Friday, April 30, 2010

Youth Baseball: Overcoming a Slump (Part 2)

Game 28

My "work hard and hustle your way through slumps" speech to my son seems to be working (See Youth Baseball: Overcoming a Slump - Part 1). My son, Nic, has been struggling at the plate for the first time in his life. He feels the pressure of high expectations, expectations established by a long history of success. Last night he hit a long drive over the centerfielder's head for a stand up triple. He came in to the dugout with a huge smile on his face. He said, "Dad, it is so cool when you see the outfielder instantly turn their back and run."

I have been videotaping his recent at bats and put together a montage to reviewed with his hitting coach, Coach K. We noticed that my son was taking one small step to set his base and load his hands into a perfect position. From here he should swing down through the ball, however, he was taking an additional long step as the pitch was coming. During the second step he turned his toe toward the pitcher. This caused three problems:
1) the second elongated step moved his plane of vision down so he was hitting the bottom of the ball
2) because the toe was turned open, his hips were flying open too soon. When his hands came through he was hitting with all arms and pulling off the ball.
3) This threw off his timing.

This is a recipe for a slump.

The hitting coach, widened his stance and instructed my son to lift his foot up and place it right back down. Nic did as instructed and had one very bad session trying break his bad habit. After the session, Nic was discouraged. He asked if we could have another session with Coach K the next night. I arranged it.

The following day, everything started to click. He was mashing the ball in the practice and was excited to tryout his new approach in a game. I told Nic that this was not a new approach at all. We looked at old pictures and videos and he was basically using the same mechanics he had been using with success for years.

Nic hit a long triple in his next game. On the ride home from the game Nic said, "I am proud."
I said, "Proud about the triple?"
He said, "Yeah, but I am proud that I am working through this slump. And the coach said in the post game speech that he can always count on me to hustle no matter what. That is what I am proud of."

So maybe dad speeches do work sometimes.

The Main Point

If your son or daughter is in a slump, video tape their at bats and watch the swing in slow motion. Review the video with your head coach or your personal hitting coach. If your coach is not really knowledgeable about hitting and you do not have a personal hitting coach then learn the proper mechanics yourself by watching videos. There are a lot of great videos on the market that teach the proper mechanics of a baseball swing. One of my favorites is Tom Emanski's Mechanics of a Major League Swing.

Also, remind your kids that are many ways to contribute to a game besides getting hits, scoring goals, making points. Praise hustle over hits. Praise guts over goals. Praise practice and preparation over points scored.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Should Girls be Allowed to Play on Boys Teams (Part Two)

Should Girls Play on Boys Teams Series

There is a 12 year old girl from Plant City Florida named Chelsea Baker who plays on a boys baseball team. Should she be allowed?

The criteria from the last post:
Can she compete with the boys? Yes - Chelsea Baker can most definitely compete.
Will the experience develop her skills? This experience is making her a better player.
Will the experience build her confidence or erode it? She seems pretty confident to me.
Will she be prepared if her boy teammates do not treat her as a teammate? I assume the boys on Chelsea's team are thrilled to have a great pitcher on the team.
Will she be prepared if the coach does not treat her the same way as the boys? From the Tampa Bay Online article - it seems like the coach is a big fan of Chelsea's.

Chelsea Baker just pitched her second career perfect game. She struck out 16 of 18 JR Farm boys with a fastball, curveball and a nasty knuckleball.

Tampa Bay Online: Plant City girl, 12, pitches second perfect Little League game

Here is a website dedicated to Girls Playing Baseball; Girls Play Baseball

The Main Point

Talent should dictate not gender.

Youth Sports: Should Girls be Allowed to Play on Boys Teams

Should Girls Play on Boys Teams Series

When I am asked if a girl should be allowed to play on a boys team, I usually answer with a set of questions. Can your daughter compete with the boys? Will the experience help your daughter develop her skills? Will the experience build confidence or erode it? Will your daughter be prepared if her boy teammates do not treat her as a teammate? Will your daughter be prepared if the coach does not treated her the same way as the boys?

When my daughter was in second grade, she used to play pick up basketball during recess. She was typically the only girl playing and she was playing with / against some of the best boy athletes in her school. During one of these pick up games, she learned that a few of these boys were selected to play on the same organized team. She came home and asked if she could play on that team. I doubted it, but I told her that I would try my best to get her on the team.

Ronnie Grandison, a former NBA player, was the coach of the team. I called Coach Ronnie to asked if CC could play. I tried to convince him that she could compete. I told him that she may not be the best player on the team, but that she would definitely be his best student. He listened politely, but then informed me that the roster was filled. The very next day, I got email from Coach Ronnie. He changed his mind. He told me that he has four athletic daughters (he also has a young boy too) and couldn't say no. He added an extra spot.

Coach Ronnie runs a fantastic player development program. He and his staff treated CC (#12) just like the boys. It was so much fun watching my daughter's basketball IQ and skills increase each and every week. The following season, my daughter decided to play against girls because there were a few boys who refused to pass her the ball. Thanks to Ronnie's program, CC led her girls team to a league championship.

The Main Point

Girls should be allowed to play on boys teams if they can 1) compete, 2) grow in confidence and self-esteem and 3) improve their skills from the experience.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Youth Baseball: Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities (RBI)

Game 27

Nic's team plays a lot of games in a lot of cities across multiple states each year. No matter where he plays, the majority of the opposing players are white or Hispanic. The percentage of African American ball players he faces is very low. On Saturday, Nic's team beat an RBI team, a team made up almost entirely of African American players. RBI stands for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. RBI is a Major League Baseball youth outreach program designed to:
  1. Increase participation and interest in baseball and softball
  2. Encourage academic participation and achievement
  3. Increase number of talented athletes prepared to play in college and minor leagues
  4. Promote greater inclusion of minorities into the mainstream of the game
  5. Teach the value of teamwork
More than 120,000 kids worldwide have enrolled in this great program since 1991. The RBI mantra is about keeping kids occupied and growing the game in urban settings. It has also been a stepping stone for some big leaguers, including CC Sabathia (Yankees), Carl Crawford (Rays) and Jimmy Rollins (Phillies).

Is the program that started in 1991 starting to work? Currently, 10.2 percent of the players of MLB players are black, a 24 percent increase by percentage from 2007 and the highest it has been since 2001. (The percentage of blacks in US is about 13%.) So perhaps it is.

