14 Ways Sports Parents Can Greatly Influence Their Young Athletes

Photo Credit: Jim Larrison

Photo Credit: Jim Larrison

Well folks, it getting to be that time of year again when a variety of sports begin: soccer, football, tennis, etc. The start of the fall sports season also signals the involvement of thousands upon thousands of eager little athletes as they take the fields and get ready for action.

Along with these adolescent competitor, will be a host of parents who will either be spectators or coaches. Today’s blog, has to do mainly with the moms, dads, and relatives who will be watching the festivities on the sideline.

Many of you know that I have been a teacher and coach for over 30 years. I have coached and taught at just about every age level throughout my career. It was once said that if a person loves what they do, they never work a day in their life…and you know what? That’s the way I feel..I love what I do.

So, today I decided to share with you (if you are a parent of a young athlete) 14 “keys” that can help parents be a positive influence in their young athletes lives. I found this list from a college basketball coach who got this list from someone else…therefore the author of this list is unknown but very, very good!!

Please feel free to share this list with anyone who you feel could use it!!

Tell your child every time that you watch them play, “I loved watching you play!”: Please think about how that would make you feel! I know that that would make anybody feel great!

Do not soften the blow for your child after a loss: If they lose, teach them not to make excuses, to learn from the loss and move on. Many times the players move from the loss quicker then the parents. We get better through set-backs if we face our challenges head on. It also makes us mentally tougher and resilient…two important life skills.

Do not coach your child: Coaching your child may confuse your child. Allow them to experience how to deal with others. Encourage your child to listen to their coach. The #1 advice I could give a parent is to find a program where you agree with the philosophy of the coach and then allow them to coach. A very simple definition of each person’s role puts it into perspective: Players=Play, Coaches=Coach, Parents=Support, Officials=Officiate. Make sure to play your role well and not someone else’s role.

Teach them to be a part of something greater than themselves: Teach them this by applauding their effort and their ability to be coached. Do not coach them to look to score, “take over” the game, show-off their talent, shoot more, or run-up the score. If you teach them to be “me” players, they will miss the experience of being part of a team. Teamwork teaches humility and makes life work…all players need to learn it.

Do not approach your child’s coach about playing time: Encourage your child to speak with their coach. A coach should be honest with their players about where they stand and what they need to do to improve. Your job is not to approach the coach about playing time. Your child needs to learn to advocate for themselves and learn how to communicate with others. Remember that a player being a valuable member of the team is important…it is not all about playing time. Also, they may be a less experienced player and may need to develop. Many players do not come into their own until their senior year.

Do not compare your child to others, but encourage them to be the best that they can be! If a parent is constantly trying to have their child be better than someone else, the child will always be second best…but if you encourage your child to be the best that they can be and compete to be that way everyday, they will get better and they will reach their potential.

Cheer for all!…AND never speak negatively about your child, another child or a coach: We would not want anyone to speak negatively about our child, so do not speak of someone else’s child in a detrimental manner.

Be Self-Disciplined: Sports can be very emotional…they can bring out the best in us and the worst in us if we are not careful. Keep your emotions under control. Would you want someone yelling at you from the stands? Would you want someone yelling at you from work?

Let it be your child’s experience: In order to do so, we must acknowledge that we cannot control the experience of our child…that’s why it is called an experience. When we experience something we will have good times and bad times, great moments and average plays, we will deal with victory and defeat…allow your child to experience these highs and lows in sport which will allow them to experience the ups and downs of life…if we try to control the experience, our child is not being prepared for life.

Teach them to play for the love of the game (NOT A TROPHY): Teach your child that they are playing for the love of the game, for their teammates, for the love of competition. Think about if you could teach your child to be a great competitor, a great teammate and love what they do…that would be special!! In youth sports, we need to get away from the fact that everyone gets a trophy…if we do, we are teaching them to play for the reward rather then understanding that the reward is playing the game itself.

Focus on process: Sports like life are a process and we need to attack the process everyday to               grow and get better. The process is hard work, knowledge, attitude, perseverance,                                        teamwork, coachability, dealing with success and failure…and winning is the by-product…in sports             and in life!

