Tip of the Month – November 2019

Coach Monika Says…

Assessing Bad Posture to Avoid Lower Back Pain

Bad posture and lower back pain were discussed in the October Newsletter. Here is the follow-up so you can check and/or assess your athletes’ core and back strength. Coaches can also incorporate these into Warm-up, Cool-down exercises, and/or Conditioning program. They should definitely do so if athletes are showing signs of ‘poor posture’ and/or complain about lower back problems.

Test Your Athletes and Yourself 

Equipment: Mat or Floor

1. Back to Wall Exercise     

Source: The Kalos Exercise Collection; Developing physical literacy for children and youth through FUN, fitness, and fundamentals; Ballet for Athletes: Modified exercises for cross-training

Specific Exercise Focus:

  • Body and head awareness (body position and movement, positional alignment, body incline in supine, head centered, arm extension on floor, legs bent, feet flat and forward) 
  • Balance and control (weight distribution, head, shoulders, back, extended arms)

Start Position: Assume upright standing position against the wall, feet slightly apart, heels against the baseboard, back and head against the wall, face forward, arms extended at sides by body

Action: Assume Start position, tighten the core, bend knees so thighs are at a 90-degree angle, partner checks for ‘hallow’ of the back against the wall [space between back and wall – measuring stick between back and wall – stick hand between space]

If ‘hallow’ exists – push back and head  ‘flush’ against the wall, hold 8 counts, 15 repetitions, and relax

Finish: Stand upright, arms relaxed at sides by the body, and relax 

2. Horizontal Plank

*Testing core strength


Specific Exercise Focus:

  • Strength (body position and movement, spine/core, hips, buttocks, thighs, calves, ankles, feet, prolonged held position)
  • Flexibility, suppleness (body position and movement, trunk, hips, pelvis, groin, front of thighs, lower part of legs, feet)

Start Position: Assume prone position on the floor (face down), legs extended, feet together on toes, head aligned with back and looking at floor, bent forearms, hands/palms flat on the floor, fingers forward, back aligned

Action: Assume Start position, tighten the core, pushing with hands against floor, elevate body to horizontal position above floor, shoulder to heel alignment, head centered, maintain positional alignment, hold 8 counts, lower body to floor, 8 repetitions, and relax 

Finish: Prone position, legs extended, feet together, arms extended out in front of body on floor, and relax 

Note: Exercises can be used as part of Warm-up, Cool-down and/or Conditioning program


Das Neue (2019, #38, September 14). Unser Rücken geht zum TÜF (our back goes to TÜF*], p. 50. Hamburg, Germany: Bauer Vertriebs KG. Das Neue. 

Schloder, M.E. (2018). The Kalos Exercise Collection. Calgary, AB, Canada: Arête Sports. Website: www.coachingbest.com

Schloder, M.E. (2017). Developing physical literacy through FUN, fitness, and fundamentals. Calgary, AB, Canada: Arête Sports. Website: www.coachingbest.com

Schloder, M.E. (2016). Ballet for athletes: Modified exercises for cross-training. Calgary, AB, Canada: Arête Sports. Website: www.coachingbest.com

*TÜF is the German TÜVs = Technischer Überwachungsverein [Technical Inspection Association] are German businesses that provide inspection and product certification services

Why Are Tweens Leaving Youth Sports – Part II

Alarming News – Inactivity Increases Among Children and Youth

Before I proceed with the topic for this month’s newsletter, here is alarming news from the World Health Organization (WHO) about the increase of inactivity among children and youth. Four in five teens do not exercise enough! More than 80% of global teens don’t get at least one hour of daily exercise (!), according to a UN health agency study. Teens worldwide do not get enough exercise, compromising their current and future health (WHO, November 22, 2019). 

The study conducted by the UN health agency found 81% of adolescents aged between 11 and 17 fail to get at least one hour of moderate to intense daily physical activity such as walking, riding a bike or playing sports! Four in every five adolescents do not experience the enjoyment and social, physical, and mental health benefits of regular physical activity! The report on global trends for adolescent physical activity – the first of its kind – is based on survey data collected on 1.6 million students from 146 countries and territories between 2001 and 2015. The findings are troubling because physical activity is associated with better heart and respiratory function, mental health and cognitive activity, which have implications for student learning (WHO, November 22, 2019).

Call for Action Needed!

Given these disturbing findings, the sporting world should indeed try its best to attract children and youth and enhance sport participation. We need to take into account the reasons cited for sport dropout, provide challenging but learner-friendly environments, improve teaching/coaching and learning methods, and foremost motivate children and teens to remain active in sports.

Children and Youth Are Not Professional Athletes Nor Miniature Adults – Part II 

‘Sports Take Too Much Time’

In the October Newsletter, ‘Losing interest’ and ‘No longer Fun’ are listed as #1 and #2 reasons for youth sport dropout. ‘It took too much time’ was reason #3. That latter finding ought to be of concern for many sports federations because it is also a common complaint from parents! Numerous youth sports require year-round involvement; operate with heavy weekly training schedules and lengthy practices; athletes are required to attend countless competitions or games, and individual sports encounter lengthy duration for competition or they ‘stretch’ over several days (long weekends).

Schlots:Users:monikaschloder:Desktop:News Months:11 Nov:Jpgs:Slide2.jpg

Here are some examples from my experience as a coach and sports consultant: gymnastics: 10-year-old boy working out 27 hours per week; swimming: young athletes training 2 hours per day in 11-13 sessions per week; hockey: some teams have 120 games, which includes travel games (more than the NHL!); swimming: 3-day meets (Friday session, starting at 4:00 PM; Saturday at 7:30 AM (Warm-up) -1:00 PM; 4:00 PM-8:00 PM; Sunday: ditto Saturday). What about family time, social time, school activities, and study time? What about trying any other sports? NO Time!