Orlando Hudson (2B Twins) recently commented that Gary Sheffield and Jermaine Dye were having trouble finding jobs in 2010 because they are black. The media jumped on this story. The numbers above suggest that the MLB is addressing the issue. Yes Orlando Hudson, there is prejudice in the MLB. Prejudice against older players with declining skills who demand lots of money. Jermaine Dye is a horrific defensive player and batted .179 in the second half last year. He declined a $3 million dollars offer from the Cubs.

Crazy Youth Sports Parent Alert

The the only negative, the 3rd base coach had a chip on his shoulder like Orlando Hudson. Our 3rd baseman, who happens to be African American, made a tremendous play on a hot shot down the line. The 3rd base coach for the RBI team who had been making inappropriate comments all game long said, "Oh look what I found!" One of our parents finally asked him to please be more positive. He turned around and said, "Oh listen to the rich parents complain (then his obviously negative comments trailed off.)"

The Main Point

The RBI program is a wonderful program that benefits African American players who participate and the teams that they play against.

The RBI kids we played against were talented. They played with passion. They played to win. They played with smiles on their faces.

Our kids are talented. They played with passion. They played to win. They played with smiles on their faces.

Mr 3rd base coach, on that field it was not about white vs black, it was not about rich vs poor, it was about ballplayer vs ballplayer. Lose the chip on your shoulder because the great Jackie Robinson was surely smiling from above.

    Youth Baseball: Overcoming a Slump

    Game 26

    Rain threaten the likelihood of baseball on Saturday. My son was actually hoping for a rainout. This is not typical. My son, Nic, who has a lifetime average well over .400, is currently struggling at the plate. He was thinking a little break might be helpful. The rain held off for the first day of the tournament so the games were played.

    On the 45 minute drive to the field, I talked to him about playing through slumps. I told him that Mark Teixeira, All Star 1st Baseman for the World Champion New York Yankees, is a notoriously slow starter. I told him that Teixeira, who signed a $160M contract, is currently batting .123 after 65 at bats. I told him that he starts off slowly every year, but he always finishes near the league lead in HRs and RBIs. I told Nic that Mark still contributes in a big way. He still plays Gold Glove defense at first base and he plays with passion regardless of his average.

    To make my point, I had Nic use my iPhone to see how Mark Teixeira had an impact on the game Friday night even though he went 0-4 in the game. Mark Teixeira went from 1st base to home on Robinson Cano's double down the line. Teixeira scored after a violent collision at home plate with the catcher. Parents please note, I told my son that under no circumstances should he ever run into the catcher. I was simply underscoring that playing with passion never goes into a slump unless you let it. Also, there is a debate about this play featured below. Some think that it was dirty, some think that it was clean. I think that he would have been safe with a hook slide, but it is a split second decision. Mark Teixeira is not a dirty player, he is simply a player who plays with passion.

    Nic went 1 for 3 with a double. He played great defensive catcher and throw out two basestealers.

    The Main Point

    There are many ways to contribute to a game besides getting hits, scoring goals, making points. Praise hustle over hits. Praise guts over goals. Praise practice and preparation over points scored.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    Confidence Can Carry Over from One Sport to Another

    Game 25

    I have kept the books / stats for baseball, soccer, football, and basketball, but I have never been the scorekeeper for volleyball. I can now cross that off my 50 things to do before I am 50. I kept the volleyball scorebook, while Nic's team won two games and lost one. Nic brought his strong serve and tallied 22 of the 45 points. After the game, we talked about confidence. He succeeds at serving in volleyball because he is confident. I told him that he will start hitting a baseball like he is used to when he gets his confidence back. I hope that the confidence he is building in volleyball will carry over.

    The Main Point

    One benefit of playing multiple sports at one time is that positive momentum from one sport can carry over to another. I guess the opposite can true too. But I have been using the success from volleyball to help build confidence for baseball.

    Johnson is a Perfect Name for a Snake

    If my daughter does not get a college scholarship for soccer, softball or basketball, we have a backup plan. STACKER and EBAY.

    Stacker is a video game found in bars and restaurants. Each game costs $1.00. The object of the game is to stack video boxes on top of each other. If you stack 8 boxes high you earn a small prize. According to my kids, this is fairly easy to do. If you get to 8 boxes, you can end the game and take a small prize or you can try for the big prize by stacking 10 boxes. This is very difficult to do, but the reward is huge. The prizes for stacking 10 high usually consists of Flip Cameras, Ipods or Garmin GPSs.

    We went out for a family dinner at a local restaurant last night. I gave my daughter CC and my son Nic $3 each to play games while we waited for the food. CC played Stacker and each time bypassed the small prize for a chance to win a purple 8G iPod Nano with a Video Camera (Retail Price $159). She came up short each time. Nic played a racing game and kept getting an extended play. His money lasted much longer than CC's. Nic gave CC his last dollar. She said, "thanks, I'll win you an iPod." CC went back to Stacker while Nic raced on. About a minute later, CC handed him an iPod. This was the 3rd iPod she has won this year. She has given each one away because she already has an 8G iPod Nano. She loves the challenge and she loves to give.

    She paid $4 for a $!59 iPod. If he can do this consistently, she can make some serious money on EBay for college.

    We sat down to dinner and I told the kids about Nic's first carnival game win. When Nic was 5, we took him to an arcade in the New York, New York Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. We played all kinds of video games. As we were leaving, he saw the claw game and wanted to play. I tried to tell, him from extensive experience, that that game was a total waste of money. I told him that no one ever wins.  He said, "I'll win."

    I gave him his my last dollar. He went over, positioned the claw over an orange snake. He dropped the claw, grabbed the snake and dropped the snake into the collection shoot. He came over to me and said, "See dad." I said, "I'll never doubt you again." He then said probably, "I am going to name my snake Johnson." We could not hold back the laughter as we told him that that was a very apropos.

    The Main Point

    Confidence leads to success. And Johnson is a good name for a snake.

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Youth Baseball: Game Starts with a Prayer, Ends with a Prayer.

    Game 24

    My son's baseball team started the game with a prayer for a local pitcher who was seriously injured when he was hit on the head by a line drive last week. (Link to news video below)

    These injuries are becoming more and more prevalent as the technology of the super bats increases. There are two solutions to the problem. 1) Ban the bats or 2) Mandate use of fielders helmets. My son's entire baseball team wears All Star Fielding Helmets.

    My son's team lost this game 19 to 18. They blew a 17 to 8 lead. It was warm and sunny when the game started, it was freezing cold by the last inning at 9:30. My hands were so cold that I had a tough time keeping score. It was not a league game so win or lose, I prayed to God that the game would not go extra innings.

