Viewing entries tagged
coaches

Comment

The Innovation Era: The Convergence of Educational & Athletic Approaches

Can you become an advocate for allowing children to have fun in sports?

Because we have such easy access to information, the Knowledge Economy is no longer relevant when discussing the best way to prepare our children for the world which they will enter. This new era, where we can access information at the tip of our computers (or smartphones), doesn’t require us to learn things like we used to. Times have changed.

Instead of sitting in a classroom and having knowledge crammed into our heads, this new era requires us to be creative problem solvers, collaborators, highly motivated and good communicators. That’s right….if you want to get ahead in our new culture, you need to be an adaptive, team player.

In a recent talk, Tony Wagner (Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s new Innovation Lab and a Senior Research Fellow at the Learning Policy Institute) spoke about the environment that we must put our children into to help prepare them to meet the new challenges that they will face when going out into our “new” world. Tony was talking about our educational system. Interestingly, as I listened to Tony, one thing struck me in a very pointed way; Tony was using the same terminology that we use in athletics when discussing player development.

If you take a look at New Technology High School (Napa, CA) and High Technology High School (Middletown, NJ) you will see an environment where Project-based learning, small class sizes and personal relationships with instructors create an environment in which students are responsible for their own learning.

The key word here is environment. In Tony’s model, there are no scores. It’s about mastery. Working together to learn how to create and solve. Wow, that sounds a lot like how I coach soccer! In fact, Tony pointed out that teachers are a lot like coaches.

If the push is on to create highly adaptive young citizens, what lessons can we take from all of this as it pertains to athletics? Everyone is aware that our youth sports culture is wildly dysfunctional. Too much parental involvement, too much focus on results, the belief that specialization will lead to greater success in one chosen sport.

I received a call the other day from a parent coach who said he was struggling with his parents doing too much coaching from the sidelines during games. He mentioned having two children walk off the field, crying, and refused to re-enter the game because they were too frustrated with all of the parents yelling instructions.

As I examined the learning environment at New Tech High and witnessed the group projects taking place, I tried to imagine parents coming into the classroom and start telling the kids what to do. It seems so absurd. What would a teacher do if a parent came into the classroom and started giving their child (or other children) instructions on how to complete a task? It’s bad enough that the “Helicopter Parents” have taken flight, but I hope we never see the day when parents show up to school and start coaching their kids in the classroom.

Playing sports is about having fun. If parents feel the need to “joystick” their children through an athletic performance, think about that from the perspective of the child.

When parents are asked what they want for their children through athletic participation, they have lots of good answers. “Make friends”, “learn a skill”, “stay healthy”, all very worthy goals. The parent paradox, however, is anything but healthy. We say one thing, but our behavior completely belies us.

In my ideal coaching environment, we would err on the side of “under coaching”, not “over coaching”. The environment would consist of small numbers, to help ensure that children get lots of repetitions and the opportunity to make lots of decisions. Playing sports is about having fun. If parents feel the need to “joystick” their children through an athletic performance, think about that from the perspective of the child. Do you really think they are enjoying themselves? What exactly are they learning?

As a parent, I must be able to see that my constant direction giving is cheating my child out of the opportunity to learn.

Malcolm Gladwell has the Ten Thousand Hour Rule. He asserts that to truly become proficient at something, you must work at it for 10,000 hours. Makes sense! One question, though….what is it that would make someone work for that many hours on a skill? Malcolm does not address motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is the secret. Tony Wagner knows it and I know it. (I spoke about it last year in my TEDx Talk.) Unless an individual is growing passion and love for something, they will not have the intrinsic motivation to work at it and become proficient. This is another area that we parents struggle with. Too often, we want to be the motivators. It doesn’t work that way.

I am an advocate for collaboration, teamwork. I am an advocate for problem solving, risk taking, mistake making. If we don’t make mistakes, we are not learning. I am an advocate for hard work. Can you become an advocate for allowing children to have fun in sports?

