By Ken Kaiserman
Editor In-Chief

 
Elite Athlete Training
 
Most kids love playing sports. It’s one of the passions that bind friends and families together. Given that few play beyond age 12, I’ve written many articles focused on how to keep kids having fun and learning “life lessons” from participation in sports. Yet, some of these kids will play through high school and it is a worthwhile goal; in addition to the obvious benefits, participation in high-school activities has been shown to promote a higher GPA as well as lower the instances of drug usage or teenage pregnancy.
 
Elite Athletes Need More Skill
 
No matter how badly we may want these benefits, only a few of the kids participating in youth programs will suit up for the local high school. How can we help a kid who shows the inclination, desire and natural ability to reach the initial goal of being a varsity athlete? What is our responsibility as parents, coaches and role models for that select number of kids who still dream of being professional athletes after turning 12?

While many kids are limited physically from moving on after youth programs, a far greater number eliminate


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Coach’s Corner, Continued
 
themselves through a lack of desire and improper training. Being “athletic” is certainly an important part of moving on, but often the best athletes aren’t the most successful. Top performers are wired to succeed and have a tremendous motivation to achieve. Sometimes we can help develop desire, but natural athletic ability and a willingness to work hard are character traits that can only be slightly molded. The focus needs to be on what we can control.

For athletes willing to put in the effort and who have the basic talent, parents and coaches can help these kids develop the best technique. In this way, just like John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success suggests: kids will be successful by reaching the maximum potential their ability will allow. Each sport has a “right way” to do things. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it will make good habits or bad ones permanent. Therefore, the crucial element for parents is it to give access to the best available training so that kids can do it the “right way”.
 

Quarterback Combine Creates Good Habits
 
There are many ways that kids can work to improve their fundamental skills and many of the best athletes are already taking advantage of coaching sessions with professionals. Private training and camps are expensive, especially in this economic climate, ranging from $25-$300 an hour. While there are more cost effective methods like specialty instructional DVD’s and even free website instruction (both available at SportsKids.com), if you can afford high end private training it can be hugely beneficial for developing quality habits.

One of the best football instructors in the country, based in Beverly Hills, is Coach Jio Lucci. Coach Luchi has been running one of the preeminent football training programs for several years, including private instruction and an offseason 20 week intensive Quarterback Combine for offensive players (qbcombine.com). Kids from all over the country flock for his training because Coach Lucci focuses on making quarterbacks game ready. If your child wants to play quarterback, one of the most demanding positions in all of sports, they’re going to need to develop a number of crucial skills. Coach Lucci states: “The basics of handing off the ball, footwork, and the proper throwing motion that leads to both accuracy and consistency are paramount to being a top, game-ready quarterback.” High school coaches may either not be knowledgeable enough or have enough time to develop a player starting out as a freshman. The kid who is the most game ready has a huge advantage over everybody else.

Coach Lucci also speaks from personal experience as the dad of Beverly Hills High School starting quarterback Dex Lucci. As a little kid Dex wanted not just to be a football player, but a quarterback. Coach Lucci understood that “if you want to be a doctor then you have to do what it takes to be a doctor. Dex wanted to be a quarterback so he had to be willing to do what it takes to be a quarterback”. It is part of the parents’ job to help each child reach their dreams. Lucci continues: “It’s taken over 10 years, five days a week, to build the mechanics and fundamentals that have allowed Dex to succeed."

The goal was always to play high school football, get to
Coach’s Corner, Continued
 
college and, maybe even play at the next level. By any measure, to this point, he’s been a success. Playing against older kids he set records for passing touchdowns that will likely never be broken for the Westside Bruins Pop Warner football team. As a freshman in high school he threw 20 TD’s against only 3 INT. Now as a three year varsity starter, he has letters of interest from over 100 schools.

Coach Lucci feels that developing the proper technique and fundamentals is “1000% responsible” for his son’s success. “Fundamentals and mechanics have everything to do with success: hips, footwork, throwing motion all have to be natural, with speed, velocity, quickness and strength put together in an effortless movement. That only comes with perfect mechanics that leads to good habits that can be applied at the highest level. That’s where all the practice and training come in.”