    Local Boy Hit in Head With Baseball is Recovering

    The Main Point

    All baseball pitchers from the little leagues to the Major Leagues should wear helmets. 1st and 3rd baseman should probably wear helmets. After the death of a minor league first base coach, the MLB mandates that all Major and Minor League 1st and 3rd base coaches wear helmets. Pitchers are much closer to the action than baseline coaches.

    Youth baseball coaches wake up and mandate fielding helmets for pitchers at a minimum. Better yet, send a message that you believe in safety, have the entire team wear helmets in the field. You know what would be really cool. If a prominent MLB pitcher started wearing a helmet to start the conversation.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Youth Soccer: Harold Ramis is Funny, Bad Soccer Refs Are Not

    Game 22 and Game 23

    Crazy Youth Sports Parents Series

    Last year, I was watching my older son, K-Man, play soccer in a tournament game with his United team. U17 select soccer is always rough and physical, but this game was more like a street fight. The ref for the game must have left his whistle, yellow cards and red cards in the car. He didn't call anything and as a result the violence escalated with each tick of the clock.

    At the start of the second half, one of our United players took out a kid with a hard slide tackle. It was not malicious, but it probably was a foul. The ref said, "play on, no foul." A few minutes later, a player from the other team retaliated by taking out a United player. The kid who was targeted didn't event have the ball and happened to be the only African American kid on the field. He was a speed player, not a physical player, yet he was targeted. I am pretty sure that it was racially motivated. No foul was called.

    The United parents were getting restless and very vocal about the poor officiating.

    A few minutes later, the same opposing player who took out the African American kid, flipped our best offensive player over his hip as they both battled for the ball. Our player fell awkwardly and ended up breaking his wrist. The ref finally issued a yellow card.

    The parent of the kid who was injured thought that a red card should have been issued and that player ejected. The ref and the dad exchanged words. Then the dad decided to eject the ref. He chased after the ref for a beat down. Luckily the ref was faster than the irate dad. The ref called the game a forfeit as he ran to his car. We lost.

    Tonight, the ref for my daughter's game did not blow the whistle either and this game also got out of hand. Nine year old girls can play some rough soccer too.

    My daughter's team ended up losing 1-0. My daughter, CC, scored a goal but the ref called a very questionable offsides and negated the tying goal. So I guess the ref did have a whistle. Later in the game, I politely asked the ref if she was watching the same game I was watching after my daughter was fouled right in front of me. I did not ride the ref for two reasons. 1) I didn't want to be the subject matter of my Crazy Youth Sports Parents Series and 2) she looked exactly like the actor Harold Ramis, who has made me laugh a time or two in movies like Stripes and Ghost Busters.

    The Main Point

    Harold Ramis is funny. Refs who let soccer games get out of control are not funny.

    Youth Baseball Game 23: My son Nic, had a baseball game also. My wife went to that game and kept me informed via my Apple iPhone. Nic went 0-1 with 2 walks. He was robbed by the center fielder who made a shoestring catch in right center near the wall. I was entertained by the reenactment this morning. Nic throw out one base stealer and had a tag out at home. Overall he was very happy. My main goal is to make sure he is enjoying the experience. I check the pulse on this often.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Youth Sports: On Every Team There's One Kid Who Wears Jeans

    According to Sports Pickle, a sports humor, satire and parody site, there are certain types of kids that you can expect to find on every boys youth sports team. There's a lot of truth in this humorous post called The 7 Kids on Every Sports Team. Check it out it's worth it.

    #1 The Coach's Son
    #2 The Kid Who Hit Puberty Early
    #3 The Rich Kid
    #4 The Kid Who Only Wears Jeans
    #5 The Girl (My wife was one)
    #6 The Weird Kid
    #7 The Black Kid

    The Main Point

    When I was 8 years old, I batted against Sally Stokes while wearing ToughSkin jeans. I remember this vividly because I was playing in the era before Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the battle of the sexes in 1973.  Had Billy Jean beaten Bobby in 1971, I may not have been as nervous waiting on deck to be the next victim of the hard throwing girl. John, the batter before me, struck out. I remember feeling glad. I didn't want to be the only one to strike out against Sally. In the batter's box, I remember my legs shaking. I remember getting 2 strikes while my heart beat out of my chest. Luckily, I grounded out to the shortstop. I remember my first homer vividly and I remember facing Sally. The other ABs are a blur.

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Youth Soccer: Not All Parents Want Stats Made Public

    In a 1 to 0 soccer game, who gets the accolades and the press, the sweeper, the stopper or the scorer? The scorer usually does.

    I keep the game stats for the coaching staff. The stats help the coach manage the game. Recently, one of the assistant coaches who has developed a website for the team posted to stats. Here is the response from one of the parents.

    We appreciate all the effort and time that you have put into creating this
    website for the team.

    My thoughts regarding the addition of statistics are that they are an
    unnecessary addition to the site.  The team has come a long way in the last
    year to mesh together and work as a unit.  By highlighting statistics for
    the team it could drive all kinds of negative behavior between players and
    parents -it should still be about fun and teamwork at this age.  I would
    prefer to see comments that highlight a fantastic play that you have been
    working on or a superb move that a player did that you have been practicing.

    I realize that the statistical information is not any secret as we are all
    there watching the games.  However, personally my husband and I are not keeping
    track of individual players goals, assists and other measurements.  If it is
    a unanimous decision between the parents, trainer, and league to track these
    measurements at this age and level of play then we should agree on someone
    who can dedicate their attention to tracking this.

    Again, we truly appreciate all the time and effort that you and Coach J put in
    to the team but strongly feel that this is not a positive addition and
    should be removed immediately.


    Anthony and Dee
    The stats were pulled from the site.

    The Main Point

    Let's face it. Soccer is a low scoring game and 1 to 0 soccer games are more likely to happen than a 10 to 9 game. In a 1 to 0 soccer game, the defense played flawlessly for the entire 40, 60, 90 minutes of the game. (Length of games varies with age group.) The one goal most likely happened in a split second and was the result of a combination of a defensive stop, followed by several passes to make it happen. I believer that goals are over-rated as a measure, but I have been watching soccer for a long time and there are some players that have a nose for the goal and others who do not. Scoring or finishing as many call it is a skill that only a few possess. I wish that there were better statistical measures in soccer to measure defensive contributions for non-goalies.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Youth Baseball: Rooting Against Your Own Team

    Game 20 and 21

    On Saturday day / night, Nic's team had a 13 to 5 win over a team from Michigan and 15 to 5 over a team from Central Ohio. These pool play wins qualified Nic's team for the #2 seed in the Sunday single elimination tournament. The top 8 teams from pool play would compete for the tournament championship.

