsal is a form of soccer played on a court. The game is played with a comparatively smaller and heavier soccer ball with less bounce. The game is played 5V5 and emphasizes ball control and combination touch passes. The video below explains the game and the benefits.

The Main Point

My daughter's team decided to play Futsal this winter. After watching two games, I am convinced that this game will help her become a better technical player and a better team player. I recommend that all coaches join the Futsal revolution.

Game 183

Sunday morning, I picked CC up at a sleepover birthday party and drove in the snow to the Futsal game. She was tired and really did not want to go. Once she got on the court her mood changed. CC scored 2 goals.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Youth Basketball: How to Make the Team

I have given advice on how to make select teams from my experience as a coach / evaluator and as a parent watching three kids tryout for various teams over the years. I have given advice on how to make a travel or select baseball team and  how to make a select or travel soccer team. Most of the advice I gave assumed that your kid had the skills in each sport to standout.

I found some great advice on how to make a basketball team from the Back Court Academy website called The 5 Reasons You Got Cut From the Basketball Team

Here are the 5 reasons - with my commentary underneath. 

1) Moving Without The Ball

You see this all the time. Great players who do not move well without the ball. This tells the evaluator that they are lazy or not confident enough to want the ball.

2) Non-Dominate Hand

You have to be able to play with both feet in soccer and both hands in basketball. Link to the post to get some advice and drills on increasing dexterity in both hands.

3) Suspect Passing Skills

Passing is a skill that does not get enough attention from fans. To me there is nothing sweeter than a smart pass. I used to love to watch Bird, Johnson, Stockton and Kidd work their magic. Even though fans and ESPN SportsCenter do not appreciate the pass, coaches do.

4) Lack of Leadership

Coaches want leaders. Leaders are confident.

5) Matador Defense

Defense is another skill that does not get enough attention. Probably because there are few stats that measure defensive prowess. Coaches love defense.

The Main Point

Did you notice that the Back Court Academy did not mention shooting? Good passing and great movement without the ball will create easy scoring chances. Great defense will create some fast breaks for easy scoring too. The sharp shooters will catch the attention of the coach, but basketball is a team game and 4 of the 5 reasons listed above are all team related. 

The only thing that I thought was missing from the Back Court Academy list was hustle and heart. My son is not the greatest dribbler or shooter. He made the his top school team because of his scrappy play. He is always the first one on the floor going after a loose ball. Coaches notice this. You cannot teach hustle and heart, but you can teach a kid to dribble and shoot. My daughter watched my son's scrappy play and plays the same way.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Youth Sports: Raising Awareness of Sports Injuries (Part 3)

I love sports stats, but there is nothing to like about the stats that are posted on the Sports Safety Alliance Website

The Sports Safety Alliance believes that there is a rising safety crisis in America. The number of league sports and community opportunities to play athletics is on the rise and so are the injuries. If the posts in this blog about the now 180 games played and countless practices, 1 MRI and 2 X-rays over the last 10 months is not convincing enough check out the sample of the stats from the Sports Safety Alliance site.

The sports safety crisis is evidenced by:
  • There were 120 sports-related deaths in 2008-2009, in 33 states.
  • Approximately 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms EACH DAY for sports-related injuries.
  • 50% of “second impact syndrome” incidents – brain injury caused from a premature return to activity after suffering initial injury (concussion) – result in death.
  • The CDC reports that high school athletes suffer 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations each year. 
  • Female high school soccer athletes suffer almost 40% more concussions than males (29,000 annually).
  • Female high school basketball players suffer 240% more concussions than males (13,000 annually).
  • 400,000 brain injuries (concussions) occurred in high school athletics during the 2008-09 school year.
  • 62% of organized sports-related injuries occur during practices.

The Main Point

The main point comes directly from the Sports Safety Alliance website in their CALL to ACTION.
  • Ensure that youth athletes have access to health care professionals who are qualified to make assessments and decisions.
  • Educate your family about the symptoms of musculoskeletal and neurological injuries (concussion, heat illness, ACL injuries).
  • Ensure pre-participation physicals before play begins.
  • Ensure sports equipment and field are checked for safety and best conditions.
  • Write to your state legislator, expressing your concerns.
  • Support further research into youth sports injuries and their effects.
  • There’s a difference between pain and injury – work to eliminate the culture of “playing through pain” without assessment.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Youth Sports: Raising Awareness of Sports Injuries (Part 2)