…Watching his teenagers compete in a championship swim meet in early June, Polo Trejo was surprised to see USA Swimming ads on large-screen TVs showing kids doing other sports. The video clips of young swimmers playing baseball, soccer, lacrosse and track-and-field and marching in the school band caught Mr. Trejo’s attention because most of the competitive swimmers he knows in California’s Central Valley – including his daughter Alyssa, 18 years old, and son Matthew, 16 – have time only to swim (Potkewitz, 2019)… 

…It’s become a common refrain as more American tweens opt-out of swim teams. From 2013 to 2016, the number of competitive swimmers in the 10-year-old age group dropped by almost 10%, according to USA Swimming, the sport’s governing body, because the sport takes too much time (Potkewitz, 201, citing Simon Simard, The Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2018).

…We know that swimming can be perceived as an all-or-nothing type of sport, and we know that today’s families are busier than ever with activities,” says Matt Farrell, USA Swimming’s chief marketing officer. “So we were facing a choice: Do we want to fight that culture, or decide to own it? (Potkewitz, 2019)… 

So, what can be done to reverse these trends? How do we improve teaching and learning to attract more athletes, and foremost how do we retain them in the specific sport? How can we make sport more FUN? What does it take? 

In early June, USA Swimming launched its new ad campaign showing young swimmers doing other sports, in a move to position itself as a home for multi-sport athletes and gain back some of the kids it has been losing. It is rolling out a new, entry-level membership program called ‘FlexSwim’ for young swimmers ages 5-18, who want to try competitive swimming but commit to only a few days of training a week, and two swim meets a year. In contrast, traditional training for competitive swimmers often means practice every day before school, after school or both, depending on the age group – plus lengthy swim meets on many weekends (Potkewitz, 2019).

The Kalos Model and Multi-sport Incorporation

I firmly believe that all-year-round sports activity, in essence, early specialization before the age of 13 years is detrimental to children’s development. Erik Erikson, a German-American psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on the psychological development of human beings, and most famous for coining the phrase ‘identity crisis’ states that 6-12-year-olds should engage in a smorgasbord of activities – otherwise, they will lack development in their personal movement repertoire. Chris Schwartz, strength and conditioning coach for the NHL Ottawa Senators, said: “my players play hockey but they can’t move.” He likes to get to young athletes early… Why? … Because I am passionate about instilling ‘the fundamentals’ of movement, learning to train, and the importance of general play.”

I had predicted the increase of sport dropout during the mid-1990s, which was then viewed by many coaches in the field and certain sports experts as ‘crazy Schloder’ and ‘being too negative’! Tired of the continuous criticism, I created the eight-year Kalos model, 24 children ages 4.5-5 years, to develop the physical literacy of young swimmers by incorporating multi-sport activities into the swimming program. It is the only one to date worldwide, which follows the progression of young swimmers. AHA! So, “crazy coach Schloder” was actually way ahead of USA Swimming! 

The Kalos program started with 2x 30 minutes of swimming skills and 1x 60 minutes of various multi-sport activities such as recreational gymnastics, body movement and awareness, taught through modified ballet, play-like fencing skills, floor hockey, modified indoor soccer, skipping, hopping, running, jumping, landing skills (when falling), speed skating, throwing and tossing skills, rock climbing (wall), yoga, progressive relaxation, and fitness, among others. 

Swim training increased to 45 minutes by age six and to 60 minutes by age 9-10 while the multi-sport involvement continued 1x per week at 60 minutes. At age 9-10, swim training was conducted 3x per week, followed by 4x per week at age 11-12. Selected multi-sport activities were maintained 1x per week at 60 minutes, combined with a fitness and conditioning program at ages 11-12. 

The children were tested at the onset of the program using the Canadian Fitness Test. They scored far below the norms. However, test scores were way above the national norms (actually off the chart) at the end of the program. Most athletes went on to other sports at the National Junior level. However, those who selected to continue with swimming soon left the sport due to injuries within 6 months (knees and shoulders), while some were told that attendance of 11-13 training sessions was mandatory – otherwise, ‘swim recreation’ with that specific club! Insanity!

Moreover, the success of the Kalos program was based on the careful selection of assistant coaches, who were either physical education graduates or enrolled in the university program at the time and continued to be part of the program after graduation. Together, we developed program philosophy, physical and technical progressions not only in swimming but also in multi-sport activities as each of the 6 female coaches and the male fitness/conditioning coach provided their own expertise in selected activities. My role as the head coach not only included mentorship for all coaches but also incorporating the Canadian National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) as I have been an NCCP Coach Developer in the Canadian system for many years. However, the most significant aspect of this undertaking was the unified approach and philosophy of the coaching staff when making program decisions (without parent interference), and the specialty expertise of each physical education trained coach. 

 ‘Coach is a Poor Teacher?’

Incorporate Various Teaching/Coaching Styles 

‘Coach is a poor teacher’ is the #4 reason for sports dropout whereas ‘If coaches were better teachers’ was reason #5 for getting re-involved in sports. Let’s discuss this because the question is: ‘What makes a good teacher or coach?’ 

First, our teaching/coaching philosophy forms the baseline for our approach with athletes. Second, the way we see them, structure our practice/training sessions, develop their skill progression, and implementation of alternative or cross-training activities is based on that very same philosophical foundation. Third, the teaching and coaching methods/approach reflects the way we deliver the practice which should include implementation of various teaching/coaching styles.

