Pro Sports Experience Blog
In honor of National Teacher’s Month, we are taking some of the very best ideas for getting the most out of students in the classroom and applying them to coaching youth sports. Are you doing any of these?
Brainstorm Team Goals Together
A 6th grade teacher wrote into Scholastic.com that one of her best teaching tips was to have students be involved in helping to set the classroom goals. “The idea is that students feel responsible. Students ponder and then write their goals for the school year. I write mine as well and we post them for all to see.” Do this with your team—have each player think about his or her goals for the season and then ask them what they need from the team, from practices, from the coach, to accomplish those goals. Write all of their ideas on a white board and have players find similarities among thoughts shared in order to narrow down your list to something more manageable. This gives you a great way to start the season with everyone having buy in to what is expected of each player.
“One of the worst things you can do as a teacher is to not enforce your rules consistently,” writes a post for 712Educators.com. “If one day you ignore misbehaviors and the next day you jump on someone for the smallest infraction, your students will quickly lose respect for you.” And so will your players. Make sure you are bringing the same set of rules to the field everyday so players know what to expect.
Establish a Routine
Children thrive in structured environments and if you don’t give them time for their minds to wander, you have a better chance of keeping them focused and engaged, suggests Teaching.Monster.com. Be sure to arrive at practice and games before players so you can greet them as they arrive and get them set with preparations for the game. Have an activity prepared that players can do as soon as they are geared up and ready—this will keep idle hands busy while other players arrive. At the beginning of each practice, go over the schedule so they know what to expect. “Routine doesn’t equate boring, but offers your students a sense of security in knowing what to expect.”
Address Behavior Issues Quickly and Wisely
“Be sure to address an issue between you and a student or between two students as quickly as possible. Bad feelings — on your part or the students — can so quickly grow from molehills into mountains,” says a writer for Edutopia.org. Try avoiding interruption of team instructions or demonstrations and instead pull the child aside and ask very simple questions such as “How might I be able to help you better?” If you must address the issue in front of the whole team, simply state, “It looks like you have some additional questions, let’s finish up with this and we’ll address your concerns.”
This Sunday was Mother’s Day, an opportunity to celebrate the woman in your life who is always there cheering you on at games, bandaging skinned knees, scrubbing out the grass stains on your white football pants and bringing you to football camp during the summer (hint, hint—still time to register!).
How will you celebrate her? We have some ideas:
Create a Football Fun Breakfast: Make pancakes in the shape of footballs with a side of orange slices (you know, the kind you eat during half time). Score extra points if you serve her breakfast in bed and clean up the kitchen on your own!
Give Her a Timeout: You know those timeouts you have after a really hard quarter? Those are great, right? Your Mom has been playing a really hard quarter all year and it’s time for her to take a breather as well. Set up an appointment for her at a local spa or create a “Timeout” room that includes a stack of her favorite magazines or books, great snacks and a TV all to herself. The key to a successful timeout is that no one under any circumstances interrupts!
Take a Picture: Give her a picture of her favorite player playing the sport she loves: You! Put it in a football-themed frame (or make one—here’s a site with some ideas) with a bow and you have a winning present.
Crown Her MVM (Most Valuable Mom): In addition to giving her an MVP-worthy trophy, celebrate all she has done for you this past year by creating a “highlight reel” of some of the family’s best (and, of course, funniest) moments. You can really go all out and host an MVM Pep fAssembly prior to the start of the highlight reel—have family members come dressed in your Mom’s favorite colors, add some music and a few cheers and you will be winning with her all weekend long!
Give Her Your Number: Have a jersey designed with your name and number that your Mom can wear during your games. If you are short on time (and money), you can make your own Mom-inspired jersey—here’s how. If your Mom isn’t the jersey-wearing-type, consider having your number turned into a simple piece of jewelry. Mom would love wearing #24 around her neck on and off the field!
What ideas do you have for celebrating Mom?
