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Should Sports be 'Dumbed Down?'

The idea of “dumbed down” sports is a scary concept for some. It can be hard for many adults, especially coaches, to accept. The mere idea of doing so can bring their coaching into question and evoke feelings of hesitation, resistance and fear. Many are often quick to admit, “My dad never ‘dumbed down’ sports for me, and I turned out fine.” However, watch a seasoned coach try to teach a young child without “dumbing down” sports, and they fail miserably. Still, purists claim “dumbed down” sports coaching is anything but natural.

AYSO Convention Puts Spotlight On Player Development, Playing Time

For three days over Memorial Day weekend, it was my honor and sincere pleasure to be the keynote speaker and a guest observer and consultant at the 2009 National Annual General Meeting of the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) in Dallas, Texas. The majority of the more than 700 folks in attendance were regional commissioners-the true backbone of the AYSO. The AYSO has long been at the top of my list of best national youth sports organizations. They have the right values, mission statement and an amazing number of dedicated volunteers and staff.

Friends along Enemy Lines

It's been awhile since my last blog post. I kept trying to sit down and write what was on my mind, which has been a lot of things, and everytime I tried, I just pushed it away and did something else. I want to write about the US Nationals we attended in early May, the national that proceeded Oregon. I want to write about the weeks of health issues, stress, anxiety and preparation that followed. I have thoughts on New Mexico, a trip that just finished up and finally, I want to write about the ins-and-outs, emotions, drama, fellowships, of all this racing and traveling.

Resist Pressure From Coaches For Early Specialization in Single Sport

Coaches who concentrate on the well-being of their young athletes encourage them to cross-train and enjoy other activities during parts of the year, not threaten them with the loss of a place on the team if they don't drop other sports.

Equal Playing Time: Using A Substitution Grid Makes It Easy

The best way to ensure that all players get equal playing time is for the coach to set up a substitution grid and have an assistant coach or team parent keep track of the time with a stopwatch (or, in the case of baseball and softball, keep track of the innings played).

Coaches Curing Kids Cancer: A Sports Mom Raises Money In Son's Memory

Instead of buying your child's coach an end-of-season gift, donate the money to Coaches Curing Kids' Cancer.  The coach will get a t-shirt, baseball cap or whistle along with a personalized certificate and you be joining in the fight to find a cure for pediatric cancer.

Youth Sports Coaches: More Teaching Needed

ESPN Analyst Jay Bilas Argues America needs more 'teaching' from its coaches.

Secrets of Successful Women Coaches

There are very few women coaches in my community's youth sports leagues: only 13% in AYSO and 6% in Little League Baseball and Softball. While I found very little overt sexism or hostility toward women coaches, their stories told of informal (but very powerful) processes that discouraged them: being informally pushed away from coaching at the entry level; feeling a constant sense of scrutiny from other adults ("is she really qualified to coach my kid?"); being made to feel like an outsider in the midst of an "old boys' network"; having to contend with men's sometimes "intimidating" loud voices on the playing fields.

Including More Women Coaches in Youth Sports: Why it Matters

Next month, millions of kids will retrieve their baseball and softball gloves from the bottoms of drawers or from under their beds.  After a trip to the store to get some new cleats (after all, their feet have grown since last summer!), they will take the field for another Little League season. This is a Spring rite for kids, shallowly rooted in recent history, but often deeply rooted in family dynamics. Founded 1938 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Little League Baseball expanded rapidly throughout the United States and Canada. By the mid-1950s, Little League Baseball was fully established as a major institution with 4000 leagues in the United States, and further growth into Mexico and other nations.


Prospective women coaches face barriers — mostly informal and unspoken — that divert them away from coaching. Most of the few women who do coach leave after a year or two, after finding the league to be dominated informally by a less-than-supportive “old boys’ network” of coaches. This as a problem that needs to be fixed.

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