Enjoy the journey of your child: Any journey we take is bound to have great moments,some bad moments, and some moments that we laugh at….enjoy the journey with your childand do not agonize over every single play, a decision by the coach, a good or bad game by the team or your child. In 25 years, you will wish you were watching your child play…so enjoy the journey!

Be a parent, not a fan: Your child will make mistakes, your child is not always perfect. Teach them when the time is right and make sure to compliment them when needed.

Do not make excuses: “The teacher or coach does not like me” is a familiar excuse…in the end, coaches like children that play hard, are coachable, have a great attitude, show perseverance, are a good teammate, and know how to deal with success and failure in positive ways…the important thing is to teach your child all of these attributes!,

Words of Wisdom of Legendary Coach Pat Summit

Photo Credit: Tennessee Journalist

Photo Credit: Tennessee Journalist

Well-known and respected women’s college basketball coach, Pat Summit, died a few days ago, at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was the head coach of the University of Tennessee’s basketball team and won more games than any other basketball coach in Division 1 history with 1.098 wins, 8 NCAA National Championships, and NEVER has a losing season. In their list of the top 50 coaches of all-time, the Sporting News placed her at number 11. She was truly an American icon!

As a coach (and teacher) I like to find good quotes and other tid-bits of information from successful individuals and Coach Summit was no exception. I decided to share with you many of the quotes that she stated over the years. It is my hope that you can discover some inspiration from some of the quotes and share them with others!

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Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you’re never wrong?

Loyalty is not unilateral. You have to give it to receive it.

Surround yourself with people who are better than you are. Seek out quality people, acknowledge their talents, and let them do their jobs. You win with people.

Value those colleagues who tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear.

Communication eliminates mistakes.

We communicate all the time, even when we don’t realize it. Be aware of body language.

Discipline yourself, so no one else has to.

Self discipline helps you believe in yourself.

Group discipline produces a unified effort toward a common goal.

Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work.

Put the Team Before Yourself.

When you understand yourself and those around you, you are better able to minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths. Personality profiles help.

Success is about having the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

Know your strengths, weaknesses, and needs.

Teamwork doesn’t come naturally. It must be taught.

Teamwork allows common people to obtain uncommon results.

Not everyone is born to lead. Role players are critical to group success.

Make Winning an Attitude.

Attitude is a choice. Maintain a positive outlook.

No one ever got anywhere by being negative.

Confidence is what happens when you’ve done the hard work that entitles you to succeed.

Competition isn’t social. It separates achievers from the average.

You can’t always be the most talented person in the room. But you can be the most competitive.
There is nothing wrong with having competitive instincts. They are survival instincts.

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts the most.

Change equals self improvement. Push yourself to places you haven’t been before.

Handle Success Like You Handle Failure. You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you handle it.

Sometimes you learn more from losing than winning. Losing forces you to reexamine.

It’s harder to stay on top than it is to make the climb, Continue to seek new goals.

There is no such thing as self respect without respect for others.

Individual success is a myth. No one succeeds all by herself.

People who do not respect those around them will not make good team members and probably lack self esteem themselves.

Being responsible sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions.

Finding Strength in Difficult Times: The Story of the Hero and the Coward

Arash Hashemi

Photo Credit: Arash Hashemi via Wikimedia Commons

We all experience difficult times throughout our lifetime. Some are more trying and problematic than others but through them all, we can learn from those experiences, either in a negative or a positive manner. Legendary NFL football coach, Bill Parcells, once told the following story (paraphrased a little) that illustrated the power of perseverance and determination of an athlete that experienced a grueling and challenging situation and emerged a winner because of it.

More than 30 years ago, there was a well-known, hard hitting boxer named Eugene “the Cyclone” Hart. Hart was heavily favored to win his next bout against a supposedly ungifted puncher, Vita Antuofermo. It was said that the only thing that Antuofermo could do was that “he bled well.” But, here’s the important thing, he had good attributes that you couldn’t see.”

During the fight, Hart dominated Antuofermo, knocking him all over the ring, giving him punishing blows and vicious punches. Antuofermo absorbed the punishment that was dealt to him by his naturally superior opponent, and he did it so well, that Hart became discouraged. In the fifth round, Hart began to tire, not physically but mentally. Taking advantage of the situation, Antuofermo attacked and delivered a series of quick punches that knocked Hart down and out, thus ending the fight.