    On Sunday, Nic's team ended up being matched up with the Michigan team they beat 13 to 5 the night before. Nic went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored and his team won 16 to 6 to advance to the semi-finals. Nic's confidence was rising.

    The semi-final game was against another team from our city. The opponent is a long time rival and the two teams usually play closely contested games. It would not be the case today. Nic's team scored 2 quick runs in the first inning (Nic walked and scored in the first) and the team scored another in the 2nd, but that would be all Nic's team could muster.  The other team could not be stopped. Games like this are long for both pitchers and catchers. This was an especially long day for my son who was catching.

    In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Nic was waiting at home for a play at the plate. He took his helmet off and threw it clear of the play as many catchers do. He realized that the ball from right field was sailing long. He ran back and jumped for the ball. He caught the ball and landed right on his catcher's helmet. He lost his balance and fell into a pole on the corner of the backstop. He ended up bruising his ribs. The coach took him out of the game.

    The mercy rule of 15 runs after 4 innings was in effect. We had 3 runs after four innings. The other team had 17 runs and only needed 1 run in the 4th inning to win by the mercy rule. I have to admit I was really hoping that the other team would score so we could go home.

    The Main Point

    Nobody is going to admit it, but parents root against their teams at times for self serving reasons. I hear about these situations during team dinners on the road. Parents will get a few beers in them and then your start to hear it. Some want the jackass coach of your team to lose to teach him a lesson. Others simply want to lose so they can get a jump on the ride home from an away tournament. Some will root against the snotty ball hog on their team secretly hoping that he fails miserably. Some root against a kid because they hate the parents of the kid. Vindication, Dad Labs explores this too.

    Have you ever rooted against your team?

    Youth Sport: Preventing Foot Pain

    My son's baseball coach is a freak about uniforms. Last year we had over 72 different possible combinations of uniforms. We had a cardinal jersey, a blue jersey. yellow jersey, a grey vest, a white vest, grey pants, white pants, card stirrup socks and blue stirrup socks. We also had a blue hat, a cardinal hat, a yellow hat and a white hat. Before each game we would get an email with the uniform combination. One pair of black baseball cleats was issued by the team.

    Foot health is very important and proper fitting shoes is vital to foot health. This the team issued Mizuno 9-spike franchise mid G5 cleats to the team. These are an entry level type cleats. As such, they do not have great arch support or cushioning. My son was complaining of foot pain recently, so we went out an bought Powerstep Pinnacle Orthotics inserts. My son played 4 games in them and loves them.

    The Main Point

    If you are going to buy an entry level cleat and your kid has foot pain, buy a proper shoe insert for proper arch support and cushioning.

    Youth Soccer: Injuries Mounting

    Game 19

    My son, Nic, and my daughter, CC, each had games at 1:30 today. My wife and I needed to divide and conquer. We decided to let fate decide who went where.  Rock, paper, scissors is our fate game of choice. I lost so my wife got to decide. She opted for soccer, perhaps 3 baseball games in one one day was too much for her. She opted out of the middle of the three games.

    Sometimes a team's record is a direct reflection of how good they are. Sometimes a team's record is determined by injuries. CC's team carries 9 girls for the 6v6 soccer format. The team is now down to 7 girls. One girl is in a boot with an ankle injury and today the team's number one goalie broke her hand.
    The injury to the goalie will impact my CC as she will need to play goalie a lot more minutes now. This will impact the team because CC is one of the leading scorers on the team.

    The team lost 3-2 today. CC had a goal on a PK.

    The Main Point

    Coaches love to have a short roster of the very best players. Each player gets more playing time. Each kid gets more touches on the ball. And this makes the members of the team better. It also makes life easier for the coaches. Substitutions are less complicated and more playing time means little Suzie's mom or little Johnny's dad will not have anything to complain about. The is great until the injuries happen.

    Youth Baseball in Cold Weather Sucks

    Game 17 and Game 18

    The ball is slippery. The Bat stings. Cold arms and legs are more susceptible to injury. To me there is nothing worse than baseball in the cold. Nic's team had two games on Saturday. The regularly scheduled game and the make up from the rain that came through with a cold front. The wind was blowing with gusts of wind upto 50 mph from the north. It was sunny, but the wind had a bit to it.

    Nic's team won both games. He walked 5 times and had one hit. He scored 5 times. Great stats for a batter at the top of the line up, but boring.

    The Main Point

    It is hard to keep the baseball scorebook in cold weather.

    Youth Soccer: Should be an Easy Win

    Game 16

    Prior to the first league game of the spring season, our coach overheard the coach of the opposing team, the Lightning, proclaim that this should be an easy win.

    In the fall, the elite level was split into two divisions, Red and Blue. Each division had 8 teams. My daughter's team, the Sabres, finished 4th in the Red Division. The Lightning were undefeated in the Blue Division. For the spring season, the top four teams from each division were combined to form one super division. This division contains the 8 best teams in the metro area made up of 1 million people. These teams are the best of the best so the proclamation from the Lightning coach that they would win easily was bold.

    Prior to the game, our coach used this bold prediction to motivate our team. Did it work? The Sabres won the game 8 to 0. The Sabres were 0-3 versus the Lightning over the last year and a half, so this was a satisfying win. My daughter, CC, scored 2 goals and made two great saves in goal.

    The Main Point

    Comments from opposing teams can be either intimidating or they can be motivating. Personally, I don't really think that predictions have an actual impact on the outcome.  The Sabres beat the Lightning because they became a better team during the winter indoor season.

    Jimmy Rollins is not afraid to make bold predictions. He proclaimed that the Phillies would keep the Mets from winning the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball in 2007. He ended up that year as the MVP and did lead the Phillies to the division title. In 2009 on the Jay Leno Show, he also boldly predicted that the Phillies would beat the Yankees in 6 games in the 2009 World Series. He was right about the 6 games, but the Yankees won. Games are won on the field.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    Youth Sports: Prayer Before the Game

    Game 15

    My son's baseball game was rained out Friday night. This game will be made up on Saturday. This freed Nic up to play for his school's volleyball team. His team ended up losing the match 2 games to 1.

