Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Youth Basketball: The climb to an AAU National Championship (Part 1)

What does it take to make a run at a Division I AAU basketball National Championship?

Right now, I do not know, but I will be learning about the process as my daughter's 4th grade AAU team goes through the process from AAU registration to qualifying tournaments to the National Championship tournament in Orlando, Florida August 1-8. I assume that they will qualify.

Over the next 18 weeks, I will blog about the journey so that coaches, players and parents can learn about the process with me. I will share tips and tricks about how to register, how to qualify, what to pack, where to stay, where to eat, and how much it will all cost.

Phase One - AAU Membership Registration

All athletes and coaches must be members of the AAU. The coach of your team will either register the individual players and the club or will instruct you to register your athlete. 
All participants including athletes and non-athletes such as administrators, bench personnel, coaches, instructors, managers, scorekeepers, tournament director, volunteers, etc. must be current AAU members to participate in all AAU sanctioned events.

Registration for AAU membership is available online with a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express). It is easy to register and print out the AAU Membership card. 

The cost of a membership is $12 for athletes and $14 for non-athletes. There are also membership fees for clubs.

All athletes and coaches must show their AAU membership verification at the registration of all AAU sanctioned events. 

Note: Each athlete must be able to prove his or her age and grade for all AAU sanctioned events. You can find age / grade requirements here

Proof of grade must be available for review by AAU representatives at all AAU sanctioned events. 
  • To prove your athlete's school grade, make a photocopy of the athletes’ report card for the current school year which shows name, grade and school. 
  • To prove your athletes age, make a certified copy of birth record from the State, County, or Municipal Bureau of Vital Statistics in the place of birth. Hospital records are not acceptable. Other approved forms to prove age including passports can be found here.

The Main Point

The most viewed series of posts that I have written was concerning the Cooperstown Dreams Park baseball tournament. Readers found those posts very helpful. I intend to make these posts equally worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Youth Sports: How Do Single Parents Do It? (Three)

Through the first 90 days of the year, my kids have played in 69 games and participated in 57 practices. Crazy I know. During this time, my wife and I logged 3006 miles in the car going to and from practices and games.

A schedule like this takes lots of coordination and lots of team work.  My wife and I are a team. Every morning we look at the schedule and figure out how we are going to work together 1) to help the kids get their homework completed, feed the kids and get the kids to their sports commitments.

I am the homework helper and my wife does most of the cooking.

If you are a single dad, a stay at home dad or the dad of a with a workaholic wife and your kids are as busy as mine, check out the time saving parenting tips on

Here's a taste of what you will find on the ManoftheHouse site, cooking tips for quick meals from a friend of mine, Todd Jessee aka The Cheating Gourmet. Quick is the key.

The Main Point

Sometimes you need to be creative to figure out how to manage a busy youth sports schedule.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Youth Baseball: Cold Bats

Baseball started in Ohio, perhaps a week or so too early. The temps were cold all weekend. The bats were certainly cold all weekend. And yet the coaches provided some warmth.

Temperatures were in the 30's for Friday night's contest. The doubleheader on Saturday started at 4pm with cold grey skies and the final pitch of game two came at 10pm with snow falling. The biting wind was a constant companion the entire weekend.

I was only keeping score and I was in pain. I couldn't get my fingers to work to record the happenings on the field, let alone throw a baseball or swing a bat. I could only image the pain my son was feeling as the bat hit the ball or a fastball popped in his catchers mitt.

Ironically, the opposing pitchers were throwing heat while our bats were seemingly frozen to the shoulder's of our kids. Catching up to a 75-80 mph pitch in warm weather mid season is very hard, trying to do it early in the year in the freezing cold is almost impossible.

Our team lost 3 games by a total of 40 runs to three of the best teams in the US.

The most valuable player on our team was throwing heat too - a 115,000 BTU electric blast heater in the dugout. The heater kept an intolerable situation somewhat bearable. HeatMax Hot Hands helped too.

The Main Point

After a 16-0 loss on Friday night, the team gathered in the outfield so the coach could talk to the kids outside of the parent's earshot. This was nothing new for my son. His former team did this after almost every game, win or lose.

The meeting went on for 10 minutes or more. The parents waited patiently in the cold.

Finally the meeting broke up. And there was something new for my son. He emerged from the huddle with a smile and he was not the only one. The entire team looked upbeat. What? No sprints? No one was berated?

We have a coaching staff that is focused on player development and building confidence. That made me feel warm inside.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Circle of Moms - 25 Best Daddy Blogs - Vote for Stats Dad

If you enjoy reading the blog.

If you think that my youth sport tips are useful.

Please vote for Stats Dad as a Top 25 Dad blog at Circle of Moms. Click here to vote.