“When the fighters went back to their makeshift locker rooms, only a thin curtain was between them. Hart’s room was quiet, but on the other side he could hear Antuofermo’s cornerman talking about who would take the fighter to the hospital. Finally he heard Antuofermo say, “every time he hit me with that left hook to the body, I was sure I was going to quit. After the second round, I thought if he hit me there again, I’d quit. I thought the same thing after the fourth round. Then he didn’t hit me no more.”

“At that moment, Hart began to weep. It was really soft at first. Then harder. He was crying because for the first time he understood that Antuofermo had felt the same way he had and worse. The only thing that separated the guy talking from the guy crying was what they had done. The coward and the hero had the same emotions. They’re both humans.”

The important question to ask yourself here is this: how did each man respond to the tough situation that they were experiencing? Maybe you are in an arduous position right now or, if not, one might be coming. How will you react? Like a hero or a coward?

The Real Heart of A Lion

Billy_Miske_portrait

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Many of us struggle with a times of trouble or hardship during their lifetime. There are two directions that a person can go when they are experiencing a tough situation: they can either learn from it and become stronger because of what they have learned…or they can become negative, bitter and dwell on the quagmire of pessimism.

The people that make up their minds to overcome a bad situation by working hard and remaining focused on the task-at-hand, usually find themselves becoming a better, happier person despite of their unfortunate circumstance.

Thus is the story that I found recently on totalprosports.com that tells the tale of a successful boxer who competed almost 90 years ago. His story is a great reminder to us the importance of enjoying the things that you do and when unpleasant times come your way…you can overcome ANYTHING…if you put your mind to it!!


 

Billy Miske (1894-1924) was by all accounts one of the most under-appreciated boxers of his era. He had a record of 48-2-2, which included wins against some of the biggest names in boxing and losses to two champions. But it’s not Miske’s boxing prowess that makes his story inspirational. It’s his willingness and determination to make the ultimate sacrifice for his family.

You see, Miske was diagnosed with a terminal kidney disease by his doctor, given 5 years to live, and told to retire. However, because he knew his family was depending on him financially, he kept jumping the ring and told no one—not even his wife—about his illness. Eventually, after a one-round knockout loss to the great Jack Dempsey, he finally decided to call it quits. But just 11 months later, with his family struggling to get by, Miske somehow conned promotors into giving him a huge fight.

By this time, he could barely walk and thus could not train for the fight. Nevertheless, he entered the ring and knocked out his younger opponent in the 4th round. He took the $2,400 he earned to buy back furniture he hap pawned several years ago, as well as some toys for his kids and a piano for his wife. Then he died just a week later at the age of 29.

Think about that next time you complain about your job.

“Keep Yourself at 17 Inches”

Nations_Park_Home_plate

Photo Credit: Gerald Klein (Nations Park Home Plate) via Wikimedia Commons

I recently came across a fantastic story written by Coach Sperry, that a couple of friends of mine sent to me via Face Book. I thought that it was something that should certainly be shared with everyone and worth the read…especially parents and coaches.

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the heck is John Scolinos, I wondered. Well, in 1996 Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Pointed side down.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.

“And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over these seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Bobby. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of throwing the ball over it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? What do we do if he violates curfew? What if he uses drugs? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

Then he turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful….to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.

The Day Jim Brown Fought Muhammad Ali

Sportsgrid

Photo Credit: Sportsgrid.com

Here’s an interesting account of the day Hall of Fame footballer, Jim Brown fought boxing legend, Muhammad Ali.

I think we have all wondered at some time in our lives what it would be like if two super heroes got together and fought it out. Superman vs. Iron Man. The Rock vs. The Incredible Hulk. Batman vs. Captain America. But what about famous sports stars or Hall of Famers?

This is an amazing story, written by Ryan Wilson, that I found a while ago, about two of the greatest athletes of all time and the one time that they faced off against each other. This is a short but fascinating account of this meeting.

During his nine-year playing career, Hall of Famer and former Browns running back Jim Brown was known for his unmatched athleticism and legendary toughness. Not only was he the best player of his era, he was one of the best players ever. In addition to what he accomplished on the football field, in college at Syracuse, Brown was a second-team All-American in basketball and a first-team All-American in lacrosse.

