Tip of the Month – May

Coach Monika Says…

Questions For Head Coaches At The End Of The Season

I found this post by Chris Fore (November 19, 2018) quite helpful for personal reflection on the seasonal performance of both coaches and athletes. Although the post originally is directed at team sport and players, I modified the Title and applied it to both, team and individual sports. I adjusted the terminology (example: players/ athletes, competitors; games or matches won or lost/events, competition, time standards; game/competition strategy; spouse, etc.).


Your season is over. Part of you is sad, but part of you can now take a deep breath. You can go home a little earlier, hug your spouse and kids a little more, and maybe go see a movie during the weekends!

But you should also take some time to reflect on the season, in order to make your program better. Watch a film on Saturdays to see how your team played Friday night/your athletes competed on the weekend. Now it is time to evaluate how you did leading the troops. Proper season ending evaluation helps your program improve. Coaches who constantly evaluate their leadership move their program constantly forward in the right direction. Those who fail to do so take their teams/athletes backwards. Spend time now to evaluate your program with the following questions. Get others involved to help you grow.

1. Did I do a good job managing the staff?

In my opinion (Chris), this is the most important part of your job as a head coach during the season. Managing your staff is paramount to success. Was the chemistry of the staff good weeks 1-10? How could you better manage them next year? Take notes now.

2. Did I do a good job managing the players?

Second to managing your staff is managing the athletes. Keeping the chemistry – team sports or individual sports – moving in a positive direction is a challenge. If the chemistry improved throughout the season, you did a great job. If not, why did that happen?

3. Did we increase the morale of the program this year – did it decrease?

Program morale can make or break a season, and thus make or break the competitive season. Obviously, winning “cures” a whole lot of morale issues and losing magnifies the bad parts. If morale of the program did not increase this year, what do you need to do to get it back now – not just with the athletes and coaches but also parents, administration, and the community at large.

4. Did we overachieve or underachieve this year?

The scoreboard/competitive results tell the story every time, and during the season. We all want to overachieve. If you underachieved this year, how did that happen? Figure that out now, to fix it this offseason.

5. Did we stay focused on the overarching goals of our program?

Those fancy sayings on those posters and websites, the “expected school-wide learning results” guide our day-to-day actions. Were those goals carried out this year or did they fall by the wayside?

6. What do we need to focus on during the offseason to make this program better?

This question can usually be answered by addressing the biggest struggle of the season. 

7. Was there any point during the season that I lost control? If so, how did that happen, and how do I avoid a repeat in the future?

This is critical to the future of the program. If you lost control, did you regain the trust/respect of your athletes? Is that negative atmosphere still lingering? If you did lose it, why did that happen? Spend time diagnosing this to help you in the future.

8. What was the major weakness with our coaching staff, and how do I need to fix it?

If your team/athletes struggled in one area that seemed to be a major weakness, can it be fixed by coaching? Sometimes a staff member needs to be let go in order for the staff to get better.

9. If married – did my spouse feel that I made appropriate and quality time during the season?

This might be one of the most important questions here! Avoid being another coaching divorcee statistics – there are too many now these days! Have the discussion with your spouse. Ask them, and be ready to listen. Avoid defending yourself – just listen. Asking the question can go a very long way!


Chris Fore has a Masters degree in Athletic Administration. He is a certified Athletic Administrator, and serves as an Adjunct Professor in the M.S. Physical Education – Sports Management program at Azusa Pacific University, California.


Sleeping Habits & Their Effect on Sport Performance


General well-being not only means being physically active but also taking care of the body to achieve active living, overall health, and quality of life. Humans cannot survive without the proper amount of sleep. Sleep disturbance and lack of sleep lead to more significant consequences than just dark circles around the eyes. No concealer can hide that damage!

Research Findings:

Sleep behaviour is an important determinant of health and wellbeing, with impacts on neural development, learning, memory, emotional regulation, metabolic health, and cardiovascular health. The results of an 2019 Alberta survey show that 71% of Albertans report meeting daily sleep recommendations, 25% rate their sleep quality as fairly bad to very bad (Alberta Center for Active Living).

The study by Yusuf et al. investigated the effects of a night of sleep deprivation on cognitive and physical performance in university students. They found that sleep deprivation is common among university students and has been associated with poor academic performance and physical dysfunction. The findings show that reaction time and vascular response to exercise were significantly affected by sleep deprivation, and indicate that acute sleep deprivation can have an impact on physical but not cognitive ability (Yusuf, et al., 2017).