Training young athletes, ages 6-12, requires a multi-teaching/coaching approach because young children are not thus far able to identify their personal learning style whereas older athletes can access various inventories to identify their learning style. It is, however, very common for coaches to use the same style or approach for all participants in a given group because athletes are often grouped homogeneously to ‘save on instructional time.’ This is not beneficial because learning styles and learning rates vary, and generally tend to differ between athletes, and between males and females. Effective delivery of a training session, therefore, becomes a real challenge because one has to include consideration and selection of appropriate styles in the planning process to address the need of the specific group, and/or individual learners. All of us process and perceive information differently, and children do not learn the same way or at the same pace. Furthermore, coaches often train younger athletes the way they themselves were coached during their athletic career (traditional approach). Nevertheless, styles need to be modified or adapted to meet specific individual needs, i.e. fitted to the individual learner or group throughout each session – i.e., try to address each athlete’s learning style at least 2-3 times within the session. Yes, this means, coaches have to acquire a ‘repertoire (broad range) of styles’ for specific ‘learning/teaching moments’ at hand. 

Daily training is designed in the so-called ‘Pre-impact’ planning process in such ways that athletes receive suitable instructions, complimenting individual learning styles at least several times during a given session (Schloder, 2005). This can be accomplished by using the ‘experiential’ learning approach, incorporating flip charts, illustrations, drawings, videos, pictures, mental thought pictures or cues, questioning strategies, holding a dialog or discussion, and varying teaching-coaching styles, etc.

The Spectrum of Teaching Styles

Part of the learning/teaching-coaching paradigm is the ability to incorporate or apply several teaching-coaching styles during daily training. Twelve styles can be used, according to Mosston and Ashworth (1994). The style spectrum is divided into two categories: Reproduction oriented (styles A-E) and Production/Process oriented (styles F-L). 

The A-E Cluster Represent Teacher-centered Styles

Grouping- Reproduction

A Command or Authoritarian Style

B Practice Style

C Reciprocal

D Self-check Style 

E Inclusion Style


1. Purpose

2. Role of the Learner

3. Role of the Teacher/Coach

The A-E Cluster – Teacher-centered Styles

A-Command Style– Do as I say; do this; do that

B-Practice Style– given a skill – practice until you get it

C-Reciprocal Style– using a partner or teammate for assistance and feedback

D-Self-check Style– practice the skill and check off the learned skill on the list

E-Inclusion style– includes poor and stronger performers but modifies the skill expectation (for example 4x25m front crawl versus 4x50m versus 1x100m; all swimmers work on the same skill but with different challenges but finish at the same time).

For example, I use the ‘Inclined Rope’ to teach the High jump 

Lower skilled athletes jump at the low end of the rope; higher skilled athletes at the increased height; athletes can move up/down to suit their skill level

The F-L Cluster – Learner-centered Styles

Grouping- Production/Process Oriented

F Discovery and Guided Discovery Style

G Convergent Style

H Divergent Production Style

I Individual Program – Learner Designed Style

J Learner-Initiated Style

K Self-Teaching Style

F-Discovery Style– discovering and problem-solving

G-Guided Discovery Style– setting up a problem-solving skill = what is the best way to? What do we have to do? 

H-Convergent Discovery Style– setting up a problem-solving skill and engage reasoning using critical thinking and trial and error. Why did this work better than that before? 

I-Divergent Discovery Style– same as the previous but come up with variations or options] 

J-Individual Programming Style– design style (for more advanced athletes – can design their exercise complex [sets in swimming] – could be used as input by younger athletes for drill variation) 

K-Learner-Initiated Style– Learners initiate the skills to be learned/trained

L-Self-teaching Style– more for advanced athletes – Learners recognize readiness to move on with certain skills; design a personal program and perform it for self-development

It is evident that the styles within the ‘Spectrum’ act as a progression from the ‘Command or Authoritarian’ styles to those with lesser teacher-coach control styles until reaching the realization of the self-development stage (Styles K and L – older more experienced or elite athletes). 

In the cluster F-L, the physical, social, cognitive, emotional and moral channels of the individual are addressed, which is not the case in the A-E framework. Would it therefore not make sense to discover how athletes learn and therefore be able to respond better to a given approach or skill set? 

The so-called ‘bottom-up’ or part/part/whole-method approach is mostly used in teaching/coaching sport skills. On the other hand, the ‘top-down or whole’ method may be more successful in certain instances, for example teaching gross-motor patterns of a given skill (teaching the butterfly in swimming: learner already knew the front crawl kick – we added the 2-foot kick, used the 2-arm front crawl with lower and wider elbows, and she moved the body like a dolphin or a wave). The DVD “Fly Away: Progressive – Sequential – Creative – Experiential” demonstrates this approach with a three-year-old beginner (Schloder, 2011). 

The experiential learning, discovery, and/or directed discovery styles are very helpful for using the ‘top-down’ approach as athletes gain insight into what works and what doesn’t. Coaches and athletes alike interchange questions to encourage and foster creativity, analytical thinking, and problem-solving. This approach, on the other hand, requires a large selection of teaching and learning cues, and a variety of creative images; it is more time-consuming in the planning process. Nonetheless, it is also very rewarding in the end because it captures the learner’s interest. According to Joan Vickers, University of Calgary Human Performance Lab, this teaching approach has a greater retention factor than the bottom up or part/part-whole method. 

Sports skills can also be divided into two different categories: ‘closed’ and ‘open’ skills. The former takes place under fixed, unchanging environmental conditions. They are predictable with a clearly defined beginning and ending points. Examples are: shooting a free throw, serving a tennis ball, throwing a dart, and swimming in a pool. ‘Open’ skills usually take place under conditions of a temporarily changing environment. Decisions and adjustments have to be made ‘on the run.’ An example would be a quarterback adjusting his throwing based on the location of defensive players.