Given that he excelled at just about anything he tried, it’s not surprising that Brown briefly considered boxing after he retired from the NFL in 1965 at the age of 29. Specifically: Brown wanted to get in the ring with then-heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. And not just for a sparring match but for a full-on fight.

Brown had introduced promoter Bob Arum to Ali, so Arum felt that he owed Brown the courtesy of at least checking with the heavyweight champ to gauge his interest. This was 1966, Brown was a year removed from football and pursuing his acting career, and Ali was 24 and in his prime.

So Arum took Brown’s message to the champ. The details, via this fantastic profile of Arum (who turns 81 Saturday) by Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix.

“So I went to talk to Ali,” Arum told Mannix. “He says, ‘Jim wants to do what? Bring him here.’ So I took him to Hyde Park in London, where Ali used to run. Ali said, ‘Jimmy, here’s what we’re going to do: You hit me as hard as you can.’ So Brown starts swinging and swinging, and he can’t hit him. He’s swinging wildly and not even coming close. This goes on for, like, 30 seconds. Then Ali hits him with this quick one-two to his face. Jimmy just stops and says, ‘OK, I get the point.'”

Think about that for a second. Jim Brown — who routinely trucked some the biggest, strongest and fastest athletes on the planet — couldn’t even touch Ali…that is mind-blowing!

 

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Read more stories on my publications site at http://www.broowaha.com/articles/16465/the-day-jim-brown-fought-muhammad-ali#EVlu8v6MHMLYFI2b.99

Hey Coach

Photo Credit: Lesley Show via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Lesley Show via CC Flickr

I have been a coach of many sports on all levels for 30 years. For most o those years, I coached three sports a season in a row. People used to ask me, “how can you do that?” “How do you find the energy to be able to coach so much? spend so much time with players and not get tired of it?”

Well, world famous author, Mark Twain, once said this, “If you love your job, you will never work a day in your life.”  This quote is one of my favorite of all time because it is so true. I have truly enjoyed every season that I have coached my players.

Besides the joys of victory and the agony of defeat of the games on the field, it’s the everyday coaching, teaching, and building relationships with people on a daily basis, that makes the job so rewarding. There is nothing that means more to me than when a player (or parent) tells you how much they learned the sport, enjoyed their experience, or other things that may have touched their lives.

I recently came across the following “Letter to a Coach” on FaceBook that I thought would give you a glimpse of what players sometimes say to a coach and illustrate why the profession of coaching is so fulfilling. 

~ Coach Muller


Since I have graduated high school there is one phrase that I miss saying more than I ever thought I would. “Hey Coach” left my lips at least once a day. Anyone who has  ever had a coach knows just how important they are. I’m sure everyone will say that their coach is the best. But this post is not about the coaches you’ve had. This is about mine. If I wrote just how much one person has changed my life, this post would be unreasonably long. But it is crazy to me that one person can do so much.

What makes a good coach? Well, don’t ask me! I’m a little too picky, grumpy, and “my way or the highway”.

What makes a good coach? My coach.  My coach has pushed me to success, and pushed me to tears. My coach has been a parent figure when times got tough, my best friend when we could celebrate our wins, and a shoulder to literally cry on. When we succeeded my coach succeeded. When we failed we knew we let coach down.  But that never stopped coach from loving us.

What makes a good coach? Compassion. I never doubted the love coach had for me. Not one day went by without my coach showing, or telling me how much I was appreciated.

What makes a good coach? Coaches leave their family, and dedicate their time to the people and the sport they love, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel worth it. Missing vacations, birthdays, and so much more, to give their time and love to us, even when we are ungrateful.

What makes a good coach? Everything my coach was, and everything I will be because of it.  One single person can change your life. And I know my coach changed my life for the best.

I’m trying to be like my coach. Hard, yet soft, harsh but loving, a rock, a shoulder to cry on.

I don’t know how to even thank someone, who has done what they have done for me. I know I will never be able to repay coach for the things done.

If you had a coach who changed you, please, go thank them. If you have a coach now. Go now,and thank them.

You don’t know how much they sacrifice for you, and for your team.  I love you coach. I love you for pushing me, I love you for accepting me, I love you for caring about me without fail. I love you for still caring even when new team mates have taken my place. I love you for being you.

Thank you.