    There were two things that I found interesting that I wanted to share.

    1) I was sitting next to another parent. We were talking and I told him that we are in the middle of a crazy week. The schedule had us playing up to 7 baseball games, 2 soccer games and 1 volleyball game from last Wednesday to Sunday. He said, "Oh wow, you do not have a life." I responded, "This is my life and I love every minute of it." And I do. This will all be over before my wife and I know it and we are enjoying it thoroughly.

    2) The game started with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Although my son goes to a Catholic School and participates in CYO athletics often, a public opening prayer is not the norm at every venue.

    The Main Point

    I liked the prayer. It set the event its proper perspective. Crazy Youth Sports Parents often lose perspective.

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Youth Sports: Ribbons for Participation

    When I was a kid of about 7 years old, I played on a terrible light blue soccer team. My dad was the coach and quite frankly he didn't know anything about soccer.

    We didn't win a single game. We didn't score a single goal. But after the season ending tournament was over, the league officials lined us up, shook our hands, said good season and gave each of us a yellow participation ribbon. I vividly remember thinking, Good Season. Really? We sucked as much as this stupid yellow ribbon. I envied my friends that got a trophy with a soccer player on it.

    Today my site was listed on ALLTOP and I got this ribbon. Not meaningless.

    Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

    The Main Point:

    Some kids are going to cherish the participation ribbon, but most young athletes are going to see right through it.  I do not care how much parents, coaches and leagues try to play games with no scoring or to give out trophies for participation. Most kids know the score, know if they won or lost, know if they are good or bad. And guess what, they are just fine.

    Youth Soccer: Hey Lady Be Kind to the Ref.

    Crazy Parents of Youth Sports Series

    My friend, Bart is a coach. He coaches hockey, soccer and lacrosse. Prior to each season, he sends an email to the parents to outline his coaching philosophy that emphasizes fun, player development and sportsmanship.

    Last year's introductory email prior to the soccer season was no different. He set the expectations for the kids in terms of playing time, positions and sportsmanship. He also made it very clear that he expected the parents to behave in a sportsmanlike manner. He encouraged them to be loud in a positive, encouraging and uplifting way. And he strongly discouraged them from criticizing the referees.

    During the first game of the season, Bart heard one of the parents relentlessly riding the ref. Due to the noise of several games being played around him and the glare of the morning sun, Bart didn't know who was yelling at the ref, but he wanted it to stop.

    He called his wife on the far sidelines to help him out. She picked up the phone and said, "Sorry, I'll Stop."

    The Main Point

    When you send an email note to your parents, cc your spouse.

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Baseball Takes Incredible Concentration to Succeed

    Game 14

    My son had another baseball game today. Would this be the day that he breaks out of his slump and his whoa is me attitude?

    He was the starting catcher today so he was in a much better mood. He was still the lead off hitter so he was thrilled about that too. He took a much better attitude to the plate today.

    He faced a tough pitcher to start the game. He ended up hitting a long fly ball to the opposite field. The left fielder tracked it well and caught it in the gap. I looked to see my son's expression. He looked pleased. He commented to me as he ran by, "I just missed that one, oh well." He saw 8 pitches during a his next at bat in the 3rd inning. He ended up walking and eventually scoring. He was thrilled about his at bat. My son had two tough tag plays at home to keep the game close. Confidence was building. His last at bat came in the last inning in the dark against a flamethrower who had struck out 4 of the last 6 batters. I thought to myself, that this is not an ideal situation to try to break a slump.

    The pitcher started my son off with a fastball belt high. My son took the pitch to gauge the speed. Strike One. My son took a huge swing on the second pitch but missed the 70 mph fastball. Strike Two.
    The next pitch was a 40 mph change up. My son started his swing then stopped, then fouled it off at the last second. He had a toothy smile because he knew he just got lucky against an outstanding pitch. The count remained at 0-2. He was still smiling as the fourth pitch, another 70 fastball, went wide for a ball. The fifth pitch was another 70 mph fastball down the middle up, my son fouled it straight back. I could see that my son was feeling proud. The last pitch was another fastball, this time down and in. My son turned on it and drilled it down the line pass the 1st baseman for a single.

    The flamethrower stuck out the next batter to end the game.

    As my son crossed the diamond to go back to the dugout, he went up to the pitcher and told him that he was the best pitcher he has ever faced. The kid said thanks. He told my son, "You know not many get hits off of me and nobody pulls the ball on me. Nice at bat."

    The Main Point

    Baseball takes incredible concentration. If your son or daughter is distracted they will not succeed. Baseball take a short memory. If your son or daughter are still thinking about the last at bat or last error, they will not succeed. Baseball takes confidence. Help build up your kid's confidence.

    Youth Baseball: The Pressure to be Great can be too Great

    Game 13

    My son is playing his fourth season with his current select baseball team. During that period, he has the highest batting average on the team. As such, he is expected to hit and hit and hit. He is expected to be great by his coaches and his teammates. It's not unreasonable for them to have these expectations because they have become accustom to my son delivering time and time again. I have become used to watching him succeed, so I go to the games expecting him to be great. He expects himself to be great too. With all these expectations comes great pressure.

    My son did not have a hit during the 3 game Tennessee tournament two weeks ago. That was the first time he had gone hitless over a 3 game period. He was bummed about it and had a two week period without games to think about it. During the past two weeks of practice, however, he worked very hard and was mashing the ball. He couldn't wait for the game tonight.

    He looked forward to the game all day. He expected to be the starting catcher and get his first hit of the year. When he got to the game, he found out he was not the starting catcher. He was the designated hitter for this game. The coach expected the first game to be an easy win and therefore decided to hold back his ace pitcher for the second game (tonight). My son always catches the ace. This was not communicated to my son. My son just assumed he lost his starting role. He was dejected. He took this defeated attitude to the plate and went 0-5. He has started off the season 0-9.

    After the game he was so upset. I of course gave him the speech that every dad gives. You know the speech. It's the Even the great players have tough games - Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports - Keep your chin up - Get'em next time - Speech. And of course it had the same effect that it had on me when I was a kid.

    After the canned speech. I told him that I understand completely the pressure he is under to be great. I felt it as a kid too and still do. I told him if we think about it rationally, we are going to be loved no matter what. I know it and he knows it yet we still feel the pressure. Why? Because that pressure is coming from inside and it's probably the energy that drives us. This inner energy will most likely drive his success in sports, in school and in business throughout his life.