Thanks for your support

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Youth Sports: Genetic Testing Young Athletes

The same day I wrote a tongue in cheek post about cloning athletes, I stumbled upon an Associated Press article called Could gene tests tell if kids can be sports stars. A coincidence, I think not.

Crazy Youth Sports Parents Series

In the article, I learned that parents are actually testing the genetic make-up of their kids to determine which combination of the ACTN3 gene and R577X mutation their kids have.  The combination is associated with fast versus slow twitch muscle fibers.

Supposedly, the relationship between the ACTN3 gene and the R577X mutations may determine the type of athlete your kid was born to be. Do you want to know if your kid has the genes to be an endurance athlete, a sprinter / power athlete or is your kid suited for both? A test by Atlas Sports Genetics can tell you which combination your kid has.

What the test will not tell you is if your kid will be a superstar.

~30% of the population has the sprinter / power combination
~18% of the population has the endurance combination
~50% of the population have markers for both

These are the only combinations a person can be.

There's no combination associated with super athletes and only 1% of the population are professional athletes.

In my opinion, these numbers make the test somewhat meaningless and a questionable use of money.

The Main Point

If you want athletic offspring don't test your kids after they are born it's way too late by then.

Instead, test your future spouse before you have kids. And I'm not talking about testing them with a swab on the inside of their cheek. No, you need to take them on to an athletic field, court or track and put them to the test. Think NFL combine style.

Are they big enough, fast enough and strong enough to produce future stars. Do they have the mental make up. Do the have an inner drive to work hard and a desire to win. Yes I am talking psychological testing.

You might also want to hire some scouts too because you'll need to do your due diligence. To get the best match you will need lots of research into the athletic history of potential suitors and their lineage.

When you and your staff find the right person, marry and procreate.

Of course your spouse is only one side of the equation. Maybe you're the problem and if you are considering testing your kid you probably are the problem.

If you're not athletic I would recommend adopting an athletic kid like Michael Oher. Michael Oher was the homeless boy who became an All American football player and NFL draft pick with the help of adoptive parents. His story was made famous in the movie The Blind Side. Your scouting staff can help identify potential kids to adopt too.

Seriously, even if you have the right genes and your spouse has the right genes there are so many other influencing factors that will determine if a kid will become an elite athlete.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Youth Soccer: Brasil / USA pen pals

Two worlds apart people helping people.

Trace, the administrator of my daughter's soccer team website has a friend in Brazil named Eric. Eric teaches English to Brazilian students. The two talk soccer regularly. Trace sends Eric videos of our youth soccer team. Eric has been sending notes of support to the team via Trace.

Together they came up with an idea to support each other. They are in the early stages of establishing a dialogue between Eric's students and our U10 soccer players.

Students in Brazil are encouraging the players on my daughter's soccer team via email notes.

The girls on my daughter's soccer team are sending notes back in English. Notes that help the students in Brazil learn the language and some things about our culture. Through the exchange, our kids are learning a bit about the culture in Brazil. And who knows maybe our kids will learn some Portuguese.

Pretty cool.

Hi Girls!

I live in Brazil and I saw the website and the videos of your team! I liked so much!
You are very good players and I'm very happy to know there are girls like you, lovely about soccer like me!
 In Brazil, as anybody should know, we love soccer! But here, girls teams don't have many incentives yet...
So, is pretty cool as you can see girls who are dedicated to soccer.
I  hope you can achieve all your goals!
Good luck on the next tournaments!

Hi Clara
My name is Jess  #7.  First let me say thanks to everyone for all the 
encouraging words.  My team will do all we can do to bring home another trophy.
We play our first tournament of the seaon next week, March 12 -13 and we are all excited.  
It is really neat to have some supporters from Brazil, my favorite soccer players are also from Brazil,  Adriano and Rogerio Ceni.
Bye for now,  : )
Jess #7 

The Main Point

I am thrilled with the opportunities my daughter has to play sports. I realize that many women around the world are not as lucky. I am thrilled that my daughter can exchange notes with fans thousands of miles away thanks to a nice idea by two guys worlds apart and the power of the internet.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Youth Soccer: Cloning Athletes

I think that cloning talented athletes is an objectionable idea. 

But I wouldn't object if my 10 year old daughter wanted to follow the footsteps of her cousin, Dineen Sampson. Dineen won Academic All-Conference honors playing Women's Soccer in college.

My Daughter - Yellow Adidas Jersey - Stops Striker in All White
My Niece - Yellow Adidas Jersey - Stops Striker in All White
The Main Point


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Youth Sports: Mouth Guards Are Recommended

My daughter is average height for a 4th grader, but considered short when she is on the basketball court playing with amazingly tall 4th grader AAU ballers. Her face is often at the height of swinging elbows which puts her at risk of bloody lips and lost teeth.

