Saturday, February 22, 2014

Have you ever head of a sports entrepreneur?

Have you ever heard of a sports entrepreneur?

If you haven’t heard that term before you may think of Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan or Lebron James all of whom have become synonymous with a multi-million dollar commercial brand, in their cases Nike. You may even think of “Super Agents” who shop their clients around to other teams while also developing elaborate marketing images designed to position their guy/gal as more than just an athlete. It could even evoke thoughts of team owners of organizations like the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys who like to project them as “America’s Team” or even as international brands.

Though the concept of the sports entrepreneur is most definitely fallout from the above practices I first heard of the term at a youth hockey conference.

The organization hosting the conference was USA Hockey and one of the presenters was Mike Boyle, strength and conditioning (S&C) coach based near Boston, Massachusetts and S&C coach for Boston University’s men’s hockey team.

“We have a developmental problem and it’s largely born out of apathy. Prior to the launch of the American Developmental Model (ADM is USA hockey’s response to dwindling number of elite American born hockey players), we saw what went on at the youth levels and as parents and coaches we did nothing. We need to be more vocal in our opposition to a ‘games’ model and to early specialization. We know it doesn’t work, we just don’t acknowledge it’s affect on college hockey.” Boyle gave an example that his 11 year-old will play more games than Boston University this season.

The solution according to Mr. Boyle…

“We need the most influential people in hockey screaming every chance they get that it is wrong. Hockey entrepreneurs market hard! They market ‘development,’ exposure and fear. Fear that your child will be left behind. The people telling you all this have a vested financial interest to do so.”

One of the examples given to demonstrate the use of fear by these hockey entrepreneurs:

“Public school kids can’t make it!”

Looking at some of the high schools in my community this concept is pretty well accepted in certain sports namely girls’ soccer and boys’ hockey. The “best” athletes in the community elect not to play for the school instead opting for the Select or Travel team that offers them the best developmental opportunity. Unfortunately once this concept takes hold in a community it becomes self-fulfilling prophecy.  Boyle also cited some interesting data that debunks the idea that playing for the school is only for the “non-serious” athlete.

In the state of Minnesota nearly all hockey athletes play for their public school. Apparently it’s part of the culture there, kids take pride in representing their community and playing for the hometown team. Pride, character development, and loyalty often overlooked but tremendous attributes that can be obtained through scholastic sport participation. These qualities should be valued and celebrated above temporary achievements like wins, points/goals scored, or scholarships.

Interestingly if you look at a state-by-state breakdown of the top active point scorers in the NHL guess what state is disproportionately represented? [1] If you guessed Minnesota you are correct! So playing for the public school doesn’t seem to hurt kids in Minnesota in fact they stand above the other states. So if you are to believe the entrepreneurs your kid won’t make it if they play for the public school unless they live in Minnesota… That sounds like a sales pitch from either an uninformed or deceptive salesman, neither of which is worthy of your time and money.

Boyle went on to state; “as parents we endorse and validate the problem by coaching summer hockey and allowing kids to play. This problem gets worse every year.”

Jack Parker the head hockey coach at Boston University refers to many of the athletes on the recruiting landscape as self-centered mercenaries. “I won’t recruit kids that refer to themselves as we, “ as if they are part of some kind of package deal. This could be a by-product of the current sport landscape that values the highest bid for the services of sports entertainers. Long gone are the athletes that represented their city and played for one team their entire career. This has trickled down to youth sports where kids play on several different teams (often within the same sport) during one competitive season and jump from team to team in order to find the best developmental opportunity. Not earning enough playing time or maybe the coach’s system doesn’t fit your style of play, no problem just jump ship and take the best offer from another team. Is that the lesson we want kids to learn during their developmental years. Perseverance, hard work and resilience in the face of adversity these used to be the fuel that forged champions on the field of play and in the game of life, now they are methods that are never allowed to take root.

Youth sports has become big business…

Parents can fork over thousands over the course of the year for their children to be members of teams labeled Elite or Select or Travel or Tournament. The costs aren't just monetary: Players not even old enough to drive are encouraged to invest more time and commitment in a sport.

Coaches and sport entrepreneurs explain their No. 1 goal is player development.

The explosion of youth sports is based in logic: If an athlete plays more games (baseball as an example), earns more at-bats, fields more balls or throws more pitches, he should become a better baseball player. Travel and tournament teams offer players more games, thus more opportunities to improve. So summer youth baseball schedules -- which 20 years ago might have included only a six-week American Legion baseball or a recreation league schedule -- now bring the potential to play 75 tournament games depending on the team's success in the opening rounds of elimination tournaments.