More bad news for those who struggle to get enough sleep at night. According to a study published by Tracy White, Stanford Medicine, January 26, 2019, sleep deprived people suffer performance loss. Lack of sleep definitely affects our performance the next day, and probably for a longer period of time than we might expect. Among the findings: Two consecutive nights of less than six hours could leave you sluggish for the following six days. Researchers also found that staying up an extra hour, even if followed by a full night’s sleep, is correlated with slower performance the next day. But going to bed an hour earlier than normal has a negligible effect.

Sleep deprivation is linked to addiction to electronic gadgets, which has become a modern health issue. More and more researchers point to the fact that children and teens do not get enough sleep. In fact, this may even apply to coaches – I might add – as many of us stay up late to take care of administrative duties, updating records and statistics, and planning training sessions…and then we feel the “absolute” pressure to check our gadget before going to bed!

Knowing the benefits of sleep is one thing but getting enough of it is another. People feel wearisome and exhausted. While we adults (coaches) “clutch our morning java”, children and adolescents are too tired to function in the morning and in the classroom. Less sleep has a tremendous impact on movement and reaction time in learning gross motor and sport skills and ultimately sports performance. Moreover, lack of sleep leads to fatigue, which in turn impedes any physical activity, training, and competition.

Disease Prone, Obese and Depressed

The brain uses sleep to recover and reduce metabolic waste products. This process cannot be finished without or too little sleep. The result: memory, accuracy, and concentration are affected. In addition, the immune system follows the same course as it uses nightly rest for its recovery. If that cannot happen the system neglects its functions, leading ultimately to infection and sickness. The level of the hormone Leptin, which regulates hunger and metabolism, is lowered, hunger and craving set in even though there is no actual need to eat. We not only tend to eat more but also more unhealthy food such as donuts, chips, candy, etc. leading to an increase in overweight and obesity as people take in more food as needed.

Lack of sleep has been identified as a negative factor, compromising the immune system, eventually causing the body to store extra fat, and increasing the risk of acute injuries. For that very reason, sleep experts recommend that children and teens need to establish and maintain regular sleeping patterns to get adequate rest in order to function properly. Coaches should do the same to maintain overall health and their functioning ability.

Here is what happens: Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and makes it more difficult to fall asleep (see previous Leptin).

Most North American adolescents are said to operate in a constant state of “jet lag” as they need about 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night. Some researchers even recommend nine to ten hours of uninterrupted sleep! Yet, very few get that! Even if they do go to bed on time, most children and teens find it difficult to fall asleep at a decent hour. Prior to adolescence, most children are asleep naturally around 8 or 9 pm, according to sleep specialists. However, puberty changes a teen’s internal clock, delaying the time they start feeling sleepy, often until 11 pm or later.

Many children also pursue individual activities such as private lessons and other structured activities outside school. Coupled with scholastic and social demands, increasing every year, many feel tired, both physically and mentally. Thus, for a variety of reasons sleep often becomes neglected, and as a result sleep deprivation occurs. In addition, attitude/mood adversely affect performance in the classroom and of course sport performance. Therefore, the phase of “deep” sleep is critical. Researchers point out that as little as 20 hours of sleep deprivation can have a negative affect on cognitive and fine motor skills as well as proprioception – for example, the sense of balance of sleep-deprived students and the ability to shift weight with their eyes closed is more likely off or critically affected.

Research Findings:   

Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called “memory consolidation.” According to studies, people sleeping after learning a task did better on tests later on.

Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.

Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime.

Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Lacking sleep can contribute to a reduced desire to do activities one likes to do.

Fatigue: Too little sleep can also leave one too tired to do the things one likes to do.

Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.

Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cell. Sound sleeping patterns may contribute to fighting off cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
  • Early fatigue during physical activity or training
  • Unexpected emotional responses
  • Negativism, pessimism, sadness, mood change, stress, anxiety, anger, frustration
  • Inability to solve problems, lack of critical thinking or decision-making
  • Decrease of alertness and focus during physical activity, training or competition/ Game
  • Slower recovery from injury
Suggested Strategies to Improve Sleep Pattern

So, how can children and teens get enough sleep, given the fact that their internal clocks aren’t cooperating? Here are suggestions:

  • Using a log to monitor the sleep pattern (download log below)
  • Developing and maintaining regular sleeping habits, and follow a regular, relaxing bedtime routine
  • Getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night is ideal, according to sleep experts
  • Identifying strategies to maximize the benefits of sleep
  • If insomnia is severe and chronic and sleep disorders exist (sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome), a sleep specialist should be consulted
Making Sleep The Priority

Develop and maintain regular sleeping habits: Follow a regular, relaxing bedtime routine – make it consistent with regular steady sleep and wake-up routines (at the same time)