Cater to Individual Differences and Make the Difference

Now, think about the way you teach or coach. Do you notice or even know the way you affect athletes, especially when changes take place during their growth and development or during injuries? As already discussed, a wide range of individual learning differences is apparent among younger ages, and even more evident during adolescence (14 years and upward). As stated in the previous newsletter, the developmental age can fluctuate by as much as two years within the chronological age in either direction. This means, for example, a 10-year-old can be in the range from 8 to 12 years in his/her developmental age. Most Junior High school teachers have many a tale on that famously trying period of growing up! Every aspect of athletes’ lives is affected and that includes sports activities.

Coaches have to be mindful of such occurrence and identify the potential impact on performance levels and/or scheduling competition events for younger athletes so they can actually master the challenge physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Indeed, emotional maturity may be a real factor when deciding on the kind of competition the athlete should partake. These considerations also pertain to the planning of day-to-day coaching. Is an athlete(s) truly ready or does only the coach think so or the parent[s]? In the end, it is the perception of personal efficacy, competence, self-esteem, and mental factors that make the difference for performance readiness.

The Skill Acquisition Model

The ‘art’ of teaching and coaching (pedagogy) is a process and combines the positive interaction of both teaching and learning. It includes the use of the teaching/coaching ‘toolbox’, comprised of organizational tasks, progressive and sequential drills ranging from simple to complex. 

…I learned long ago that teaching/coaching and learning is an intricate process. One’s success depends upon the ability to adjust, modify, create, and to not be afraid to experiment. ‘Same ole-same ole’ approach is boring and just does not work or motivate! It may include some ‘risk-taking’ and sometimes may not be what everyone else is doing or expecting you to do (Schloder, 2015).

…Drill training has to have purpose and meaning but also provide challenges! Drill variety is created from the base repertoire of drills but needs to link and transfer from the specific warm-up complex (set of exercises) to the specific technical skill training that follows. I refer to this as the skills and thrills” section to encourage creativity and empower athletes. For this reason, I designed the Skill Acquisition Model to enhance skill training with the objective for athletes to understand (comprehend) the purpose of a given skill or movement (Below: Refer to the included Skill Acquisition Model).


Erikson, E. (n.d.). Information Wikipedia. Retrieved November 19, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Erikson

Hedstrom, R., & Gould, D. (2004). Research in youth sports: Critical issues status. White Paper summary of the existing literature. Institute of the study of youth sports. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University. Retrieved October 19, 2019, from http://www.hollistonsoccer. org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/CriticalIssuesYouthSports-2.pdf

Petlichkoff, L.M. (1992). Youth sport participation and withdrawal: Is it simply a matter of FUN? Pediatric Exercise Science, 4(2), 105-110. DOI: doi.org/10.1123/ped.4.2.105 Retrieved October 19, 2019, from https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/pes/4/2/article-p105.xml

Potkewitz, H. (2018, July 2). USA Swimming flips for multi-sport youth athletes. Fighting declining numbers, the swimming governing body offers more flexible options for children who want to do other sports. Retrieved November 11, 2019, from https://www.wsj.com/ articles/usa-swimming-flips-for-multisport-youth-athletes-1530538198

Reuters News (2019, November 22).

Schloder, M.E. (2011). Fly Away. The butterfly stroke in swimming. Progressive. Sequential. Creative. Experiential. DVD.

Schloder, M.E. (2006). Lecture Series. KNES 245. Sociology of Sport: Children and parents in sport. Calgary, AB, Canada. University of Calgary. Faculty of Kinesiology.

Schloder, M.E. (2005). Lecture Series. KNES 468. Teaching physical education in secondary schools. Teacher Preparation. Calgary, AB, Canada. University of Calgary. Faculty of Kinesiology.

Schwartz, C. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2019, from https://nationalpost.com/sports/hockey/nhl/the-downside-of-year-round-hockey-ottawa-senators-strength-coach-warns-of-declining-athleticism-among-youth

Vickers, J.N. (2003). Decision training: an innovative approach to coaching. Canadian Journal for women in coaching, 3(3), 3-9.

Vickers, J.N. (1990). Instructional design for teaching physical education: A knowledge structures approach. Champaign, ILL: Human Kinetics.

Weiss, M.R., & Petlichkoff, L.M. (1989). Pediatric Exercise Science, 1(3), 195-211. Children’s motivation for participation in and withdrawal from sport: Identifying the missing links. Retrieved October 19, 2019, from DOI: https://doi.org/10.1123/pes.1.3.195

WHO, DW Made for minds, & cw/stb (AFP, Reuters) (2019, November 22). Four in five teens do not exercise enough. Retrieved November 22, 2019, from https://www.dw.com/en/four-in-five-teens-do-not exercise-enough-who/a-51360732

Zentner, C., & Mann, M. (Ed.). Shifting perspectives: Transition from coach-centered to athletes challenges faced by a coach and athlete. The Journal of Athlete Centered Coaching, 1(2). October 1. October 1. Denton, TX: Summit Edu Publishing.

Tip of the Month – October

Coach Monika Says…

Bad Posture and Lower Back Pain

It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed workdays. In a large survey, more than a quarter of adults reported experiencing low back pain during the past 3 months. According to medical information, about 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime in Canada and the USA while 83% suffer from back pain in Germany (Das Neue, Medizin, p. 50). 