- Steve Locker

Comment

Comment

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

Comment

Comment

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

Comment

Comment

Where Have All of the Good Times Gone?

fun

Last week we talked about injuries and why it is important to allow our athletes the proper amount of time to heal before they resume play. Another very important reason to make sure your kids have healed properly is prevent injuries that are related to overuse. Overuse injuries happen most frequently when a child has been rushed back to play before properly healing and have become one of the leading factors in kids quitting sports in their transitional years. But, injuries are not the only reason our children are choosing to quit sports at an alarming rate (as high as 78%) at the age of 13. The leading cause is that they are simply not having fun playing their particular sport anymore.

This can stem from a number of reasons. The number one reason is negative child-coach interactions. At the club level it can be the pressure felt by the coach to win-at-all-costs that limits playing time for all but the best players. Another reason is that the kids themselves start to view the sport they once loved as more of a job than a fun activity. Second Nature Sports and I believe in a philosophy that empowers coaches and mentors to adopt a proven sports philosophy that nurtures childhood development by keeping soccer fun. Our number one goal is to keep kids playing longer and we believe that by providing coaches with simple, yet robust educational tools they will be able to interact with their team with confidence. Proper education and confidence will give them the tools necessary ensure their kids have fun and love coming to practice.

In this week's blog we turn yet again to Dr. Joseph Donahue and our friends at PCA as they go over some of the reasons why so many kids are leaving sports at such an early age.

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports


Dr. Joseph Donahue is an orthopedic surgeon at SOAR Clinic in Redwood City and has served as team physician for the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford University as well as an orthopedic consultant for the San Francisco Giants. He is the team physician for Santa Clara University.

In this clip, Dr. Donahue lists the reasons for attrition in youth sports and why kids drop out or quit. Among those: injury, often stemming from overuse, due to early sport specialization. Also, pressure to excel on the scoreboard can limit opportunities for players to continue developing as they get caught up in win-at-all-cost environments and may miss out on playing time. In turn, that makes sports less fun, which is the most often-cited reason for kids quitting sports.

A link to the original post can be found here.

Comment

Comment

The New Dimension in Youth Soccer: Navigating U.S. Soccer’s New Age Groupings

Age change.jpg

No one likes change, and this is a sizable change for the millions of soccer families in our country. The soon to be “old” system of determining age groups, where the calendar year began on August 1st, will now become “Birth Year” groupings with a January 1st start. All of this becomes a harsh reality in the next few weeks, and parents are scrambling with the question: where should my child play?

Terminology Lesson: It will no longer be called U8, or Under 8. The new term for this
age group is now 8 & Under. Get used to it.

There is one gender issue at play, and let me address it up front. Generally speaking, girls have a greater pull towards playing with friends than do boys. This factor will be one that many parents will grapple with when trying to decide where to place their child. I will talk about the “friend” card in more detail as I delve into this topic.

So your 9 year old has been playing with his team for three years, and now we are dealing with the fact that half the team was born in 2006 and the other half was born in 2007. (Those with 2006 birth dates will jump all the way to 11 & Under. Those with 2007 birth dates will play at 10 & Under.) Your child was born in June of 2007, but two of his best friends have 2006 birth dates. What to do?

Let me make one critically important fact very clear: The coach of your child is the single most important factor in all of this. Which club you play for, and which league you are in matter less. Your child MUST enjoy their coach, or they will be out of the game in no time. It doesn’t matter how many friends they have on their new team, they will make new friends quickly.

A good coach will make the experience fun and they will continue the developmental process for your child and progress them with their skills, their understanding of the game, and most importantly, the continued implementation of life’s most important lessons.

When considering an age group, especially playing “up” an age group, here are some considerations that you, as a parent, must be ready to deal with: (Please know that the more honestly that you make this assessment, the better the experience that your child will have.)

Speed: At what level will your child’s foot speed and speed of play (decision making) allow for the most success. If you over estimate your child’s ability, you are setting them up for failure.

Physicality: Like speed, this has to be the appropriate fit.

Emotional (& Psychological) Maturity: Given this stage of your child’s development, where will they find the most success and the best chance of developing into a team leader?

Ball Skills: Is your child’s mastery of controlling the ball in line with the older players that you may be considering having your child join?