Falling asleep: within 20 minutes of going to bed and waking up without an alarm most likely indicates getting the right amount of sleep

Establishing a sleeping habit/routine: Based on research, 10 pm bedtime and 6 am wake up time seems to be an optimal schedule for both physical and psychological recovery as well as wakefulness during the day

Setting sleep pattern: Estimate personal sleep needs by experimenting over a few weeks

Sleep deprivation: Falling asleep immediately upon “hitting the pillow” and always needing an alarm to wake up indicates sleep deprivation

Daily naps: Take a daily nap if sleep deficiency is apparent but keep it short (less than an hour)

Missing sleep: “Catching up” on missed sleep on the weekend is not a healthy practice – it actually throws the body clock off even more

Unplug: Getting rid of stimulation – it’s a good idea to turn off all    electronics about an hour (or more) before bed, including television, loud   music, laptop or computer, smartphone and iPod and/or leave outside the bedroom

Late night socializing: Frequently interferes with establishing and maintaining healthy sleeping patterns

Keep it dark: Light-tight blinds, shades, and window coverings help set the   right environment for sleep

Ambient light as distraction: Glowing or flashing clock or other light from electronics can also interfere with a solid night’s sleep

Use light as an advantage: Dim light tells the brain that it is time for sleep, and bright light says it’s time to wake up – keep lights dim for 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime, and use lots of bright light upon awakening

Keep it cool: Lowering the thermostat in the bedroom to 65 to 68 degrees  helps to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly

Experiment: Keeping it on the cool side is better for sleeping than being too hot – experiment with the temperature or amount of bed covers

Keep it quiet: Nothing can cause more sleep disturbance than noise. If living in a noisy location – near traffic, airports, or noisy neighbors – use earplugs to create silence – white noise may also be helpful, such as a fan

Eating Habits: Healthy nutrition and exercise regularly

Hygiene: Practice good body hygiene such as regular showers, brushing teeth, etc., and change bed sheets regularly (1x per week)

Using Sleep To Improve Sports Performance

Identify strategies to maximize the benefits of sleep: athletes are able to optimize training and competition outcomes by identifying strategies to maximize the benefits of sleep.

Increasing Sleep Time: several weeks before a major competition or game/match

Getting Daily Exercise Time: outside training. This should be used as a “balancing act” to the regular training routine (use walking, cycling, stretching, etc. to induce sleep faster). While there isn’t necessarily an optimal time, some people report that exercising before bed makes them too energized and alert: therefore, experts recommend allowing 6 hours between the exercise session and bedtime. This could be difficult if training sessions are held in the early evenings.

Adapting to an Upcoming Travel Schedule: Consider if time zone changes or early competition/game starts are necessary. In order to adapt the body to respective changes, this should be adhered to at least one week prior to departure. Otherwise, insomnia upon arrival at the travel destination can become a real problem.


Alberta Center for Active Living (2019, January 14). The 2019 Alberta Survey on Physical Activity. Edmonton, AB, and SIRC, January 29, 2019. https://www.centre4activeliving.ca/our-work/alberta-survey-physical-activity/

Alhola, P., & Polo-Kantola, P. (2007). Sleep deprivation and cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, Vol. 3(5), 553-567. October. Turku, Finland. Retrieved, April 30, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656292/

Harvard Education: Healthy Sleep: Consequences of Insufficient Sleep. Retrieved April 30, 2019, from http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences

Mah, C. (2007). Extra sleep improves athletes’ performance. Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. June 14, 2007.

Mah, C. (2008). Extended sleep and the effects on mood and athletic performance in collegiate swimmers. Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. June 9, 2008.

Mah, C. (2009). The study shows sleep extension improves athletic performance and mood. Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. June 8, 2009.

Mah, C. D., Mah, K. E., Kezirian, E. J., & Dement, W. C. (2011). The effect of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Sleep, 34(7), 943-950. July 1, 2011.

White, T. (2017). Sleep deprived suffer performance loss, according to a new study. Scope. Stanford Medicine. Retrieved April 30, 2019, from https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2017/01/ 26/sleep-deprived-suffer-performance-loss-according-to-new-study/

Yusuf, P., Lee, A., Raha, O., Pillai, K., Gupta, S., Sethi, S., Mukeshimana, F., Gerard, L., Moghal, M.U., Saleh, S.N., Smith, S.F., Morrell, M.J., & Moss, J. (2017). Effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive and physical performance in university students. Sleep Biological Rhythms, Vol. 15(3): 217–225. Published online 2017 Apr 13. Doi: 10.1007/s41105-017-0099-5. Retrieved April 30, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5489575/

Tip of the Month – April

Coach Monika Says…

Five Effective Leadership Practices

February 11, 2019: The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees stated, “they stand for ‘sport free’ harassment, abuse and discrimination of any kind” after a CBC investigation reported more than 200 coaches in Canadian Amateur Sports have been convicted of sexual offences over a 20-year period, and the list keeps growing!

