Jeff Farris
All youth sport activities carry the risk of injury. The following table outlines the statistics for various sports activities.

Rank Sport Estimated Injuries Participation (1,000s) Injuries per 1,000 Participants
1. Basketball 631,186 29,417 21.5
2. Football 355,247 17,091 20.8
3. Bicycles 577,621 43,535 13.3
4. Soccer 169,734 13,167 12.9
5. Baseball 180,582 15,856 11.4
6. Ice Hockey 22,231 2,131 10.4
7. Skateboards 54,532 5,782 9.4
8. Softball 132,625 15,595 8.5
9. Ice Skating 33,741 7,799 4.3
10. In-Line Skating 110,783 27,033 4.1
11. Tennis 22,665 11,227 2.0
12. Golf 46,019 27,496 1.7
13. Swimming 49,331 58,249 0.8

Source: R. Mrphey, Murost Enterprises, LLC (compiled Jan. 7, 2002)
Jeff Farris

A variety of studies show that the cutoff age for a sport and a child's relative birthdate are two of the largest factors determining future success. Kids born just after a sports cutoff date are the oldest players in their group and the most likely to succeed. In youth hockey, where the cutoff date is often January first, kids born in January are most likely to reach the highest levels (see chart below). In youth soccer, where the cutoff date is August 1, kids born in August are most likely to reach the highest levels.

Early-born children (born soon after cut-off date) are more likely to be identified as being talented at younger ages. This identification leads to more encouragement and selection for participation in special training programs or teams. Kids who are born just before the cutoff date show much higher rates of dropping out of the sport.

More information is available at:

Jeff Farris
As you read the following letter, please note that it was written 40 years ago. The players involved were 7 years old. See if you think things have changed much from when we were kids...


June 13, 1966

Baseball Commission
Capitol Hill Junior Chamber of Commerce
410 Leonhardt Building
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


At 7:00 pm on June 10, 1966 we played the Fillmore Reds on your South Diamond.

I would like to make a complaint regarding the actions of Mr. Brooke who is a coach for the team. His entire conduct during and after the game was not in keeping with the rules of baseball, as set out below in specific instances:

  1. He came to me several times during the game arguing about calls by the umpire, the conduct of my players and coaches.

  2. After the game in front of everybody that would listen, he accused the umpire of being our man.

  3. Also, after the game, he tried to provoke one of my coaches and one of my boy's father into an argument with him.

All complaints made by him were very loud and his entire conduct was very unsportsmanlike.

I wish to state that Mr. Armbuster's, the manager of the Fillmore team, manner during the entire game was above reproach.

They stated that the game would be protested. I request that if their protest stands and game is replayed or any future games we have with this team, that the Baseball Commission furnish impartial observers so that the game may be conducted in an orderly manner. I dislike exposing my team to this type of conduct during a game.

Yours truly,

Jack Farris
Prairie Queen Blues
Jeff Farris

Player motivation can come from a variety of sources and in both positive and negative ways. The best professional athletes are always driven by their own internal love of sport and athletic competition. When they become motivated by fear or reward they often go into "slumps".

When this lesson is applied to young athletes, parents can accomplish more by helping their kids discover their own love of the sport and thrill of competition rather than by offering monetary incentives or yelling instructions.

Jeff Farris
If only every coach could write this at the end of a youth sports season...

"It never gets old. Not just winning, but working with this group of young men. My experience is augmented by the level of parental participation and excitement. We are truly blessed to be able to be a part of such a great group of boys and parents.

Congratulations to all! Special thanks to Tom and Sam for handling the base coaching (the most integral part of the game) and for Bill for his part-time base coaching (but more for his purchase of actual bases for use at practice!).

I am most proud that all of the boys contributed to each winning effort. It seemed that if ever one part of a player's game was down, he would turn around and perform in other aspects of the game. Just good, balanced effort throughout the entire season.

And what about Cash's two incredible backhanded catches (one in left field and one at third base) in addition to his "controversial" home run in the final game!!!! Lucas's grimacing face as he stared down runners on third. Landon as he snagged throws to get runners out on first. William and his lead-off hitting and snazzy base running. Wills' glove and pitching efforts. Will's final eight innings of shut-out pitching. Patrick's always steady at bats and hustle. Jude's heads-up play and wipe-out slides at home plate. Pearce's numerous throw-outs from right field to first base. Bo's good eye at the plate. Alex's courage to hang in there (especially on Saturday when he wasn't feeling his best!). Dash's willingness to play any position. Jake's goalie-like blocks behind the plate. Jacob's consistent efforts (until he leaves early every year to hone his professional, deep-water fishing skills!) And, oh yes, Joseph's desire to make his "old man" proud (and success at doing so!).

