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When Does a Coach Become a Bully?

  
  
  
When Does a Coach Become a Bully?

Some coaches, like Bobby Knight, have made quite a name for themselves because of their overly aggressive coaching style (to put it mildly). Everyone has their own kind of "style" when it comes to coaching youth sports, and some coaches prefer the drill-sergeant approach.  Shows like "Friday Night Tykes" are showcasing the most extreme version of this kind of coaching, and that has many parents and sports administrators left wondering---at what point does a "gruff" or "aggressive" coach turn into a bully? Can a coach yell and swear and scream from the sidelines and still have a team that respects them? It's hard to point out exactly where the line in the sand is because each coach and each player is going to respond differently.

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Is The Pressure to Perform Too Much for Youth Athletes?

  
  
  
Is The Pressure to Perform Too Much for Youth Athletes?

We've talked a lot about how 75% of kids quit playing youth sports by the time they are 13 and what we as parents and coaches can do to reverse that trend and keep kids involved in sports longer. Dave Holt made a fantastic point on our post about not forcing kids to play a particular sport (or any sport for that matter);

How Do You Define Winning in Youth Sports?

  
  
  
How Do You Define Winning in Youth Sports?

Obviously the easiest way to define winning in youth sports is to say whichever team has more points/runs/goals when time is called is the winner. Some sports leagues argue that keeping score undermines the true "spirit" of the game and have elected to not officially keep score or league standings, instead focusing on player development. Others feel that keeping score and learning how to handle winning or losing is a crucial component of playing youth sports. Not keeping score actually devalues the hard work the teams put in. But no matter which side of the score-keeping line you fall on, it's important to note that the final score may not always be an accurate representation of the game that was just played. Can you win and still lose? Can you lose and actually win?

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What If All Our Youth Sports Coaches Had to Be Certified?

  
  
  
What If All Our Youth Sports Coaches Had to Be Certified?

There are several organizations out there, such as USA Football, that offer sports coach training and certification programs. Organizations like USA Football and the Babe Ruth League Coaching Education Center are looking to create better coaches by giving them more education, more guidance, and the tools they need to ultimately make youth sports better for the athletes. But does a certificate really make the difference between a good and bad coach? And would youth sports leagues run low on parent-volunteers if they required certain certifications in order to coach?

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We're Still Waiting for Female Coaches to Really Make the Big Time

  
  
  
We're Still Waiting for Female Coaches to Really Make the Big Time

When women’s hockey was first introduced to the Winter Olympics in 1998, the U.S. took home gold. Canada's team has won every gold medal since. The rivalry between the two teams is well-documented and, much like any major NFL rivalry, fights on the ice aren't uncommon. A match between the two teams in late December turned into a brawl. After the "melee," the referees handed out 10 fighting majors and infractions. Jayna Hefford, who has played for Team Canada since the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, says it is one of the best rivalries in sport because the two teams push each other to get better.

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Are Coaches Too Busy Playing Good Cop?

  
  
  
Are Coaches Too Busy Playing Good Cop?

Ann Santana, an operational recreation supervisor, made a great comment on LinkedIn the other day in a discussion about parents playing the blame game in youth sports;

Stop Playing the Blame Game

  
  
  
Stop Playing the Blame Game

No one likes to lose, especially when they feel like they gave their all and that they deserved to win. And while some players beat themselves up over a dropped pass, a missed kick, or a bad at-bat, other athletes look to play the blame game and pass the buck over to their teammates, the coach's plays, the official's calls, anyone else except them. It can't be my fault! It was their fault that we lost! Now, sometimes it really is your teammates or coach or official that made a mistake, but getting in the habit of blaming other people for your losses is not the lesson we want to teach our youth athletes.

Friday Night Tykes: How Competitive Is Too Competitive in Youth Sports?

  
  
  

We've talked before about how "competition" is not inherently a bad word. Healthy competition is actually a great thing because it pushes us to try harder and work for what we want. But in youth sports there seems to be an ever increasingly polarized view of how leagues should be run. Some parents and coaches believe that everyone deserves a trophy, that having fun is more important than winning, and a well-rounded player is more important than a specialized athlete. Even USA Hockey says that the intensity with which many of today’s children play their sport isn’t the way they want it to be.  The USA Hockey’s American Development model actually has U-12 teams playing fewer games and spending more time on their home rink in practice sessions designed to build skills. The organization also actively encourages young players to play other sports, believing that creates more well-rounded players.

If You Were Losing By A Landslide What Would You Want the Other Team to Do?

  
  
  
If You Were Losing By A Landslide What Would You Want the Other Team to Do?

A few weeks ago we wrote about running up the score during a youth sports game. Some coaches, in an effort to minimize the damage when two teams are completely mismatched in terms of skill, will actually encourage their team to “play down”, or put their 2nd string players in so the score doesn’t get completely inflated. But one football announcer thought that asking your team to play beneath their abilities is actually more un-sportsmanlike than running up the score. Needless to say the post got a lot of attention from sports parents and coaches alike and one reader left this thoughtful comment;

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How Youth Athletes Can Build Better Mental Strength

  
  
  
How Youth Athletes Can Build Better Mental Strength

According to the American Psychological Association, “sport psychologists help professional and amateur athletes overcome problems, enhance their performance and achieve their goals.” Athletes might be extra nervous during competition, so much so that they can’t perform. Or maybe they are choking during critical moments. Or perhaps they are having trouble controlling their temper during the game. Athletes seek out sports psychologists for a multitude of reasons, and a big component of any sports psychology program focusing on building up the athlete’s mental strength.

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