Money can be spent in a lot of ways in the travel sports. Money isn't spent just on tournament registration fees or hitting lessons or a new glove. Just traveling to watch the games can add up.

Anecdotally, I hear from a lot of parents and when adding up hotel costs and dinners, they spend close to a grand a weekend.

Spending  big money in youth baseball, for teams as young as 8-and-under has become commonplace, and not just in places like Florida or California. Teams composed of players from Oakland County routinely travel to play in tournaments at complexes in Aberdeen, Md.; Cooperstown, N.Y.; Flemington, N.J.; and Myrtle Beach, S.C., each summer. Florida is another destination.

The cost for one 12-and-under tournament that guarantees a team will play a minimum of three games at Ripken Baseball is $1,200. Ripken Baseball finds plenty of customers: The Aberdeen, Md., facility hosted 81 tournaments through June of last year.

Teenagers and tweens play games in uniforms with their names emblazoned across their backs. They wear spikes and batting gloves, many produced from the same name-brand companies’ major leaguers don in the big leagues. Oakley sunglasses sit propped up on several caps in the dugout. Parents hand sports drinks to their children through the fences between innings.

This is a major investment and it should be noted that these costs could quickly add up and exceed any savings you may derive from a child earning a college scholarship. So it just doesn’t add up, no one involved can possibly think they are going to come out ahead from a financial perspective; the odds aren’t in their favor. It’s a very high-risk investment with a grossly overestimated yield.

So it can’t be financial because if the money is there to invest in youth sports it stands to reason that most would have the means to pay for college anyway. It has to be more than that. Next week I will take a stab at the driving force behind the youth sports explosion.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cheerios; Trusted or Tainted...

If you tuned into the Super Bowl you may have caught the endearing Cheerios commercial of a father sitting down with his child at the breakfast table discussing life over a bowl of Cheerios. It was classic Americana and no doubt an attempt by Cheerios to position itself as a staple in every kitchen in America. Given recent news this commercial may have been an attempt by Cheerios to start rebuilding the trust in its once pristine brand…

Cereal giant General Mills recently announced that its original-flavor Cheerios would soon be made without the use of genetically modified (GM) ingredients.

It's a major step by national brand that also highlights the changing attitudes among the U.S. public regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs)… increasing numbers of people simply do not want them in our food.

For some of you, the news that Cheerios even contained GM ingredients to begin with may come as a surprise, as GM ingredients are not required to be labeled in the U.S. (the way they are in the European Union).

Others may have assumed they were GM-free, since they're made mostly from oats, not corn or soy, which are two of the most commonly used GMOs in the U.S. Unbeknownst to many, however, Cheerios were formerly made using GM cornstarch and sugar.

Most likely, though, General Mills' move was made in response to recent consumer backlash, proving once again that the power to clean up the food supply lies in your hands.

General Mills donated more than $1.1 million to the “No on Prop. 37” campaign to defeat California's Proposition 37, which would have required GM foods to be labeled. In other words the folks that bring you Cheerios put their money toward keeping you in the dark on what’s in their cereal. (1)

This may very well be the 'first domino' to fall …

In fact, Post Foods recently announced that they have released a non-GMO verified Grape Nuts cereal that is available on store shelves as of January 2014. And they're looking to add even more non-GMO verified products, noting that

            "We are always listening to our consumers..."

The General Mills' saga bears a strong resemblance to what happened to Kellogg's in 2012, when it was revealed that the soy in Kashi cereals comes from genetically modified Roundup-ready soybeans. As was the case with Cheerios, consumers felt duped into believing that Kashi was all natural when it was not, and a class-action lawsuit was even filed against Kellogg/Kashi "for allegedly misleading consumers with its "natural" claims.

As a result of the consumer outrage, the Kashi brand pledged to use at least 70 percent certified organic ingredients by 2015, and according to their Web site now has 11 products that are Non-GMO Project Verified. (2)

The tipping point of consumer rejection of genetically engineered foods in the U.S. is almost here. A clear sign of this occurred in 2012, when the president of Whole Foods confessed that when a product becomes verified as Non-GMO or GMO-free, sales leap by 15-30 percent. Of all the categories of health and wellness claims, such as "gluten-free," etc, "GMO-free" products have the most rapid growth in sales.