Moreover, children and adolescents are complaining increasingly about lower back pain, which experts contribute to ‘bad and/or slouchy’ posture, increase in watching TV, playing video games, use of smartphones and tablets, and lengthy computer involvement. Researchers in the UK and Spain loaded up 50 students with book bags of varying weights and found that backpacks create poor posture and subsequently back issues. Athletes may complain about lower back pain, traced to prolonged use of their tech gadgets, incorrect exercises or training procedures, and by swimmers using extensive kickboard action, and/or overtraining in the butterfly stroke (lower back).


Equipment: mat or floor

Specific Exercise Focus:

  • Body and head awareness (body position and movement – positional alignment-body incline in supine, head-centered, arm extension on the floor, legs bent, feet flat and forward) 
  • Balance and control (weight distribution – head, shoulders, back, extended arms, hands, palms, feet; control of incline position, body position)
  • Strength (body position and movement – spine/core, hips, buttocks, thighs, calves, ankles, feet, prolonged held position)
  • Flexibility, suppleness (body position and movement – trunk, hips, pelvis, groin, front of thighs, lower part of legs, feet)

Start Position: Assume supine position on floor (on back), legs bent, feet close to buttocks, together and flat, arms relaxed at sides by body, back aligned

Action: Assume Start position, tighten the core, using full arm support elevate hips/pelvis to incline position, shoulder to knee alignment, head centered, maintain positional alignment, hold 8 counts, lower body to floor, 8 repetitions, and relax 

Finish: Supine position, legs extended, feet together, pointed toes, arms relaxed at sides by body, and relax 

Exercise Variations: 

1. Same Exercise: extend leg to vertical, alternate flex-point toes, repeat, opposite leg

2. Same Exercise: extend leg to vertical, alternating legs

3. Same Exercise: extend leg to vertical, bend at 90-degree angle so lower part of leg is parallel to floor, hold 4 counts, lower leg

4. Same Exercise: perform the exercise with elevated feet on a selected platform (mat), large medicine ball or Physioball

Note: All exercises can be used as part of Warm-up, Cool-down and/or Conditioning program


Das Neue (2019, #38, September 14). Unser Rücken geht zum TÜF (our back goes to TÜF*], p. 50. Hamburg, Germany: Bauer Vertriebs KG. Das Neue. 

Schloder, M.E. (2018). The Kalos exercise collection. Calgary, AB, Canada: Arête Sports. Website: www.coachingbest.com

Schloder, M.E. (2017). Developing physical literacy through FUN, fitness, and fundamentals. Calgary, AB, Canada: Arête Sports. Website: www.coachingbest.com

Schloder, M.E. (2016). Ballet for Athletes: Modified exercises for cross-training. Calgary, AB, Canada: Arête Sports. Website: ww.coachingbest.com

*TÜF is the German TÜVs = Technischer Überwachungsverein [Technical Inspection Association] are German businesses that provide inspection and product certification services

Why Are Tweens Leaving Youth Sports? – Part I

Children and Youth Are Not Professional Athletes OR Miniature Adults

It is important to understand not only the reasons children and youth participate in sports but also the reasons for their dropout. As early as 1988, researchers estimated the annual dropout rate at about 35% though some dropouts participate in another sport (example: swimming to soccer) while others leave the sport completely (Gould & Petlichkoff, 1988).

According to a poll from the National Alliance for Youth Sports around 70 percent of kids in the United States stop playing organized sports by the age of 13 because “it’s just not FUN anymore.” In 1990, the Athletic Footwear Association (AFA) released its findings titled “American Youth and Sports Participation” of children and youth’’ (ages 10-18 years) and their feelings of personal sports involvement. The study included more than 10,000 young people from 11 cities across the U.S.A. The results show that (a) participation in organized sports declines sharply as youngsters get older, (b) “FUN” is the key reason for involvement and “lack of FUN” is one of the primary reasons for discontinuing, (c) winning plays less of a role than most adults would think, and (d) not all athletes have the same motivations for their involvement.

According to recent findings, 7 out of 10 players quit organized sports by the age of 13. A Michigan study cited in my University lecture series “Children and Parents in Sport” cited 10 reasons for sports dropout. The #1 reason was still “lack of FUN,” stated equally by both boys and girls! Recently, a 9-year old boy went before TV cameras and YouTube, declaring “he was quitting sport because the “pressure to ‘win at all cost’ by coaches and parents was too much to take.” 

“I just can’t take it anymore coach,” a talented but underperforming player named Kate told me a few years back. I think I am done playing. It’s my dad. He loves me and I know he only wants the best for me, but he just can’t stop coaching me, in the car, and from the sideline each and every game. I can’t play when he is around, and he insists on coming to every game, every road trip, you name it. It’s like it’s more important to him than it is to me” (O’Sullivan, 2015).

I titled the photo above ‘Child Labor in Sports’ because of the continuous pressure by coaches and parents, and the endless hours of year-round training! In addition, the persisting phrase of  “No pain – No gain” and the continuous imitation of the professional model and its “win at all cost” philosophy are prominent in many children and youth sports. It is 2019… have we not learned anything over the past 20 years?I

Here are the 11 most cited Reasons from the Michigan study

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Let’s change the traditional way of thinking! The athlete-centered and developmental versus chronological age model is needed to start reversing these statistics. The respective ages of athletes and the natural characteristics of each age group is the foundation to develop the physical, technical, psychological, social, and age-appropriate tactical skills. This means coaches need to know the specific capabilities in those domains. Otherwise, the FUN element is lost and dropout occurs, currently at the highest levels ever. 

Overall, 6-11 and 11-14 year olds see themselves at the so-called ‘participatory – instructional stage.’ FUN, fundamental skills, and fitness are the primary objectives with the focus on skill display and personal improvement. Competition should be exciting but foremost stress-free not based on ‘winning at all cost’ (professional model). ‘Learning to compete’ is the important part at this stage (the TLC triad: Teaching – Learning – Competing) as discussed by Schloder and McGuire in early 1998. 