Although the weather is getting warmer, it isn’t too early to start thinking about Fall—well, at least to start thinking about Fall sports physicals. Most schools and organizations will require your child to have an updated physical on file before the first day of practice and for some teams, practice could come as early as June or July. Call now to secure your appointment and be prepared for the following:
The medical history of your child not only includes questions about his illnesses and injuries, but will also ask if he has been feeling anything uncommon such as getting dizzy or feeling chest pain after running on recess, as well as if your child is currently taking any medications. In addition, the doctor will want to know about your own family medical history so be prepared with answers to questions about physical ailments or diseases that may run in your family. “The medical history part is just as important as the physical itself, as it provides the context with which to clear or not clear the athlete to play,” says Dr. Kelvin Brown from “What Happens During Sports Physicals?”.
The physical exam will most likely include the measuring of height & weight, checking of blood pressure, listening to heart and lungs, feeling the abdomen and looking in ears, nose & throat. Doctors will also conduct tests for physical strength and flexibility. For older boys, the exam may be include a hernia check and for older girls who have gone through puberty, the doctor will more than likely ask about their period. When you call to make an appointment, be sure to ask exactly what will be included in the physical exam so you can prepare your child.
Recommendations for Preventing Illness and Injury
Many doctors will conclude the physical with recommendations on how your child can prevent illness and injury during the upcoming sport season such as incorporating strength training and stretches or how to maintain proper hydration even during long workouts. If your doctor does not offer tips and recommendations, feel free to ask and be sure your child asks any questions she may have as well.
In most cases, your sports physical will end with your doctor completing the necessary forms and your child being cleared for practice or play. What might give you a non-passing physical grade? According to “What Happens During Sports Physicals”, conditions that could warrant further tests include a family history of sudden cardiac death before the age of 50, significant shortness of breath, fainting, chest pain or severe asthma. Some other danger signs could include a symptomatic hernia, remarkably high blood pressure or a musculoskeletal condition or injury. If your child does not pass his or her physical, they will be required to have further testing to rule out any health issues that may prevent them from playing.
Officials are an important part of the game, but sometimes it may feel as if they are only making calls against—not for—your team. Here are tips on how youth coaches can work with the officials of every game.
Have a Pregame Meeting
It is always a good idea for both coaches to meet with officials prior to the start of the game. This gives you the opportunity to introduce yourselves as well as discuss any rules or regulations that may differ from league to league. Many youth football leagues play a modified version of high school rules, which may be hard to understand if you are used to watching just professional games on Sundays.
We realize this is often easier said than done, but remaining calm is key when it comes to communicating with game referees. Maintaining your cool even during a tough call will show players how important it is to always be respectful and focused regardless of the current situation. Need to calm yourself down? Call a timeout—this gives you the opportunity to pull yourself together, connect with players and keep your game focus.
Ask for Clarification
Respectfully ask the referee to explain why the call was made. A good way to phrase this question: “Could you tell me what you saw from your angle that caused to you make this call? I want to be sure I understand what my player did so we can avoid the situation going forward.”
Talk, Don’t Yell
Yelling is not only unprofessional but it often leads to personal attacks and takes away from the real issue at hand. State your concern in a straightforward manner, making sure your comments are based on facts and not emotions. Never use foul language or get into the personal space of the referee—this is a discussion between two adults, not a fight.
Agree to Disagree
Even after you have calmly discussed the situation with the official, you still may not be happy with the final ruling on the field. You have two choices—you can throw a bigger fit that could cost your team its field position or you could re-focus your attention on the game and your players. We suggest the latter. It will not only be good for you, but good for your players.
At some point during the sport season, you are going to have to talk to your child’s coach. Maybe your son needs to miss a few practices in order to go on an extended family vacation or perhaps you don’t think your daughter is getting enough playing time. Whatever the reason, there is a right and wrong way to address your concerns with your child’s coach.
Avoid Having a Discussion Right after a Game
Regardless of the game outcome, a coach has a million things on his or her mind as soon as a game has ended and emotions may be running high. Instead of using this as an opportunity to address your concerns, contact the coach to schedule a meeting that is convenient for both of you and offers the privacy you need to have an open and honest conversation.
Stick to the Facts
You should state your concern in a straightforward manner and avoid personal attacks or accusatory statements that are often based on emotion, not facts. You want to create an opportunity for conversation and problem solving, so keep the dialogue focused on the problem, not the person. For example, saying, “It seems Dan isn’t playing as much during these past few games. Is there something I should be aware of that is affecting his play time or performance?” sounds much better than saying, “Dan isn’t playing as much as the other kids and I think you don’t like him.”