Whole Foods has announced they will make labeling of GM ingredients mandatory in its American and Canadian stores by 2018. Besides that, Target has announced that its own brand will be non-GMO in 2014. Ben & Jerry's became non-GMO at the end of 2013, and while Chipotle's restaurants are working toward a non-GMO menu, they voluntarily started labeling in the meantime.

Forbes recently opined on the recent momentum against GM foods:

"The answer is that public opinion is reaching critical mass. Ninety-percent of Americans believe that GMOs are unsafe, 93 percent of Americans favor stringent federal GMO labeling regulations, and 57 percent say they would be less likely to buy products labeled as genetically modified. When we shift the focus from General Mills motivations to the timing of its decision, we see why every food manufacturer ought to be taking notice, whether another brand-name kitchen table staple goes non-GMO or not." (3)

Is breakfast cereal a good option?

Reading labels particularly on cereal boxes is always a good idea but don’t forget the underutilized and powerful tool we all have at our disposal and that is common sense. If you compare a label from a high fiber whole grain (adult cereal) to a sugary children’s cereal you will often find the box with the cartoon character is often higher in vitamins and minerals and may even contain less sugar and total calories. Don’t be fooled these cereals are often formulated to meet certain nutrient requirements for children with vitamins and minerals (not to mention artificial colors and sweeteners) that are man-made creations that are added back in to the cereal after being stripped away during the manufacturing process.

In this case read a book by its cover!

Given that most cereals are heavily processed and genetically modified it may be in your best interest to avoid even the so-called “healthy” varieties of cereal. After all for years you probably thought Cherrios and Kashi were good breakfast options, as it appears we may have been mislead.

Additional Resources:

For more details on why you may want to avoid breakfast cereals check this out:

This problem of GMOs hiding in plain sight in products marketed as natural is not, unfortunately, an isolated one. In 2011, the Cornucopia Institute released a report, " Cereal Crimes," that detailed the presence of genetically engineered grains in a number of leading "natural" cereal brands. Many of the products tested were found to contain high amounts of genetically engineered grains—some containing 100-percent genetically engineered grains!

The Non-GMO Shopping Guide:

Why GMO should be avoided:

Brands that support GMO labeling and those that oppose:


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Do Helmets Help Prevent Concussions...

With the increasing attention being given to the potential dangers of concussions and repetitive head impacts, interest in helmet technology has increased also. While this attention has led to advances, it also has led to widespread misinformation about the ability of helmets to protect athletes from head injuries.

An understanding of the protective capabilities and deficiencies in helmets is the best way to ensure athletes have the correct information.

What Helmets Do Well

Helmets can be classified also as single-impact use or multiple impacts. For example, football helmets are designed for repetitive/repeat exposure, whereas most bicycle helmets are designed for only a single significant impact. In other words if you fall off your bicycle and hit your head that helmet should be discarded and replaced with a brand new one (never a good idea to buy a used helmet).  Team sport helmets are designed to protect against multiple head impacts typically occurring in the sport (e.g., ball, puck, or stick impacts; player contact; etc.), and, generally, can continue to be used after such impacts. (1) From my experience baseball helmets are often slammed to the ground out of game related frustration and take on a lot of general abuse being tossed around in the bench area. Paying close attention to this off the field wear and tear should be noted in addition to making yourself aware of manufacturer’s recommendations for replacement or reconditioning.

Laboratory data clearly show that helmets, including padded headgear, are generally good at distributing impact forces. This is a result of not only the impact absorption of the material but also the ability of the helmet to spread the force over a greater surface area. Helmets therefore have the potential to decrease injuries caused by such forces. These types of injuries include skull fractures, cerebral contusions, and intracranial bleeding. However because each head impact/injury is an almost infinitely unique combination of multi-directional forces, it can be difficult to extrapolate laboratory data to real-world safety. (2)

Football carries a significant risk of head injuries and accounts for the majority of sport-related catastrophic injuries in the United States. According to the National Center for Sports Injury Research, brain injury-related fatalities decreased from 128 (1961 to 1970) to 32 (2001 to 2010) (3). This number has been relatively stable, though slowly decreasing, since 1981 (3). This coincides with some improvement in helmet technology, but significant rule changes were also instituted in this time frame. The decrease in fatalities is likely related to both improved helmets and these changes, but it is unclear how much of the effect should be attributed to each. These injuries almost are seen exclusively in high school and college athletes. This most likely is due to the increased numbers of participants versus professionals.

