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Independent SportsKids

I recently attended a great seminar presented by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles called “Keep Your Child in the Game”. The emphasis on the conference was on preventing injury and maximizing performance in the high school athlete, but the concepts certainly apply to youth sports. There were several speakers from the medical profession and from local schools discussing this and related topics, including special guest speaker Dr. Madeline Levine, a best selling author and practicing clinical child psychologist. During the discussion, there were three major areas covered: injury avoidance, developing an elite athlete, and the myth of over scheduling.


While we have previously dealt with some of the issues related to injuries in youth sports, there was a common theme among the medical professionals that specialization was a significant cause of repetitive stress injuries and should be avoided as long as possible. The coaches in attendance concurred that specialization was not required to excel in the sports they coached. Furthermore, they preferred kids who played other sports because it meant that they came into the new sport in shape and ready to play.   

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Coach’s Corner, Continued

Another point made was to acknowledge that kids do get injured. By far the most common form of injury is a twisted ankle; it can be more serious than people know because If not allowed to properly heal with treatment and rest an ankle injury can possibly become chronic. The problem of a twisted ankle, along with knee injuries, is also worse for girls than for boys. The key is for parents to listen to their kids, especially if the injury is keeping them from playing. Then, to take that injury seriously and make sure enough rest is obtained so that the problem doesn’t become a lifelong issue.


Another theory of injury avoidance is simply to teach proper fundamentals. It’s even possible that some of the repetitive stress injuries may be more directly related to poor technique than to specialization. Nothing can cause an injury as quickly as a kid repeating the wrong fundamental move which can put significantly more stress on sensitive joints and tendons. As coaches and parents, we owe it to our children to insure that they are properly taught and that requires that we know enough to monitor these teachings. I constantly review instructional videos and purchase new tapes for every season to make sure that my knowledge is where it should be. These tapes are generally excellent as teaching tools and very entertaining with lessons from top collegiate and professional coaches.


As long as we can keep our kids on the field, then we can worry about maximizing performance which is the topic discussed by Audrius Barzdukas, Head of Athletics at the prestigious Harvard-Westlake School. Mr. Barzdukas is well qualified on the subject after spending 8 consecutive Olympic games at the USA training facility working with elite athletes. One of the models that he tried to emulate was the successful program instituted by Norway which resulted in the greatest per capita medal haul in history. The Norwegian program emphasized the complete person: social, intellectual and physical. Certainly nobody is going to master a sport with one practice and one game a week; the program found two substantial numbers to create an elite athlete: 1) it takes 10,000 hours to master a sport; and, 2) becoming a complete person requires a 24 hour a day commitment.


These are very large and significant numbers for any young person; we need to immediately recognize that there is only one person who can be with a child 24 hours a day or during every minute of their 10,000 hour journey to master a sport: the kid. 10,000 hours demands 3 hours a day, every day, for 10 years. Since no parent or coach can possible share this lengthy

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Coach’s Corner, Continued

journey, the child has to demonstrate independence and self-motivation. If you watch or read biographies of superstar athletes they ALL have passion for their sport and spend every free moment of time playing or improving their skills. Pistol, Tiger, Magic, Isaiah, Micky, Pele, or anybody that you can name, demonstrated total dedication and self motivation. Even with very dedicated parents, that still means that rather than demanding that kids practice their sport, we need to simply make sure they love playing so that they are independently capable and driven to excel on their own.


So our goal as a parent or coach is now very simple: make sure the kids have fun. If they’re having a good time, kids are more likely to practice and play on their own. You can even watch games and simply have fun with sports so that your enthusiasm and love for the game can be transferred to your child. There is another element to having fun which is helping each child to excel because kids enjoy things that they do well. However, just like injury avoidance, excellence requires we teach proper fundamentals especially since the kids will be playing and practicing on their own. There are videos on every sport so there is no reason you or they shouldn’t understand the fundamentals. There are nearly 5,000 different tapes on


We can also schedule classes with qualified instructors to help teach and instill the love and excitement that will help them with their 10,000 hour journey. The question of over scheduling becomes potentially problematic as we try to get our kids excited about sports through lessons, joining leagues and practicing. Especially with high academic standards and ever increasing amounts of homework, many researchers have warned against too many activities. However, three recent studies sited by Dr. Levine from prestigious universities noted that over scheduling does not, on its own, create increased likelihood of depression among children. While there are conflicting studies that certainly suggest we should be careful not to add too many activities, it is possible to find the right classes and coaches to help motivate your child towards athletic independence.


By creating a love of sports and athletics, we can help our children achieve a healthy lifestyle that will serve them well. Physical fitness is a wonderful byproduct of loving sports regardless of any child not playing ball beyond high school. If we can help our children avoid injuries, insist on proper fundamentals and help to make each kid independent enough to launch them on their 10,000 hour journey of sports mastery, we’ve done our job as parents and coaches.

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Trivia Test 

We’ve got great Trivia games for beginning to master SportsKids  – try our “Einstein Level” Math Game and find the answers to these questions at the bottom.


1) If a player signs a 5 year $100 million contract that includes a signing bonus of $20, how much will the team pay the player during the first year?

A)      $20 Million

B)      $16 Million

C)      $36 Million

D)      $100 Million


2) The Kentucky Derby is 10 furlongs. At the turn of 8 furlongs, if a horse has a time of 1:36, how fast is the horse running?

A)     25 MPH

B)     30 MPH

C)     35 MPH

D)     40 MPH


3) You decide to race a mile against your friend and you give your friend a two minute head start. Your friend can run a mile in 8 minutes. How much faster do you have to run to win the race?

A)     100%

B)     75%

C)     50%

D)     25%


4) If a bogie golfer finished 8 strokes over par, how many strokes did that player beat their handicap by?

A)      9

B)      11

C)      13

D)      18


5) Earned run average is calculated by multiplying the earned runs allowed by 9, then dividing the total by a pitcher’s innings pitched. So, if a pitcher gives up 3 earned runs in 18 innings, what is the ERA?

A)      2.00

B)      3.00

C)      150

D)      1.50


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) C  (2) B  (3) D   (4) B   (5) D

Sports Poll 

1)  Please answer for each child or grandchild. Do you feel your child is self-motivated to practice their favorite sport?

-     No, he or she never practices

-     Somewhat, they play at school

-     Yes, but only moderately

-     No doubt, they play every free moment

2)  How many hours a day does your child practice sports?

-     Only at organized team practices

-     1-5 extra hours a week

-     6-10 extra hours a week

-     More than 10 extra hours a week

3)  How many organized sports does your child play?

-     Specializes in one sport year round

-     Plays one sports, but only in season

-     Two sports including travel teams

-     Two sports in season only

-     Three or more sports including travel ball

-     Three or more sports in season only

4)  How far do you feel your child will progress as an athlete?

-     Recreational play only

-     High School athlete

-     Small school or Jr. College

-     Division I college athlete

-     Professional minor league athlete

-     Professional major league athlete

-     Hall of Fame career athlete


Last month’s Poll results: 

1)  Which rookie QB should be starting now?

-     Vince Young (55.75%)

-     Matt Leinart (24.78%)

-     Jay Cutler (14.16%)

2)   Which rookie QB will be the first one to start??

-     Vince Young (60.18%)

-     Matt Leinart (25.67%)

-     Jay Cutler (14.16%)

3)   Which rookie QB will have the best NFL career?

-     Vince Young (55.75%)

-     Matt Leinart (28.32%)

-     Jay Cutler (15.93%)

Cast your vote on these and other sports polls at