Have I told you all how proud I am of Joseph not only for putting up with me but for playing in the first instance? He wasn't sure he wanted to play this year and I left it up to him. I thank him for playing . . . which allowed me the opportunity to coach . . . which provided me with much happiness and joy. I know you all are equally proud of your boys . . .and that is what I love about this group.

We will miss Dash but I have to believe we sent him off in fine fashion. Thank you all for the coach's gift. While appreciated, it was not necessary. I received the best gift on Saturday by seeing the smiles on those boys' faces after winning the tournament.

And remember . . . "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." -- John Wooden

Enjoy your summer."


Thanks to Shelby Bush for allow us to republish his wonderful end-of-the-season email.

Jeff Farris
As a child once observed, the sun rises in the summer just like the winter, it just rises more so. Too much sun can bring a bad end to a good time. In order to protect kids, parents need to be aware of the symptoms of the three stages heat related problems.

Stage 1 - Heat Stress
At this stage, the body is overworked and having trouble cooling off. When parents observe any of these symptoms, they should immediately get their kids into the shade or an air-conditioned car and give them water. Symptoms include:
  • Reduced coordination
  • Slower thinking
  • Less caution
  • Cramps
Stage 2 - Heat Exhaustion
At this stage, the body is getting severely dehydrated. Immediate attention is required and parents should consider taking kids to the hospital if any symptoms do not seem to go away after the kid starts cooling down and drinking fluids. Symptoms include:
  • Headache
  • Heavy sweating
  • Intense thirst
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Impaired judgment
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hyperventilation
  • Tingling in hands or feet
  • Anxiety
  • Cool moist skin
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Fainting
Stage 3 - Heat Stroke
At this stage, the body's ability to cool off has shut down. This is a life threatening emergency and children should be taken to the hospital at once, time is critical. Symptoms include:
  • Dry skin - no sweating
  • Red skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Constricted pupils
  • Convulsions
  • Collapse
  • Coma

Kids and parents can both suffer a heat illness, but everyone can take a few simple precautions:

  • Condition yourself for working in hot environments - start slowly then build up to more physical work. Allow your body to adjust over a few days.
  • Drink lots of liquids. Don't wait until you're thirsty, by then, there's a good chance you're already on your way to being dehydrated. Electrolyte drinks are good for replacing both water and minerals lost through sweating. Never drink alcohol, and avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee and pop.
  • Take a break if you notice you're getting a headache or you start feeling overheated. Cool off for a few minutes before going back to work.
  • Wear light weight, light colored clothing when working out in the sun.
  • Take advantage of fans and air-conditioners.
  • Get enough sleep at night.


Source: Oklahoma State University
Jeff Farris
Though competition for adults is often about more substantive matters, competition is most intense and pronounced in kids. Every day, kids compete to:
  • Be the first ready for school
  • Get the largest dessert
  • Win at a video game
  • Be the first in line
  • Get the best grade
  • Get the best spot in the cafeteria
  • Get the attention of the opposite sex
  • Get a greater share of parental attention
  • Get into the best school
  • Get a job (or avoid a job)
  • Be selected for a team
Competition is best understood when there is a clear opportunity to win or to lose. When it comes to youth sports, competition often becomes synonymous with winning the game. Yet, this simple translation of success may often cause more problems than it solves.

A single minded pursuit of victory in a game may often translate into problems in relationships with teammates or others. Players who are only focused on winning the game may:
  • Lash out at teammates
  • Throw equipment
  • Argue with referees or coaches
  • Show moments of intense anger
  • Lie or cheat
  • Play unfairly
The dictionary defines the word competitive as “Showing a fighting disposition”. A fighting disposition is a great thing to have against opponents, but it may sometimes be hard to quickly turn off when dealing with teammates, referees or a sibling.