The Friend Card: The longer that a team has been together, the more challenging it is to break up those friendships. Because high school players compete against many different age groups in high school, they are more likely to be successful at playing “up” in order to stay with friends. As we examine the younger age groups (8-14 years), I believe that it is more important to keep these children within their ages. There are always going to be exceptions, and as long as a child can meet with success when playing against older kids, then that child can be a reasonable candidate for playing “up”. Please keep this fact in mind: kids make friends in the time that it takes you to check out at the grocery store! They are more resilient than we think.

When we look at all of these factors in regards to our children, our ability to determine the best fit is critical. It will make the difference between your child meeting success or struggling with fitting in. In these formative years, the more success that they have, the longer that they will play.

Let’s keep our kids playing, keep the process positive, and support them in their journey to make new friends. Isn’t that what sports is all about anyway?

- Steve Locker

Comment

Comment

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.

Comment

Comment

Take A Whiff Of Perspective

Perspective

Whether it’s a parent trying to figure out which travel team to place their 8 year old child, or a country attempting to navigate a complex health care system, the mass exodus of children from organized sports is causing a crisis that is so devastating that most of us can’t fully grasp its impact.

Bill Dietz, director of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at George Washington University laments, “They should be as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof about the tsunami of diabetes that’s coming their way. The cost of this rise in the prevalence of obesity is going to be staggering.”

So what do those costs look like? The Aspen Institute has a program called Project Play, Reimagining Youth Sports in America. Below is a paragraph that highlights some of their findings related to this growing crisis:

Levels of physical activity inadequate to meet current guidelines are associated with a significant financial burden for the U.S. health care system, as much as $131 billion a year (CDC, 2015). Direct and indirect medical costs related to obesity are estimated at $147 billion a year, twice the size of the budget for the U.S. Department of Education. Direct costs are expected to more than double by 2030. Adults who are obese will face decreased earning potential, and employers will pay in the form increased health care costs. (Designed to Move, 2012). In total, lifetime societal costs are $92,235 greater for a person with obesity, and if all 12.7 million U.S. youth with obesity became obese adults, the societal costs over their lifetimes may exceed $1.1 trillion. (Brookings Institute, 2015)

Much like our youth sports crisis where so many children are quitting, and none of us parents are willing to admit that it could happen to our kid, this problem keeps snowballing. At what point is that slap upside the head going to kick in and get us thinking about this in a more serious manner? Unlike a pick-up game of whiffle ball, when it comes to our children’s development, we don’t get a “do over”.

Having spent the past twelve years intimately engaged in youth sports and child development, I have seen and heard almost everything. Parents justify their decisions to push their children into highly competitive programs at unbelievably young ages and say things like, “Joey just loves soccer.” Guess what, Joey’s 7 years old and the only thing he truly loves is his parents, his siblings, his dog and an ice cream cone. The minute Joey encounters some coach screaming and yelling at him during a soccer game, he’s done!

Then there’s the conversation that I have heard far too often between two moms. It goes like this:

Mom 1: “How’s Jenny doing in soccer?”

Mom 2: “Oh, Jenny quit soccer last season.”

Mom 1: “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.”

Mom 2: “Actually, it’s pretty nice now. We have our weekends back and it’s fun to do stuff as a family again.”

Mom 2 is the one who used to argue that Jenny loved soccer. She made the “A” team as a 9 year old, but by age 13 she had enough. Burned out! I often hear parents of teenagers lamenting, “I wish we hadn’t pushed so hard.” Sorry folks, no “do overs”.

As parents, we all get so caught up in the micromanagement of our children’s sports participation. Why.....because that’s what everyone else is doing. We are so afraid that our kid will get left behind if we don’t do everything possible to help him or her keep up. This fear is so incredibly powerful.

Here are three wonderful solutions to the aforementioned problems facing the health of our society:

  1. Help inform, educate and support parents in efforts to return sports participation to the children. Get adults out of the way and focus on the happiness and well-being of our kids. Let them play under their terms....not ours.
     
  2. Our health care organizations are spending billions on new hospitals. They see the tsunami coming and they want to be prepared. Why not earmark some of this money towards initiatives that get kids moving and attack our burgeoning obesity problem at the front lines?
     
