Archive for Youth Sports Training

Read Coach by Michael Lewis

Posted in Random Thoughts, Training, Youth Training with tags , on December 26, 2014 by mboyle1959

Anyone who has read my posts on coaching, parenting, or early specialization will really enjoy Coach by Michael Lewis. Coach ( subtitled Lessons on the Game of Life) is about Lewis’s ( Moneyball, The Blind Side, Liars Poker) high school baseball coach but really is a microcosm of todays youth sports world. I’d put it on my Must Read list. At 91 pages you can finish it in an hour.

This quote from Coach Fitzgerald ( our protagonist) sums it up

“Look, he said . All this is about a false sense of self esteem. It’s now bestowed on kids at birth. It’s not earned. If I were to jump al over you today, you would be deeply offended. You would not get that I cared about you”


Read Coach.


Size Matters

Posted in Guest Authors, Hockey, Injuries, MBSC News, Media, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training, Training Females, Youth Training with tags , on August 25, 2014 by mboyle1959

This is awesome. Watch the first video at least. Thanks to my friend Michelle Amidon.

Size Matters

The Race to Nowhere In Youth Sports

Posted in Media, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , on May 10, 2014 by mboyle1959

Lots of great stuff lately about youth sports. I have to credit my friend from USA Hockey Michelle Amidon for sending me so much stuff to share with my readers. THIS MIGHT BE THE BEST PIECE I HAVE READ. PLEASE READ IT!

A Misinformed Road To Success

Posted in Guest Authors, Hockey, MBSC News, Media, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , on April 11, 2014 by mboyle1959

From David Conte – Executive Vice President, Hockey Operations/ Director, Scouting. Entering 30th season with NJ Devils, 21st as team’s Director of Scouting NJ Devils, Stanley Cup 1995, 2000 & 2002.

Dave Conti – To Parents and Players

Parents and players are more interested in playing for rewards and for recognition rather than for pure joy.

When you do this, this limits chances of advancements, the very thing that parents and players seem to want,

they are precluded by a misinformed road map.

It is self-indulgent, all of this pursuit to go to Quebec to be in the supposed top tournament. What about citizenship? What about responsibility? The emphasis on winning results in players who are over-zealous and (unnaturally) aggressive. This emphasis deters skill development and enjoyment.

It starts at a young age; the play is too physical. Kids want to play with their friends and enjoy it for what it is. Look at kids in a skate board park.. There are no adults telling them what to do or evaluating them. They are uninhibited, inventive, just like when I was a kid playing pond hockey or street hockey.

We need more people with a love of the game.

Genetics play a big part in skill, but you see it evaporate in kids. Kids you see, who have ability when they are young, 8,10, 12 years of age, then it’s not there at 14 or 15. Why are kids leaving the sport at 14 or 15? There is too much emphasis on trophies.

These summer exposure tournaments are a big waste of time.

If you play in the summer it should be for fun. You have these people who run these things telling parents and players that if you do not participate that you will not gain recognition.

I will find you!

I do not go to these things. They are a waste.

People are too worried about status and jackets.

You need to do challenging drills,… that is how you get better.

Young players are lacking because too many people are telling them what to do and how to play, because of this they don’t think.

You don’t need exposure, you need to get better”.

Spring Hockey?

Posted in Guest Authors, Hockey, Injuries, MBSC News, Media, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , , , on April 3, 2014 by mboyle1959

I was quoted in this post from USA Hockey yesterday. I know we have mentioned this numerous times but, it bears repeating.

“The end of the hockey season can be a sad time for the hockey community. Even as the weather gets warmer and the days a little longer, the idea of less time at the rink is difficult for everyone.

But the changing seasons are a major opportunity for parents. Between the ages of 10 and 12, kids shouldn’t identify themselves as one-sport athletes. Looking for different opportunities to develop new skills and play a different game can be a great way to avoid the type of burnout that prevents a boy or girl from enjoying hockey later in life.

Even if a boy or girl loves to play the game, a few months spent focusing on a different sport is incredibly beneficial….”

to read the entire article, click below.

