Sometimes the toughest workout … is REST!

Who is tired of the flu? Amen?

flu1My daughter had the flu two weeks ago. Then my son had an allergic reaction (read: projectile vomiting) to Tamiflu. Ten days after the initial flu diagnosis, we were back at the doctor with what turned out to be a ruptured eardrum, which was probably caused from fluid leftover from … you guessed it: the flu! So, yeah, we are tired of the flu at our house.

In between the flu and the ruptured ear drum, my daughter had a swim meet. She wanted to go. I thought it was a terrible idea, but I think that providing opportunities for your kids to “fail safely” are invaluable to the growth and maturity process. Maybe we will expand on that idea in another blog.

Anyway, my daughter decided she wanted to swim in the meet after having the flu all week. Again, I thought this was a terrible idea but I kept my opinion to myself. She was determined. It was hard to watch. She swam her events, including the 100 IM and the 200 free. She was exhausted and slept almost all the way home … BUT the next day she said to me, “It might have been a better idea to let my body rest through the weekend.” Bingo! I could have tried to explain this to her, but I’m pretty sure this first-hand experience will stick with her a lot longer than a lecture about health and wellness from her mother. Ha!

Allowing your body the time it needs to rest and recover can be one of the most challenging aspects of athletic training. Athletes are tough and many of us think we can plow right through and not miss a single workout, but sometimes real strength (and maturity) means listening to your body and taking some time off.

Coming back from an injury or a sickness like the flu can be mentally taxing on a competitive athlete. While you’re on the couch – trying not to die – there is this sinking feeling that teammates and competitors are moving on without you. Plus, training is our passion! It’s depressing when you can’t get out and do what you love to do.

Coach Lisa had this to say about dealing with injuries: “It is important for an athlete to keep their mind clear and be strong enough, mentally, to make it through a temporary setback like an injury or sickness. For younger athletes, that first injury can be tough. It’s something they’ve never had to deal with. A positive, determined mindset is critical during the recovery process.”

Just because you are laid up on the couch, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything productive. There are still things you can be doing to prepare for the upcoming season.

  • Finalize your calendar. Even if you have your season planned out, it can be fun to sit down and look at it on a calendar. Look ahead and mark your peak weeks, recovery weeks, and race days.
  • Make a list of goals for the upcoming season. Remember that goals are not limited to race finishes. You can set training goals within each sport and then put together a plan to start working towards each goal.
  • Read articles about aspects of training that interest you: nutrition, strength training … or THE IMPORTANCE OF REST.
  • Read inspirational comeback stories or an athlete autobiography for motivation.

Appropriate rest and rehabilitation is just as important as your longest training day. When we don’t take the time to rest, we jeopardize all of the hours spent swimming, biking, and running. The next time an injury or illness has you down and out, think of that rest day (or week) as an integral part of your training plan: Grab a cozy blanket and some chicken soup and nail that workout!

Time management for student-athletes

Former Facebook marketing director, Randi Zuckerberg, started an interesting conversation about time management when she tweeted about something she called the “entrepreneur’s dilemma”: Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness, or Friends: Pick 3.


I found this interesting and as much as I tried to push back from this idea that you would have to pick three, I had to admit … I really only have time to commit to three of these things at a time. Not to say you don’t have all five in some capacity; but if you look at each of these areas, I think you’ll find that at least three of them are being split between each other. Most of us have two that rise to the top and then we scrape together our remaining time and energy to keep the other three afloat.

When it comes to student-athletes, school also becomes part of the equation. Student-athletes are tasked with the responsibility of balancing school, sports, family, friends, and sleep.

For triathletes, it is school, family, friends, sleep … and THREE sports.

In order to help our kids find balance in their lives, it is important that we sit down and look at our own schedules to see that we are modeling a healthy lifestyle. Of course, we have to focus on certain things during certain seasons, but the key to a healthy lifestyle is finding balance.

