Archive for February, 2010

Focusing on Coaching Concerns of the Future…

Tom DeCara (“Coach Tom”) was my guest this AM. I had asked him to think about how HS and youth level coaching is going to change in the years to come, and he was right on the money when he said that HS coaches and travel team coaches are going to eventually have to deal with a “fork in the road.”

That is, are the elite and highly talented athletes going to opt only for the travel teams….or are they going to remain and play with their school buddies on their local teams. As I pointed out, lots of athletes today say they play on their travel team “for real” – -meaning they take that very seriouly — and they play on their HS teams “for fun.”

That’s an odd approach, but it’s one that is becoming more apparent. Also, it was great to hear from Dave from Orange County (NY), who is the head of the NYS Basketball Assn, that these future coaching issues are finally being considered. There are clearly pro’s and con’s on both sides. On one hand, travel teams offer better competition than school teams, but for the most part, travel team coaches are not certified or have any obligation to be trained in their sport. School coaches, though, need to be certified as coaches and usually have training with CPR as well.

Problem is, for too many parents, this is always a very tough choice, and of course, for the student-athlete, this is still very competitive. I just wish I could offer more concrete suggestions on which is the best way to go. Sadly, there are no clear-cut answers.

Trashtalking, freedom of speech, and blogs and Facebook

This entire area of Facebook opinions and blog postings is really beginning to concern me.  Today’s generation of HS athletes are now learning how to trash-talk online, and even worse, it’s speading to adults who feel compelled to post anonynmous nasty comments on newspaper blogs.

As law professor Doug Abrams said on my show, the law just hasn’t caught up to this problem yet. But in the meantime, kids are getting booted out of school for posting threats on their Facebook pages (remember, we’re in the age of Columbine HS and ALL threats are taken seriously). And newspapers don’t often monitor or moderate the trash-talk that is posted on their blogs.

The combination of all these happenings puts athletes, coaches, administrators, and school boards in a very awkward spot as they are now forced to walk a very fine line between what constitutes freedom of speech under the first amendment of the US Constitution and what is totally unacceptable for young athletes. There just isn’t much in the way of guidance here, except common sense.

Most of the callers yesterday expressed similar concerns. It’s very, very hard for a parent to read horrible comments about their son or daughter online where the writer doesn’t even have the guts to post their own name.

Rick Peterson on youth pitching

I sure hope you had a chance to listen to Rick Peterson, the pitching coach of the Milwaukee Brewers, talk this past Sunday about kids and pitching. Peterson, who has devoted his lifetime to the inner workings of top pitchers, had all sorts of observations about pitching, including:

o Kids today are overused too much as pitchers, and that’s resulted in an avalanche number of arm surgeries at very young ages.

o Peterson warns that young pitchers need to learn mechanics only from those coaches who really know about the art of pitching.

o He warns that letting kids throw curve balls under the age of 15 can really ruin a youngster’s arm.

Best of all, if you want to find out more about Peterson’s insights and advice, go to his new website instructional venture, It’s a terrific concept.

Young athletes and the temptations of gambling

Every year I try to do at least one show about the growing epidemic of kids who get involved in betting, wagering, and gambling on sporting events. Whether it’s betting on the Super Bowl or playing online poker, too many kids are being drawn into the disease of gambling.

As Don from Gamblers Anonymous pointed out, kids today are exposed to all sorts of wagering. Most parents look the other way, until they begin to see charges on their credit cards, or cash missing from their wallets. Gambling is a real disease that destroys thousands of lives each year.

Here’s a suggestion from the heart: next time you sit down to watch a sporting event with your son or daughter, take five minutes and explain to him or her the potential dangers of gambling. Let them know that wagering, like alcoholism, can sometimes develop into a real addiction — an addiction that has the power to ruin their life.