    I did, however, tell my son that I was upset that he didn't play like a captain. I told him that I don't expect hits every game, but I do expect him to play every game like a captain. I expect him to hustle on every ground ball. I expect him to not throw his equipment. I expect him to cheer for his teammates. I expect him to respect the coaches, the umpires and the game. Last night, he sat on the end of the bench sulking. These are not unreasonable expectations.

    The Main Point(s)

    Don't set the expectation that your kid should get a hit or a goal every game, but set the expectation that they should play like a captain, play with passion, play with respect and be sportsmanlike.

    Note to coaches.  Know your players. Know what drives them. Some players are happy that they made the team, others are not happy unless they are starting and batting up in the order. Obviously everyone can not play the position that they want or hit at the top of the line up. My advice is to talk to your players let them know why you have made the decisions you have made and let them know what they need to do to change the situation for themselves.

    Buying Your Kid's First Baseball Glove. Make it Memorable.

    My daughter's coach will not let my daughter play with her current glove because it is too small. So we she needed to get her a new glove.

    My wife took my daughter to Dick's Sporting Goods. If you want to know the truth, I was kind of bummed about this. I consider baseball glove buying a dad thing. I was so excited when I brought my oldest son to buy his first glove and I also vividly remember the first glove buying experience with my other kids. It is not that my wife cannot pick out the right glove. It has nothing to do with gender. I fondly remember when my dad took me to buy my first Rawlings glove. When my kids remember back, I selfishly want to be a part of the memory.

    My daughter tried on every glove in the store. She settled on a black and pink Mizuno glove for $35. She needs to use the glove immediately, so the new glove had to be pre-broken it. This glove fit perfectly, was very soft and pliable, was the right color and was only $35. We will buy her a good glove when she is fully grown. I will review the glove in a few weeks in the comment section.

    The Main Point

    The experience of buying your kid's first baseball glove may be a life long memory for you and your kid. Take your time and make it more than a transaction, make it an experience.

    Here is the info on the glove from Mizuno

    Perform at your best with the exceptional Mizuno® 11.5" Finch Pink Prospect glove. The superior design features multiple technologies to have the advantage in the game. Mizuno's® exclusive ParaShock™ palm pad absorbs the shock of repeated use providing outstanding protection and ideal comfort. The Power Close® makes it easier for younger players to close the glove and catch the ball.


    • 11.5" fastpitch pattern
    • Diagonal Tartan Web
    • Double hinge heel creates a larger pocket
    • Power Lock™ closure provides the quickest and most secure fit available
    • Surefit™ foam adds cushioning along the back of the fingers for a more customized fit
    • Double Hinge Heel™ design creates an extra wide pocket for a secure catch
    • V-Flex Notch™ helps initiate easy closure

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Youth Baseball: Hit in the Face with a Pitch

    Unwritten Youth Sports Rule 

    I was at my son's baseball practice today. On an adjacent field the left fielder fell awkwardly trying to catch a ball during a game. He didn't even come close to the ball and remained on the ground while the center fielder ran after the ball. After time was called, the left fielder's dad ran onto the field to attend to his son. That's a major no no. The kid wasn't hurt, he was embarrassed.

    I coached for years and I found that most injuries were nothing more than minor scratches or bruises. And a large percentage of "injuries" were feigned to divert attention away from a mistake made on the field or an embarrassing moment. If a kid is pretending to be hurt to avoid embarrassment, the last thing he or she wants is to have his or her mom run on the field. Talk about embarrassing. Parents, let the coaches take care of the situation. They will call you on to the field if you are truly needed.

    During the second to last baseball game of the year two years ago, my son was hit in the face with a fastball. I jumped out of the stands and ran toward the field expecting to see blood and teeth on the ground. I wanted desperately to be with my son, but I knew the unwritten rule and held myself back. I stayed behind the fence nervously biting my fingernails.  The coaches attended to my son. After 10 minutes, my son got up and made his way down to 1st base. He ended up stealing second and eventually scored the winning run. The win qualified my son's team for the championship game of the tournament.

    During the 1 hour wait for the start of the championship game, my son iced his face to keep his eye from swelling. I was not sure if he would be physically able to play in the championship game. If able, I was not sure if he would have the courage to get into the batters box again so soon. I will not doubt him again. When it was his turn to bat he walked up to the plate with confidence, he crowded the plate per usual and he lined a double into the gap. His team won the championship and I was so proud of his courage. He loved the lace marked bruise.

    The Main Point:

    Parents should not go on the field or court when their kids get hurt, unless it is an obviously serious situation.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Youth Baseball: Cat Fight In the Stands

    Crazy Parents of Youth Sports Series

    Two years ago, my son was playing in a youth baseball tournament in Harrison, Ohio. The tournament was played at a complex that caters to both youth leagues and adult softball leagues. As such, the complex has a license to sell beer at the concession stand. In fact, they sell a belly buster beer in a plastic cup that is bigger than the head of the person drinking it.

    The second game of a doubleheader pitted my son's team against a team from a small town in Indiana. The Indiana team was sponsored by their local tavern. The name of the tavern was proudly emblazoned across the uniforms of each innocent 10 year old player. I am not sure what the nickname of the team actually was, but lets call them the Little Shots and their fans the Beer Chasers.

    The Beer Chasers were particularly fond of the $4 belly buster beers. After a quite a few beers, one rather loud mom became frustrated with her son Johnny's (not his real name) performance. Poor Johnny was completely over matched by our pitcher. He had already stuck out on three pitches once in the second inning and faced the same pitcher again in the fifth. Johnny ended up striking out on 3 pitches again and his bat never left his shoulder.

    As Johnny walked back to the dugout with his head low, his mom yells out to him for all to hear, "Hey Johnny, swing the bat, swing the bat, swing the bat. Do something, for God's sake...... You're just like your daddy he never did nothing either. Ahh yeah but you wouldn't know that because you don't even know your good for nothing dead beat dad." I could not believe my ears.

    Another Beer Chaser, Shots fan, mom, apparently told Johnny's mom to shut her pie hole. In the instant following the comment, Johnny's mom charged the other mom knocking a 3 year old off the bleachers in the process.  (The three year old was not injured)

    The two moms met at the fence near home plate. Johnny's mom was throwing punches and pulling hair. The other mom responded with some haymakers of her own and pulled the top off of Johnny's mom. While this was going on, Johnny's mom's new man sat on the top row of the bleachers calmly sipping his beer. Actually none of the Beer Chaser dads jumped in to stop the fracas.