Sleep. Sleep is arguably the most important aspect of a healthy, balanced lifestyle but it is usually the first thing to take a hit. For athletes, sleep is (should be) non-negotiable. A lack of sleep in athletes can quickly lead to fatigue and injury. Plus, the body recovers from and absorbs the training you put in during the day while you are asleep. Human Growth Hormone is responsible for helping the body recover and heal; HGH levels peak after a tough workout and during sleep! Most research suggests that young athletes get about 9 hours of sleep a night.

Family. Young athletes need a support system, so time with family is vitally important. It is also important that this precious time be protected from unwanted conversation about the child’s sport. Kids need a safe place to come and be a kid, to be loved unconditionally. Family time is too valuable to spend rehashing games and practices. Regular family dinners have been shown to improve nutrition and decrease the risk of obesity in children and, for teens, regular family dinners decrease participation in risky behaviors such as smoking and drinking.

School. Many parents take kids out of sports in high school in order for the student to focus on academics, even though studies show that students who play sports have better grades and higher graduation rates than those who do not. This is good news, but balancing school and sports is not easy and can cause high levels of stress. Late-night studying and early-morning homework sessions are common – robbing kids of much-needed sleep. There is really no easy way around this one, but here are some strategies you might find helpful.

  • Help your athlete plan a weekly schedule that allows plenty of time for school and sleep
  • Encourage your athlete to communicate with teachers ahead of time if he knows he will be missing class for a game/race
  • Discuss the fact that sports are a privilege and part of being a well-rounded athlete is managing other responsibilities on top of a busy practice/game schedule
  • Provide a quiet place for your athlete to focus on school work; take away phones and other distractions during the time set aside for studies

Friends. Fortunately, for athletes, friends are usually part of the team package. When choosing a team or training location for your child, keep a close watch on the existing peer group as their teammates will likely become some of their closest friends. For athletes, the off-season is the perfect opportunity to devote extra time to friends outside of their chosen sport.

Sports. Playing a competitive sport is a privilege that becomes greater as the level of play increases. If your child is still competing after middle school, she needs to understand that not everyone gets the opportunity to play at that level. Part of taking advantage of an opportunity is learning to make appropriate sacrifices. We’ve established the importance of sleep, family, and academics; finding the extra time to play sports – without cutting into those areas of life – can be tricky.

For teenage athletes, carving out time to cover sleep, family, academics, AND sports might mean they don’t have time to watch the popular television show that everyone else is talking about; or it might mean that they come home earlier on the weekends in order to get the sleep they need. The truth is that student-athletes don’t have a huge margin for “free time”. Free time is important and necessary for a balanced life, but students involved in higher levels of sport will have to be very intentional in carving out that time and using it wisely.

For more information on time management strategies, check out this guide from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.



Recap of HPT Camp

Recap of our January 2017 HPT Camp in Alpharetta


Wow!  I can’t get over how well you all did this weekend and it’s January!

Thank you for attending our first ever High Performance Team camp.  I hope you all enjoyed it and you either learned something new or something about yourself or both this weekend.

The most popular request was for the Peanut butter Protein Ball recipe.  Here it is:   Note:  I used organic everything except for the choc chips were mini semi-sweet morsels.  Tip:  When rolling them put a little bit of the protein powder on your hands to cut down on stickiness.  I keep them in the fridge and put one in a baggie to eat between workouts.

Ready in 5 minutes | Makes 14 servings


  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder
  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3 tbsp dark chocolate chips


  1. Mix together all ingredients. Should be the consistency of Play-Doh. Roll into 14 small balls. Refrigerate to firm them up, overnight for best results. Enjoy!

Nutrients per serving (1 ball): Calories: 84, Total Fats: 5 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 3 mg, Sodium: 28 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 8 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 6 g, Protein: 4 g, Iron: 0 mg

Day 1 –

We started off with some strength and conditioning exercises that we all need to do at least 2 times a week. Start with perfecting the basic move and then add the variations. You should start with 3 sets of each exercise with a low number of repetitions (6 to 8) and increase reps to (12-16) as you get stronger and better at the movement.

Plank – on elbow and straight arm planks – practice good form – straight back, no looking at stomach or towards toes, head in alignment with spine. Start with holding for 15 seconds and progress or add movement.

Side Plank – on elbow and straight arm – again good form and look straight ahead with hips raised and feet stacked.