  3. Record numbers of children are being cut from middle and high school sports teams. The model of Intramural Sports offered at colleges and universities across the country serves as a perfect solution at these younger levels. Let’s get the 75% of the kids who are quitting by age 13 back into the game at the intramural level where they can truly have fun again.

Schools complain that they don’t have enough money to fund these programs. Maybe this would be a nice place for the health care organizations to begin sharing the wealth!

- Steve Locker

Comment

Comment

Psychology and the Game of Soccer

emotion

Quite often when I am coaching youth players I notice many of them with very vivid reactions to mistakes. Whether it’s their use of words, facial expressions, or the frozen stance some seem to take on from dwelling on their “imperfections.”

What are the causes these reactions? Why do we all do it? (Yes, I am absolutely sure I did this as a player too) As an athlete I learned somewhere along the line to let things go. Quite honestly, I can’t recall an exact moment that influenced me but most likely a series of events, coaches, or teammates that led me down that path. And those of you, who knew me as a player, know this wasn’t easy nor was it ever complete.

If you coach young players I encourage you to take notice of this and to create an environment where “mistakes” are accepted and in fact encouraged. College coaches are constantly asked what they look for when they are recruiting a player and I can guarantee most coaches keep a keen eye on players’ responses to mistakes. I know I do. We all want the player who keeps going and works through issues on the field.

The fact of the matter is to become truly great at anything you are going to fail more times than you succeed. We’ve all heard the millions of quotes out there. When I work with attacking players I’m constantly talking to them about letting go of missed shots and opportunities. Move on to the next and do it quickly. As a goal scorer you must be relentless. There’s no other way to play. Soccer is a game of mistakes, many of them.

My point is this applies not only in sport but even more so in life. Can we build persistence at an early age on the field through encouragement and acceptance of mistakes? Can we instill in athletes that failure is going to happen and its okay?

A great way to look at this is having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. When your athletes/children react by saying they “can’t” do something, I encourage you to take that opportunity as a teachable moment. Having a growth mindset opens doors for not only our own personal development but with our relationships with others as well.

- Christie Welsh

Additional Resources for parents and coaches is a book called Mindset by Carl S. Dweck, Ph.D.


Christie Welsh'sBio:
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. Christie is also, a former Hermann Trophy winner and former professional soccer player for multiple teams.

Comment

Comment

Turnkey Tools for the Parent-Soccer-Coach

First ever digital parent coach training tool   developed by former Harvard Soccer Coach

First ever digital parent coach training tool developed by former Harvard Soccer Coach

Columbus, Ohio Ask any recreational director what‘s the toughest part of their job and they will tell you:

  • Getting parents to volunteer to coach.
  • Having parent coaches adhere to the philosophies of the youth organization. 
  • Training parent coaches to not only effectively teach the game of soccer but also appropriately coach the child.  

The facts are clear: 

35% of all kids quit a sport each year & 75% of all kids quit all sports by the age of 13. Many families site the main reason their child quit a sport was due to a bad experience with the coach.

What’s the Solution?  

A perfect training session for a parent coach available in a matter of 2-3 minutes.  The Second Nature Digital Training Plan is the answer for the busy parent coach.  It allows access from their mobile device at practice.  The training session is designed for each practice with short videos, diagrams, graphics and photos. It’s an all- inclusive coaching kit that minimizes the time crunched parent coach’s prep time.   

Each digital training plan contains 5 main parts of a practice session from start to finish.  It includes a warm-up, stretching, soccer skill activity,   running activity and finally a “fun” game.  All sessions are age appropriate and produced for 3 different age groups: 3-5 year olds, 6-7 year olds and 8+  year olds. The method not only teaches skills for the game of soccer but also motor skill development, social awareness and an ongoing passion for the game. 

Developed by former Harvard Soccer Coach, collegiate and professional player, Steve Locker with the help of Ohio State University child psychologists.  This unique philosophy and coaching method “Second Nature”, is designed to enable coaches of youth recreation soccer to coach in a way that’s enjoyable for parents and players. 

For more information, visit Second Nature Sports. 