    The umpire stopped the game during the fight and the players from both teams watched with eyes wide open.

    The fight ended before security or the police could arrive. After the cat fight, Johnny's bloodied and intoxicated mom walked into the dugout, pulled her son out of the game, left the park and jumped into into her late model Ford with her son and two other young kids. Her man was not happy. Not happy at all. No happy because he had not finished his beer yet and he was not allowed to take his beer out of the park.

    The Main Point

    Youth Baseball teams should not be sponsored by a Tavern. Many NCAA venues do not allow alcohol at games. This should be a law for youth sports venues too.

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    The Best Role Model for Kids is an Active Parent

    This week in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta National chairman Billy Payne expressed his disappointment with Tiger Woods.

    In his annual media address prior to the opening round of the Master's, Payne acknowledged the greatness of Woods, the four time Green Jacket winner, but then went on to criticize Tiger rather harshly.

    "We are not unaware of the significance of this week to a very special player, Tiger Woods," Payne said. "A man who in a brief 13 years clearly and emphatically proclaimed and proved his game to be worthy of the likes of Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. As he ascended in our ranking of the world's great golfers, he became an example to our kids that success is directly attributable to hard work and effort. But as he now says himself, he forgot in the process to remember that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, not invisibility. It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here. It is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children."

    For the record, I have always appreciated Tiger Woods for his work ethic, his competitiveness and for his commitment to excellence, but I never liked him. The intensity that makes him great was a turn off to me. The perfectly controlled, scripted and boring interviews, the yelling at fans or photographers for making noise, the use of profanity that accompanied some bad shots and the ignoring of fellow players showed me that he was not someone to totally revere.

    My childhood hero growing up was Charlie Hustle (Pete Rose). Yep my childhood hero was an amphetamine popping, gambling addict, liar.

    I also revered the great Roger Clemens. Yep, the one and only ex-future-hall-of-fame pitcher who took steroids, threw his own wife under the steriod bus and lied to congress to save his reputation.

    I decided that the best role model for my kids is a dead role model. They can never disappoint you. Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse, is the player I talk to my son about most. I never saw Lou Gehrig play, but I have read a lot about his legendary commitment to the game.

    The Main Point:

    I guess kids need heroes to emulate. Sports superstars show what is possible with hard work and dedication, but many fall short of hero status. Be your son's or daughter's hero by never saying no when they want to have a catch or shoot hoops. And make sure that you are in the stands to make eye contact with them when they do something special on the field or when they fail.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Developing Young Baseball Catchers

    The catching position is the most demanding position in baseball. It is both mentally and physically challenging. It's also one of the most important positions in baseball. A good catcher can shut down a running game. A good catcher can make pitchers better. Yet coaches rarely teach the proper mechanics of catching. Quite frankly, most little league coaches don't have a clue on how to coach the position.

    My son works with a hitting coach, Coach K, twice a month during the winter. Coach K, a former catcher in the Expos farm system, is a very successful high school coach. Throughout Coach K's tenure as HS coach, all of his starting catchers have earned all-city honors. So I can say with confidence that Coach K knows how to coach the proper mechanics for receiving, framing, blocking, throwing and fielding the catching position.

    When my son made his select team he found himself in the outfield. On his previous team he typically played SS or 3B. He wanted desparatly to be closer to the action. He asked for my advice. I told my son that he needed to pick the position that he wanted to play and work harder than anyone else on the team. He thought about for a few days. He surprised me when he said that he wanted to be a catcher. You cannot get any closer to the action than catcher.

    His team had two outstanding catchers who played 90% of the innings and one backup who played 10%. One of the primary catchers was the coach's son. My son worked with Coach K every other week all winter in hopes of winning at least the backup role. I tried to prepared him that he may work hard all winter and still not get a shot. My son was a quick study and learned the proper mechanics that winter. My son was given a chance in the preseason to prove himself. When the season started, my son was the backup catcher. By the end of the season, he earned the primary catcher position and became the captain of the team.

    We were lucky to have a Coach K. If you do not have access to a Coach K type a great source of information on the proper mechanics of catching can be found on a website dedicated to the position called Baseball-Catcher

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Take the Pledge to Prevent Youth Sports Injuries

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sports injuries among young athletes are on the rise. In fact, there has been a significant increase in the number of youth sports injuries and the age of the injured athletes is trending younger. The high rate of the injuries is associated with overuse and a lack of injury prevention. The sad thing is that according to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.

    My son broke his elbow (growth plate) pitching when he was a U10 baseball player. Admittedly, we did not rush him to the doctor and he played with the injured elbow for a few games, although he did not pitch. The pain did not subside, so we took our son to see to a good orthopedic doctor who specializes in sports injuries. No cast was needed and my son only missed three weeks of action (7 games) His doctor allowed him to return to games as a designated hitter in week four.  My son was 100% and playing without restrictions after 6 weeks. We did not let him pitch for the rest of that year.

    To prevent youth sports injuries, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) has initiated THE STOP SPORTS INJURIES campaign,  This campaign features public service announcements, a website with information about sport specific injuries, and The Pledge for athletes, parents, coaches, and healthcare providers to support.

    Stats Dad took the pledge today. You should too. Click here to Take the Pledge.

    New Catchers Equipment

    Last year,  Wilson Sporting Goods conducted consumer research for a new line of gloves in their legendary A2000 line. The gloves they were testing were designed for younger players with smaller hands. Wilson recruited a bunch of kids to test the glove out in practice and game situations. Wilson selected my son to participate in the test.

    We were sent a A2403 SC-DPCM 32 1/2" A2000 Catcher's mitt.

    My son was asked to create a video showing himself breaking the glove in, practicing with it, using it in games and answering a series of questions about the glove. He had been using a Rawling's Glove that was too big for him. 

    Here are the details of the glove they sent my son.