My son has a heart condition. My son is a catcher. So when I read about the tragic dealth of a 16 year old all star catcher named Tommy Adams it really hit home. Tommy Adams was hit in his chest by a baseball. He went into cardiac arrest and died.  Surprisingly, he was wearing his protective catching equipment at the time of the incident. Commotio cordis was the cause. Catch the CBS Story about Tommy Adams' Commotio Cordis here.
Commotio cordis occurs when the heart beat is disrupted by a sudden blow to the chest directly over the heart at a critical time during the heart beat cycle. Believe it or not, studies show that a baseball traveling as slow as 35 miles per hour can cause this. Commotio cordis occurs mostly in boys with an average age of 15 during sports. Baseball is the most common sport associated with this medical condition. The fatality rate is about 65%. 
There is an organization, the Youth Sports Safety Alliance, that is trying to prevent tragic deaths and injuries in sports. They held a summit in Washington DC this past week. One of the main topics discussed was sudden cardiac arrest. They are calling for more highly trained trainers at athletic events including practices. They are also advocating that AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) are available at all practices and games. Commotio Cordis can sometimes be reversed by defibrillation.

This video by Dr. Jared C. LaCorte M.D., Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship: Children's Hospital of New York-Columbia Presbyterian explains Commotio Cordis. He also advocates for AEDs at sporing events.

The Main Point

In this blog, I have advocated for the use protective equipement including baseball infielder's / pitcher's helmets and McDavid heart protection shirts. I will continue to use this forum to raise awareness of sports injuries and prevention. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Youth Sports: Raising Awareness of Sports Injuries (Part 1)

This week, the Sports Safety Alliance held its second annual conference to raise awareness of sports injuries and suggest preventative solutions. The agenda included:
  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest 
  • Heat Illness 
  • Brain Injury/Concussion 
  • Sickle Cell Trait 
The video below is featured on their website. It's a video presentation with 73 slides. Each slide contains the names of two kids who died during sports events between 2008 and 2009.
The Main Point

Sadly, some of these tragedies could have been prevented. The Sports Safety Alliance is working to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities. I applaud their efforts.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Youth Basketball: Great Shooting / Box Out Drill

I went to my son's basketball practice tonight and saw a great shooting / box out drill. It's my son's favorite drill.

This is how the drill works

1) The coach puts 5 players outside the three point line and 1 player under the basket as pictured to the right.

2) Player #1 gets the ball and tries to score with a jump shot from any distance. Player #1 is not allowed to dribble drive.

3) Player #6 defends the basket. He pressures the ball.

4) As player #1 shoots, player #6 tries to box out player #1 and rebound the ball.

5) If player #1 gets his own rebound, he shoots again. Player #6 will attempt to box out the player again to get the rebound. Player #1 will continue shooting until player #6 gets a rebound.

6) When player #6 gets the rebound, player #1 is done. Player #6 then passes the ball to player #2 for his next battle.

7) Player #6 will continues rebounding until he battles all 5 players.

The Main Point

I really liked this drill because it teaches boxing out for defenders and following your shot for offensive players. The rebounder gets a great workout during the 5 consecutive battles, so it also builds endurance.

My son Nic is certainly not the biggest player on the team, but he is one of the most tenacious. He limited all but one player to 1 shot. When he was shooting against his buddy Ben, Nic had 6 consecutive shots in a fierce protracted battle. After Ben was done, the coach gave Nic a high five and told Ben, "Don't worry about it - Nic is tough." That made me feel proud.

Proper Boxing Out Technique can be found on

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Youth Basketball: How to Talk to your Son After a Bad Game

Contested Layup
I had some success last night talking to my teenage boy after a bad game. I have learned how to deal with these situations and how not too. It has been an iterative process over the years. All kids are different so I am not sure this process will help you, but it seems to work for both of my kids.

Game 177

My son's basketball team lost a game by a big margin last night. After the game, my son was upset and stormed out of the gym. He loves to win and gives it his all, but he does not typically get visibly mad about losing.  I assumed that he was upset about one or more of the following; 1) his play while in the game, 2) his limited playing time, 3) getting pulled out of the game after being in for less than 10 seconds late in the last quarter or 4) missing a mixer (a school social party / dance) to play in the game.

In situations like this, my wife and I both know not to immediately talk to him about the game. It's just not productive. He always needs some time to think about and process the situation, else he will likely be irrational.

