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The Scholarship Myth - Part 2

In December, I wrote a blog post about college scholarships that was prompted by an NPR commentary piece by John U. Bacon: To Get a College Scholarship: Forget The Field, Hit The Books. I then went on to share a personal experience that highlighted some of the points John was iterating in his commentary. The fact of the matter is that sports scholarships aren’t the only way to jumpstart a successful life, they are merely one avenue. Sure, trying to hit the “home-run,” living out your childhood dream, or just believing anything is possible is an exciting prospect, but the fact is athletic scholarships are the least likely of all avenues for financing a college education.

What sports participation can do in regards to a college education is improve your chances at admission into a school that you might not otherwise gain acceptance.  While that coach may not have a scholarship for you, he/she does have significant influence in the admission process.  With thousands and thousands of applicants seeking very limited slots in an entering freshmen class, having a coach promote your application can help set you apart from others.

Our children are much more likely to succeed by studying hard and gaining an academic scholarship or even building a strong network of personal contacts that can help them land that entry job out of school, aid them when the cards are stacked against them or even advocate on their behalf for that “big” promotion.

The lesson here isn’t to quit sports and solely focus on academics, but rather use sports as a tool to help develop our youth into more well-rounded individuals who have a healthy outlook on living their lives. A positive sports environment can help develop an individual that can thrive in even the most pressure-filled or demanding circumstances. Someone who can overcome adversity, build upon relationships/teamwork in order to achieve the ultimate goal, success.  Sports can lead to an individual developing passion and purpose, impart improved decision-making skills and confidence, and instill traits like empathy and persistence. These are all necessary traits and characteristics to succeed in not only sports but everyday situations that arise in life. I am not advocating to give up the “dream” of pursuing athletics but simply encouraging parents to make holistic decisions regarding their children’s future that will lead to the best possible chances for a successful and healthy life.

- Steve Locker

Below is an excerpt from a chapter of Steve’s book Playing for the Long Run regarding college scholarships:

The Great Scholarship Hunt

…Talk to parents and they will tell you that they harbor some hope of securing an athletic scholarship for their children as a justification for their intense involvement in youth sports. Furthermore, most “select” sports programs will brag about how many of their players have secured athletic scholarships at NCAA Division I schools. It’s a highly used form of manipulation to get you to believe that they can better develop your child than their competitors can. Remember, youth sports is big business, and everyone wants to maintain (and enhance) his slice of the pie…

…I hear parents talk all the time about athletic scholarships, but guess what. They have no idea how scholarships are allocated. Here are some simple facts from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA):

* About 7,000,000 children play high-school sports.

* 2% of them will find a roster spot on a college team.

* 1% of them will receive a full athletic scholarship.

We have a program available in the United States that might improve a young athlete's chances of paying for college. It’s called the lottery!

Some additional facts about scholarships as documented by the NCAA include the maximum number of scholarships permissible by NCAA rules. For instance, in the more popular sports in my community--like baseball, lacrosse, hockey and soccer--there are some surprising limits. A NCAA Division I institution may offer only 11.7 scholarships for baseball, 12.6 for lacrosse, 18 for hockey, and 9.9 for soccer. These are numbers for men’s sports. The good news is that the numbers in these sports for women is slightly higher. More important, keep in mind that these are the limits. Not every school has the full compliment of permissible scholarships.

When thinking about roster sizes, it becomes apparent that coaches are splitting up these scholarships in an effort to help as many young athletes as possible. In sports like baseball and track and field, the average scholarship is about $2,000. In thinking about some of our traveling baseball leagues, you quickly realize that many parents are spending much more than that sum for their 10-year-olds to play for one season.

According to the NCAA, the average athletic scholarship is about $8,707 per year. Tuition, room and board often cost as much as $20,000 to $50,000 per year. Interestingly, NCAA Division III schools grant no athletic scholarships. However, eighty-five percent of students attending private colleges do receive academic loans and scholarships. Average tuition discounts for current year freshmen equal about 51%. All of this data makes a compelling case for prioritizing our efforts towards academics, not athletic scholarships. (This data is from The College Solution and the NCAA)

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What Do Good Teachers and Good Coaches Have in Common?

ISACS Convention Recap - Part 1

I was recently invited to the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) convention to speak about coaching and its importance in the development of children in today’s schools. The next two posts of this series will give those of you who didn’t have a chance to attend the convention last week some insight into the meaningful discussions regarding childhood development that occurred. The first talk compares the traits necessary to be a good coach and a good teacher and the second gives you a window into what good coaching should look like.