March 27, 2019: Long time National and Olympic Coach and Program Director in Canadian Track and Field has been suspended by Athletics Canada in the midst of a sexual harassment investigation. His club reprimanded him twice before in 2016. Despite the ban he continued to train his athletes in December 2018 and January 2019 in California. The President of the club in Ottawa was also suspended because he failed to take remedial actions!

April 3, 2019: Canadian women’s soccer calls for change. In the Under-20 national talent pool twelve players are backing allegations against the coach (2007-2008). Accusations: experiencing abuse, manipulation, inappropriate behaviour, sending sexual messages, lewd comments about player’s wet and sweaty jerseys, and rubbing player’s thighs. Have you ever wondered about excellence in coaching and leadership qualities? 

What makes a ‘great’ coach? 

…The goal of great coaching is to guide, inspire and empower an athlete or team to achieve their full potential. A great coach, thus, should also be an exceptional leader. A leader has the ability to unify a group of players and make them committed to a single purpose…

What about coaching qualities?

Here are some key qualities that distinguish a good coach from a great coach:

  1. Leadership: The goal of great coaching is to guide, inspire and empower an athlete or team to achieve their full potential.
  2. Knowledge
  3. Motivation
  4. Knows the Athlete
  5. Consistency
  6. Effective Communication Skills

What is leadership?

  1. Vision
  2. Motivation
  3. Serving
  4. Empathy
  5. Creativity
  6. Thoroughness
  7. Managing
  8. Team Building
  9. Taking Risks
  10. Improving

What is effective leadership? 

…Effective leadership includes strong character.

Leaders exhibit honesty, integrity, trustworthiness and ethics. Leaders act in line with how they speak, and earn the right to be responsible for others’ success in the company. Strong leadership involves clear communication skills…

Canada’s National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) offers the Module  “Coaching and Leading Effectively” in its coach education/certification program. According to the Canadian Coaching Association:

…The five leadership practices of exemplary leadership and the ten leadership commitments, “the behaviours that serve as a basis for learning to lead” are presented below. Although there are five practices, there is no linear sequence in their practice though leadership requires practicing all of the following behaviours to various degrees at different times. 

1. Model the way

  • Clarify your values by finding your voice and affirm shared ideals
  • Set the example by aligning actions with shared values

2. Inspire a shared vision

  • Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities
  • Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations

3. Challenge the process

  • Search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and looking outward
  • Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from experience

4. Enable others to act

  • Foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships
  • Strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing competence

5. Encourage the heart

  • Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence
  • Celebrate the values and the victories by creating a spirit of community

Coaches need to foster their skills to coach and lead effectively to provide their athletes with the same skills to deliver clear messages and explanations when communicating with each other. 


Coaching Association of Canada (2019, March 3). Email to M. Schloder.

Coaching Association of Canada (2019, March 3). How to be a better leader: Five effective leadership practices. Ottawa, ON: #CoachToolkit.


Karstens-Smith, G. (2019, April 3). Soccer women call for change. Twelve players back allegations of abuse by coach. The Calgary Herald. Sports, Section B11.

The Canadian Press (2019, February 11). COC says “safety of all is its focus.” The Calgary Herald. Sports. Section B1.

The Canadian Press (2019, March 26). Track club officials suspended. The Calgary Herald. Sports. Section B1.

The Disheartening State of Modern-day Youth Sports

Destroying the Youth Sports Experience for Our Children

Are youth sports very different than when you were growing up? As a parent, do you feel athletes are being asked to do more and more at a very young age? Should children play multiple sports, or select a single sport and go for it? How about the role of effective coaching and parental leadership in youth sports? Are your children driven by the “professional” versus the developmental model (top down vs. bottom up model) – pushing short-term success vs. long-term involvement?