Other helmeted sports, ice hockey, and to a lesser degree, rugby and soccer have generally overall lower risk of fatal or incomplete recovery. There are some data suggesting helmet effectiveness and no reported fatalities in Sweden since 1963 when mandatory helmets were introduced, but helmet introduction in hockey also coincided with an increase in facial injuries and concussion. It is unclear whether a more aggressive playing style (risk compensation) or increased attention may have led to this increase. There have been few direct head injury-related deaths reported since 1983 in high school or college ice hockey. There are little data on fatal or incomplete recovered head injury in soccer with the small number of soccer deaths almost all related to a goal falling over onto a participant.

What Helmets Do Not Do Well

There are two important anatomic issues that may limit a helmet’s ability to protect against concussive injury. First brain tissue has very little resistance and deforms easily to shear forces. An example of a shear force to the neck would be a football player that is hit form the side, his torso will travel in the direction of the hit while the head/neck tilt in the opposite direction of the force applied to the torso. Based on our current understanding of concussion, it is these shear forces that contribute most to concussive injury. Secondly the brain is a free-floating structure, making it susceptible to injury from these forces. (4) In other words the helmet offers little protection against shear forces and due to the weight of the helmet may even contribute to the shear stress.

Clinical data

Clinical data related to concussions can be difficult to interpret. Concussion rates have been increasing in recent years, and it is unclear whether this is a true increase in incidence or an increase in reporting. Given our increased awareness of concussive injuries and significant educational and legislative efforts, the increase is likely in large part a reporting difference. This does however make older studies on helmets and concussion difficult to compare, and these increased rates would suggest that modern helmets do not provide significant protection from concussive injury. This is consistent with the findings of several recent expert summaries on concussion (5,6).

Risk compensation

This theory suggests that the protective value of helmets, or any protective equipment, may be limited by the tendency of the wearer to increase risk-taking behavior while wearing the equipment. This theory is weakly supported by some data but it would be nearly impossible to prove it.

The value of any protective equipment is clearly limited by the circumstance under which it is used and whether the participants are willing to use it; however the effect of risk compensation on the protective effect of helmets seems logical and should shine a spotlight on the fact that coaches should always emphasize the importance of proper hitting/tackling technique and point out what a helmet was designed for (protection) and what it was not designed for (weapon/hitting aid). USA Football the developmental arm of the NFL has created the “Heads Up” program to help teach proper tackling technique and raise awareness for concussions at the youth level. It should also be noted that field/spatial awareness (“eyes on the back of their head”) and the ability of athletes to absorb impacts is just as vital for their protection. (7)

The Cool Factor

Major League Baseball has approved a padded cap designed to protect pitchers from potentially dangerous line drives. One issue however could be the size and feel of the cap.  The padding adds seven ounces to the weight of a cap, which currently weighs 3-4 ounces. The company does not believe the caps will interfere with a pitcher's motion or comfort adding that the best available stats indicate that 12 pitchers have been hit in the head by line drives during the past six seasons. Many pitchers feel differently or at the very least are skeptical:

Brandon McCarthy, who worked with the company as it developed prototypes and was also a pitcher that was struck in the head by a line drive and suffered a serious head injury, proved how tough a sell this could be for Major Leaguers when he told that the model he had tested was "too big" and "didn't pass the eye test" and was "too hot."

Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, who suffered a fractured skull when struck by a line drive last May 7, was also non-committal.

"I'd have to see what the differences in feel would be -- does it feel close enough to a regular cap?" Happ told ESPN. "You don't want to be out there thinking about it and have it take away from your focus on what you're doing."

National League CY Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw told MLB Network that he also has some reservations, although he's optimistic that baseball is moving in the right direction.

"I've actually tried one of those on," said Kershaw. "I've thrown with it. You don't look very cool. I'll be honest. You don't look very cool out there.” (8)

In other words this cap has no chance at sticking in Major League Baseball unless it’s mandated.


Helmets have shown the ability, both in the laboratory and clinically, to decrease the risk of serious head injury in some circumstances. Because of study design limitations, the magnitude of this protection is difficult to quantify. Current data do not suggest that modern helmets are protective against concussive injury.

Phil Loomis
Youth Athletic Development/Nutrition Specialist

Related Topics

NFL Players would prefer head injury to knee injury

USA TODAY Sports surveyed 293 players on 20 NFL teams and asked what body part they were most concerned about injuring in a game:

-46% said knees or other parts of their legs
-24% said head and neck
-26% said none

The results seem surprising given all of the emphasis the NFL and the culture at large have given to the life-altering dangers of concussions in recent years.

“Anytime you can avoid hits to the head it’s great,” Chicago Bears running back Michael Bush said, “but if you get hit in your knees, that’s your career.”