There is a great post on called Mouth Guards are a Must... It is a must read of parents of all athletes boys and girls.

The Main Point

I need to get my daughter to wear a mouth guard. She has had 2 bloody lips since the AAU season started 3 months ago. Luckily she has not lost any teeth. She has also taken a charge and fell back and hit her head. Read Youth Basketball: Busted Lip

According to the post on mouth guards are proven to reduce the risk of concussions too.

I have seen some kids wear mouth guards for basketball and soccer. I would guess about 2 out of 10 at the most. If my daughter started wearing one, she be the only one on her current basketball team wearing one. No one on her soccer team wears one this year either, although two girls did last year.

She is proud and will resist wearing a mouth piece until someone else wears one. She will need to convince her best friend to do it with her.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Youth Soccer: Not Playing Up to Her Potential

What do you do when your young athlete is not playing up to his or her potential?

I say bite your tongue until your son or daughter wants to talk about it. That's what I did this weekend and it seemed to work.

This past weekend, we went to Columbus for an elite level invitational soccer tournament.

My daughter has not been very thrilled about soccer since last fall. In fact, she has mentioned on more than one occasion that this is her last year. How quickly things change, last year she was all about soccer. At that time, she was a star on her team,  a scoring machine.

Fast-forward to a new coach with a new system and a new group of girls. Things are radically different. While others have flourished in the new environment, but my daughter has not and her love for soccer has waned.

With her confidence at a low point, she gets frustrated quickly. The high level of determination that she used to bring to every game has diminished greatly. Instead of battling through defenses, she now gets knocked off the ball and on to the ground with ease. To make matters worse, she has been stopping play regularly as she cries on the ground.

Crazy Youth Sports Parent Alert

This has been a bit frustrating for me and my wife to watch. I actually lost some self-control for a split second Saturday when I yelled, "GET UP, YOU'RE NOT HURT." I immediately regretted my comment even though I knew it was true.

She did not contribute much in the two games on Saturday. I was secretly wondering why we even came up. After the games, we drove in silence to the hotel. I was kicking myself for feeling agitated by her play. "She is 10" I kept telling myself as I bit my tongue and search my brain for something to say. By the way, we don't sugar coat things. We do not tell our kids that they played well if they didn't. My daughter is smart and self-aware. She knows when she has not played well and doesn't like to talk about it when it happens.

Her spirits were lifted after spending time with teammates in the hotel pool and at dinner. At night, she was ready to talk.

She said, "Dad, it is not fair that I did not get to play goalie at all today."

Oh that is what was bothering her. I asked her if she thought the other goalie did well in the games.

She said, "yes she played great, but we should be splitting the time."

I said, "Honey, the goalie has to be the toughest player on the field. It takes lots of bravery. It takes lots of determination. You have not been showing the coaches how incredibly tough you are lately. You've been getting knocked down and crying a lot. I think that the coach wants to protect you. He probably thinks that you get hurt easily. Listen, I know that you're tough. Your mother and brother know you're tough. You know you're tough. So if you want to play goalie, you need to show the coach that you are physically and mentally tough again. Until then make things happen on the field by hustling, staying on your feet and making good passes and shots."

She did not say anything in return, but I knew she was listening.

Tough 1V1 save before getting drilled
As fate would have it, the team's primary goalie couldn't play on Sunday. She suffered an ankle sprain making a tough save late Saturday. On Sunday morning, my daughter, CC, started in goal. She played with absolute toughness and made some tremendous saves. She only allowed one goal all day and her team won both Sunday games.

After the game,  I just ran up to her with a big smile on my face and gave her a big affirmation hug because I could tell by her eyes that she was very proud of herself.

On the car ride home, she said that she wants to get an official club goalie jersey for next season.

Next season? I thought she was done with soccer.

The Main Point

What do you do when your young athlete is not playing up to his or her potential?

1) Think about your young athlete's age and situation. Do you really need to do or say anything?
2) Don't shower them with disingenuous praise. Kids are a lot smarter than parents give them credit for. They know how they did. They know where they rank. They probably know that they could be doing better.
3) If you need to talk, talk about aspects of the game that your athlete did do well.
4) Look and listen for clues that they may not want to talk about it at all. Kids put pressure on themselves, they don't need added pressure.
5) Wait, if you are generally supportive and rational, your kid will eventually engage with you about the frustrations they have regarding the sport they are playing. They will seek your wisdom on their terms in their time. If you are typically an ass - they will probably not approach you. Then you need to answer this question Are you playing up to your potential as a father or mother?
6) Finally, be prepared that they may be just fine playing below their potential and having fun instead. It probably will not change their lives that much.  Only 2 to 5% of HS Athletes play in college. Less than .5% of HS athletes play pro.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Youth Sports: Parents Be Nice to Youth Athletes

A poster was framed and conspicuously placed by the entrance of a elementary school gym door. The message was aimed at Crazy Youth Sports Parents.