Issues existing in youth sports that parents are often unaware of:

  1. The facts of early sport specialization
  2. The path that most athletes have taken to become professional and elite athletes, and the path that gives children the best chance of optimal performance
  3. How to ensure that sports are physically, psychologically and socially beneficial to our children?
  4. The fact that many coaches and organizations don’t know that their success-driven approach can significantly affect a child’s sports experience
  5. How to approach coaches and organizations that aren’t practicing the best path of athlete development

April Tip of the Month focuses on “Effective Coaching and Leadership.” I am relating it to youth sports. We need to address what is happening to the leadership concept we teach in theory but then is not practiced in reality. Youth sports have become a distorted societal obsession to imitate the professional model instead of grasping the reality that children are not “miniature adults!” Where and what exactly is the role of coaches, club organizers, and administrators pursuing early athletic success, and risking potential burnout and/or dropout at an early age? In addition, increasing violence among parents at various sporting events, as well as, unethical behaviour among athletes; both of which often is not dealt with effectively, especially in team sports.

Some examples:

  1. Parents verbally and physically abuse a 16-year old hockey referee in Canada
  2. Opposing team parents fight in the stands in a hockey game
  3. List of banned parents posted on the entrance gate to a soccer stadium in Oregon
  4. Father pushing a stroke judge into the water in a swim meet, upset over his daughter’s disqualification
  5. Hazing practices and bullying among team sport players, coach ignoring the behaviour  

And on and on it goes!

John O’Sullivan is the Founder and CEO of “Changing the Game” which he began in 2012 after two decades as a soccer player, and coach of youth club, as well as, coaching high school, college, and professional players. He is the author of the #1 bestselling books Changing the Game: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Happy, High-Performing Athletes, and Giving Youth Sports Back to our Kids, and Is It Wise to Specialize? His work has been featured in The Huffington Post, CNN, The Outside Magazine, ESPN TV, Soccer America, and numerous other publications. He is an internationally known speaker for coaches, parents, and youth sports organizations. He has presented at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, US Lacrosse, IMG Academy, and numerous other events throughout the USA, Canada, Asia, and Europe.

With permission granted, I am using his post to discuss the issue. I have added personal reflections.

When O’Sullivan travels throughout the US, Canada, Asia, and Europe to speak about youth sports, coaching, and athlete development, he frequently gets asked:

…If you are presenting all this science based evidence about how to raise happy, healthy and high-performing athletes, why don’t most coaches, clubs, schools, and parents follow these protocols? Why do you see the exact opposite happening?…

John meets many parents who are extremely frustrated these days because youth sports have changed so drastically. There are no longer seasonal sports rather year-long commitments. Costs and travel distances have “gone through the roof.” The pressure on parents to keep up with the Joneses has become astronomical, and many are simply trying to sort out the facts of athlete development. They are told what to do by other parents and coaches if they want their children to have success in sports. Yet, the path that so many children follow – or in many cases are forced to follow – is not the best one to develop as an athlete or as a human being. In fact, the opposite is happening, namely a high rate of injuries and burnout. According to researchers an estimated 73% of children quit youth sports by the age of 13. It leads to a variety of psychological issues by attaching one’s identity to sport success. It robs children of their childhood as it turns youth sports into big business that ties advancement to financial means (have vs. have nots) instead of ability (can do’s vs. can’t do’s). The emphasis should be enjoyment, development, and play instead we try to create “professional” or “miniature adult” athletes.

A lot of misinformation and ignorance of facts circulates in youth sports, driven by three pervasive youth sports myths according to O’Sullivan. What is most troubling is they are damaging the very people they are intended to develop, our young athletes.

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic,” said the late US President John F. Kennedy.

Myth #1:  “The Tiger Woods/10,000 Hour Myth” 

Your child must specialize as early as possible if he or she wants to play College or Pro sports.

We all have heard misinformation from a coach or parent telling your child he/she needs 10,000 hours of deliberate practice as soon as possible. O’Sullivan has written about “early specialization” many times. Yet, despite statistics, people have misgivings because the myth is so pervasive and convincing. The problem is… it ignores many components of athletic development beyond practice that determine athletic performance, namely genetics, coaching, enjoyment, and intrinsic motivation. Except for female gymnastics, figure skating, and diving, no definitive studies directly tie early specialization to a greater chance of long-term, and high-level success. The number of “Pro athletes,” Olympians, and top coaches that link high-level success to an early, multi-sport background, however, is very high. This does not mean top players did not compete or play a lot of hockey, or soccer, or basketball; they did other sport activities as well, and started putting in their dedicated training hours in their middle teenage years.

As mentioned earlier, many research studies associate early specialization with higher injury, burnout, and dropout rates as well as psychological and identity issues. High-level sport performance experts such as Tony Strudwick from Manchester United FC, and football coaches such as Urban Meyer, and others stress the importance of a multi-sport backgrounds to develop overall athleticism to decrease injuries, and increase internal motivation. Talent development programs in professional and college sports are no longer looking simply about what level athletes play but what got them there. They don’t want a finished product because early specialists are often at their peak of development while multi-sport athletes have a bigger upside. Given the choice, they want upside over current performance.