Give your child’s coach an opportunity to respond and really listen to what he has to say about the situation. Do not interrupt—just listen. You may want to summarize what you heard him saying in an effort to keep everyone on the same page and to allow the dialogue to continue towards a possible solution: “What I hear you saying is…”
Accept the Outcome
While the hope is that your situation will be resolved in a positive manner, the truth is, it may not. The coach’s final decision may not be one you agree with and you have to either accept that his decision is best for your child and the team or take the concern to a higher level such as an athletic director. Before you choose whether or not to proceed, access the overall concern. You do not want to address issues such as game strategy, playing time and referee calls with the athletic director.
Regardless of your situation, the parent/coach relationship should be one of mutual respect and is the perfect opportunity to teach our children about conflict resolution. What tips do you have for talking to the coach of your child’s youth team?
Set a Routine: This is a secret from athletes everywhere—keep the same pre-game routine and you won’t be distracted by the anxiety. Establish pre-game rituals with your child (same meal the night before, laying out your uniform, etc.) and do them before every game—no matter how big or small the opponent. The familiarity of the routine will keep your child calm.
Think Positive: Help your child move those negative thoughts out of his head by replacing them with something positive. For example, respond to the question “What if I don’t catch a pass?” by reminding your son how many passes he has caught at practice or during other games. If you have a little time before the game, throw your son a few passes in the backyard just to boost his confidence.
Create a Playlist: Create a playlist of songs that your child will enjoy and have him listen as he prepares for his game. Music he loves will make him feel happy and confident—two things that will help him relax and stay focused.
Focus on the Process, Not the Outcome: If your child is worried the other team might take the ball away from her, have her concentrate on what she can do to keep the ball: Have a good firm grip on the ball, hold it high on the chest and tight to the arm and keep your elbow in while running. Have her focus on what she can control and not what is uncontrollable.
Get Outside: Fresh air does wonders for the brain and can make adults and kids feel relaxed and calm. Take a walk around the block or quick bike ride (nothing too strenuous—you do have a game to play) before you head to the field to clear you head.
What pre-game tips do you have for keeping your little athlete calm?
Sean Payton: Boys of Fall Speech
Motivation Part 2: Refuse to Lose
Bill Stewart: Leave No Doubt Speech
Coach Flowers: I Am A Champion
How Great I Am
We’re not suggesting you give up the paper and clipboard completely, but today’s technology tools give you even more options for keeping your team (and yourself) organized.
You are working on this weekend’s game strategy during a break at the office, but need to finish it from home. You can save the document to Dropbox and access it later via any Internet connected device. This is really great if your documents are large or contain lots of images that may make them difficult to email. Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your documents, photos and video anywhere, and share them easily. Share a team folder with your parents and/or players and they too will have access to any documents or information they may need (registration forms, directions to games, etc.). This is especially helpful if you have a parent that enjoys being team photographer—he can simply upload game photos to your Dropbox folder and share with all parents.
It isn’t easy putting a game schedule together for the season and it’s even harder to communicate that schedule to parents. With Google Calendar, you can create a master calendar with game times and practice schedules and share it with all of your parents via a link in an email. When you make changes to the master calendar? It automatically changes it for your parents—so they have always have access to the most up-to-date team calendar just by heading online. And, if any parents also happen to use Google Calendar for their own personal scheduling, they can simply click a button and all the info from your master team calendar will be popped into their personal calendar. Easy for you and your parents.
Every coach would like to keep parents in the loop, but who really has time to create a weekly e-newsletter? With services such as MailChimp, creating a weekly e-newsletter is quick and cost-effective. MailChimp offers numerous templates you can use and also offers easy-to-understand instructions for not only dropping in your copy and images, but organizing your email lists for distribution. Even if you have very little tech or design experience, you will be able to create beautiful e-newsletters that will keep your parents and players up-to-date on games, practice schedules and fundraisers.
It’s raining and you need to quickly change the outdoor scrimmage to an indoor session. By downloading the Ringya app, you can send a quick email or text to your entire team with just the touch of a button. Ringya, which is available free for both iPhone and Android, lets you create mobile contact lists from paper or digital lists, organize your contacts in context, and allows sharing & collaboration to keep your contacts current and easy to reach. So, when you need quarterbacks to show up to practice 30 minutes early? Text just the QBs. When Mrs. Smith changes her cell phone number? Change it in your address book and anyone that you have shared the list with (like the whole team), will automatically get the update.