The theme of the second day of the convention was preparing our children for the Innovation Era. An era where traditional college degrees and information gained is not as important as creative problem solving, entrepreneurship, the ability to work collaboratively and desire or passion necessary to solve today’s challenges (Tony Wagner: Preparing Kids for the Innovation Era).

Those of you that have been following my blog, success at Locker Soccer Academy and my speaking endeavors (Steve’s TEDx Talk: Youth Sports: The Fast Lane to Retirement) will notice a similarity in childhood development philosophies. They are both based on a solid foundation of FUN.

This foundation inspires children to develop an intrinsic passion which in turn will lead to the proper development of traits and skills, like the ability to overcome adversity or resilience. These skills are developed through overcoming failures and are motivated from within rather than from outside forces like those seen in a traditional educational system.

So what do good teachers and good coaches have in common? They create an environment that is conducive to FUN, positive, challenging, honest, caring and strives for excellence. These environments may differ depending on the sport or the age group of children a teacher or a coach is tasked with leading, but the children should take away things such as improved decision-making skills, confidence, empathy, curiosity, and persistence. Great teachers and coaches help empower kids through play, inspiring passion, and developing purpose. These are the environments and traits necessary for our children to discover their real interests, understand the value of depth of knowledge rather than breadth, develop real skills and be able to adapt those skills to any situation.

The Knowledge Economy has come and gone and the Innovation Era, whether we like it or not it is upon us. It is our duty as teachers, coaches and parents to prepare our children to succeed.

- Steve Locker

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Copa America 2016

copa america

USA! USA! USA! USA!

That is the chant that you have all heard from those "crazed" soccer fans during the FIFA World Cup every four years. Maybe you have even been one of them yourself? Well, the good thing is that if you have been that fan or have ever wondered what the hype was all about you don't have to wait another four years to support your team or your favorite player, because a soccer tournament of nearly the same magnitude is taking over the month of June.

One of the hardest things for coaches to instill in young players is passion for the game. Think back to how you discovered something you are passionate about in your life. Was it because of playing pick-up games in the yard next door? Was it because of a teacher or coach that was so enthusiastic about a subject or sport that it rubbed off on you? Was it watching an iconic moment unfold while cheering on your favorite team? Or was it watching your childhood hero pull off the impossible with seconds left to spare in the game? We all can probably relate to at least one or more of those moments.

As it turns out one of the most prolific soccer tournaments, Copa America, is set to kick-off June 3rd on U.S. soil for the first time ever. Copa America is the perfect event for excitement, drama and passion that usually only a World Cup can provide. Watching these types of events as a group is one of the easiest ways to show young kids why a sport is so magical. It also gives you the time to explain things like sportsmanship and teamwork in a real-time situation that isn't so personal. So grab your team, your kids and your family and be one of those "crazed" fans. Follow your favorite team(s) or player(s) through the tournament and help instill that passion for the game in a young player you know this month.

If that wasn't enough to get you interested even Kobe Bryant is going to be watching and in the video below he tells you why you should be as well. The full T.V. schedule for Copa America is below.

Copa America Schedule:(in Eastern Standard Time)

Fri., 6/3 USA vs. Columbia - Santa Clara, CA - 9:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Sat., 6/4 Costa Rica vs. Paraguay - Orlando, FL - 5:00 p.m. FOX
               Haiti vs. Peru - Seattle, WA - 7:30 p.m. FOX Sports 2
               Brazil vs. Ecuador - Pasadena, CA - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Sun., 6/5 Jamaica vs. Venezuela - Chicago, IL - 5:00 p.m. FOX
                Mexico vs. Uruguay - Glendale, AZ - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Mon., 6/6 Panama vs. Bolivia - Orlando, FL - 7:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                 Argentina vs. Chile - Santa Clara, CA - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Tue., 6/7 USA vs. Costa Rica - Chicago, IL - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                Colombia vs. Paraguay - Pasadena, CA - 10:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Wed., 6/8 Brazil vs. Haiti - Orlando, FL- 7:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                 Ecuador vs. Peru - Glendale, AZ - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 2

Thu., 6/9 Uruguay vs. Venezuela - Philadelphia, PA - 7:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                Mexico vs. Jamaica - Pasadena, CA - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Fri., 6/10 Chile vs. Bolivia - Foxborough, MA - 7:00 p.m. FOX
                Argentina vs. Panama - Chicago, IL - 9:30 p.m. FOX

Sat., 6/11 USA vs. Paraguay - Philadelphia, PA - 7:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1
               Colombia vs. Costa Rica - Houston, TX - 9:00 p.m. FOX Sports 2

