Jeff Farris

In a local parent's meeting, Julie Bell, CEO of The Mind of a Champion, provided some nice insights into how we deal with problems.

She calls it voluntary accountability. Basically, the issue is how we deal with mistakes. When we make them do we go to the coach (or our boss - for us parents) and ask for help and instruction? Or, do we try to hide or deny the mistake? With voluntary accountability, a player is the first to point out a mistake.

Julie also provided another thought for consideration: Do we focus on what we do right as much as what we focus on what we do wrong? In a game, if 95% of the time we play well, then why do we, after the game, spend 95% of the time talking about what we did wrong? Why don't the conversation percentages match the performance percentage?

Some useful starting points for conversation.

Jeff Farris

Richard Senelick, M.D., a neurologist and Medical Director for Rehabilitation Institute of San Antonio provides some interesting medical and cultural insight into head injuries in kids. Recent research by the NFL into concussions and links to later-in-life disabilities is forcing a thorough rethinking of how we approach concussions in kids.

This is a must read for parents of kids in football and hockey!

Jeff Farris

Last summer, the state of Washington enacted a law that requires school districts and non-profits that use school facilities to adopt policies covering brain concussions. Named for Zackery Lystedt, a 13 year old, who suffered permanent brain damange and physical impairments after returning to a football game after being hit and suffering a brain concussion.

It is likely that over the next few years a majority of states will enact similar legislation. Many of the provisions are just common sense and were discussed in an earlier post on this site. Brain concussions happen more often in youth sports than most are aware. Hopefully, this law will make a lack of understanding about concussions a thing of the past.

Click here to learn more about the Lystedt law.

Jeff Farris

Over the weekend, there was a great article in the New York Times about why kids participate in sports.

"Adults may lean toward turning children’s games into an approximation of professional sports. But ask young players what they want, and the answer can be disarmingly simple. More than training to be a Super Bowl star, more than even winning, youngsters play sports for fun — at least they do in Darien, Conn."

Read the full artilce at the New York Times

Jeff Farris

A recent article in Sports Illustrated shows the problems that former athletes face. Just two quick facts from the story:

  • By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.
  • Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.

This is not the happy ending most kids expect when they dream of a pro career.

Read more here

Jeff Farris
Although a coach can have a tremendous amount of knowledge about his sport, the two most important considerations for a coach are:
  1. Can he teach what he knows?
  2. Can he motivate his players to do what he teaches?
According to the Wikipedia, "a teacher is a person who teaches; a person who guides, instructs, trains or helps another in the process of learning knowledge, understanding, behaviour or skills, including thinking skills." 

Although a coach may have tremendous skills from playing sports, their ultimate success will come more from their teaching skills. Coaches who want to be successful must complement their playing skills with the necessary teaching skills. Otherwise, a coach who knows everything about his sport will often find himself losing to coaches who know far less if he cannot teach what he knows.
Jeff Farris
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.

Jeff Farris
“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
Jeff Farris
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 hockey 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.

Players can make a difference in the environment as well. While the game is fast and physical, every penalty against you is not a bad call. In fact I would say that 95% of all calls are pretty obvious. The players who understand this are the ones who skate to the penalty box without saying a word. They understand that when a penalty is called on them, good or bad, arguing will not change the call and only make the official less sympathetic when making decisions on future calls. You may not want to hear this but officials are human and while they are supposed to be impartial, players who constantly whine about calls are rarely given the benefit of the doubt. If you’re a player and you're penalized go to the box and focus on how you’re going to help your team when you get out. You can’t do anything about what’s already happened so don’t dwell on it.

For me the most annoying part of our environment is the fan that just can’t watch the game without being an idiot. Again these fans are in the minority, but it only takes one or two of these “yahoos” to ruin the fun for everyone else. This is youth hockey people -- you need to get a grip. If you want to be part of the action then get your coaching or officiating certification and get out there. Better yet, join an adult league and discover just how difficult it is to play a game on ice with 1/8-inch wide blades on your feet. You’ll quickly realize that it’s a different game “inside the glass” and that tolerance by the fans toward the players, coaches and officials will make you enjoy the game more. It will also make you more fun to be around and it will certainly make those folks around you happy.

If you see yourself in my article please take a moment to reflect on what’s important when working with kids. Whether you’re a player, coach, fan or official try to remember that everyone involved came to the rink that day to have fun. Winning is important but not at the expense of mutual respect for all people involved in the game. We all can make a difference and together we can make our environment “GREEN”.

Just a thought: As you prepare for the home stretch of the season don’t forget the FUN. At this point teams are now either contenders or pretenders but everyone needs to mix in an equal dose of FUN with HARD WORK, RESPECT and DISCIPLINE. When these “ingredients of success” are mixed together the final result will always be a great season regardless of the standings.
Keith Andresen
Senior Director, Hockey Programs
Jeff Farris
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

Slump? I ain't in no slump. I just ain't hittin.
Yogi Berra

All I want out life, is that when I walk down the street folks will say, "There  goes the greatest hitter that ever lived."
Ted Williams

You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.
Michael Jordan

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
John Wooden

I really lack the words to compliment myself today.
Alberto Tomba

How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become after the game, whether you are a winner or a loser.
Lou Holtz

My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or
have trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.
Hank Aaron

The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.
Joe Paterno

We must either find a way or make one.

Perhaps the single most important element in mastering the techniques and tactics of racing is experience. But once you have the fundamentals, acquiring experience  is a matter of time.
Greg LeMond

To succeed, you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you.
Tony Dorsett

Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates.
Magic Johnson

Set your goals high and don't stop till you get there.
Bo Jackson

The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination.
Tommy Lasorda

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
Darrel Royal

If you believe it, the mind can achieve it.
Ronnie Lott

Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.
Tom Landry

It is not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts; it's what you put into the practice.
Eric Lindros

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
Vidal Sassoon

The best and fastest way to learn a sport is to watch and imitate a champion.
Jean-Claude Killy

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.
Mark Twain

Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time.
Lou Brock

The harder you work, the luckier you get.
Gary Player

You cannot be successful without passion. If you don’t love what you’re doing, if you don’t have passion for it - forget it. Do something else. You’ll be much more successful and you’ll lead a lot happier life.
Donald Trump

The minute you start talking about what you're going to do if you lose, you have lost.
George Schultz

The ones who want to achieve and win championships motivate themselves.
Mike Ditka

The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.
Eddie Robinson

There are some defeats more triumphant than victories.
Michel de Montaigne

I became an optimist when I discovered that I wasn't going to win any more games by being anything else.
Earl Weaver

There is no victory at bargain basement prices.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Triumph is just try with a little umph added.

It's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get up.
Vince Lombardi

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt

Winners have simply formed the habit of doing things losers don't like to do.
Albert Gray

Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

All our dreams can come true...if we have the courage to pursue them.
Walt Disney