There was one poster for boys and one for girls. This is the girls version.


Please don't curse that girl down there
Please don't curse that girl down there,
She is my daughter you see,
She's only just a girl you know,
She means the world to me.

I did not raise my daughter, dear fan,
For you to call her names,
She may not be a superstar
And those are grade school games.

So, please don't knock those girls down there.
They do the best they can.
They've never tried to lose a game.
They're girls, and you're a man*.

This game belongs to them, you see,
You're really just a guest.
They do not need a fan that gripes,
They need the very best.

If you have nothing nice to say,
Please leave the girls alone.
and, if you've forgot your manners,
Why don't you stay at home!

So please don't curse those girls down there,
Each one's her parents' daughter.
And win or lose or tie, you see,
To us, they're number one!!!

The Main Point

Some teams as young as 8 and 9 years old are so good that parents / fans forget that the athletes are young kids. Crazy Youth Sports Parents please do not lose perspective and try to stay positive.

*Note - I have seen and heard many women who would have inspired the author of this poem too.

I tried to research the author of this poem - I could not find any reference to it anywhere. If you know who wrote this I would love to give them the proper credits / links.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Youth Sports: Should Your Kid Specialize in One Sport

The question is should your kid specialize in one sport?

First a definition of specialization. Specialization in youth sports is year round training in one sport and one sport only. My oldest son specialized in soccer from age 12. (More on that later.) Some parents select a sport for their kids to specialize in at ages as young as 5.

The alternative to specialization is sampling according to Sharon Chirban, Ph.D, a Psychology Instructor at Harvard Medical School, in a piece for the Huffington Post. Sampling in this case means involvement in multiple sports.

She argues that the dangers of specialization outweigh the advantages. Read Specialization Vs. Sampling in Youth Sports: Which is healthier?

She talks about the physical side:
Overuse injuries are among the biggest risks to young athletes who play a single sport. Training and working the same muscles and joints year-round allows no time for the child's body to rest and recover -- which is essential for healthy development.
She talks about the mental side:
In fact, the psychological threats of sports training can be just as serious as the physical injuries. Children who spend too much time training for a particular sport year-round often find themselves experiencing burnout before they reach high school, leading them to withdrawal from sports. Additionally, the increased pressure and stress that comes with this highly intensive and competitive training can be mentally wearing for young athletes.

What she doesn't talk about is my daughter's situation:

My daughter specializes in two sports year round, select soccer and AAU basketball. She also samples in CYO volleyball. She is getting the cross training benefit of sampling and the specialization benefit of year round training.


What she is not getting is time for her body to rest and recover. And my daughter is not alone. Most of the star players on her elite teams are gifted multiple sports athletes who play multiple sports year round.

I worry about specialization. How can you tell at age 10 what sport will provide the most enjoyment, success and confidence / character building long term?

I worry about not specializing. If she does not participate in year round select soccer or basketball other players who do specialize will advance ahead of her.

I worry about overuse injuries. Cross training allows her to develop many different sets of muscles, but she has little time to recover.

What to do?

The Main Point

We are allowing my daughter to play multiple sports year round. We do not want her to specialize at this age. We also do not want her to fall behind in one sport or another. We are not as concerned about overuse issues because my daughter's motor is running non-stop whether she has an organized game or practice or not. She rushes home after basketball games to play basketball on our little basketball court on the side of the house. On days off she begs me to go to the gym where there is an indoor basketball court. I could not slow her down if I tried.

Back to my older son who specialized in soccer. He was a small and agile in his younger years. He would have been considered a finesse player. A midfielder who could defend the middle third and distribute the ball. He was good enough to make the freshman team of his HS. Then he started to grow and the growth robbed him of his speed and agility. The key to HS soccer is speed so he did not advance to play on the JV or Varsity teams. He grew to 6ft 3in. Perhaps volleyball would have been a better choice.

In the case of my daughter, what would you do? Let her play multiple high level, high stress sports year round or specialize in one. She is equally good in both sports.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Youth Sports: They Do Not Last Forever

Youth sports careers can come to an end with one decision by a coach.

My son was working out with his personal baseball trainer last night. His trainer is an ex-Met organization catcher who is now a coach for a local high school team. My son's select baseball team and this local high school have formed a partnership. As part of the partnership, the school provides some coaching support and allows the team to use its facilities. The goal is to help develop more talent for the school, a school that has won numerous state championships.

Typically the facility is empty when my son works out with this coach, but last night the facility was loaded with high school freshman. Freshman players who were trying out for one of the HS teams (freshman, junior varsity or varsity).

Yesterday was cut day.