Competing is a Life Skill
Parents need to help their child understand the process of competing. Competition may show itself in many ways other than just a strong desire to win a game. Parents can focus kids on a broader understanding of competition, such as competing against past performances or winning in multiple areas. Parents can help their kids:
  • Understand what they are competing to achieve (be the best player, be a team leader, make the smartest plays)
  • Understand how to apply their competitive spirit with their friends and teammates
  • Understand that winning at all costs has consequences (hurt feelings, resentments, loss of respect)
  • Understand that a win achieved unfairly is not a victory
  • Understand that other kids may not show competitive spirit the same way
  • Understand when not to be competitive at all
Winning is more than a scoreboard. It takes parents to help kids understand the differences. Like all other life skills, helping kids find balance is essential to a lifetime of success.
Jeff Farris
There is no question that the ability to perform well during a game is often dependent on the skills a player develops through practice and repetition. However, what is often overlooked is that these skills are also based on other more fundamental abilities that are developed away from the playing field. These fundamentals govern the ability of a player to perform a skill well or to perform the same skill repeatedly throughout an entire game.





Anaerobic Conditioning

Aerobic Conditioning

Conditioning Diagram

The diagram above shows the foundations for physical development. Without a good aerobic conditioning base, it is difficult to adequately develop the other areas. Each layer builds the necessary physical abilities to improve performance at the next level. Good physical conditioning is a foundation for everything else and becomes more important as a player gets older. Playing ability improves as players improve their physical abilities at each level of the conditioning diagram.

Aerobic Conditioning
Aerobic conditioning is the body’s ability to convert oxygen into energy. As muscles work, they get energy from two sources: foods and oxygen. The more efficiently a body can use oxygen, the quicker it recovers from hard work. Performed for at least twenty minutes and three times a week, the following activities improve aerobic conditioning:
  • Jogging

  • Walking quickly

  • Swimming

  • Biking

  • Ice skating

  • Roller skating
Anaerobic Conditioning
Anaerobic conditioning is the body’s ability to work very hard for short periods of time. A sprint down the ice, a run to first base or a breakaway in soccer, all test a player’s anaerobic conditioning. The longer players can go hard before feeling exhausted, the better their anaerobic conditioning. It is tougher to develop good anaerobic abilities because the only way to do so is by exercising harder and longer with high intensity and high speed exercises. The following exercises improve anaerobic conditioning:
  • Sprinting

  • Foot racing

  • Skating full speed down the length of the ice
Strength, Quickness and Agility Conditioning
Most doctors agree that children under the age of ten should not weight train. However, exercise that builds stamina such as running and resistance training provides a good way to exercise muscles without risking injury.

Resistance training is using the body like a weight set. Common resistance type exercises that help build strength are:
  • Push-ups

  • Chin-ups

  • Sit-ups

  • Leg lifts

  • Squats

To build quickness, look at exercises that involve rapid feet movement. Good ways to build quickness include:
  • Jumping

  • Bounding

  • Hopping

  • Skipping rope

Agility is the ability to start, stop and change direction quickly. Agility is built by moving the feet quickly in a variety of movements such as quick turns and cuts. Agility can be increased by:
  • Obstacle courses

  • Zig-zag running

  • Side shuffles

  • Tag

Helping Kids Build their Foundations
Kids are exposed to a great deal of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning during normal play and sports activities. One of the best ways to build on their physical abilities is to encourage a variety of sports activities. Avoiding specialization in a particular sport until high school is often the best way to develop a top athlete because it helps kids build a conditioning foundation that is so essential for top level performance at older ages.

Structured exercise is seldom fun, so it is important that kids get as much “fun” exercise as possible disguised as things they want to do such as playing sports with friends. The more parents encourage a fun approach to developing these foundations early, the longer and better their child will play.
Jeff Farris
Ask children to draw pictures of themselves as adults and the odds are that you will get back a picture of someone in a sports uniform. Sports and the people who play them are powerful influences in the lives of children. The focus on sports as a recreational past time and as an adult profession is often encouraged by parent involvement at games and by the presents that kids ask for and receive at birthdays and holidays. Jerseys, equipment and trading cards often top many gift lists.

Though these fantasies and activities are normal, too much focus on sports can leave kids with a singular identity and at risk of serious difficulties in high school or college when their sports goals do not materialize. Kids who find acceptance and purpose with sports at young ages may find themselves completely lost and adrift when they, like 99.9% of all other student athletes, fail to find employment as a sports professional.

Dr. Shawn Byler, a sport psychology consultant in Atlanta, Georgia, often works with kids (9 and up) whose lives have become too entangled with sports activities. She observes, ”Kids want approval from their parents. If early on they struggle with schoolwork but excel in sports, they will naturally spend more time in sports related activities and less in academic efforts. Unfortunately, many of these kids are then poorly prepared for life after high school."