Many boys and girls grow up dreaming of playing sports in college and beyond but the reality is different. Here are recent statistics:

  1. Of nearly 8 million students currently participating in high school athletics in the United States, only 495,000 will compete at NCAA schools. Of that group, only a fraction will realize their goal of becoming a professional or Olympic athlete.
  2. Of the 16,346 draft eligible NCAA football players: 255 were drafted into the NFL.
  3. Out of 7,880 draft eligible NCAA baseball players: 775 were drafted by MLB.
  4. From the 940 draft eligible NCAA men’s ice hockey players: 65 were drafted into the NHL.
  5. Of the 3,674 draft eligible NCAA women’s basketball players: 32 were drafted into the WNBA.

Myth #2: “The 9-Year Old National Champion Myth”

We need to win as soon as possible, as often as possible, travel as far as we need to get games, and only pick and play the kids who help us do that.

Winning is not bad – not some evil thing to be avoided at all costs! Quite the contrary, kids like winning! They understand they need to try and score, and prevent the other team from scoring. They also understand that they need to try to perform their best. What they do not understand is that winning is not more important than simply competing or playing, nor more important than following the rules. They will never understand, especially prior to high school age, that the result of winning a competition or a particular game is not more important than getting the opportunity to compete or play. Every time O’Sullivan mentions these aspects the “naysayers” jump on him and label him as a “non-competition guy. On the contrary! O’Sullivan loves competitive sports, and hates participation trophies. He has coached competitive athletes his whole life, and many became College/University and Pro players. Winning does not produce better, more competitive athletes. It turns youth sports to an outcome focused enterprise, and puts way too much pressure to not make mistakes, not trying new things on young athletes learning a given sport. Instead, the pressure to perform produces bitter athletes who quit, and it excludes far too many potentially top performers because of birth month and developmental age. The downward slide of selecting teams based on performance is pervasive, and again, quite convincing at first glance. It’s not difficult to find communities that make cuts, “cherry-pick” A and B teams, and start travelling long distances to find competition at ages as young as 6 and 7 years old. Selecting the best players, excluding others, coaching them, and only playing them in outcome-focused events against other top players develops them faster, right? How could this be bad? So the argument goes! It is, however, a mistake because it is “all about winning and cutting” athletes prior to puberty. Coaches are selecting those, who are very likely born within 3-4 months of the calendar cut-off for the respective age group, and are therefore more physically advanced compared to their peers. Coaches may potentially “cut” a top player at age 18 because they are not physically mature because the focus is on maturing athletes versus identifying those with talent because the emphasis is on outcome rather than improvement.

The attributes that often allow children to win at young ages (height, speed, strength) won’t serve them in later years unless they also develop technique, tactics, and the ability to think for themselves, three aspects that often “go out the window in win at all costs” youth sports. Prior to age 12 is a time for a child to sample many sports, not be forced into choosing one. It is a time to develop as many players as possible, not a select few. It is a time to make mistakes in a learning environment, not only focusing on winning in an outcome-driven environment (x). Children have to learn to “love their sport,” compete or play for fun, own the experience, and develop the intrinsic motivation to improve. That is the path to long-term success.

When winning is the priority prior to high school, then coaches and parents are choosing short-term success over long-term development. This is not to say that one cannot properly develop competitors and players, and win at the same time, but if given the choice, if one is truly concerned about the athlete’s long-term sporting future, then development should be the chosen path.

Myth #3: “Youth Sports is an Investment in a Scholarship”

If my child specializes, gets on the winning team as early as possible, and I invest in long distance travel, private lessons, and the best gear, I will recoup this investment in College enrollment.

Youth sports are an investment in many aspects such as character development, athletic improvement, and becoming a healthy, well-rounded human being. It is not, however, an investment for future scholarships. Sporting goods companies, beverage makers, and some professional coaches want to earn extra dollars, which has perpetuated this present myth. A low number of scholarships and Pro contracts are given to a select group of elite athletes whose time, effort, and dedication, combined with their talent, and a “good dose of luck”, has led them to the higher path. Less than 3% of all high school athletes play their sport in College. Only one in 10,000 high school athletes is selected to receive a partial athletic scholarship while the average award is $11,000 per year. Yet, a huge number of parents actually believe their child is going be granted such scholarships. There is no scholarship to be had for the majority of athletes, at least on the playing field. Playing sports is not a financial investment! Academic scholarship dollars far outweigh sports aid. O’Sullivan is not saying that parents and athletes should not aspire to play at the next level, but having a goal of excellence in sport is far better than having a goal of “getting a scholarship.” Finally, if the child is only playing for a scholarship, and not love of the sport, it will be very difficult to make it through the “grind” of College or University athletics!