    Wilson A2000 Showcase A2403 SC-DPCM 32.5 Inch Catchers Mitt
    • Designed for players with smaller hands. Now players of all ages can have a professional quality glove designed to maximize their performance
    • 32.5 Inch Catcher Pattern
    • Half Moon Web
    • Extra deep pocket
    • Designed for an easier closure
    A2000 Showcase Features:

    • Narrower hand opening for more secure fit
    • Elongated lace holes reduce resistance to glove closure
    • Narrower pinkie and thumb for better control
    • Narrower and shorter finger stalls for more control
    • Palm Pad for hand protection
    • Sloped opening above knuckle bridge for a more secure fit
    • Rolled welting provides shape for the life to the glove, but allows for a quicker break in versus traditional welting styles
    • Softer feel
    • Same size pocket as A2000 patterns
    • Pro Stock Leather - Made from the finest American Steerhides
    • Dri-Lex Technology - Ultra-breathable wrist lining that transfers moisture from the skin, keeping you hand cool and dry
    The Glove retails for about $199

    My son's product review

    My son loves the glove. It was very easy to break in. In fact, he was using it in games a week after he received the glove. The glove fits great. His glove reacts to all his movements because it fits so well. He says the fast balls does not sting him as much with this glove. He loves the sound of the pop it makes when the ball hits the pocket. That sound makes fast balls seem a faster and that intimidates hitters. He says that the ball always finds the pocket and stays secure. He loves the way the ball is always in the same spot in the glove - finding the ball quickly is important because every split second counts when you are trying to throw out a base stealer. He also feels that the ball stays more secure during tough tag plays at the plate compared to his old glove. There is nothing worse that putting your body on the line to block the plate and apply a tag only to have the ball pop out.
    My son did everything that Wilson asked of him and for his efforts, Wilson sent him a CF4 Demarini Youth Baseball Bat. It is a big barrel bat 30 inches and 22 oz. I will get his review of this bat after he has 10 to 20 ABs with it. I can tell you the ball jumps off the bat in batting practice. The 30 in / 22oz bat retails for about $249

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Throw Lefty or Righty or Both

    ESPN Sportscenter recently ran a story about Pat Venditte, an ambidextrous baseball pitcher who plays in the New York Yankee farm system. Pat's dad noticed that his son was ambidextrous at he age of 3 and immediately worked with his son to hone this God given talent. See video below.

    Great basketball players are encouraged to use both hands to dribble and shoot. Great soccer players are encouraged to use both feet to dribble and shoot. Great lacrosse players use both arms to catch, throw and shoot.  My daughter uses with both hands and feet constantly.                                                                            

    These players were not born with a special talent like Pat Venditte. So why don't more baseball players develop the skill to throw with both arms? There is Major League proof that it can be done.

    Billy Wagner, the flame throwing southpaw (lefthander) pitcher for the Atlanta Braves was born a natural righty. Billy Wagner broke his right arm twice when he was a kid, but instead of giving up baseball, he practiced throwing fastballs against a barn wall with his left arm. He practiced and practiced. The practice paid off.

    He made his high school team and was named the 1990 Baseball Player of the Year. He then went to Ferrum Collage in Virginia and set the single season NCAA records for strikeouts per nine innings with and amazing 19.1 in 1992. Wagner was then selected in the first round of the June 1993 Major League Baseball draft by the Houston Astros. He has had a long and productive 15 year and counting MLB career as one of the best closers in baseball.

    So this natural righty, with a relatively slight frame for a pitcher, dominates Major League hitters with his left arm and a 100 mph fastball.

    The Billy Wagner story about overcoming adversity and hardwork should be shared with kids who have dreams of playing in HS, College or even in the MLB.

    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    Youth Sports Can Take Over Your Life If You Let it. We do.

    Select sports can takeover your life if you let it. We are choosing to let it because we love it. We encounter many parents who do not love it. In fact, they dread it and complain non-stop. We tend to avoid these parents at games, that is if they go to the games at all. Meredith O'Brien has a beautifully written post about the sacrifices moms make for their young athletes called Becoming a Hockey Mom.

    Meredith is a working mom. I am not sure how families with two working parents manage life, work and select sports.

    My wife is a stay at home mom. A former multi-sport athlete, stay at home mom. A former multi-sport athlete, who must absolutely love her Honda Odyssey mini-van, stay at home mom.

    When my daughter made an elite regional soccer team last fall, I thought that that would be the end of her softball career because select soccer is a year round commitment. My wife, who played softball in college, wanted my daughter to continue to play softball. We had several choices.

    1) Have our daughter play rec soccer in the Fall and softball in the spring. She is too good at soccer.

    2) Have our daughter drop softball and just concentrate on soccer and basketball which is very manageable. She is good at softball too.

    3) This spring, have our daughter play both softball and soccer at the same time our son is playing a 75 game baseball schedule.

    My daughter clearly wanted to play both. She absolutely loves to be on a field. She loves practices and games alike. I sat down with her and explained that she would have little time for her non-athlete buddies, her very best friends. She thought it about it, but really wanted to play both sports. She told me she loves her teammates too.

    I was trying to talk my daughter out if it because I thought three spring sports between two kids was going to put too much of a strain on my wife. After all, she would be doing most of driving, watching and waiting.  I help out as much as my job allows. My wife was not concerned, in fact, she even encouraged our son to play volleyball for the school team too. So now we have two kids playing four sports. I am married to a former multi-sport athlete, Honda Odyssey loving, stay at home mom, who is certifiably nuts.

    Meredith O'Brien describes youth sports as a sacrifice that can suck the life out of parents. Some of those sacrifices are significant when career advancement is a personal goal or a financial necessity. Or when the hectic schedule puts stress on a marriage. Parents need to do what is right for the family first and foremost. Meredith puts youth sports in the proper context

    I want to put youth sports in its proper place in my family’s life. It doesn’t trump school. It doesn’t trump family gatherings or holiday celebrations. It shouldn’t trump religion if you practice one, but all too often the games/practices do conflict. And it shouldn’t trump a parent’s career if he or she doesn’t want it to.

    My wife and I view youth sports as pure entertainment and a link to new friends and experiences. Before we had kids, my wife and I played sports together 2 or 3 times per week. We played softball, indoor volleyball, flag football even floor hockey. We gave that up when our kids started playing sports. Was it a sacrifice? We both thought we would miss the competition, but the joy we get from watching our kids play, compete, succeed and grow trumps the joy of playing.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Leadership: Play with Passion

    Game 12

    I couldn't make it to my son's volleyball game last night. Did I ever mention that I hate to miss watching my kids play anything? My son's team won the volleyball match 2 games to 1. My wife saw the game and told me that my son had an awesome spike and that he handled the loss in the third game better than he did in his last match.

    My son does not like to lose, but losses do not really bother my son. What bothers my son is when his teammates do not try hard or make the same mistakes over and over again. I have been trying to tell him that he needs to lower his expectations when he is playing on a B team. Play for the camaraderie and the fun. Continue to play with passion and others will see that and follow your lead. The team needs a leader. Be the leader.



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