After the practice was over, the two head coaches set up chairs at the mound end of a pitching / hitting cage. Two chairs were facing the plate and one chair was facing the mound. The coaches took their positions in the two seats facing the plate. All if the kids assembled outside the cage behind home plate and waited to be called. As each was called in, they would walk the 60ft 6 inches and sit in the chair facing the coaches. Some walked with confidence and some walked with hesitation as they approached the seat and their baseball fate.

I talked to the coaches after the process was over. They both said that they love coaching baseball and dread cut day. It's a painful experience for both the players and the coaches.

The Main Point

Season is Finally Over
Only God knows when your son / daughter will play in his / her last game. Youth sports dreams can be end quickly - especially if you go to a very large and competitive high school. As such, kids should lead a balanced life. My kids are sports fanatics and play non-stop. They play at very high levels for their current ages and have high expectations to play in HS and maybe even college (A big maybe). My kids are too young to predict the future. Some kids get more athletic compared to peers as they get older and grow and others who dominated in the younger age bracket leagues regressed in comparison.

Watching the freshman kids walk off with their heads down, holding back tears made me think that I really need to prepare my kids and myself for the day that youth sports are over.

A note regarding the differences between select baseball and recreational ball. 
My son is two years away from trying out for the HS team as a freshman. I asked the coach how difficult it is to make one of the teams as a freshman. He said that most of the kids who play high level select ball have no problem making the team. In fact, he said that it is really easy to spot these kids.

He said that the toughest part of cut day is dealing with the rec ball kid who was a superstar on his team. Typically these kids think that they are good and probably are compared to other rec ball players, but the rec level players are not nearly good enough to compete with the select baseball player.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Youth Volleyball: Son Did Not Make the Cut

It hurts when you get cut when you are trying out for a team. You feel embarrassed. You feel sad. You feel like a loser. You question yourself on what you did wrong. You make excuses. You look for any reason that can justify the obvious injustice, perhaps it was an injury or politics or whatever.

On Sunday, my son, Nic, tried out for his school's volleyball team. Last year, he chose to play on the B team because he did not think that he could not commit to the A team and play 75 baseball games. Baseball was / is his main sport.

Nic found the B team to be completely frustrating. The season was summed up by one frustrated parent who yelled out during a game, "THE OBJECT OF THE GAME IS TO HIT THE BALL BEFORE IT HITS THE GROUND"

It turned out that Nic had very few conflicts between volleyball and baseball last year. Volleyball practice was held after school and baseball practices were in the evenings. Furthermore, volleyball games were typically played during the week, while most baseball games were on the weekends. As such, this year, my son decided to tryout for the A team with hopes of eventually being the team's setter.

I tried to talk him out of trying out for the team. I expressed my concern about being overscheduled. I suggested to him that he concentrate on baseball and play in a few junior PGA tournaments to prepare for the golf season. He listened and understood, but he wanted to play volleyball with his friends.

After the tryout, he was very confident that he would make the team. I was very confident that he would make it.

The list came out this morning before school started. My son was on the B team list. He did not make the  A team. He was embarrassed. He was sad. And he was dreading going to school and getting teased.

I had an empty feeling in my stomach. Do youth sports parents feel their kids pain or are they reliving pain from the past?

The Main Point

The felt the same way when I was cut from my HS baseball team as a 9th grader. Fortunately, when that door closed, another one opened. I started playing lacrosse. I believe that lacrosse changed my life. I took a beating every practice and game. It made me tougher. It challenged me to push myself and overcome fear. It prepared me for life.

Getting cut from the volleyball team just might turn out to be a life changing event for my son. Who knows.

Another good thing - My daughter is scheduled to play 60 basketball and soccer games between Mar 1 and August 8. My son is scheduled to play 60 baseball games between Mar 1 and Jul 15. We are not sure how we are going to do this, so it was somewhat of a relief that we do not have to fit volleyball into the schedule.

Youth Sports: Size Does Not Always Matter

There is a great story on about Tim Collins, a 5 foot 7, 155 lb pitcher in the KC Royals organization. Tim Collins just might make his way onto a Major League team despite is size because talent rules. This story should inspire all youth athletes who are short in comparison to their teammates and opponents.

My daughter, CC, is constantly measuring herself to see if she has grown. She is 4 foot 7 which is average height for a 4th grader, but she feels short. She feels short because she plays on a very good AAU basketball team with and against some really tall girls.

The Main Point

I tell my daughter to be patient that she will grow, but she may never be tall. Then I tell her that talent will dictate. Tim Collins proves that point for me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Youth Sports: 10 Types of Youth Sports Parents

Crazy Youth Sport Parents Series

Here are 10 types of Youth Sports Parents that you will likely find on the sidelines of every youth sports event. Which one are you? Of course you can be more than one.