The three myths are very convincing at first glance, and very persuasive to many parents, who want only the best for their children, but they are also very unrealistic. They have become the status quo in far too many communities. It is very difficult to persuade people that such a path is less likely to help their children to become better athletes, and far less likely to help them develop as human beings. These myths are destroying youth sports, damaging our children, and making youth athletics a toxic environment. The best way to help your children succeed is not only to recognize the common mythology surrounding youth sports but also to overcome these myths! Let’s put the play back in playing youth sports. Let’s change the game, and make it a far better one. That is within our reach!

Contact: John@ChangingTheGameProject.com


O’Sullivan, J. (2014). Is It Wise to Specialize?: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Early Sports Specialization and its Effect Upon Your Child’s Athletic Performance Amazon Digital Services LLC.

O’Sullivan, J. (2015, posted July 25). 3 Myths that are destroying the youth sports experience for our kids. Changing the Game Project. Published in “Problems in youth sports, relative age effect, specialization.” Retrieved April 10, 2019, from https://changingthegameproject.com/3-myths-that-are-destroying-the-youth-sports-experience-for-our-kids/

O’Sullivan, (J). Changing the game project. Join the changing the game movement today. https://changingthegameproject.com/

Probability of competing beyond high school (report). (Retrieved April 14, 2019) from http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/probability-competing-beyond-high-school

Tip of the Month – March

Coach Monika Says…

Including Postural Exercises to Enrich Your Training Program

This is the 3rd Series of posture exercises as stated in January and February Tip of the Month. Medical researchers and experts in the field point to the fact that postural habits of children and youth, including our athletes of course, are deteriorating rapidly. Accordingly, the increase of faulty posture is attributed to the high level activities with smartphones and computers. Below are some corrective or remedial exercises, which coaches can implement into training programs as part of conditioning and/or warm-up and cool-down sessions.

Series 3

1. Slide to Half-Squat on Wall

Schlots:Users:monikaschloder:Desktop:Posture:March:1 Posture1/Squat.jpg


Stand upright close to wall, feet slightly apart with heels close to baseboard of wall, face forward, head centered, arms extended alongside body, head, shoulders, back against wall

Note: Inhale through nose-Exhale through mouth


Tighten the core, slide downward against wall until thighs are at 90-degree angle and parallel to floor, keep head, shoulders, back flat against wall (‘flush’) while sliding down, hold 15-30 counts, slide upward to standing position while keeping head, shoulders, back flat against wall, and relax 4 counts, repeat, 8-16 repetitions, and relax


Can be used for conditioning exercise

2. Standing T-Scale With Arm Extension in Front

Schlots:Users:monikaschloder:Desktop:Posture:March:2 T-scale.jpg


Stand upright, feet slightly apart, face forward, head centered, arms extended alongside body, back straight

Note: Inhale through


Tighten the core, lean trunk forward, parallel to floor (‘L’-position), extend one leg in back, parallel to floor, extend both arms forward, parallel to floor, head centered between arms, body alignment arms/hands through leg/foot, hold 4-8 counts, lower leg and arms, stand in upright position, and relax 4 counts, repeat, 8-repetitions, and relax


Excellent conditioning exercise, core strength and balance

3. Upright L-sit On Floor



Assume upright sitting position on floor, legs extended and together, toes pointed, face forward, arms close at sides by body, palms flat on floor, fingers pointing forward, back straight

Note: Inhale through


Tighten the core, partner uses long stick to slide up/down on back to force alignment align (straight back), head centered, body alignment head through hips/buttocks, hold 4-8 counts, and relax 4 counts, repeat, 8-repetitions, and relax


Same Exercise: assume upright sitting position against wall, head, shoulders, back     flat against wall (‘flush’), lean body parts strongly into wall


Excellent conditioning exercise, core strength, and straight back awareness

4. Kneeling Cat Curl Stretch 

Schlots:Users:monikaschloder:Desktop:Posture:March:4 Cat Curl1.jpg
Schlots:Users:monikaschloder:Desktop:Posture:March:4 Cat Curl2.jpg
Schlots:Users:monikaschloder:Desktop:Posture:March:4 Cat Curl1.jpg


Assume upright kneeling position on floor, knees together, feet facing back, toes pointed, face forward, arms extended at sides by body, back straight