You know what’s even crazier? The USA TODAY Sports survey also asked players whether NFL rule changes on hits to the head had made the game safer:

-39% said they had
-53% said safety was about the same
-8% said the game was less safe

“Heads Up,” is it nothing more than NFL propaganda?

Participation in youth football has been on the decline largely because many parents feel it is unsafe for their children. (9) Many critics think this program is the NFL’s attempt at image control and protecting the long-term interest of its brand. Learn more here:

Detecting concussions in young athletes, there’s an app for that!

GE and the NFL have teamed up to potentially make concussion detection more precise. Unlike traditional concussion screening methods, which require cumbersome equipment or medical training, take a long time to administer and are prone to manipulation by athletes, this patent-pending technology can be run on a mobile device and recognizes the changes in speech acoustics that occur with concussions. The result is a more objective, highly mobile concussion screening test that takes only two minutes to perform and can protect athletes from the danger of repeated concussions.

Study reveals this soccer population is the most vulnerable to concussion


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Developing young athletes is a pyramid scheme...

Developing young athletes is similar to taking them on a long journey, you must possess a good map to keep them on the right path along with the patience and savvy to stay the course especially when the ride gets rough (and it will) and you’re tempted to take a short cut. What about the children that are late starters or may have skipped a step… Is it to late for them to develop their full athletic potential? If it’s not to late where do they get started?

It’s never to late but if you wait until the teen years sensitive periods have been missed when skill acquisition is more readily acquired because children can learn new and different movement patterns due to greater brain plasticity or the ability to adapt to new stimuli.  Whatever they experience early in life becomes their foundation moving forward.  If that foundation was built upon a single minded or narrow base it will limit their potential and serve to increase the chance of injury and dysfunction.

First and foremost it’s important to understand that sport and athleticism are all based upon basic movement patterns.  While baseball, golf and tennis may seem like three very different sports they all share very similar gross athletic motor (movement) programs.  When swinging a baseball bat, tennis racket or golf club energy is transferred from a hip turn to a shoulder turn to an arm swing.  The brain doesn’t have to recall each activity independently, that would diminish reflexive and fluid actions.  The brain calls upon these basic motor programs all of the time because they all overlap and are interrelated. 

This is why building a foundation upon basic movement patterns (running, jumping, crawling, hopping, rolling, etc.) is crucial for developing the complete athlete!

To make this step in evaluating your child’s needs more precise I will construct a pyramid that should provide a nice visual image of what to look for.

At the base or foundation of the pyramid is basic movement skill.  Can your child run, skip, climb, crawl, throw and squat?  It doesn’t matter if the movements are performed flawlessly.  At this stage it only matters that they can do it freely and with control.  The child can jump and land without collapsing to the ground or losing their balance, basically they are able to control the basic movement.

The second level of the pyramid is based on gross athleticism.  Now we are examining how efficient the child is in the above-mentioned basic movements.  At this level we look at how high or far the child can jump.  Can they express power in basic movement patterns?  The efficiency of these movements can be measured with tests such as a shuttle run, vertical leap test or 30 yard dash.

The top level of the pyramid is sport skill.   This level is all about sport specific skill that can be measured by coaching analysis, statistics and game performances.  An example of the jump at this level would be a football players ability to leap in the air and catch the ball at it’s highest point and landing with their feet in-bounds.  We have the basic movements of jumping and catching at the core of the movement but the athlete has highly refined the skill so it applies to a specific game situation.

The complete athlete developmental pyramid has a broad base comprised of basic movement patterns that create a buffer zone for the next level; gross athleticism.  This gross athleticism creates another buffer zone for the top level of the pyramid; sport specific skill.  These buffer zones are extremely important and the basis of this entire series.  Without these buffer zones at worst potential for injury and dysfunction exists.  At the least, the absence of buffer zones compromises power and efficiency and complete development is likely never attained.

 In the optimally developed (or complete athlete, CA) athlete the pyramid is balanced.  The athlete’s basic movement patterns are more than adequate to support the power they can generate.  The power generated (the middle of the pyramid) can more than control the skill the athlete possesses.  Ideally this is where your child would be if they were to follow the natural course of development outlined in the previous weeks.

However, due to the nature of the current youth sports culture three other scenarios are more likely for teen athletes.