Kids who identify themselves as athletes will have a difficult time when their time in sports comes to an end. Like adults who have a singular identity, the end of that identity can have disastrous consequences. Dr. Byler warns: “Like an adult who has spent a fair amount of his/her life saying 'I am a (fill in the blank)', a child who has grown up saying 'I am a baseball player' will have no clear sense of identity or self worth when that chapter comes to a close. Adults and kids are then at their most vulnerable when they lose their identity with much higher risks of problems with depression, drugs, alcohol and a whole host of other challenges.”

How do parents know if their child is at risk of these problems later on? Dr. Byler counsels “Parents should be alert for kids whose lives are out of balance. Focusing on sports to the detriment of academics, family and other diversified activities are clear danger signs. If a child's friends and social standing derive in large part from their sports activities, then that child is at risk. Parents can ask themselves how often they are inquiring about their child’s sport outside of practice or competition time. Allowing the child to leave the sport at the gym or field is a step in the right direction”

Some warning signs parent should be alert to are:
  • Family schedules that are dominated by sports events

  • College discussions focused on sports programs or possible athletic scholarships

  • Academics and homework have a lower priority than athletic training

  • All of a child's friends are also teammates

  • Kids who focus on just one sport prior to the age of 14

  • Kids who answer “I am a _____ player” to a question of who they are.
Parents can get ahead of the problem if they understand it and catch it early enough. Dr. Byler tells parents to help their child separate roles from identity. For example, kids always have several roles such as athlete, student, son/daughter, sibling, friend and citizen. Parents can help their child identify each of these roles and understand their plans for success in each. Then if their actions in one role are not successful, kids will still have other areas in which to feel positive. Parents can help kids transition to multiple roles by:
  • Stressing schoolwork

  • Exposing their child to more than just sports activities

  • Encouraging friendships with non-athletes

  • Helping children see themselves as successful in other areas
It is not necessary that parents crush the pro-athlete dreams of kids. However, it is important that parents talk to their children about how they would be proud of their child in other careers as well.

Helping kids identify their multiple roles can have immediate benefits Dr. Byler states. “When kids identify themselves in only one role, a failure can seem more catastrophic than it really is. For example, if children see themselves as a baseball player but then fail to catch a fly ball that costs the game, that error may hurt more than it should, impacting not only their non-baseball life but also interfering with their performance in future games. Failure is an important learning tool, but only if kids can get past those failures, and use them as building blocks to success”

Dr Byler goes on: “It is important with kids that they stay in the present. Too often, kids will punish themselves for days or weeks for a bad play. They may live in the memory of that mistake or the fear of making another one. Only when kids’ lives are balanced are they able to handle mistakes and put them in the proper perspective.”

Though youth sports offer tremendous advantages for kids, an overemphasis of sports can put kids at serious risk as they transition to adulthood. The odds are extremely slim that a child plays college or professional sports. When parents or kids bet a childhood on this unlikely outcome, they risk not only the loss of a career but also they lose the opportunity to develop a skill set for dealing with life.
Jeff Farris
As a coach, I will conduct myself at all times in a way that demonstrates my commitment to the following:
  1. Coaches must create a positive and fun environment for their players.
  2. Coaches must provide open communication with parents and enlist their help and support with the team.
  3. Coaches must be educators, placing the development of player skills and knowledge ahead of winning games. They must encourage team play over individual efforts.
  4. Coaches must set goals and objectives for their team that foster mastery in their players.
  5. Coaches must help players develop their own internal motivation and critical self-observation skills.
  6. Coaches must be positive role models for players. They must show emotional maturity by controlling their anger and never using obscene language or gestures.
  7. Coaches must treat everyone fairly and with respect. They should set the highest standard for others to follow.
  8. Coaches must be organized and prepared so that limited practice time and game time are put to best use.
  9. Coaches must always put player safety and health first by dealing aggressively with unsafe situations or player conduct. They should encourage their players with appropriate safety and health leadership in all areas of their lives.
  10. Coaches must continue to work to develop their skills as a coach.
  11. Coaches must honor the game and help players and parents to appreciate the sport and the life lessons that can be gained from the sport.
I have read and understand the above Code of Conduct and agree to follow its guidelines at all league activities. I understand that if I do not follow this Code of Conduct, I may be asked to leave the league activity (such as a game or practice) or give up my coaching position. 


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