1) The EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) Parent - This is the mom or dad who calls timeout and runs out on to the field when little Johnny falls and scrapes his knee. Hey EMT parent, the kid is probably crying because he's embarrassed not hurt. You'll just embarrass him more by running onto the field. Let the coaches or trainers attend to your "injured" kid. (I have two counts of impersonating an EMT against me. Read Youth Basketball Busted Lip)

2) The Papa-razzi - This is the dad who takes 500 digital pictures at each game and then uploads every single image regardless of quality or redundancy onto Flickr. Truth be known, the Papa-razzi wants to punish all parents who don't care enough to take their own pictures. He secretly wants non-picture taking parents to painstakingly click through all 500 images (mostly of the Papa-razzi's kid) to see one shot of their own kid. (Papa-razzi please edit down to the top 2 or 3 images of each kid before you upload.)

3) The Conspirator Parent - This is the perpetually unhappy parent who schemes behind the scenes to overthrow the coach. This parent does not have the time to coach, nope, they are much too busy to coach. They do, however, have plenty of time to talk behind the coach's back and form alliances. (Honestly, I cannot say I am completely innocent. Some coaches are jackasses.)

4) The Overly Optimistic Cheerleader - This is the parent who is perpetually happy and cheering regardless of the situation. This parent yells GOOD TRY! for every mental and physical mistake a kid makes. Listen Overly Optimistic Cheerleader Parent please note that some kids, actually most kids would prefer it if their mistakes were not acknowledged at all, let alone with an empty compliment. (I have never been this parent)

The Stats Dad
5) The Stats Dad - This is the guy who keeps every stat on every player. The Stat Dad knows how good or bad every player is at every aspect of the game. Parents often seek his knowledge before they approach the coach about playing time. (Guilty as charged)

6) The Snack-Nazi - This is the mom who volunteers to prepare and police the snack list. She makes sure that the assigned parent brings healthy snacks for the players and their siblings.  Don't cross the Snack Nazi, she's union and she's proud.

7) The Team Mom - She's the money manager, travel agent, volunteer coordinator, chief fundraiser and website master. Quite frankly, your team sucks if you do not have a good Team Mom, even if your team is undefeated. (Read about the role of Team Moms here)

8) The Clueless Coach from the Stands Dad - This is the dad who repeatedly instructs his kid on how to do something even though he has no experience in the sport. He's the one who will wrongly yell "Son, keep your elbow up" while his son is batting. You know him.

The Hot Mom
9) The Stop, Drop and Roll Parent - This is the parent who drops off his or her kid in the parking lot for practices and games and squeals the tires to leave before their kid has a chance to get their water bottle out of the cup-holder. This is also the parent who shows up late to pick up his or her kid and makes the coach wait / babysit for 15 - 30 extra minutes after each practice. Basically kids are a major inconvenience to this type of Youth Sports Parent.

10) The Hot Mom - This is the mom who wears a push up bra under a toddler size team spirit-wear shirt. She's the one who sits in the front row of the bleachers and leans forward to show the team dads that she is wearing a thong. Even the Stop, Drop and Roll Dad will sit through a doubleheader when the Hot Mom is in attendance.

READ 10 (More) Types of Youth Sports Parents

The Main Point

Sometimes its the parents not the kids who provide the comedy, drama and action of youth sports.

 There are many other Youth Sports Parent Types - Please add some in the comments.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Youth Baseball: New Prototype Helmet to Protect Pitchers Unveiled

A new prototype helmet designed to protect pitchers on the mound from head injuries was unveiled today by Easton-Bell sports. (Read about the Easton-Bell Baseball Helmets here)

As you know I am a very big supporter of pitchers wearing helmets. I have blogged about it often.

Read Safety Equipment for Youth Baseball

Read Youth Baseball: Game Starts and Ends with a Prayer.

Read Youth Baseball: Wanted MLB Pitcher to Wear a Helmet on the Mound 

The Main Point

I applaud the efforts of Easton-Bell to protect pitchers. Easton-Bell is a great company with lots of credibility so I trust that they have designed a helmet that works well. Still, from the photo of the prototype I am skeptical. A kid from my hometown was seriously injured by a line drive that hit on the top of his head as he tried to duck out of the way. Judging from the picture alone, this helmet does not seem to protect the top of the skull. Also, this looks cool, but until an MLB player wears one and makes it vogue I fear that no one will use them. Easton-Bell I hope that you can get Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay to wear your new helmet.

Until this helmet is available, my son and his teammates will be wearing All-Star catchers helmets. 

Youth Soccer: Remembering the First Game My Kid Played

Publix is running a touching TV ad about a young soccer player's first game. It's worth watching for any soccer parent.