Why Do We Obsess About 9 Year Old Sports

Posted in Guest Authors, Hockey, Injuries, Media, Updates, Training, Training Females, Youth Training with tags on February 5, 2014 by mboyle1959

If nine year old hockey or basketball has got you down read this. Remember, sports success is more of a marathon than a sprint and those in the early lead often fall back into the pack or disappear completely.

The Surprising Story of Simon Kjaer

Small Sided Games are Great Practice

Posted in Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , , , on December 18, 2012 by mboyle1959

I tweeted this two days ago

“playing lots of games without practicing is like taking lots of tests without studying.”

This led to a Facebook discussion about practice quality. As adults we think that practice must be boring and repetitive and at times it must, but for kids, small sided games ( think 3 on 3) may be the best practice ever. Check out these stats.

Dr Rick Fernoglio, a lecturer in Exercise Science at Manchester Metropolitan University, compared the experience of young soccer players during eight-a-side games and SSGs (4v4).

He found that the players in 4v4:

  • Made 135% more passes.
  • Took 260% more shots.
  • Scored 500% more goals.
  • Experienced 225% more 1v1s.
  • Did 280% more tricks, turns, and moves.

(published in Success in Soccer, March 2004)

Remember these numbers the next time you’re tempted to allow a “mass scrimmage” at the end of one of your coaching sessions.

Here’s more support for small games. Many of you reading need to think hockey when you watch. I can’t believe we are still debating cross ice Buzzer hockey. It was the best thing my son has ever done. Parents should have no input. They have no idea what they are talking about when they want 7-8 year olds playing fullice.

Lessons from Inside Out Coaching

Posted in MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Updates, Training, Training Females, Youth Training with tags , , , , on August 27, 2012 by mboyle1959

If you coach athletes, you absolutely have to read Inside Out Coaching. We just spent over $300 on twenty copies for our entire staff and I’ll tell you it will be worth it. The insight we gain as a staff will pay that money back many times over.  Author Joe Ehrmann is an ex-NFL player who teaches and preaches what he calls Transformational Coaching. The book is filled with great lines like “sports don’t build character unless a coach possesses character and intentionally teaches it“. That was on page 13. Over the next week we’ll explore more gems from Inside Out Coaching.

Pretty Good Discussion About Youth Sports

Posted in Guest Authors, Training, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , on April 5, 2012 by mboyle1959

Readers might enjoy this discussion about youth sports and equal playing time. This was again forwarded to me by my friend Michelle Amidon at USA Hockey. Lots of good points on both sides.

Excellence: Nature vs. Nurture

Posted in Guest Authors, Injuries, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , , , on March 9, 2012 by mboyle1959

Great guest post from Kevin Neeld

We live in an era where the human genome has been mapped, gene cloning is available, and specific physical traits can be traced back to the presence or absence of specific genes. This is “nature”, or maybe more appropriately, mankind’s discovery and manipulation of it. In understanding how much peak performance in any category (physical, psychological, etc.) is pre-determined by genetic limitations, it’s easy to see why so much attention is being paid to the nature component of athletic excellence. After all, it’s extremely unlikely that the son of two short, overweight, generally unathletic parents will grow up to be a world-class hockey player. It’s a sad reality.

That said, extremely unlikely certainly does not mean impossible. Athletes in every sport have gone on to compete at high levels despite having the cards stacked against them. Using height deficiencies as an illustrative example, look at what athletes like:

  1. Muggsy Bogues, who at 5’3″ was drafted 12th overall in the 1987 NBA draft, competing 14 years in the world’s most elite basketball league as the smallest player ever to reach that level. He still holds records as the Hornets’ career leader in minutes played (19,768), assists (5,557), steals (1,067), turnovers (1,118), and assists per 48 minutes (13.5).
  2. Wes Welker, who at 5’9″, entered the NFL, a league that boasts largest, fastest, and strongest athletes in the world, and is 2nd all-time in all purpose yards during his first three seasons, holds the Dolphins’ all-time records for total kickoff returns, kickoff return yardage, total punt returns, and return touchdowns, has led the Patriots in receptions twice (2007 and 2009), holds the four highest single-season reception totals in Patriots history, as well as four of the top ten receiving yardage totals, including the franchise record. He also holds the franchise records for most receptions in a single game, most receiving yards in a single game, and longest reception. He had three consecutive 110-reception seasons, is the only receiver in NFL history with at least 110 receptions in any three seasons.
  3. Theo Fleury, who at 5’6″ and having been drafted in the 8th round of the 1987 NHL draft, went on to have 1,088 points (455 goals, 633 assists) in 1,084 NHL games. He also won a Gold Medal with Canada at the World Juniors and Olympics, a Stanley Cup with Calgary in 1989, and was elected to 7 NHL All-Star games.