The upper end of this age group, on the other hand, functions in the more transitional paradigm. Athletes first develop fundamental skills and then refine these skills. They learn to establish short-and long-term goals, set strategies, and racing/competition/ game tactics. Even though competition takes place on a more elevated level it is still kept in ‘perspective’, and should be interpreted as a positive experience. 

In early competitions, the focus should be on reproducing skills and techniques in competition/games as refined in training. In essence, competitive events should be determined by training effects, which have been consistently and successfully demonstrated in practice. Competitive stress is minimized if athletes feel competent, are familiar and comfortable with their performance. If initial competition is an unpleasant experience, the potential exists to develop the attitude of not liking competing because the experience may be interpreted negatively.

Many sport psychologists argue that high-intensity competition is not recommended until the later years (age 15 and up). At this point, athletes are emotionally and cognitively more ready for serious-type competition. They are also psychologically more capable to deal with the ‘idea of winning and losing.’ Given all the considerations, coaches should, therefore, endorse the ‘athlete-centered’ program more passionately.

Overall, the athlete-centered model operates with a focus on FUN, development, and commitment versus an upside-down professional model based on ‘winning at all cost.’ The former helps to develop and foster athletes’ self-image through a positive learning and training environment that creates happiness, self-satisfaction, encouragement, motivation, and one that increases and fosters personal relationships as well as encourages and enhances performance, and the attainment of personal goals.

I share the following parental perspective by Juliana Miner (Washington Post, June 1, 2016) – with modification – to demonstrate the dismal status in current children and youth sports. Miner has 3 children who play sports – the oldest turned 13 in 2016. 

From Juliana Miner (June 1, 2016):

…I may not have understood why this was happening a few years ago, but sadly, knowing what I know now, the mass exodus of 13-year-olds from organized sports makes perfect sense to me. 

 “It’s not FUN anymore” isn’t the problem; it’s the combination of a number of cultural, economic and systemic issues that result in our kids turning away from organized sports at a time when they could benefit from them the most. Playing sports offers everything from physical activity, experiencing success and bouncing back from failure to taking calculated risks and dealing with the consequences of working as a team and getting away from the ubiquitous presence of screens. Our middle-school teens need sports now more than ever.

Here are the reasons I think it’s become less FUN for kids to play sports, and the early dropout (Miner, 2016):

It’s Not FUN anymore – because it’s Not designed to be FUN

…As children get closer to high school, the system of youth sports is geared toward meeting the needs of more competitive players, and subsequently expectations increase. The mentality is common that most of the kids who quit at 13 are the ones who wouldn’t make a varsity team in high school anyway! Those who ‘stick around’ find that being on a team demands a greater commitment of time and effort. It also means being surrounded by people who care very much about the outcome. This results in the potential of experiencing disappointment or being the cause of it. There is nothing wrong with any of that because it can teach incredibly important lessons about hard work, resiliency, and character – but it’s not for everyone…(Miner, 2016)

Our Culture No Longer Supports Older Kids Playing for FUN 

…The pressure to raise “successful” kids means that we expect them to be the best. If they’re not, they’re encouraged to cut their losses and focus on areas where they can excel. If a seventh-grader doesn’t make a select soccer team, he/she starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to quit altogether, convinced not reaching that highest level, it might not be worth doing. For the small minority of kids at an elite level and loving it, the idea of quitting in middle- school is probably unthinkable. However, for everyone else, there are fewer opportunities to play, a more competitive and less developmental environment in which to participate, and lots of other things competing for their time after school…(Miner, 2016)

Push to Specialize and Achieve at the Highest Possible Level

…Increasingly kids are pressured to “find their passion” and excel in that area (be it music, arts, sports, etc.). There are certainly those for whom this is true, but it is not the norm. For many, there’s a strong argument against this trend, because the message is essentially to pick one thing and specialize in it (to the exclusion of pursuing other interests). For young athletes, early specialization can be harmful in terms of long-term injuries, and it does little to increase the overall chances of later collegiate or professional success…(Miner, 2016)

…Perhaps more importantly, the underlying message that “I have to be the best or I’ve failed” is deeply harmful to kids. This is absolutely mirrored and reinforced in school, where the environment is increasingly test and outcome-driven. Sports could be pivotal in teaching kids ways to fail and recover, something that educators and parents see as being desperately needed. In privileged Washington, D.C., suburbs such as Fairfax and Montgomery counties (and in others across the country), teenagers find themselves stressed to the point of developing anxiety and depression. We see unhealthy coping behaviours and increased rates of self-harm and suicide. This is not a sport’s problem – it’s a culture problem…(Miner, 2016)

There is Cost to be Competitive – Not Everyone is willing or able to pay it

For kids, playing at a more competitive level may mean to prioritize their commitments, interests, and work tirelessly. They may have to be able to deal with pressures of participating at a higher level. These can be positive – provided the playing environment is a ‘healthy’ one. Still, other factors may contribute to a young athlete’s ability to compete or seen as competitive…

…Training year-round, expensive equipment, individual coaching, camps, tournaments and participation on travel and select teams in many places are no longer really considered “optional” to achieve success in youth sports, at least not heading into high school. The investment of time and money that is required is substantial, which contributes to an environment whereby kids of lower-income or single-parent families are simply ‘shut out’ of the game. (Miner, 2016)

…And…of course, it’s just the age

At age 13, kids generally find themselves with more (and more challenging) school work. Most are also encouraged to start choosing their interests and in what they’re best at. There’s no longer time for them to do as much as in elementary school…(Miner, 2016)