The best part of all the hard work is the great relationship developed between father and son that could never have happened without the countless hours together. Even if you’re only there supporting your kids, developing a special relationship through the shared experience of high intensity training can offer unique bonding opportunities. Coach Lucci believes that all the time with his son, through Pop Warner and all the drills over the years, allowed them to grow much closer together than they could have otherwise. Through all the time and mutual effort, Coach Lucci has learned the balance of treating Dex like a player on the field and as his son at home.
 
 
Dex has also taken part in the QB Combine for many years. Coach Lucci feels the best part of the combine is the “impeccable coaching staff that absolutely knows what they’re doing and won’t let up on anybody; they will make everybody game ready. It’s fast, quick, high impact, high intensity; this is not a camp or clinic for fun and games. The Combine is for the best and for those willing to learn how to be the best, all being mixed together and improving.” The Combine has been 100% successful in every way including Coach Lucci’s unique desire to help each athlete develop the determination to be good.

In many parts of the country kids don’t have the ability to go outside to play like we used to do; the days of riding your bike to the park or playing on the street until the street lights turn on are nostalgic. In part this leads to over scheduling even though the alternative is often just more time on the PS3. There is more homework and other time commitments now than in past generations, but there are still athletes working on improving their game every day. These are the kids setting the standard and are the competition for everybody else. Even if your child isn’t the best athlete, if he or she is dedicated, then having the best skill set can enable them to accomplish their goals. If your child wants to be an elite athlete in high school and beyond then today is the right time to start specialized training. Maybe we’ll see you and your kids out at the QB Combine this offseason.

Care to comment on this month's article or poll questions or results?

Please visit The SportsKids Newsletter Forum and have your say!

Monthly Trivia Test

We’ve got great Trivia games for beginning to master SportsKids – try our “Half-Court Shot” Basketball Game and find the answers to these questions at the bottom.
 
1) Which great NBA coach first coached in the CBA?
A)      Phil Jackson
B)      Don Nelson
C)      Bill Russell
D)      Lenny Wilkins
 
2) Who holds the NCAA Division I Men’s basketball record for most points in a game?
A)      Pete Maravich
B)      Frank Selvy
C)      Jack Givens
D)      Wilt Chamberlain
 
3) John Stockton has five the top six highest single season assist averages. Which player is the only other in the top six (3rd)?
A)      Isiah Thomas
B)      Magic Johnson
C)      Kevin Porter
D)      Gary Payton
 
4) Who was the first woman college player inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame?
A)      Nancy Lieberman
B)      Lusia Harris
C)      Ann Meyers
D)      Cheryl Miller
 
5) Who is the all-time scoring leader in NCAA Tournament history?
A)      Michael Jordan
B)      Pete Maravich
C)      Christian Laettner
D)      Shane Battier
 
There are trivia games in general sports, baseball, football, hockey, basketball and “Sports Math” in three different skill levels. Test your sports skills against kids around the world in the SportsKids Game Section.

 
Answers: (1) A  (2) B  (3) A  (4) B  (5) C
Monthly Sports Poll
 
1)  Do you feel it is important to play some sport in high school?
- Yes
- No
 
2)  Do you or your child participate in any group training to improve your athletic skills?
- Yes
- No
 
3)  Do you or your child participate in any private training to improve your skills?
- Yes
- No
 
4)  How many hours a week, including practice and training sessions, do you or your child participate in sports activities?
- Less than 5 hours a week
- 5-10 hours a week
- 10-15 hours a week
- 15-20 hours a week
- More than 20 hours a week
 
Last month’s Poll results:
 
1)  How often do you feel your kid gives their best effort?
- All of the time (24.24%)
- Most of the time (51.52%)
- Some of the time (12.12%)
 
2)  What do you feel is more important for kids?
- Effort (78.79%)
- Results (21.21%)
 
3)  Which is your child happier with?
- Effort (24.24%)
- Results (75.76%)









Cast your vote on these and other sports polls at
SportsKids.com