Now that you have all these new tech tools to use, how do you keep your usernames and passwords straight? Enter LastPass, a password manager that makes web browsing easier and more secure. Simply create a free LastPass username and password and then sync it up with those websites, emails and social media accounts you use the most. Now, all these accounts will be available through your LastPass username/password combination. Really helpful when your mind is full of practice schedules, work tasks and family events.
What tech tools do you find useful?
It isn’t easy being green, especially if you are a stadium that hosts thousands of people every weekend to enjoy a Sunday afternoon of football. As we prepare to celebrate all things green this weekend (Monday, April 22nd is Earth Day), we took a look at what some of our favorite stadiums are doing to lessen their carbon footprint and help us all be a little kinder to our planet.
In 2011, the home of the Chicago Bears became the first LEED-EB certified NFL stadium in the nation due to the many eco-friendly measures that were implemented at the facility. Through programs that lower operating costs, conserve energy and water and reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions, Soldier Field has become a healthier and safer building for players and fans. Some programs that have been implemented include reusing all soil and sod removed from the playing field during re-sodding and repurposing for landscape projects, using green cleaning chemicals, replacing traditional lighting with LED lights and adding charging stations for electric vehicles in the North Parking Garage. In addition, the Chicago Bears provide sustainable education through PSAs and appearances.
Like so many other professional sports teams, Lambeau Field has numerous green initiatives including having volunteers pick up and bag plastic bottles and paper to be recycled after home games. Each bag is filled three-quarters of the way before it is loaded into a truck to be taken to a Waste Management recycling center in Germantown. The Packers also have been using more eco-friendly food ware and are part of the Wisconsin Public Service’s NatureWise renewable energy program to power the stadium on game days.
The New York Giants play in one of the greenest venues in sports thanks to a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Stadium’s actions have resulted in the reduction of energy, water and solid waste production across its entire operations, including the implementation of recycling programs, low flow faucets and toilets, food composting and mass transit alternatives. Since 2009, the Stadium has reduced its carbon footprint by 268,828 MTCO2e (Metric Ton Carbon Dioxide Equivalent).
Lincoln Financial Field
In 2010, the NFL’s most vegetarian-friendly stadium announced plans to lessen their carbon footprint through a combination of wind, solar and dual-fuel generated electricity. Engineers estimated converting the stadium to renewable energy would equate to removing the carbon emissions of 41,000 cars each year. The team also signed a Declaration of Energy Independence to confirm their commitment to the project and other green initiatives including water conservation, waste reduction and recycling.
In just a few months, our camps will be coming to a community near you. So, what are we doing to get things ready? Here are some of the things we are doing now to make sure we are ready for our summer campers!
At camp, we start each day off with “Stretch & Motivation”, so we need to start each of our days off with a little stretch and motivation as well. We look to some of our favorite sports quotes (i.e. “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up”—Vince Lombardi) and movies (“Rudy”) to get us ready to inspire & motivate our campers.
We have thousands of footballs we use during our camps and we need to make sure each and every one of them is ready to fly when our camp season begins. One of our favorite drills? The ‘Two Knees Drill”: We pair up and get down on both knees facing each other about 10 yards apart. We then toss the ball back & forth, focusing on accurate passes.
Test the Whistles
We need to make sure that our whistles are working so we practice using them to announce the beginning and ending of all our staff meetings. This keeps everyone on their toes—and makes sure no one is ever sleeping on the job.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
It isn’t easy to keep up with our campers, so we begin hydrating early to make sure our bodies are ready for the running we will be doing with our players. Water is our drink of choice and we like to add some slices of fruit such as lemons or apples to make it flavorful.
Check the Equipment
We use a lot of equipment at our camps and need to make sure everything is in tip-top shape for our players. We like to create an obstacle course around the office where staff must jump, roll and push through numerous barriers in order to make it to the copier or coffeemaker.
We’re getting ready for camp, are you? Let us know what you are doing to make sure you are ready to hit the field with us this summer!