Sun., 6/12 Ecuador vs. Haiti - East Rutherford, NJ - 6:30 p.m. FOX Sports 2
                 Brazil vs. Peru - Foxborough, MA - 8:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Mon., 6/13 Mexico vs. Venezuela - Houston, TX - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                  Uruguay vs. Jamaica - Santa Clara, CA - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Tue., 6/14 Chile vs. Panama - Philadelphia, PA - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                 Argentina vs. Bolivia - Seattle, WA - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Thu., 6/16 Copa America 1A vs. 2B - Seattle, WA - 9:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Fri., 6/17 Copa America 1B vs. 2A - East Rutherford, NJ - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Sat., 6/18 Copa America 1D vs. 2C - Foxborough, MA - 7:00 p.m. FX
                Copa America 1C vs. 2D - Santa Clara, CA - 10:00 p.m. FX

Tue., 6/21 Copa America W25 vs. W27 - Houston, TX - 9:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Wed., 6/22 Copa America W26 vs. W28 - Chicago, IL - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Sat., 6/25 Copa America L29 vs. L30 - Glendale, AZ - 8:00 p.m. FX

Sun., 6/26 Copa America final East - Rutherford, NJ - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Viva la Copa America Centenario

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports

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Is Your League Following A Good Development Model?

youthcamp

As a parent or a coach you have seen the the practice sessions where coaches run out of ideas after about 30 minutes, so they instinctively turn to playing a one ball scrimmage. In many recreational leagues parents let it slide and think to themselves, "well they have to play a game at some point, so getting some experience in that type of setting is probably a good thing." But, there are real reasons why coaches shouldn't resort to playing a one ball scrimmage at practices. Are your league directors and coaches following a proven development model? If not Second Nature Sports can help. Our training plans give coaches 8-weeks of full practice plans that will guide them through each and every practice in a developmentally focused manner.

In this week's blog our friends at PCA give us a brief overview of why children under the age of 12 shouldn't be playing your traditional 11v11 one ball games, especially in practice.

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports


PCA National Advisory Board Member Jay Coakley (@SiSCoakley) is Professor Emeritus of sociology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He has done 40 years of research on connections between sports, culture and society, much of that focused on the play, games and sport participation of young people. His Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies(11th edition) is the world's most widely used sports sociology text.

In this video, Coakley describes why youth sports needs to be simplified for children under 12 years of age. He states that, “prior to the age of 12, kids are not socially and cognitively ready to play complex team games.” Research shows that children under the age of 8 can only take on one role at a time. So for sports like soccer, where there are 10 teammates, a soccer ball, and coaches, it is difficult for children to understand all of these roles simultaneously.

Since we cannot expect children under the age of 12 to truly understand these complex concepts, Coakley recommends that instead of putting children in a complex game they do not understand, we should:

  • Simplify game models
  • Change the dimensions of the fields to fit the size of the children playing
  • Cut the size of teams so that all children can get more touches, opportunities to pass, and opportunities to score

A link to the original post can be found here.

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Positive Partnerships

Today's blog is an announcement of Second Nature Sports partnership with the Positive Coaching Alliance. A few weeks ago Steve was asked to become a certified coach and possibly even a trainer. He is currently in the process of meeting the necessary requirements for certification and beginning the mutually beneficial partnership. Steve, wholeheartedly believes in positive coaching and strives to maintain philosophy similar to what PCA believes in. Stay tuned for future updates on this relationship and Steve's progress. In this week's blog we feature an article from a great free resource provided by PCA, known as the PCA Development Zone, titled Running As Punishment For Poor Performance.

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports


positive coaching

Running As Punishment For Poor Performance

"My daughter's high school coach punishes the team for poor performance by having them run laps and do push-ups. What do coaches and parents think about that technique?"

PCA Response By David Jacobson, PCA Trainer & Senior Marketing Communications and Content Manager

One of the ultimate ironies of sports occurs when coaches discipline "lazy" players by making them run. Why is that ironic? Because it is lazy coaching.

If your players need conditioning, help them get it. If your players need discipline, help them get that. But don't fall back on running as discipline.

There at least two reasons:

  1. Your players will come to despise running and other forms of conditioning because it feels like punishment. You want them to love running so that they will want to run and become the best-conditioned athletes possible.
  2. You are abandoning an opportunity to teach life lessons about discipline, which is best done by talking about the subject and setting an example by exercising the discipline necessary to coach well.

For example, let's say that in an intra-squad scrimmage your players have trouble passing or receiving on the run. Don't default to punishing them with extra running. Instead, recognize the problem as one of conditioning and/or insufficient practice at these skills.