…Some of the major social and emotional changes that 13-year-olds experience also predispose them to make decisions such as quitting sports, especially as that environment becomes more competitive. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes it on its developmental milestones page as a “focus on themselves… going back and forth between high expectations and lack of confidence.” Kids become more focused on- and influenced by their friends who are also leaving organized youth sports…(Miner, 2016)

…Any discussion about being 13 also needs to include social media, smartphones and the Internet. According to the Pew Center’s Internet Research Study, most U.S. kids receive their first cellphone or wireless device by the age of 12. Between the ages of 13 and 17, 92 percent of teens report being online every day, and 24 percent are online “almost constantly.” As kids become teenagers, their priorities change. The way they socialize, study and spend their time is also affected…(Miner, 2016)

There are no easy answers. The system of youth sports is set up to cater to more elite players as they approach high school, leaving average kids with fewer opportunities. Our culture encourages specialization and achievement, which actively discourages kids from trying new things or just playing for fun. All of this converges at a time when they’re going through major physical, emotional and social changes as well as facing pressure to pare down their interests and focus on school…(Miner, 2016)

…So, why do 70 percent of kids quit organized sports at 13 and what can we do about it? I would argue that most kids leave because we haven’t given them a way to stay. Perhaps more importantly, until we dismantle the parenting culture that emphasizes achievement and success over healthy, happy kids, we don’t stand a chance of solving this problem…(Miner, 2016)


Engle, J. (2019, May 1). Are youth sports too competitive? The New York Times. The Learning Network. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/learning/are-youth-sports-too-competitive.html

Gould, D., Feltz, D., Horn, T., & Weiss, M. (1982). Reasons for attrition in competitive youth swimming. Journal of Sport Behavior, 5(3), 155-165. September.

Gould, D., & Petlichkoff, L. (1988). Participation and attrition in young athletes. In F.L. Smoll, R.A. Magill, & M.J. Ash (Eds.). Children in Sport (3rd ed.), (pp. 161-178). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Hedstrom, R., & Gould, D. (2004). Research in youth sports: Critical issues status. White Paper summary of the existing literature. Institute for the Study of Youth Sports. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University. Retrieved October 19, 2019, from http://www.hollistonsoccer.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/CriticalIssuesYouthSports-2.pdf

Miner, J. (2016, June 1). Why 70 percent of kids quit sports by age 13. Washington Post. Parenting.

Monteiro, D., Cid, L., Almeida Marinho, D., Moutão, J., Vitorino, A., & Bento, T. (2017). Determinants and Reasons for Dropout in Swimming – Systematic Review. Sports 5(50), 3-13. DOI: 10.3390/sports5030050

Neefs, J. (2016, June 28). Kids quitting sports: What’s behind the startling statistics. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from https://activeforlife.com/kids-quitting-sports-stats/

O’Sullivan, J. (2017). Why kids play sports. Changing the Game Project. Problems in Youth Sports. January 9. Retrieved October 21, 2019, from https://changingthegameproject.com/kids-play-sports/

O’Sullivan, J. (2015). Why kids quit sports. Changing the Game Project. Coaching, Problems in Youth Sports, Sports Parenting. Retrieved October 21, 2019, from https://changingthegameproject.com/why-kids-quit-sports/

Petlichkoff, L.M. (1992). Youth sport participation and withdrawal: Is it simply a matter of FUN? Pediatric Exercise Science, 4(2), 105-110. Retrieved October 19, 2019, from https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/pes/4/2/article-p105.xml

Salguero, A., Gonzales-Boto, R., Tuero-del-Prado, C., & Márquez, S. (2003). Identification of dropout reasons in young competitive swimmers. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 43(4), 530-534. December.

Schloder, M.E. (2006). Lecture Series. Sociology of Sport: Children and parents in sport. Calgary, AB, Canada. University of Calgary. 

Weiss, M.R., & Petlichkoff, L.M. (1989). Pediatric Exercise Science, 1(3), 195-211. Children’s motivation for participation in and withdrawal from sport: Identifying the missing links. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1123/pes.1.3.195

Retrieved October 19, 2019, from https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/pes/1/3/article-p195.xml

Zentner, C., & Mann, M. (Ed.)(2014). Shifting perspectives: Transition from coach-centered to athletes challenges faced by a coach and athlete. The Journal of Athlete Centered Coaching, 1(2). October 1. Denton, TX: Summit Edu Publishing. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266319243_Shifting_perspectives_Transitioning_from_coach_centred_to_athlete_centred_-_challenges_faced_by_a_coach_and_athlete

Tip of the Month – September

Coach Monika Says…

What’s up with Teen Hygiene Nowadays? And What the High-Tech Industry is Doing About It

Over the past 2 years, I have noticed an increase among girls, ages 13-16 with hairy armpits, unshaved legs and the refusal to use deodorants. Given the tween age, boys of the same age are not far behind with their personal hygiene – common phenomenon – lack of taking showers, and the stench of BO… displayed by a generation that stands for ‘green ideology and climate change!’ How about BO escaping into the atmosphere? So, what is happening? 

This generation, worried about the world going down in 12 years, is moving about in their natural state – the same generation with the mess in the locker or change rooms, dropping plastic cups, food particles, napkins, etc. on the floor although garbage cans are nearby? 