Additions to Plank-

Toe Tap – from plank take one foot out to side and tap toe and return to center and then repeat on other side and continue alternating sides.

Lift one foot off the ground – don’t hook it over the other foot, extend it out and hold off the ground. Alternate each foot.

Lift one hand off the ground – find balance and extend arm straight out in front, alternate each hand.

UP/up/down/down – start in plank on elbows and straighten one arm then the next then go back down one arm at a time. Lead with one hand and then after a number switch to lead with opposite hand.

Spiderman – in straight arm plank bring foot around the side with knee parallel to ground and place foot next to hand, then back to plank and repeat on opposite side.

Drop knee/hip to opposite elbow – from straight arm plank drop your hip and knee across body to opposite elbow and then return to center plank and repeat with opposite knee to opposite elbow.

Walking straight arm plank – start in center position and walk hands to right three times and then back and over to the other side continuing back and forth. If you have a low riser or step you may walk two up on top and two on other side and then back repeating the same movements.

Additions to side plank –

Hip raises – while in side plank drop and raise hips but don’t allow them to touch the ground.

Reach thru’s – take your top extended arm/hand and reach under you twisting your torso and touch the ground behind you and then come back through into proper side plank. Repeat a number of times and then do the same on the other side. You may do this from a side plank on elbow or on straight arm side plank.

Abdominals –

Sit up with bent knees – lay down with knees bent and feet on floor and sit up and touch the floor between your feet and return. You may add a weight or med ball to your hands to make this more challenging.

Bicycle abs done SLOWLY – opposite shoulder not elbow to opposite knee and opposite leg is extended straight. Hold and then switch and hold on other side.

Flutter kicks – laying on back with feet approx. 6 in off floor and toes pointed, head up, do flutter kicks with control.

V- up’s – lay flat with arms extended over head and bring hands and feet together in the middle. Upper body lifts up and same time as legs to make a V.

X – up’s – or Starfish – same as V up’s but opposite arm/opposite leg come up and meet and then down and alternate sides.

Lower back/Glutes –

Superman – on stomach prone extend hands and feet out and tighten everything until only midsection is on ground, hips and chest should raise off the floor slightly.

Superman with arms in W – same as above, but pull elbows back and make arms parallel to ground and form a W.

Superman with arms in inverted V – same as above, but arms are behind you with palms facing up to ceiling.

Bird Dog – on all fours extend out opposite arm/opposite leg to full extension and then return. Do a set on one side and then switch and repeat on opposite sides.

Donkey Kicks – on all fours raise one leg up, bent at knee, do not arch back and once it’s up then small controlled lifts of the extended leg in the air. Don’t swing it nor let it drop.

Bridges – lay on back with hips raised, knees bent and weight is up on upper back/shoulders. Squeeze glutes and hold. You may progress to up/downs – squeeze and hold in up position and then release and lower and repeat. Another addition would be a bridge with one foot on ground and other leg/foot extended out and up in the air and repeat the same set.

Triceps –

Dips – you may do these on the ground or off of a coffee table or chair that is stable. Hands face forward towards bottom and bend arms at elbow and lower body and then straighten. Make sure elbows go straight back not out to the sides and don’t just raise and lower hips without bending your arms!

Push up’s –

Normal standard push up – lowering chest to floor not head and keeping head in line with spine at all times. Arms must bend and elbow.

Diamond push up – put your thumbs and pointer fingers together from each hand to make a diamond and slowly lower and raise doing push up’s. Again arms must bend at elbow and head stays in line with spine.

Wet suits –

Practice putting them on, swimming in them and getting out of them quickly. If you need to cut off some of the suit do it in small increments! Make sure you lube up your neck, wrists, lower leg/ankles/feet. You may use plastic bags to slide your arms and feet through easier. Make sure your goggles are not anywhere near you or anyone else when spraying body with lube. After you get in the wet suit wash your hands or wipe them off and don’t touch the inside of your goggles. When done using it rinse it off inside and out with cool water in the shower then hang it over a bar or on wetsuit hanger to dry. It will dry faster inside out.


Swim Drills –

This is the time of the year to be working on your freestyle stroke technique.

