New Coaching & Parent Video

This video that, the Positive Coaching Alliance, and Liberty Mutual put together on developing parent/coach relationships is a pretty good overview of how to work with kids in youth sports.


“Self-discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear — and doubt.” – H.A. Dorfman

From the book: The Mental ABC’s of Pitching

Let’s “Green” the Hockey Environment

Below is an excellent article written by Keith Andresen, Senior Director of Hockey Programs for the Dallas Stars Youth Program. While the article is intended for a hocky specific audience, it is clearly applicable to all audiences.

“Green” has become the catchword for any cause that helps our environment. Everyday people examine ways we can “green” our environment by conserving our natural resources and eliminating pollution through the use of “green” products such as hybrid cars. The hockey environment could use some “greening” as well. Our environment is the rink and I have noticed that our game is being polluted by poor attitudes and foul language at an alarming rate and it’s time we all take a step back to see what we can do to make our Hockey Environment “GREEN”.

Anyone who comes to the rink is part of the environment and that includes, players, coaches, officials, and fans. Each person brings an attitude to the rink, and that attitude will create his or her contribution to the environment. When that attitude is a combination of respect and tolerance the hockey environment is healthy and “green”. However when there’s a lack of tolerance and respect, the environment suffers.

Let’s start with the officials. There are good officials and bad officials and fortunately the vast majority are good. No official is perfect and, here’s a flash for you, they do make mistakes; however, I have never met an official that intentionally tries to make mistakes. That being said I have found that there are officials who feel it necessary to leave their imprint on each game they work. They come out onto the ice with a chip on their shoulder and they find it necessary to let everyone know that they are in charge without much regard for the game that is going on in front of them. I’m not sure what these guys are thinking but I suggest they take time out to smile and remember that they are not the game people came to see. These are the guys who refuse to talk to a coach or player, even when approached politely, to answer questions or discuss a call. These are the officials who need to figure out that they will call fewer penalties and receive far less criticism if they just lighten up and keep a polite and open attitude.

Some of you coaches need to look in the mirror as well. While officials make mistakes now and then, every call that goes against your team is not a reason to climb up on the bench and start yelling at the officials like they just cost you a chance for the Stanley Cup. I have seen mite squirt and peewee coaches this year yelling and screaming at teenage officials to the point where the officials were almost in tears. Players need to learn at a young age that life isn’t always fair and that sometimes, even when you do everything right, the breaks go against you. A coach who can deal with adversity and teach that lesson to his players is a coach that will have a team that can play through almost anything. If you have to talk to an official do it with respect. Don’t stand up on the bench or boards but down in the bench so you can look him in the eye. Call the official over quietly and you’ll find that he will be far more willing to listen to what you have to say. You may not change his mind but you will have shown the official that you’re a decent guy and you will probably get the benefit of the doubt on future calls. Read more of this post


Memorable Sports Quotes

Here is a list of favorite sports quotes….

We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.
Vince Lombardi

If you can’t accept losing, you can’t win.
Vince Lombardi

Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from an indomitable will.
Mahatma Gandhi

Read more of this post

How to be the Best Player and Not Make a Tryout Team

There are so many different things that coaches look for in building a team. Player skill is just one thing and sometimes not even the most important. Coaches evaluate players on a variety of other criteria including:

  • Team Skills – Does the player grasp the way teams work together to win games?
  • Relative Physical Development – Is the player physically larger or small than his teammates?
  • Leadership – In tough game situations, could the player step up as a role model for teammates?
  • Listening – Does the player pay attention and understand things quickly?
  • Personality – Does the player’s personality fit with the other player’s selected?
  • Mentoring Ability – How much can the player positively impact others on the team?
  • Positional Knowledge – How much does the player know about the playing the variety of situations faced in regular game?
  • Unselfishness – Does the player make plays for the benefit of the team or build individual stats?
  • Level of Effort – How hard does a player work during tryouts?
  • Familiarity – Does the coach have experience working with the player?
  • Family Involvement – Does the coach have good or bad experience working with a player’s family?
  • Team Needs – How many players are needed for each position? Though last on the list, team needs are often the most important. Teams don’t need five skilled catchers. So even though a player may be a great catcher, the chances of making a team are greatly diminished if the coach prefers another player for that limited need.

While a tryout may look like a skills contest, coaches can observe these factors by the way the skills are carried out. Most coaches believe that skill deficits are much easier to correct than the issues listed above. Coaches will gamble with lesser skilled players that present the best overall package.

Good coaches can make skilled players but only the players themselves (with the help of their parents) can make skilled teammates.

Can Anyone Become the Next Wayne Gretzky?

According to a recent article in Wired Magazine, Peter Vint, a researcher with the US Olympic Committee believes that athletic skills can be learned even to the Wayne Gretzky level of performance. Such talent has long been assumed to be innate. “Coaches tend to think you either have it or you don’t,” Vint says. But Vint rejects the notion that Gretzky-style magic is unteachable.

One thing the article fails to mention but that further supports the argument for training to a Gretzky level of performance is Gretzky’s commitment to practice and his attitude towards it summed in these quotes:

“The only way a kid is going to practice is if it’s total fun for him… and it was for me.”

“I wasn’t naturally gifted in terms of size and speed; everything I did in hockey I worked for, and that’s the way I’ll be as a coach.”

Read the full article at:

Why Not a Youth Sports Franchise?