Address both issues at once by interrupting the scrimmage and instead of ordering laps in the name of "discipline" conduct a drill that demands running, passing and receiving. This way, their skills and conditioning both improve.

Your drill could include a competitive element, such as splitting the team in half and seeing who can complete the most passes on the run in a given time period. That helps avoid resentment that comes from mindless, endless laps and makes the practice fun so that players will want to continue acquiring the skills and conditioning they need. And you demonstrate creativity and discipline in your problem solving.

You then can explain to your players after the drill that instead of knee-jerk reactions, creativity and true discipline are better approaches to problem solving in sports and in life.

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Write a Blog

Write a blog. These aren’t words I have said in my head much, or maybe at all. What to write about, who would my audience be, what would I add to the conversation? I guess the question has always been why? And here, today, I answer with a why not?

About a month ago I made contact with Steve Locker through a Penn State connection. We sat down and so began our back and forth banter about the state of soccer, sports, and all that those two things encompass. That conversation turned into a bunch more and before I know it I’m introduced to Second Nature Sports and I’m on board.

I am a firm believer in the idea that you can never stop learning. I learn things every day and I aim to constantly put myself in environments that help me grow as a person. But before I dive head first into my beliefs, I’d like to share a bit about me.

A quick Google search and you can find mostly anything you need or want to know about my soccer playing and coaching career. But in an age where human connection is constantly on the back burner because of technology, I’ll ironically share via technology some things you won’t find through a Google search.

I was a very gifted soccer player from an early age. Mostly it just came natural to me, but I loved it. I had wonderful coaches as a youth player and didn’t even recognize this until later in my career. Once I made a commitment to invest more into MY OWN development my game took off to a level I wasn’t even aware existed. I constantly struggled with the idea of “fitting in” versus being myself, but was lucky enough to have a strong sense of confidence from within (a product I believe from my upbringing). Nothing made me happier than playing soccer. Well, maybe food… but that’s a whole other story.

I battled injuries, thankfully not too many major ones, but I have years of experience helping and encouraging teammates through some pretty physically demanding times. I’ve seen first hand what soccer demands on the human body and how with such early specialization players are “burning out” fast. I finally understood later in my career how nutrition, sleep, and recovery are paramount to success. And I can’t even dive into the psychology of it all without wanting to run out onto a field right now. I’ve had ups and downs and experienced a plethora of emotions tied to this beautiful game and through it all managed a pretty long career.

So in the end what does all this mean? A sense of perspective I hope. One that may help you in your coaching career or simply as a parent who wants to support their child play a sport they love.

- Christie Welsh


Christie Welsh's Bio:

Welsh is a former assistant coach at the University of Oregon from 2013-2015 and Saint Joseph’s University in 2012, while also holding volunteer assistant coaching positions at Penn State and The University of Wisconsin.

She was a member of the U.S. National Team from 2000 until 2008. Welsh scored 20 goals over 39 international contests. During her time with the USWNT she remarkably scored 10 goals faster than any other player in American soccer history. She served as an alternate for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and she was part of the 2004, 2006, and 2007 Olympic and World Cup training residencies.

In 2005, Welsh helped the U.S. National Team capture the Algarve Cup, scoring a team best five goals, including a massive game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Germany in the finals. She was also named the Golden Boot Award winner as the top scorer of the tournament.

Welsh was the first Penn State player to earn NSCAA All-America honors in each of her four years, while leading her squad to an impressive four-straight Big Ten titles and two Final Four appearances from 1999-2002. She was the first player in conference history to be named Big Ten Player of the Year three consecutive seasons. On the field, Welsh set the Big Ten's record for goals (82), assists (52) and points (216), with her career points mark still a current record. She was recognized as the top collegiate player receiving both the Hermann Trophy and M.A.C. Player of the Year honors.

Following her collegiate career, Welsh was drafted second overall in the 2003 WUSA Draft by the New York Power. In her first season she led her team in scoring and would go on to play internationally for KIF Orebro of Sweden's Top Division in 2004. In 2005 she brought her talents to Olympique Lyonnaise of the French First Division.

Additionally, she helped the Washington Freedom to the 2005 W-League championship, and the NJ Wildcats to the 2007 title, garnering MVP honors along the way. She also played in the Women's Professional Soccer League, competing for both the LA Sol and St. Louis Athletica in 2009 and the Washington Freedom in 2010.

She hails from Massapequa, N.Y. where she led Massapequa High School to the 1997 New York State Championship and earned Parade All-American honors twice. In 1998 she was named the Gatorade Circle of Champions National High School Girls' Soccer Player of the Year and ended her high school career named an NSCAA All-American.