My wife and I took separate cars to the game. Nic decided to drive home with me after the game. We did not talk for the first 10 minutes of the drive home. After I was satisfied that he had some time to think, I asked him if he was more upset with missing the mixer or how he played (1 point, 1 rebound and 2 turnovers). It was a simple multiple choice question with two possible answers, but after 10 minutes of not talking he was ready to ramble on about both. Afterwards, I realized that he was bummed about missing the mixer, but upset about the game.

We drove in silence for a few minutes more. I asked him if his friends would be playing Xbox Live (Call of Duty) after they returned home from the mixer. He said yes. I asked him about his world ranking in Call of Duty - Black Ops. He explained with pride that he was ranked about 80,000th in the world. Millions play. He then explained that he could be ranked higher, but the zombie mode that he and his friends like to play does not contribute to the world rankings.

Once I was satisfied that he was thinking rationally, I turned the conversation back to the game. I asked him if he was upset about getting pulled from the game after just getting in. I knew that  this was the pain point because I saw it on his face when it happened. He confirmed it. I helped him understand the coach's rationale for this move. This was the situation:

It was late in the game and our team was on the losing side of a close battle. Our point guard had 4 fouls on him, one more foul and he was out of the game. We had just scored a basket and the coach quickly subbed Nic in for the point guard. Nic is not a natural basketball player. He made the team because he is aggressive and quick. He made the team because of defense not offense. He coach inserted Nic into the game to defend the inbound pass and hopefully to get a steal or to foul the player who received the pass. Nic quickly fouled the player to stop the clock and force the 1 and 1. After the foul, he was pulled from the game and the point guard was re-inserted. I explained to Nic that his strength is defense. If the team was winning, he would be in the game. Our point guard's strength is offense. The coach was smartly subbing the best players in for the rapidly changing situation.  Once Nic understood the situation he felt better about it.

Then I started talking about the things that he did well during the game and also gave him some advice to use his speed more on offense to create opportunities.

How to Talk To Young Athletes After a Bad Game

1) Assess the situation. Do you really need to talk about the bad game at all? Is it a teaching / learning moment? If not, do not even bring up the subject. Just down play it.
2) If it is a teaching / learning moment. Do not talk about it immediately. Let your young athlete think about it first. Say I understand you are upset about the game, lets talk about it after you have a chance to relax a little.
3) At first, ask yes / no or simple multiple choice questions. If your athlete is ready to talk they will open up. If not, they will give you a short answer. No need to push it until they are ready.
4) Listen first. Try to understand the real issue. Kids often mask the real issues by complaining about an umpire, a coach, a teammate or a phantom injury. Ask lots of qualifying questions.
5) Once you have all the input, explain the situation while highlighting your young athlete's strengths. Try to be supportive of the coaches and the refs. If your kid blames him / herself for a loss emphasize the team aspect of the game.  

The Main Point

Bad games can be great learning / teaching opportunities.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Youth Sports: Sports Training for Babies and Toddlers?

CC Age 3
On Wednesday, The New York Times featured an article called Sports Training Has Begun for Babies and Toddlers. Apparently formalized sports training cannot start early enough and entrepreneurs are cashing in on it. It's big business.

Crazy Youth Sports Parents Series

One company featured in the article is called Gymtrix. They sell videos to help kids get a fast start on their athletic coordination development. According to Gymtrix
"Something magical happens when kids learn how to throw, catch, kick, run, leap and twist. They get up and join in the game! GYMTRIX™ motivates kids to try new experiences and discover how it feels to succeed; it gives them a positive attitude about physical activity that can influence their whole lives."
I couldn't agree more, but do parents need a video to achieve this? What's next an iPhone App to teach your baby how to walk?

If you want your kid to throw, catch, kick, run, leap, twist or even hit a golf ball. Just Do It! Get away from the TV, the BluRay Player, the Wii and go outside and do it.

The one thing that I do agree with is that many kids can learn sports mechanics at a young age. It's remarkable what some kids if you just show them what to do.
Nic Age 3

Speaking of big business. In Cincinnati, there is a awesome indoor sports facility called Kids First. It's a sports training facility for younger kids. This place is crowded seemingly 24/7. They have swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, cheering, dance, soccer and basketball programs that cater to younger kids. For example, the 10 week, $152 Tumble Bee class is designed for 10-18 month old kids. $108 will get your kid some soccer and basketball training starting at the tender age of 3 year olds. Truth be told, my wife and I have spent lots of time and money in this place.