A few of the drills we did:

High Elbow sculling – laying prone with arms bent at elbow and hands below elbows sweep the hands back and forth like windshield wipers(push and pull) and don’t break at the wrist. You will look like a scarecrow. This is to get your elbow higher than your hand and allow you to feel the water with your forearms/hands. Always drill and then swim immediately following to put the drill into your stroke.

6 count switch drill – push off prone and rotate on to your axis with one arm extended and eyes down, kick on that side for a slow count to 6 and then rotate to the opposite axis and breathe and then look down and count and hold for a 6 count and repeat as you continue down the pool. Look for balance on both sides and full extension from fingertips to toes to make yourself long and skinny and more hydrodynamic in the water.

Salute drill with sculling – push off in prone position and rotate to one side axis and the extended arm/hand will scull while the opposite hand is raised with elbow higher than hand and hand near temple in a salute position. Hold this position for a slow 6 count and then rotate and as you send that arm forward and breathe to opposite side and hold on the same position on the opposite side and continue repeating down the pool. This drill exaggerates your high elbow and body position on each side to promote the proper set up for entry and catch.

Timed 500 meter swim –

Remember this was a meter pool so you would add approximately 2.5 seconds per 50 to convert your yards time.

Our best JE Male time was Colton Villa with a 6:38.00. Our best JE Female time was 6:41.02. And for the YE Male it was Eli Hoppenfeld with a 7:09.11 and for the YE Females Makena Gates with a 6:57.78.

Now is the time of the year to be concentrating on swim endurance!

Goal Setting and Visualization presentation by Kevin Lloyd –

Every athlete needs to email me ( at least one of their goals or all of them by this Saturday 1/21 by 6pm.

The Goals worksheet and information is at the end of this blog in case you misplaced your copy.

Read through your responsibilities again as an athlete and make sure you are meeting all of your responsibilities to make you as coachable as possible.

Once you have your goals set right them on a small poster or notecards and post them where you will see them every single day. Remember they need to be aggressive but yet achievable. Remember his SMART acronym when setting your goals. They must be specific, measurable, Active, reasonable/achievable, and have a timeline! All goals need an action plan to reach them!

Visualization – PRACTICE it. Stop and meditate at some point in your day and review your goals and practice visualization of at least one of your goals. You should also do these visualizations while you are practicing the skill. Play through it prior to actually doing it the way you want to do it.

Dynamic warm up exercises and Run form drills –

Always warm up with a dynamic warm up prior to going for a run and a swim or bike if you haven’t been moving prior to starting these workouts.

Walking with high knees, Butt Kicks, Monster walk, Karoke, Side shuffle, Fast feet – low knees(lots of touches), Fast feet – lift knees, Walking cradle, Walking knee hugs, Forward lunge with a twist, Froward lunge with opposite arm overhead reach, Sumo squats with a turn, B skips, skipping with extended reach and big knee drive upwards, Bounding, Hopping on both feet in place quickly 10x’s, slight knee bend and get off ground quickly, Hopping on one foot in place, Hopping forward on both feet(don’t stay on ground long), Hopping forward on one foot with running arms.

Star Lunges and Star squats before or after the workout and leg swings. Additional stretches like pigeon pose, quad stretch, warrior pose, and others.

Other –

Team Gear – Did you look at the bike jerseys, vests, bike shorts and other items on the table when you checked in? We will be placing the order soon so be on the lookout for that email.

Thank you again to Kim Landrum, Keith Marshall and Shana Finch for helping coach this weekend!

Thank you to our parents that volunteered to host families, make dinner reservations, work check in, time the 500, count the 500 and transport athletes! You are the best and we couldn’t do this without you all!

Wrap up –

Watch for more details about the next camp the later part of February. If you have suggestions for a camp activity, please share them with me.

I’m thrilled with how well this camp went and I’m looking forward to the season!

Go Team Explosion!