The topic of hygiene is a somewhat uncomfortable topic for many although it needs to be addressed because it can cause disruption in social surroundings and the training environment. Who wants to partner up with a ‘stinky’ teammate? That first ‘whiff’ means bigger things are on the horizon. Adolescence arrives earlier than one might think. The average age of menstruation for girls is 12, according to Mayo Clinic research, while boys show signs of puberty as early as 10, according to a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The first conversation about body hygiene can be a struggle. “Convincing tweens that they ‘smell bad’ is a big challenge for most parents and coaches”, according to Deborah Gilboa, doctor and mother of four boys (cited by Sarah Szczypinski, Seattle Journalist): “that’s because the child’s brain makes that kiddo ignore their own smell in order to pay attention to what’s happening nearby. So when a tween says, ‘I don’t smell anything!’ they are telling the absolute truth.”

Dr. Gilba suggests bringing up the topic early and with ‘good humour’ to avoid temper resistance and personal embarrassment. Make it general, she recommends. By trying to ‘mask’ your comments, even good-natured teasing can feel like an attack to tweens, already dealing with the embarrassment of recent body changes. They will certainly hear about it during social time and with a much stronger language pattern! When having BO conversation, athletes likely laugh, want to walk away or feel uncomfortable, but coaches need to validate those feelings. Coaches can address this issue by discussing the importance of workouts, proper nutrition, sweating, showering routines, and control of BO as part of daily hygiene to stay healthy to train and compete successfully.

Encourage Self-care and Personal Choice

Adolescence is the beginning of athletes’ autonomy, and encouraging those first steps also means encouraging personal choice. Tweens are likely to feel more empowered if they’re allowed to choose their own hygiene products. You may present some good sample products but warn athletes about Internet advertisement, and YouTube videos, usually promoted by professional paid actors and athletes. 

One suggestion is to bring in a healthcare provider or nurse to address these issues, general and then separately for boys and girls. The irony is that society is exposed to all sorts of sexual escapades on TV but is still quite hesitant and also ignorant about the body and its care.

If you’re feeling unsure about your message-delivery skills, incorporate some age-appropriate reading like “Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys” and “The Care and Keeping of You” for girls, published by the American Girl company.

Funktionskleidung: Dufte Idee [Functional clothing: A Fragrant idea]

So, if you think that this post is repulsive, here is the newest information from Germany (August 5, 2019). It is not only athletes’ BO that is offensive but also their sweaty/stinky athletic clothing and duffel or sport bags.

…“Trainingsklamotten sollen in Zukunft nicht mehr nach Katzenpipi muffeln, sondern ein dezentes Zitronenaroma verströmen” [workout/training clothing in the future, will no longer smell like ‘cat pee’, rather exude a subtle aroma of lemon]

There you have it! The author (Simon, 2019) cites BO, ‘stinky’ sweats, shorts, soccer and hockey shoes/boots, and sport bags. The question rises: what should a human really smell like? According to Simon, the human being is capable of recognizing about 10,000 different odours but to smell any odour is subjective as to discriminate between aroma, fragrance, and stinky odour. Odour can be measured using the so-called Olf scale (used to measure the strength of a pollution source. … it is defined to quantify the strength of pollution sources, which can be perceived by humans. The perceived air quality is measured in decipol). 

Olf is derived from the estimates of an adult person in sitting position, and measured by testing 1,8 square meters of skin surface, according to the hygiene standard of 0.7, number of showers taken per day, and daily change of underwear. Researchers aim to establish the so-called ‘Riecherkollectiv’ [collective smell] comparing smell intensity of a hiking sock with that of normal smell. Results show that a 12-year old child has 2 Olf, an athlete 30 Olf, five more than a smoker! Interestingly, Koreans, like most Asian people, lack the specific protein molecule, which inhibits BO (due to gene mutation)…they exhibit less BO.

People describing BO use various terms, ranging from ‘rancid’, smelling like goats, chloroform or ammonia.’ On the other hand, some find BO sexy in their partner. While Napoleon was attracted to the BO of his lover Josephine, most people consider it an annoyance nowadays. On the other hand, Sun King Louis XIV took a bath only 2 times throughout his entire life, ‘dabbing’ himself instead with body powder and perfume! Water and bathing was considered unhealthy!

Recently, researchers have attempted to develop odourless shoes, textiles, and athletic bags. Especially popular are ‘magic’ soccer socks, which are said to remain odourless for several days. And…a research team from Spain successfully modified cotton material so training clothes no longer produce a smelly and sweaty odour rather releases a lemony aroma! Sarcasm here: the more sweat the more aromas! So, run through your living room… no air spray needed! Some researchers are even suggesting that smartphone-controlled shoes might provide cooling and ventilation for stinky feet in the near future! So, keep the tech gadgets going!


Simon, V. (2019, August 5). Süddeutsche Zeitung [Süddeutsche News Paper. Dufte Idee Fragrant idea]. High-tech Faser gegen Schweiss [Hightech fiber against sweat]Szczypinski, S. (2019, July 25), Contributing thoughts. Seattle. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/07/25/how-talk-tweens-about-body-odor-without-making-it-awkward/

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 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

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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.’

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  1. Augusto Acosta

    I love your work!

  2. Kim Cox

    Super new front page on your website, very informative.

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Tip of the Month – November 2019

Coach Monika Says… Assessing Bad Posture to Avoid Lower Back Pain Bad posture and lower back pain were discussed in the October Newsletter. Here is the follow-up so you can check and/or assess your athletes’ core and back strength. Coaches can also incorporate these into Warm-up, Cool-down exercises, and/or Conditioning program. They should definitely do …

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Why Are Tweens Leaving Youth Sports – Part II

Alarming News – Inactivity Increases Among Children and Youth Before I proceed with the topic for this month’s newsletter, here is alarming news from the World Health Organization (WHO) about the increase of inactivity among children and youth. Four in five teens do not exercise enough! More than 80% of global teens don’t get at …

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