The Main Point

Your kid will be an good athlete if they are athletic. And it will not make any difference if they start training at 6 mos or 6 years. If you have the money and you want to see your kid run around an indoor soccer field with a bunch of other kids great. We enjoyed it, but we did not think that it was essential step in a quest for a college scholarship and you shouldn't either.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Youth Sports: Lebron James Bumped Off His Pedestal

I grew up watching the NBA. I loved watching the '70's Knicks / Lakers rivalry. I once drew a life size picture of Wilt Chamberlain that I cut out and hung on my wall. It was the first FatHead ever. Unfortunately, at 8 years old I did not see the huge business opportunity.

I became a 76ers fan when my dad bought Sixers season tickets in 1976, Dr. J's first year with the team. We had 14th row center-court seats from 1976 to 1990. Over the years, I saw the circus act shots of Dr. J, I witnessed Michael Jordan score his 10,000 point and his 15,000 point and I was awed as a shattered backboard rained down on Darryl Dawkins

I watched some great professional basketball over the years and loved it. Sadly, I do not watch NBA basketball anymore. I don't like the prima donnas or overly tattooed thugs who play the game now. And I am glad to say, my kids do not watch NBA basketball either.

On November 27, 2010, Lebron James, arguably the best player in the world, gave me just another reason to avoid the NBA when he intentionally bumped into his coach Eric Spoelstra. It was a bush league, disrespectful move. But perhaps the worst thing about the incident was that the coach did nothing about it. He down played it in interviews after the fact. You can tell in the video he was pissed off until he turned around and saw who bumped him, the supposed best player in the game who cannot win a championship. 

Crazy Youth Sports Coach Series

I see this all the time on youth sports fields and courts. The best players get away with disrespectful behavior much more readily than the bench players. Coaches put winning ahead of discipline. Coaches want to keep their stars happy to keep them from bolting to another team. Ironically, it is the lack of discipline and poor team chemistry that leads to losing and nothing makes a star leave a team more than losing. 

The Main Point

I agree with Charles Barkley who famously said that he was not a role model. Barkley wanted parents and teachers to quit looking to him to raise their kids and instead be role models themselves. As a former fan of Pete Rose, Roger Clemons and Brett Farve, I could not agree more. Add Lebron to the mix. I had already added him to the list this summer for the way he handled his free agency. And lets add Eric Spoelstra to the list of coaches we do not want to emulate. He is toast.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Youth Sports: The Importance of the Team Mom

This is how a Team Mom is born.

Before the a sports season starts, the coach will send an email to the team and ask for someone to volunteer to be the team administrator, aka the Team Mom. 

You know the email. It's the kind of email that you ignore for a few hours or days hoping that someone will response before your guilty conscious gets the best of you.

If you were born with that Team Mom gene, you know that there are only one or two logical choices for the job because the job takes great organizational skills and commitment. You know that you would be the best at it, but you want the other person to volunteer first. You kind of want the job, but really do not know how you are going to juggle your time. 

Both qualified candidates play chicken. The silence on the email is deafening. 

Eventually, someone with a guilty conscious but terrible organizational skills for the job will nominated the logical choice. The flattering nomination email will say something like,  "I would volunteer, but I am not very organized. The team finances and schedule would be a disaster. I wish I were more like Betty Sue. She has complete command of her world. Betty Sue you should do it, you would be a great team mom."

Betty Sue will accept because she "kind of" wanted the job anyway.  And she will do a great job as the nominator had predicted.

These responsibilities are enumerated on MomsTeam which is a great resource for youth sports parents. The list of 10 responsibilities include:
  1. Money manager
  2. Answer person
  3. Keeper of the list
  4. Pre-season meeting coordinator
  5. File Clerk
  6. Fundraiser coordinator
  7. Volunteer coordinator
  8. Webmaster
  9. Travel agent
  10. Team Pin Buyer
I can add to the list - Spirit wear coordinator, Uniform Purchasing Agent and lead Carpool driver.

The list above was Adapted from the book, Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports (HarperCollins 2006) by Brooke de Lench. See Amazon link below.

The Main Point

The team mom can be a dad. I have seen some every good team mom, dads. 

Make sure you thank the team administrator after the season. Perhaps buy them a gift certificate to a nice restaurant. They have earned it.



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