Jeff Farris
There are so many different things that coaches look for in building a team. Player skill is just one thing and sometimes not even the most important. Coaches evaluate players on a variety of other criteria including:
  • Team Skills - Does the player grasp the way teams work together to win games?

  • Relative Physical Development - Is the player physically larger or small than his teammates?

  • Leadership - In tough game situations, could the player step up as a role model for teammates?

  • Listening - Does the player pay attention and understand things quickly?

  • Personality - Does the player's personality fit with the other player's selected?

  • Mentoring Ability - How much can the player positively impact others on the team?

  • Positional Knowledge - How much does the player know about the playing the variety of situations faced in regular game?

  • Unselfishness - Does the player make plays for the benefit of the team or build individual stats?

  • Level of Effort - How hard does a player work during tryouts?

  • Familiarity - Does the coach have experience working with the player?

  • Family Involvement - Does the coach have good or bad experience working with a player's family?

  • Team Needs - How many players are needed for each position? Though last on the list, team needs are often the most important. Teams don't need five skilled catchers. So even though a player may be a great catcher, the chances of making a team are greatly diminished if the coach prefers another player for that limited need.

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

Good coaches can make skilled players but only the players themselves (with the help of their parents) can make skilled teammates.
Jeff Farris
According to a recent article in Wired Magazine, Peter Vint, a researcher with the US Olympic Committee believes that athletic skills can be learned even to the Wayne Gretzky level of performance. Such talent has long been assumed to be innate. "Coaches tend to think you either have it or you don't," Vint says. But Vint rejects the notion that Gretzky-style magic is unteachable.

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

"The only way a kid is going to practice is if it's total fun for him... and it was for me."

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

Read the full article at:

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

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

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

Creating a Youth Sports Franchise 

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

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

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

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

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

Pitchers league ages 7 through 16 must adhere to the following rest requirements:
  • If a player pitches 61 or more pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days of rest must be observed.

  • If a player pitches 41 - 60 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.

  • If a player pitches 21 - 40 pitches in a day, one (1) calendar day of rest must beobserved.

  • If a player pitches 1-20 pitches in a day, no calendar day of rest is required before pitching again.
Pitchers league age 17-18 must adhere to the following rest requirements:
  • If a player pitches 76 or more pitches in a day, three (3) calendar days of rest must be observed.

  • If a player pitches 51 - 75 pitches in a day, two (2) calendar days of rest must be observed.

  • If a player pitches 26 - 50 pitches in a day, one (1) calendar day of rest must beobserved.

  • If a player pitches 1-25 pitches in a day, no calendar day of rest is required before pitching again.
Source: Little League Online (
Jeff Farris
Below is a response we received from the Dalton Georgia Parks and Recreation Department who recently used the Sports Esteem information in their parent orientation program. Please feel free to use the content on this site in your own parent program and please let us know the results.
The parent orientation classes using the Sports Esteem materials have gone very well. This is a first for the parents in Dalton. Over 500 parents registered on-line and around 400 have gone through the class. Many parents have commented that we need to make the class mandatory for every parent at Dalton Parks and Recreation Department.   

Thanks for all your information,

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

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

Some typical questions:

  • What are my hockey opportunities after high school?

  • How do I determine what is best for me?

  • What are some determining factors?

  • What are my chances?

  • How can I find out where I fit?

  • How and where do I get noticed?

  • How important are academics?

  • What role does my coach play?

  • Should I actively pursue opportunities or should I wait until opportunity knocks?


Download the attached file to read the presentation. Requires Adobe Acrobat reader.
Jeff Farris
Is this happening to your league?

Q. Our little legaue is down 50% over the last three years. Has anyone developed a survey to find out the underlying causes so that we can address them at the board?

A. There may be some general reasons why league participation is down, but generally the things that drive a league are the same things that drive local business - a quality product and good marketing. The Sports Esteem website ( can help you define the league guidelines for the way parents and coaches can work together to create a great experience for kids, then get the word out! Use the schools, churches and other community groups to let parents and kids know that a great experience is waiting for them with your league. Emphasize the fun, friendship, learning and the health benefits of participation.
Jeff Farris
Do you know some parents like this... 