Note: Inhale through nose-Exhale through mouth


Tighten the core, assume low heel-sit position, rounding back, extend arms out in front of body on floor, palms flat, fingers pointing forward, rise upward extending arms (straighten arms), rounding back, hollow chest, hold 4-8 counts, drop backward and downward to heel-sit position, maintaining rounded back, hold 4-8 counts, and relax, repeat, 8-16 repetitions, and relax


Same Exercise: assume low heel-sit position, rounding back, extend arms out in front of body on floor, palms flat, fingers pointing forward, rise upward extending arms (straighten arms), rounding back, hollow chest, hold 4-8 counts, maintain straight arm position, slightly raise head, looking upward, slightly arch back, hold 4-8 counts, curl/ round back, hold 4-8 counts, drop backward and downward to heel-sit position, maintaining rounded back, hold 4-8 counts, and relax, repeat, 8-16 repetitions, and relax


Excellent exercise for rounded and arched back awareness, core strength, and relaxation 

Why Us ?

Shape Young Athletes
By Having FUN!


Physical Literacy For Children And Youth
Through Fun, Fitness And Fundamentals

Available NOW! – Instant Download or 2-Disk Set

Watch the preview video below!

You will be astonished over the athletic accomplishments of these young athletes’ strength, flexibility, balance, etc.

Click here to purchase your copy today!

 Dr. Monika Schloder Welcomes You To The Home of CoachingBest

Your one-stop for Coaching Tips, Training, and Information for the Athletic Coach

Years of teaching and coaching experience in several sports have provided me with the ability to understand the physical, mental, and emotional requirements for developing beginner to elite level athlete in several sports. The ‘knack’ to analyze sport movement, in essence, detect errors and then develop creative corrections and drills to improve, maximize, and optimize performance – no matter the sport – is one of my greatest assets.

Dr. Monika Scloder, Summer Swim Camp- Turku, Finland

Professional Activities:

  • DVD Production: Swimming; Developing Physical Literacy; Athletic Training
  • Learning Facilitator, Canadian National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), having educated nationally and internationally over 26,000 coaches to date
  • Certified Alberta NCCP Coach Developer (2016)
  • Speaker at International Congresses, Coaching Symposiums, and World Clinics
  • Master Coach in Residence, 1991-2004, for the Los Angeles based 84 Legacy of the Games (former Amateur Athletic Foundation or AAF), program developer for Inner City Minority Youth Education and Leadership
  • Author: Coaching Manuals in Swimming and Soccer
  • Co-author “Coaching Athletes: A Foundation for Success”


  • Alberta 2008 Coach of the Year
  • Recipient of 14 International Teaching and Coaching Awards
  • 3M Teaching Fellowship Award for Outstanding Teaching at Canadian Universities
  • Recipient of numerous Teaching Excellence Awards, University of Calgary

At CoachingBest.com we offer sport consulting and coaching education to organizations worldwide with an emphasis on current issues, physical literacy, athlete development, performance analysis, and improvement

Visit our Website CoachingBest.com for ‘Tips of the Week’ and sign up for the free Monthly Newsletter

Dr. Schloder has developed a series of Training DVD’s to help Coaches and Athletes
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ASCA Workshop Conference and Presentation

Happenings from November

With Coach Rebecca Atchley – Dr. Schloder was an External Committee Member for Rebeca’s Masters Project Dr. Schloder’s Workshop Presentation

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Conference Photos

Happenings from September

Latest Happenings!!

 Dr. Monika Schloder at the ASCA World Clinic for Swimming, Jacksonville, Florida, Sept 8, 2014 Presenting at the 4-hour Work shop “Dry-land School for Age Group Swimmers” Coaches participate in her workshops… they don’t just sit!

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Back Arch Demo

Coach Schloder in Istanbul, Turkey Swim Camp , June 9-15

Underneath the swimmer to demonstrate the back arch position after the Back Crawl start. Not too many coaches can do this perfectly!

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Developing Physical Literacy

This highly acclaimed presentation was given by Dr. Schloder at the Canadian Sport for Life Summit (CS4L), which will be available as a movie version. Watch for the up-coming DVD: ‘Physical Activities for Children and Youth. Fundamental Movement Skills in the Pursuit of Excellence and Well-being.’

View page »


  1. Michèle Boutin

    Dear Dr. Schloder,

    We are a small competitive swimming club in Beaconsfield, Quebec, Canada.
    We are interested in purchasing your DVD+Booklet called Fly Away but it is not available on your online shop.
    Could you please let me know how we could purchase it?

    Best regards,

    Michèle Boutin
    Beaconsfield Bluefins Swim Club

  2. Augusto Acosta

    I love your work!

  3. Kim Cox

    Super new front page on your website, very informative.

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