Contact:

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports
614-792-5522 | Chris@2nsports.com

Comment

Comment

Parents Can Be The Solution

parents can be the solution

In my recent TED Talk, I jokingly referred to parents as “idiots”. It was a bit of a reference to a movie trailer that I had seen called, Dealing With Idiots. I’m not sure if the movie ever made it to the big screen, but it was a movie about parents and their exploits in youth sports. Over the years, I have heard plenty of our “professional” coaches berate parents, mainly because the mindset within the coaching ranks is this: “we coaches know what we are doing, and how dare some idiot parent try to tell us otherwise.” Arrogance at its best.

Certainly, having coached collegiately for 19 years, and having spent the past twelve years deeply involved with the development of young children (over 15,000), I have seen my share of parents who do act like idiots. However, I think it is a total misrepresentation to group all parents into such a category.

As I pointed out in my TED Talk, I believe that parents are well-intentioned, but starved for information. Parents want help and direction, they just don’t know where to go to get that creditable information. Having immersed myself in the world of youth sports, I get the impression that parents are often the scapegoats for all that is wrong in children’s athletics. In my opinion, this is simply not true.

This dynamic that we call youth sports is so complex, that there is plenty of room for blame to go around. Anyone with a point of view is able to express their thoughts, and while some of these ideas may sound plausible, we really need to stick to the research and the experience of those who have spent the most time working with children, parents, and coaches.

Having worked with so many families in this realm, it has become clear to me that fear is one of the biggest factors in parental decision-making. Fear that if they do not keep up with every other kid in the neighborhood, then their child is going to fall behind in the race to higher levels of competition. Overcoming this fear is one of our biggest challenges in our effort to return sports to the children who want to enjoy it.

Another factor controlling parental decision-making is the parent who “thinks” they know what is best. This is merely my hypothesis, but I see a lot of parents who have played sports, and this playing experiences seems to provide them with a false sense of confidence that may be more dangerous than helpful.

While chatting over lunch a few months ago with a friend of mine who is a surgeon. We were having a discussion about parental involvement in the lives of children and I pointed out that in my profession, I get parents all the time who think they understand coaching and children just as well as I do. This, despite my 40 years in the coaching profession, and my work with so many thousands of children. I pointed out that parents are very comfortable offering me advice on how I should coach.

When I said that at least you don’t have to deal with this advice giving in the medical profession, my friend quickly stopped me and indicated how wrong I was. She began telling me about a patient who quizzed her on her intended surgery methods and insisted on certain procedures for stopping blood flow during the surgery. This patient had read something about cauterization and insisted that the doctor not use it to stop blood flow. The patient seemed to think that the flow of blood would stop automatically. The other doctor at the table said, “oh yeah, it’ll stop automatically, once she bleeds out.”

And here I thought that only in the area of coaching was everyone an expert!

Getting back to parental fear, I’m wondering if there is a strategy that we can employ to help parents overcome this fear? One of my goals as an educator is to create the right environment for children to overcome fear of failure in their sporting efforts. One method that I employ is to force kids into situations that are uncomfortable, and to insure that every child is included in this struggle. As children begin to see that others are failing as well, it helps to reassure them that failure is not necessarily so bad. Another term for this is risk-taking. To complement this, we as coaches (and parents) must never berate a child when they try something and fail. We should cheer the effort and encourage them to keep trying.

Parents need examples of situations where others have been patient, and where this patience has paid off. Because I have experimented so much with this, I have seen it work and I have the confidence (through my research) to continue in this patient manor.

One of the most important steps in fixing a problem is to first be able to admit that there is a problem. Because the repercussions in youth sports are not immediate, there is no sense of urgency to fix anything. Remember, no parent believes that their child will be part of the 75% who quit by the age of 13. Until we can convince parents that it can happen to their kid, our challenge remains rather daunting.

My hope is that more and more parents are willing to see the eventual problems and become willing to make the needed changes. We know the problems are monumental, and the stories of dysfunction becoming more prevalent; it appears that some parents are starting to pay attention. As we teach our children to be more willing to take risks, are we able to achieve the same thing with parents? It’s not easy. We only get to do this once with each child and we don’t want to mess up.

We need a ground swell of parents who are willing to say enough is enough. Are you willing to take this calculated risk and return sports to the children? If not, how can we help you move in that direction?

- Steve Locker

Comment