The overpowered athlete (OPA)
This athlete is usually referred to as the big strong kid.  They can bench press the moon.  Basically, these athletes are weight room heroes.  They dedicate most of their time to building their strength in the weight room by squatting, benching, dead lifting, sit-ups, etc.  The middle level of their pyramid is out of balance and teeters upon a shaky basic movement foundation.  In order to maximize potential and prevent/reduce injury that bottom level must be their emphasis going forward.  They will require a more extensive warm-up and flexibility program and any weight training should think less about weight and emphasize range of motion.

The underpowered athlete (UPA)
 This athlete has all the basic movements patterns down.  They likely played a variety of sports growing up and are very skilled.  As the title suggests these athletes are just the opposite of their overpowered counterparts.  They either haven’t been exposed to any type of off-field training program or just as likely despise any type of strength and conditioning program.  The middle level of their pyramid is under developed.  They lack the strength and/or stamina to perform efficiently and thus fatigue; inconsistency and durability are their limiting factors.  They need to improve gross athleticism to maximize their full potential.  The UPA should emphasize strength, power, speed and agility training.  Activities like hill running, push-ups and pull-ups, jump rope drills and medicine ball throws would be very effective.

The Under Skilled Athlete (USA)
This athlete has a strong foundation and has balanced gross athleticism but lacks sport specific skill.  This type of athlete likely was never exposed to sports at a young age.  They have tremendous raw athletic talent but their ability to apply that athleticism to sport specific skill must be refined.  An example here would be a track star like who decides to play football or soccer.  This athlete can run the 100 yd. dash at elite levels and their vertical jump may set records.  However, their ability to run at full speed make a sharp cut and catch a football coming in at 70 miles per hour is lacking.  The ability to decelerate and change direction while dribbling a soccer ball falls short all because they are not able to apply their athleticism to a sport specific situation.  Often the key to developing the under skilled athlete requires feedback on technique from sport coaches/instructors and consistent and methodical skill practice.  This athlete would be well served to adhere to the tales of the young basketball player shooting 200 free throws a day or the young golfer-practicing putt after putt for hours on end.  A modern day example would be Shaq O’Neal.  Shaq played for around 20 years in the NBA but never developed the ability to shoot free throws consistently or develop his overall shooting touch.  He relied on his brute strength and athleticism to bully his way to the hoop but never developed the skill of shooting the basketball.   Shaq will go down as one of the all time greats, won several championships and he made millions in the process but experts agree he never reached his full potential.  Shaq relied solely on his gross athleticism to take him to the peak of the NBA.  Keep in mind not many young athletes are 7 feet tall 300 pounds and run like a deer.  Also consider that when age robbed Shaq of his athleticism he declined quickly and became ineffective because he never developed shooting touch early in his career.  When his power was diminished he had no skill to sustain his career.

The bottom line is athletes like Shaq are the exception rather than the rule.  Relying on gross athleticism and playing to your strengths will get you only so far.  Weaknesses or gaps must be addressed first if the normal course of development is interrupted.  While all children are unique these four categories are a good tool to guide you in your evaluation.

The complete athlete developmental pyramid is a simple diagram that can provide you with a mental image and understanding of athletic development.  The pyramid is made up of three rectangles of diminishing size to demonstrate how one type of movement builds on the other.  The pyramid should be developed from the bottom up and have a tapered appearance.

It is worth repeating that in my opinion all children are athletes and should be given the opportunity to be athletic.  The current youth sport culture caters to the elite athlete.  No kid deserves that kind of pressure but on the flip side all children should be given the opportunity to develop into their full athletic potential especially when that translates to the enjoyment of life long recreation and improved quality of life.  That’s what the whole youth sporting experience is all about.

Most children do not have access to the best athletic development coaching.  The reason is simple the best coaches are usually employed at the college and pro level where their coaching skill is devoted to athletes that are already highly refined and most are just in need of organization and motivation.  The development of athleticism is most optimal when starting at a young age and that is where the best coaching needs to be applied.  No doubt there are thousands of youth sport coaches and volunteer parents who understand this and do a tremendous job with the resources that they have.   However, I know their time is limited with other careers and competing demands.  That is why the articles I write exist.  I want to expose parents and coaches to the best-practiced and researched developmental strategies.

I am not arrogant enough to call myself an elite coach.  I have made the choice to dedicate my professional career to optimally developing youth on the filed of play and in the game of life.  I have learned from a tremendous range of special coaches, leaders and professionals and I feel compelled and take pride in sharing what I have learned with you.  A lot of gifted people are working through me and I am their messenger.  It is my strong belief that all children deserve a first class athletic development education because it will serve them long after their playing careers end. My greatest hope is that they will pay it forward when they become the next generation of parents and coaches.