Coach Lisa



Section I

Athlete’s responsibilities:

**Specific things YOU are responsible for as a student athlete, specifically a Triathlete.**

  • Keep up with school work so that when at practice or an event I can give my undivided attention to my performance. o I acknowledge that I don’t know everything about the sport and will allow myself to be coached.
  • Attend practice, on time, every day.
  • Come ready to practice with all equipment needed for practice and nutrition. This should also include having gone to the restroom & being well hydrated prior to the start of practice.
  • Listen to the coaches, be respectful and follow their directions and advice o Ask questions if I am not 100% sure of something
  • Give 100%, my “all”, every day in practice and during events. o Help my team and teammates in any way I can – be a good team member.
  • Be healthy – take good care of myself.
    • Follow good nutritional advice and try to improve my eating habits so that they are healthy, thereby allowing my body to recover and be stronger each day for practice or events/races.
    • Get a good night’s sleep not only the night before an event but especially two nights before.
    • Stay hydrated. o Be positive and speak positive in order to help build the team up.
  • Have the desire and work hard to improve in some way every day.

“If you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse.” – Bo Schembechler

  • Have fun

Section II

 Athlete’s Strengths:

**Your individual strengths (what YOU are good at) as student/athlete triathlete.**

Example I: “Ability to put new ideas/learning to use.  Example: good hydration & nutrition.”

Example II: “Practice transitions because I know they can be as important as the swim, bike  and or run portions.




Section III

 Athlete’s Achievements:

**Specific things YOU have accomplished as a student athlete, specifically a triathlete.**

Example I: “Qualified for USAT SE Junior Team in my second year in the sport.”

Example II: “Lowered my run PR for the mile by five seconds with a time of 05:45.”



Section IV

 Athlete’s needs for improvement:

**Specific things YOU need to work on, or improve, as a student athlete, specifically a triathlete.**

Example I: “Need to finish homework earlier so that I can get in bed by 10PM at the latest, thereby getting a good night’s sleep so that I am well rested.”

Example II: “Work on improving group starts in the swim so that I can lead or be with the lead                     group getting to and out of T1.”



Section V

 Athlete’s Goals:

**YOUR Goals should be 1) specific, 2) measurable, 3) achievable & 4) with a timeline.**

Example I: “Set new PR (Personal Record) in the 5K by March 1st by at least two seconds with a time  of at least 16:43 (or better).”

Example II: “Set a new 100 Free PR in the next two months, by March 15, with a time of 51.09 or                        better.”


  1. __________________________________________________________________
  2. __________________________________________________________________
  3. __________________________________________________________________
  4. __________________________________________________________________
  5. __________________________________________________________________



*    Should limit goals, at least short-term, to no more than 10 (3 to 5 is perfect).

**  At least one goal should be directed toward qualification for major race or a major race/accomplishment.

Section VI

  • Action Plan to Achieve Goals:

** YOUR Action Plan should list specific steps YOU will take in order to reach your goal(s). **

Example I: “I will eat a healthy, balanced meal within 45 minutes after completion of each practice  or race.”

Example II: “I will complete (personalize) and use the visualization exercise at least once a day the  week before a race.”



Bonus Section

  • How will YOU celebrate and or reward yourself when you accomplish your goal(s):



Athlete’s Signature:

Parent’s Initials***:          Coaches Initials***:

*** Parents or coaches should add input/comments prior to initialing, when/where appropriate. ***




Before Roger Bannister broke the 4:00 minute mile people argued that it might be physically impossible for a human to run that fast.  After he broke it with a 3:59 mile his record only stood for 46 days when someone else ran 3:57.  Since then the World record has been lowered by 17 seconds.  It wasn’t physical limitations holding people back from breaking it but mental limitations.  Your overcoming mental hurdles in any sport is very similar.

What you focus on, and believe you can achieve, create, attract, etc. you can.  The reason is somewhat simple; while you may not be aware of it consciously; there is energy that you and others create around you.  That energy can be Positive or Negative.  This is partially responsible for how you think about yourself, others and what you are capable of achieving.  If you say something often enough or have someone tell you something often enough you will start to believe that it is fact.  Your thoughts and those that you surround yourself with can therefore create positive or negative beliefs of your abilities (whether you know it or not).  Over time, these beliefs become fact (whether you want them to or not).