The Main Point

Whether your kid is good or not so good, youth sports provide many memories. What I like best about this ad is that the perspective of the kid is what counts not the perspective of the parent. It is a great message for any youth sports parent.

This reminded me of my son's first soccer game. The game went by in a blur. I can't remember the details of the game, but he did score a goal. I do, however, vividly remember the conversation we had after the game. Nic stated very boldly, "Dad, Mom, that was the best soccer game of my life." Truer words were never spoken.

Hat Tip to a JBMThinks Tweet

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Youth Basketball: Star Player Dies of a Heart Attack

In a small town 200 miles west of Detroit Michigan, the star player of the local high school's basketball team, Wes Leonard, died on the court after making a game winning shot. His last second heroics clinched a perfect regular season for the undefeated Blackhawks of Fennville High School.

The sixteen year old player died of a heart attack caused by a perviously undetected enlarged heart. Read the USA Today story Michigan Prep Basketball Player Dies After Game-winning Shot.

Michigan has a law that requires each school athlete to get a physical prior to the season. These routine physicals do not typically detect underlying heart abnormalities. Unfortunately these abnormalities only become apparent after a sudden and often tragic event. Many doctors are encouraging schools to do extensive testing of the heart as part of the preseason physicals. This point of view is not without controversy because of the cost. I assume that the number of kids with these undetected heart issues is low so that the cost to benefit ratio does not justify the expense. I also assume that Obamacare will heart pre-screening of athletes even less likely.

The Main Point

My son has a heart condition (Read God Loves Baseball for the details) so my biggest fear resurfaced yet again with the tragic fate of the seemingly heathy Wes Leonard. I pray that God provides comfort to his parents. The pain and sadness must be unbearable.

While pre-screening high school athletes for heart defects may not be viable, equipping schools with automatic external defibrillators and training all coaches and / or trainers on how to use them is. I pray that Wes' death prompts more schools to take proactive measures to protect young athletes.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Youth Volleyball: Unhappy Parent Confronts Coach

Crazy Youth Sports Parents Series

My wife and coach of my daughter's 4th grade volleyball team was confronted by an unhappy parent after the last game of the season yesterday.

The situation
  • The first year 4th grade team struggled all season long. 
  • Most schools in the area start volleyball in 3rd grade. The extra year experience gave many of our opponents a competitive advantage.
  • My wife and her co-head coach were dismayed that they could not help their team win more games.
  • My wife and her co-head coach played all the girls equally all year long regardless of ability.
  • Typically each girl would play two games and sit one. The parish rule is that every player must play one entire game of the three in the regular season. Playing time is at the coaches discretion in the playoffs.
  • During the regular season, a match would consist of 3 games even if one team won the first 2 games. 
  • During the playoffs, the matches are best 2 of 3. A match is over when a team wins two games. A third game is not played if a team wins the first two.
  • Friday night, my wife and her co-coach spent an hour on the phone setting the line ups for all three games of their first playoff match.
  • They decided to rotate in the best 7 players in the first game instead of 8 like they have done all year long.
  • They did this to give the team the best chance to win the first game to give the team a chance to play 3 games and perhaps advance.
  • Unfortunately, the team lost the first game against a much better team. (15-9)
  • Three girls did not play the first game, but were scheduled to play in games 2 and 3.
  • Unfortunately the second game was a lopsided loss. (15-3)
  • Because the game was so one sided, our team did not get to rotate much.
  • One of the three girls that did not play the first game did not get to serve in the second game because her serving slot did not come up during the short one-sided game.
  • After the game, this player cried her eyes out.
  • I thought she was crying because they lost the game. No she was crying because she did not get to serve the entire day.
  • This obviously upset the parent.
  • The parent confronted my wife and the co-head coach to share his discontent about his child's lack of playing time.
  • My wife and her co-coach were completely taken by surprise. Dumfounded, they did not have much to say.
  • Both caring and sensitive coaches walked away greatly upset.
  • This dad needs a serious reality check.
The Main Point

This disgruntled parent was completely out of line. First he violated a team rule that states an upset parent  cannot approach a coach until after a 24 hour cooling off period. If he had, maybe he would have realized that his daughter did not play a lot because the team only played 2 games. Maybe he would have realized that his daughter did not get to serve only by happenstance and not some evil plot by the coaches to thwart her opportunity to serve.

Listen there are unfair coaches in this world and I think that parents have every right to approach the coach with concerns or questions or even complaints, but this must be done in a respectful manner. I think that the 24 hour cool down period is a good idea.

My daughter had a great year and loves the game. She will eventually need to pick one sport over another, but for now we are happy that she is playing multiple sports.

Bump Set

First Spike

Winner Inside the Line

Friday, March 4, 2011

Am I What's Wrong With Youth Sports?