 While all of these athletes surely have/had other redeeming qualities, the point is that they succeeded despite clear genetic disadvantages. It’s worth pointing out that, while the genetic ceiling is very real, only an exceptionally small percentage of the athletic population ever converges on that limitation. Most don’t put in nearly enough general and specific preparation work to ever fully realize their potential. And while some do possess the raw genetic gifts to still succeed at high levels despite this lack of preparation, this provides a distinct advantage for the athlete that, whether among the world’s elite talents or relatively average, is willing to maximize his or her potential. In other words, 70% of 100 (the raw talent) isn’t as high as 90% of 85 (the potential filler).

The more important question that arises out of this discussion is what should we be emphasizing to our youth athletes? Do we discourage participation simply because someone does not have the genetic gifts thought to be important in any given sport?

This raises an equally important question about the true purpose of sports participation. Expanding the capacity of the game is undoubtedly a goal of athletic development programs, but on a wider scale, for reasons related to nature and nurture, this only applies to an exceptionally small segment of the athletic population. At USA Hockey’s ADM Symposium last year, Kristen Dieffenbach presented that roughly 10.9% of high school hockey players will go on to play NCAA hockey, and roughly 3.7% of NCAA players or 0.31% of high school players will go on to play pro hockey. So for the other 99.69% of high school players, a system solely designed toward expanding the capacities of the game doesn’t seem worthwhile. Not to mention that our current systems force most kids out of sports before they even reach the high school ranks.

 In reality, many of the major benefits of sports participation stem from the character-building opportunities associated with playing. Amongst other things, this includes setting and hunting goals, building confidence and resilience through practice and competition successes, learning to appropriately process criticism, and developing social skills related to teamwork and leadership. These are all qualities that will serve to enhance the athlete’s quality of life long after his or her “career” ends. Theoretically, this would make playing sports inherently valuable, regardless of the athletic outcome. Of course, the development of these qualities is dependent upon a system of inclusion and relative equal opportunity.

In the U.S. the well-documented flaws of early talent identification haven’t prevented most youth sports programs from forming elite teams and funneling kids into single-sports participation with short-term success aspirations despite participating in long term athletic development sports. This system has created PHENOMENAL youth athletes that quit, sustain unnecessary injuries or simply plateau when they reach the age of actual elite competition, causing many advisers, junior programs, colleges, and even pro teams to regret their early commitments. These athletes win the race to the wrong finish line. And in the process, have the fun, freedom and development associated with unstructured play stripped from their youth. Surely, this is not the answer.

We have created a development system that produces worse athletes, which is largely masked by the absolute growth in sports participation. More athletes participate, so a few succeed DESPITE the system, not because of it. Without question, sports participation should prioritize athletic development, but not at the expense of all of the other benefits. Placing an excessive emphasis on genetic limitations undermines the path, and all of its associated lessons, an athlete could take to fulfilling his or her potential. From an athlete perspective, they need to focus on what they can control, and not be victimized by the things they can’t. From an athletic development systems perspective, we need to make a significant change toward the restoration of sanity, toward allowing kids to develop a love for playing before we superimpose adult paradigms of pressured competition. It starts with parents and coaches standing up for what is right, and spreading the word to as many people as they can. What are you going to do today to help right the ship?

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Arguably the best long-term athletic development model, to maximize participation and fun, as well as long-term peak performance and excellence, can be found in USA Hockey’s American Development Model. If you haven’t already, check out their site: USA Hockey’s ADM