So, how can you use this to your benefit?  Focus daily on what you want to become, achieve, to visualize, in your mind, doing what you want to accomplish, numerous times.  Why?  So that when you compete, you will have already done, in your mind, what you are trying to achieve in the water or on the road so that it will not be as difficult.  In other words, we are trying to train your brain into believing that you are already a 51 second 100 Freestyler or already run a 5K in 5:43.

This is training for your brain and called visualization.

Visualization is practice for your mind.  You create very detailed images in your mind of what you want and then picture or see as if through your eyes, yourself doing it in your mind from start to finish.  Repeat, or practice, your event, using these images you’ve created in your mind over and over again.

Try to find a quiet place to practice this at least twice a day for five or so minutes each time.  Example, practice it once in the morning as soon as you get up and once in the evening before you go to bed.  If you can fit this in an additional time or two during the day, all the better.  Close your eyes when you do this.  In your five-minute practice, you use your imagination to see yourself having the best swim, bike and or run of your life from start to finish.  This is your chance to have a perfect race!

The more detailed you make this the better.  Add smell and taste if you can.  Remember, the key to visualizing is to always visualize successfully completing the thing you want to do.  This is a mental trick you are playing on your brain, or training your brain.  You don’t try or hope you’ll achieve it, or say that one day it will happen.  With visualization if done correctly, you “experience and feel it” as if it is happening to you now.  And most importantly, your mind will have confidence since you’ve already done what you are trying to do before.

The sceptics in the room will say, no, your brain will know, it’s just a trick.  And true, on a very conscious level you will know you haven’t achieved your goal YET.  However, your subconscious mind cannot always distinguish between what has happened or imagined, or what is real and what is imagined.  You want to make the vision so real that your subconscious mind will act upon the images you create as if they are real.  In other words, you believe you are capable of what you are imagining BECAUSE YOU’VE ALREADY DONE IT.


Swim Meet Visualization Example

 ** Note: this example is for 100 Freestyle – change, as needed, for other events. **


  • Close your eyes.
  • See yourself walking up to the starting blocks,
  • watch the heat in front of you finish,
  • you can smell the chlorine being churned up by other swimmers
  • you look at the clock and visualize the time that will be beside your lane when you’re finished,
  • you take a few deep breathes of air,
  • you jump or bounce up and down a few times,
  • you see and feel yourself moving your arms and legs to get loose,
  • see yourself climbing onto the starting block,
  • you hear the whistles, and the command to take your mark,
  • Feel yourself bending down and see your hands gripping the starting block as you look down at your toes getting into your starting position,
  • You hear the start command and you react immediately.
  • Feel yourself explode off of the starting blocks and into the cold water,
  • You’ve shaved for this race so feel like you are covered in oil and are flying through the water,
  • You’ve never been this fast before and it feels incredible,
  • Remember to breathe and you notice that you are in front of everyone in your heat,
  • You speed up even more just before you hit the wall and make a perfect smooth, fast turn,
  • You have a strong push off of the wall and take least one strong stroke before taking a breath after the turn,
  • Now you really speed up even more and it feels FANTASTIC,
  • Another perfect turn and now you are at least a half a body length in front of everyone and feeling awesome.
  • You are breathing every third stroke so you feel great and can see that you are in front of everyone on both sides.
  • You hit the last turn perfectly and drive toward your finish.
  • You remember to kick hard the last 25 yards and take no breaths the last 10 yards as you make your final push into the wall.
  • You hear the noise of the crowd, look up and turn to look at the clock and see your time of ……!
  • WOW, Awesome!  You’ve hit your goal time!  How SWWEEEET!
  • You make a mental picture of the wall clock so that you can remember this moment for the rest of your life
  • Now, time to celebrate and have fun with your teammates!






Youth sports: Are we having fun yet?

Youth sports is big business and American families spend an enormous amount of time and money on sports activities. But why? I mean, some of us spend hours in the car and on the bleachers and we spend thousands on equipment, team fees, and lessons.


In a “highly-scientific” Facebook poll, I asked … Why do you involve your kids in youth sports?

I want my child to be coachable and learn to respect authority.

I want my child to learn the value of hard work.