I recently received this negative comment regarding my post called Should Your Young Athlete Play Up. The post was about my daughter who was in kindergarten at the time playing up in a 3rd and 4th grade league. I didn't want the dialog buried in a comment on a post that is almost one year old. I'm trying to provide an honest and authentic blog about youth sports. And the honest truth is that I question and second question myself all the time regarding my over-scheduled kids.

Anonymous said...You are exactly what is wrong with youth sports. How many goals scored is completely unimportant at this age. The fact that you stated you are a coach and didn't realize one of your players was moving up is a huge tell. For your daughter's and other kids sake give up coaching and be the type A parent you really are from the other side of the field.
My first reaction was wow - this parent must have some anger issues. Perhaps Anonymous has been on the bad side of a bad coach at one time in his / her life. Who knows, but I wanted to take time to think about and respond to the comment.

My Response - In all honesty Anonymous - I just may be making a big mistake with my kids regarding sports. I often wonder if I should be holding them back. Should I convince them to play on less serious teams or for less serious coaches (BTW - I do not coach anymore, my kids play on teams with paid coaches now). Should I limit the number of sports they play especially in the same season. My wife and I talk about this all the time. We wonder if we are putting them at risk of overuse injuries. We wonder if they are going to get  burned out before they even get to high school.
We talk to our kids often and ask them about their thoughts and concerns about the teams they are on and their busy schedules. We provide our point of view and our concerns, but we let them make their own decisions. 
This is what they tell us - They love to play sports. They love to be on the field with their friends. I could not prevent overuse injuries if I tried, my daughter will play a double header basketball game and then come home and immediately go out side to our basketball hoop to play more. My son is the same way. Last week, they had a rare Saturday afternoon off. They each invited a friend over and the four of them played basketball for 5 hours. It's the way I was wired. It's the way my wife was wired and it's how my kids are wired. I wrote about this in Youth Sports Fanatics by Nature or Nurture?
By the way Anonymous - I agree scoring in soccer especially at that young age is not important. I was using scoring as proof that my daughter was right - that she could play with the older girls. I am glad that she talked me into it. And quite frankly that experience helped her make her current elite soccer team that competes at her age level

Finally Anonymous, if you read my blog consistently you would know that I praise my kids for hustle and hard work first and foremost. I do not overly emphasize the statistics with them. Why because hustle and hard work never goes into a slump. And hustle and hard work will serve them well when their sports careers are over. Plus if they hustle and work hard, the statistics will follow.

The Main Point

I didn't push my daughter to play up on a much older team for my own ego. She pushed me to allow her. In kindergarten she had the skills to play with older kids because she played against her older brothers all the time. More importantly, she had the confidence to play with older kids. If she did not have the combination of skills and confidence I would have never allowed it.

Parenting youths sports athletes is not easy. Your kids did not come with an instruction manual if best use. You are going to make mistakes. The very first game that my daughter played as a kindergartner against 3rd and 4th graders, I thought I made a terrible mistake. Here is the play by play.

CC hustled toward a free ball. An older girl bigger and faster ran toward the ball from the opposite direction. The older girl beat CC to the ball and kicked it. The ball hit CC in the face. I was standing on the sidelines less than 10 feet away. I remember her blonde, almost white hair, fly back in a quick flash and then forward over her face. My thoughts raced, I'm an idiot. I should have been smarter. I should have said no. I didn't I say no. I hope to God she is not hurt. What were you thinking. Her tiny hands immediately snapped up to her face under her hair and just as quickly pushed the hair away from her face. She looked at me with tears in her eyes. There was a brief pause as she was deciding whether or not to cry. They she turned her head to find the ball and ran off to get it. She never looked back all year.

Anonymous, thanks for making me think about that great memory again. I hope that you have many positive youth sport moments too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Youth Sports: 1 Year Old Stats Dad is Now in Twitter

I celebrated the one year anniversary of by launching a twitter page Follow my tweets.

The Main Point

I am hoping to reach more people and get more comments on my site. My hope is to start conversations about youth sports so that we can all learn how to make youth sports a better for everyone.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Youth Sports: The High Cost of Participation

Youth Sports can be expensive. Just click on the Youth Sport Costs tab above to see just how expensive participating in select / travel sports can be. We just topped $1,750 for the year if you include gas. Last year we spent nearly $9,000.

I recently wrote an article for the website called How to Save Money on Youth Sports. I also found an article on the called The Most Economical Sports for Kids on the Financial Edge website. The article provides some perspective on youth sports cost.

Hopefully these resources can help you plan your budget and show you ways to save money.

The Main Point

You may think that the amount of money we spend on youth sports is ridiculous, but that is how we chose to spend our discretionary money.  Some families spend money on a boat or vacation home. I would love to have a vacation home, but we prioritize our time and money on youth sports.



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