Parents and coaches work hard to keep their children and players safe and maximize everyone’s enjoyment from the sport. However, parents and coaches often have limited experience with youth sports participation. Though they may have once been players themselves, the skills to be a good player and the skills to be a good youth sports parent or coach are quite different. It is a little like saying that because you can bake cookies you can run a bakery. Playing is about technical skills where as parenting and coaching are about educational skills.

This skill deficit is then compounded by turnover. Just about the time parents or coaches get good at their respective roles, the kids grow up and a new group of parents and coaches starts the process all over — Not exactly a model for long term success. However, the business world provides a great role model for how to deal with these issues and run a successful youth sports organization – the franchise!

In a franchise system, a franchisor sets the standards and provides an operations manual that franchisees much follow exactly to make sure that their business succeeds. The operations manual has been perfected over many years and with the experience of many franchisees. Thus, the operations manual is a proven path to business success. New franchisees don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They immediately start their business with all the skills of long term participants. New McDonald’s run as smoothly as the oldest ones even though the manager and crew may have just started. Now, why not take this model to youth sports?

Creating a Youth Sports Franchise 

Organized youth sports can do more than just setup game and practice schedules. It can also set the the right physical and behavioral standards that ensure that kids can enjoy sports over their entire childhood. These standards are not just codes of conduct. These standards are very detailed plans for behavior, instruction and participation.

Little League Baseball has implemented one step towards this with its new pitching standards policy which is shown below. Similar standards can be created in a variety of sports. Instead of taking away creativity or flexibility from coaches, these standards give coaches the benefit of years of participation and the input from medical experts. In order to improve, youth sports needs to implement more of these standards to help everyone achieve their goals – better kids playing longer and healthier.

Little League Baseball Pitching Standards The table below gives an overview of the number of pitches that will be allowed per day for each age group during the regular season in 2007.

League Age Pitches allowed per day
17-18 105
13-16 95
11-12 85
10 and under 75

The rest periods required during the 2007 regular season are listed below.

Pitchers league ages 7 through 16 must adhere to the following rest requirements:

  • If a player pitches 61 or more pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 41 – 60 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 21 – 40 pitches in a day, one (1) calendar day of rest must beobserved.
  • If a player pitches 1-20 pitches in a day, no calendar day of rest is required before pitching again.

Pitchers league age 17-18 must adhere to the following rest requirements:

  • If a player pitches 76 or more pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 51 – 75 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.
  • If a player pitches 26 – 50 pitches in a day, one (1) calendar day of rest must beobserved.
  • If a player pitches 1-25 pitches in a day, no calendar day of rest is required before pitching again.

Source: Little League Online (

Team Handout for Parent Meetings

Team HandoutThe start of every season features the ritualistic parent meeting where coaches and parents get to know each other and help shape expectations for the upcoming practices and competitions. Sports Esteem has put together a free handout that coaches and league officials can use to help facilitate introductions and expectations. It includes:

  • Parent Ice Breaker
  • Coaching Philosophies
  • Team Goals
  • Player Goals
  • Team Policies
  • Information on the Role of the Team Activities Coordinator
  • Answers to Frequent Parent Questions
  • 101 Ways to Praise a Child

The Team Handout is an important step in getting parents positively engaged with the team, the coach and the other parents. It helps make parents part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Skills Development CycleSkills Development Cycle
The Team Handout continues educating parents about the youth sports experience by introducing the concept of the Skills Development Cycle. This concept provides a foundation for parents and coaches to create an approach where kids will want to build skills and improve.

Download the Team Handout

Implementing Sports Esteem in Your Program

Below is a response we received from the Dalton Georgia Parks and Recreation Department who recently used the Sports Esteem information in their parent orientation program. Please feel free to use the content on this site in your own parent program and please let us know the results.

The parent orientation classes using the Sports Esteem materials have gone very well. This is a first for the parents in Dalton. Over 500 parents registered on-line and around 400 have gone through the class. Many parents have commented that we need to make the class mandatory for every parent at Dalton Parks and Recreation Department.   

Thanks for all your information,

Mike Miller
Athletic Director
Dalton Parks & Recreation Department
Dalton, Georgia

Opportunities in Hockey After High School

This is a presentation written by Al Bloomer that provides information regarding various options available to a hockey player that has completed or is about to complete his/her high school education. For eligibility purposes, the NCAA expects the student-athlete to graduate from high school when they are 18 years of age. The expected graduation date is the NCAA eligibility bench mark.

From the author “I have been involved in hockey as a player, coach or administrator for over 50 years. For the last 20 years I have been directly involved with players between the ages of 15 and 20 years old. When it comes to choosing options for their hockey future, I am continually troubled by how poorly prepared and uninformed many players and their parents are. Answers can be found if you know where to look. The challenge is to be realistic about your hockey abilities and pro-active when planning your hockey future. As your skills develop to the higher  levels, you begin to think about your options. I believe parents and players should begin to think seriously about hockey opportunities when the player is 12 to 14 years old. This is not the forum to debate when a player’s hockey potential can be evaluated or predicted. Although there may be optimism concerning potential when players are 12 and under, their potential cannot be realistically evaluated until they reach the age of maturity. All have dreams and expectations – but players and parents need to make informed and realistic decisions.

Some typical questions:

  • What are my hockey opportunities after high school?
  • How do I determine what is best for me?
  • What are some determining factors?
  • What are my chances?
  • How can I find out where I fit?
  • How and where do I get noticed?
  • How important are academics?
  • What role does my coach play?
  • Should I actively pursue opportunities or should I wait until opportunity knocks?

Download the attached file to read the presentation. Requires Adobe Acrobat reader.

Attachment: Opportunities for Hockey After High School