It is a great way for them to meet other kids.

I want my child to learn how to compete.

I want my kids to be active and healthy and have a positive body image/good self-esteem.

I want my child to learn how to overcome failure/adversity and learn how to handle winning AND losing.

I want my child to be able to work well with others (teamwork) and learn good sportsmanship.

It is an opportunity for my child to try new things.

The most common answer: TO HAVE FUN!

… and a close second: to keep them out of trouble.


But according to Changing the Game Project, more than 70% of kids drop out of organized sports by the age of 13 … and the number 1 reason they quit? They aren’t having fun. Kind of ironic. We want them to have fun and stay out of trouble, but they are quitting before the “troublesome” phase of adolescence because, despite our best efforts, they aren’t having fun.

And even if you’re one of those “all we do is win” kind of parents and you could care less about the things listed above … I’ve got news for you: The kids are quitting before they make it to the age where winning actually matters! And they’re quitting because they aren’t having fun. Not because they were on a losing team. Not because they didn’t win the championship. Not because they weren’t the fastest or the best. Kids are quitting sports because they aren’t. having. fun.

So, what’s happening?

I asked the question, “Why youth sports?” because I think why we do something directly affects HOW we do it … but is that really true? Because I have to be honest with you – I hear what we are saying … I want my kids to be coachable and have fun and develop character and humility … but then we get in the car after a game and critique their performance as if the world were hanging in the balance over that botched play at third base. Why are we even talking about that in the car? We are the parents – not the coaches. (And a note for parents who may actually be the coach … When you are in the car, you are the parent. Not the coach. Act accordingly.)

I’m hearing that we want our kids to learn how to lose and how to handle failure and competition, but no-cut “try outs” are becoming the norm and it isn’t uncommon to hand-pick travel teams as a way of safeguarding a child’s starting position.

Hmmm …

We say we want our kids to be team players, to be hard workers, to learn how to win and how to lose, and we want our kids to be … coachable. What does that even mean?

Coachable – (adj) able to be coached effectively

  •  A coachable child has a positive attitude.
  • A coachable child is respectful.
  • A coachable child listens to instruction and does her best to follow instructions and make improvements.
  • A coachable child does not already know everything/is open to learning new skills and strategies.

Notice I didn’t mention anything about speed, skill, or strength.

A coachable kid enjoys his sport. A coachable kid has fun. *Lest anyone interrupt me here and say, “I’ll tell you what’s fun – winning is fun!” Um, yeah … you think I don’t like to win? I like to win. But guess what? Winners? They’re coachable. Winning follows coachability. Excellence follows coachability. A lifelong love for sport … follows coachability.


Look …

We’ve allowed youth sports to be hijacked by this idea that all roads lead to the pros. They do not. We’ve fallen victim to this obsession that our kids are the next big thing. They probably aren’t. And the truth is that this incessant need to feed our own egos by raising extraordinary athletes is making our kids miserable … and driving them away from sport in droves.

In 2017, let’s reclaim this truth: that youth sports, when combined with positive coaches and the right kind of parent involvement, are invaluable when it comes to developing character in children. As the adults, let’s act in ways that enable our children to look forward to practices and games/races so that they continue to come back season after season. If they keep coming back, some of these kids WILL grow into extraordinary athletes!

We want our kids to be coachable … and coachability is a good indicator when it comes to longevity in the sport, so here are some simple things you can do this year to encourage coachability in your athlete:

  1. Teach your athlete to look for the silver lining in tough situations.
  2. Demand that your athlete be respectful to his coaches and teammates and, as the parent, ALWAYS demonstrate respectfulness when talking to or about your athlete’s coaches and teammates.
  3. Let your athlete tell YOU about practice/games/races – and then listen. Instead of telling her what she did wrong at practice or in the game, ask her what she learned at practice; be interested and ask lots of questions (even if you already know the answer). In doing so, you’re modeling the concept that there is always something new to learn.
  4. Take notice when your athlete demonstrates a good work ethic – “I’m proud of the way you listen to your coaches when they are talking to you,” or “I noticed that you were really working hard on dribbling with your left hand.”
  5. And always ask, “Did you have fun?”