My dad bought me a book about preparing high school athletes for success. The book is called 6 Steps to Success for High School Student-Athletes and is written by Alonzo Barkley. Barkley is a former college and professional basketball player that now coaches high school in Alabama.
Although my focus is on youth recreational sports – essentially for children younger than high school age, many of the recommendations Barkley makes in his book are still appropriate. As a Christian myself, I also appreciate the value Barkley places on his faith in becoming a successful student athlete. The 6 steps are:
- Placing God First
- Learning How to Respect Authority
- Competing Academically
- Falling in Love with the Sport
- How to Beware of Distractions from Destiny
- Handling Success When it Comes
Steps numbers 2, 4, and 6 are right in line with the Hustle & Attitude methodology. Reading the book reminded me that, even though most youth recreational sports leagues aren’t directly associated with a school; the children that participate are still students and are therefore student-athletes. I will write more in the future about my beliefs with respect to youth recreational sports and the young student-athlete. Step 5 is probably more geared towards a high school athlete in terms of the types of distractions that might tempt a student-athlete.
I recommend this book for middle school and early high school athletes and the coaches and parents who mentor them. There is practical and inspirational guidance that can help them all succeed in sports, academics, and more.
I just came across this article from the New York Daily News where the author suggests that children should wait until high school to play tackle football.
The article references a couple of recent events – Bo Jackson saying he wouldn’t have played football if he knew about CTE and Mark Gastineau’s revelation that he is dealing with several neurological issues.
I agree with the author’s recommendation. Flag football is an excellent alternative to tackle for children before high school.
Check out this post from the good folks at GameChanger with a Blueprint for day one of practice. Although the author is speaking specifically about baseball practice, there is good advice here for all sports.
- I really like the recommendation to have one-on-one time with each child. Get to know them as early as possible. I’ll add do whatever you can to learn their names as fast as possible.
- Whatever age the children are, setting expectations is important. What do you want them to call you (I recommend somewhere around 10 or 11 years old they switch from Coach Chad to Coach Millette), what are your hustle and attitude expectations, what are your team rules, etc.
- A note about the recommendation about where to put your lefties in baseball (the author states “if you have any left-handed throwers, first base would be a good place for them to start”. As a father of a lefty baseball player, I held off on limiting him to first base in the infield as long as I could. He even played catcher (that’s him below). Sure, as the lefty player progresses through their baseball career, they will likely be limited, but why limit them any earlier than you have to?
- And, I absolutely agree with the idea of a fun activity to end practice. Try to make the activity a skills competition. Emphasize that the way to win the competition is to do the skill correctly. You won’t even need a prize, just the fact of a competition will bring the best out of the young athletes.
Good words from Joe Ehrmann via the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).
The Hustle & Attitude philosophy answers the questions he poses. Every child plays; they play equal amounts; and they get to try every position.