MEDFORD, Mass. Peggy and Dave Finnerty admit they're hockey nuts, having spent countless hours carting their two sons to games at the break of dawn. "It's what we love to do," says Peggy, who sports a Boston Bruins scrunchy around her pony tail as she watches a practice at Anthony LoConte Rink in this blue-collar suburb.

Peggy is expecting, and the Finnertys are doing everything they can to make sure their newest child gets a head start in the highly competitive world of youth hockey. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Peggy straps on her pads and takes to the ice with other pregnant women in what is believed to be the world's first pre-natal hockey league.

Jeff Farris
A severely sprained wrist or a broken bone quickly earn a player a visit to a doctor for treatment. Yet the treatment of a concussion, a potentially much more severe injury, is often handled by a coach or parent without any medical knowledge. Much of this lies with the fact that sports related concussions are not uncommon and most players who suffer concussions are capable of resuming play within a few minutes of experiencing them. Pressure from coaches, parents or even from the player himself may dictate a quick return to the game.

But, new research is starting to show that just because players can resume playing after a concussion, doesn't mean they should.

What is a Concussion?
A concussion is an impact to the brain caused either by a blow to the head or the rapid movement of the head resulting in the brain hitting the inside of the skull. Symptoms of a concussion can include:
  • Headache
  • Vision disturbance
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss (called amnesia)
  • Ringing ears
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea
A severe concussion can include the following symptoms and are cause for a quick trip to the emergency room:
  • Stiff neck
  • Difficulty walking, speaking or using your arms
  • Severe headache
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Confusion that gets worse
  • Convulsions
  • Unusual sleepiness1
Fortunately, most mild concussions leave no lasting impact on a player and are treated with rest and headache remedies. However, repeated mild concussions or a single severe concussion may cause brain swelling and/or bleeding and threaten the life of the player.

Risks of Returning to Play
Dr. Michael Collins, a neuropsychologist and assistant director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Sports Medicine's Concussion Program conducted a study of high school athletes and found that "prior concussions may indeed lower the threshold for subsequent concussion injury and increase symptom severity in even seemingly mild subsequent concussions".

A 17-year-old high school football player was tackled on the last day of the first half of a varsity game and struck his head on the ground. During half-time intermission, he told a teammate that he felt ill and had a headache; he did not tell his coach. He played again during the third quarter and received several routine blows to his helmet during blocks and tackles. He then collapsed on the field and was taken to a local hospital in a coma where he died a few days later.2 Accounts such as this are not limited to football. Almost every sport has a similar story.

Dr. David Kushner at the University of Miami School of Medicine recommends that athletes who have symptoms of concussion lasting more than 15 minutes or who have post-traumatic amnesia should not be permitted to resume sports participation for at least one week. No athlete should be permitted to return to play while signs or symptoms of a concussion are present. He also recommends an emergency department evaluation for any athlete who suffers loss of consciousness.3

Jeff Farris

The website Dallas Stars Care ( features stories of professional hockey players talking about their youth sports experiences including:

Steve Ott

Philippe Boucher

Marty Turco

Visit the Dallas Stars Care website to read about these players and more.

Jeff Farris

From the NCAA website:

Student-Athletes Men's Basketball Women's Basketball Football Baseball Men's Ice Hockey Men's Soccer
High School Student-Athletes 549,500 456,900 983,600 455,300 29,900 321,400
High School Senior Student-Athletes 157,000 130,500 281,000 130,100 8,500 91,800
NCAA Student-Athletes 15,700 14,400 56,500 25,700 3,700 18,200
NCAA Freshman Roster Positions 4,500 4,100 16,200 7,300 1,100 5,200
NCAA Senior Student-Athletes 3,500 3,200 12,600 5,700 800 4,100
NCAA Student-Athletes Drafted 44 32 250 600 33 76
Percent High School to NCAA 2.9 3.1 5.8 5.6 12.9 5.7
Percent NCAA to Professional 1.3 1.0 2.0 10.5 4.1 1.9
Percent High School to Professional 0.03 0.02 0.09 0.5 0.4 0.08

Note: These percentages are based on estimated data and should be considered approximations of the actual percentages. Click here to view the methodology used to arrive at these estimates.