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TedxColumbus - Steve Locker - Youth Sports: The Fast Lane To Retirement

In today's youth sports culture, parents seem to be in a race to competition. Steve Locker helps reassure parents that a patient approach to sports can work by examining the stages of child development and how they relate to athletic development. Find out how I can help your organization today!

Now that my TEDX Talk is available for viewing, I hope that you find it helpful and insightful. I draw from many years of working with both young children and advanced players at every level, and share my experiences of a better way to progress children through their athletic endeavors.

Pointing out that a “real” game of soccer for 4 & 5 year olds, with one ball, quickly becomes boring because too many children are not touching the ball. A more sensible approach where every child has his or her own ball makes perfect sense.

Building on the notion that we must be patient and allow children to participate at age appropriate stages, a case is made that this type of approach actually works quite well. The concept of intrinsic motivation far surpasses our current method where parents are providing the motivation.

Enjoy the storytelling and “real life” examples that illustrate how we parents can find a more enjoyable way to enjoy sports with our children. Don’t forget to share this with your friends, neighbors, and relatives who may benefit from this message.

- Steve Locker

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Decision Making

decisionmaking

One of the beauties of soccer is that it is truly a “players” game, with coaching from the sidelines forbidden. Unfortunately at the youth level, this rule is never enforced. Unlike most of our sports though, soccer has very few stoppages, and this allows for players to make their own decisions during the flow of the game. Because of the environment that exists in soccer, it really is a wonderful avenue through which to develop children.

In a typical game, there is lots of running (fitness), change of direction and change of pace (agility and athleticism), decision making, risk taking, ball skill development, vision and spacial awareness, fakes and scheming, teamwork, and most importantly, fun! Kids can experience the ups and downs of sports in so many ways, and this is an excellent environment to learn how to deal with these challenges in a positive manner.

One of the best methods for developing good soccer players is to play “pick-up” soccer with friends. In this environment kids often play with children of varying ages, they play uninhibited because parents are usually not around to yell instructions and set demands, and they get to “own” the game on their terms.

Over the past weekend at a soccer tournament, I heard countless coaches directing their players non-stop. It was truly annoying. As I sat and quietly watched my team play on their own, I was complimented by many referees, field marshals, and opposing parents for my quiet demeanor. It didn’t hurt that our girls were able to relax and play some really beautiful soccer....on their terms. They were the champions of the weekend in every category!

All of us as parents would love for our children to grow up and be good decision makers. If we can have the patience and the fortitude to allow the process to work in youth sports, stop all of the screaming and yelling, our kids now have a better chance of learning these very important decision making skills.

Enjoy the games!

- Steve Locker

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Back on the Field

Backonthefield

As the evolution of Locker Soccer Academy continues, I recently found myself taking a step back and examining just what it is that we are attempting to accomplish. Through the early years, I was constantly reminded of just how much fun I was having working with preschoolers all day long. Because I spent nearly twenty years working with collegiate players, this examination always seemed to be a comparison between college players and young children. (I was coaching at a time when sports were beginning to take on a different perspective, and it seemed that the insulated environment of collegiate sports was starting to crumble a bit. It was the advent of the helicopter parent.)

I was enjoying a totally different level of fulfillment in my day-to-day work with children, and the fact that we were impacting so many lives certainly added to that sense of value. Over the years, we have worked with over 25,000 children, compared to the 25 or so I got to work with each year as a collegiate coach.

About five or six years ago, a somewhat serious injury to my back forced us at Locker Soccer to begin to re-shape our business model.  No longer could I serve as the primary coach, new coaches needed to be developed and the introduction of these coaches has had a profound impact.  My time off the field allowed me to take a very close look at what was happening with youth sports, listened to our customers, and thus began a passionate effort towards making a difference in this much maligned area.

We launched Second Nature Sports about a year ago and that effort is beginning to have an impact on a different level. We are engaged in a national campaign to help parents and children enjoy youth sports in a way that youth sports are meant to be enjoyed. I saw how successful we were locally, and because of my experience at the higher levels of the game, felt a compelling responsibility to make a difference in this much needed arena.  Second Nature is focused on Parent-Coach Education, Parent Education, and growing the Locker Soccer brand nationally so that other children can enjoy what we have been enjoying in central Ohio for the past ten years.  That’s right, Locker Soccer will celebrate its’ 11th birthday this summer!

I have been truly enjoying the chance to get back on the field and do what I think I do best....play with kids using soccer as a means to make a difference in their lives. I enjoy sharing my experiences with parents and helping them understand how to support their children so that they can develop lifelong, positive habits towards fitness.  But most of all, being out there with the kids is the biggest joy of all.

-Steve Locker

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