‘Jock’ or ‘Artist': Why Do Kids Have to Choose?

Growing up, did you consider yourself to be a “jock,” preferring to exercise your athletic prowess, or an “artist,” pursuing more creative endeavours?

When I was younger, I played sports so, for better or worse, I was considered a “jock” by a society that seemed fine pegging me in one silo instead of encouraging exploration into anything else. Now, with all these years passed, this makes me regretful. Don’t get me wrong; I loved athletic competition (and still do) but in feeling like I wasn’t able to explore other outlets for my energy, I feel I missed out on an opportunity to fully explore who I was, to express myself as an individual, and to develop confidence through self-expression.


Unfortunately, looking at my nieces and nephews today it doesn’t seem like much has changed. In fact, things may be getting worse with young athletes being pressured into choosing one sport over all others at very young ages, travelling to tournaments every weekend and participating in year-round leagues that leave very little time for anything else.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. The most obvious solution is to simply force kids to put the sports equipment down for a time and take guitar lessons or improv classes to help round out their skills. However, some kids might not want to do anything but play sports. After all, kids are kids and may not understand what will benefit them most in the future.

But it’s important for everyone to explore their creative side and fortunately, that doesn’t mean these kids have to leave the court or pool behind. What it will take though is a change of perspective in us — the parents and coaches — who are encouraging these young athletes to develop.

That change is to see the playing field as a blank canvas of sorts, a place where young people have the opportunity to express themselves creatively and where they can play around with ideas about who they are or who they want to be.


For all of us (parents, coaches, athletes) this will pay dividends both in the short and long term. By encouraging and challenging young athletes to explore their creativity on the field, they will come to some of their own conclusions about what kind of player (and person) they are and where they fit into the team (and society). This challenge will motivate them without them even knowing it because they will be working on their own development. Smiles and enjoyment will be the byproduct.

This isn’t easy. By and large, it’s a change in how we’ve previously thought about sports. There could be less emphasis on winning and more on development. There may be more show-boating or some judgement over which kids are better (not that these don’t exist in our current youth sport set-up). But perhaps by continuing to encourage self-expression, we can help mitigate these issues and continue to make youth sport what it should be: a place for our children to develop and grow physically, mentally, and socially into healthy, confident, happy people.

Brian Covert is a community builder with Up My Game, makers of an app that connects athletes with coaches and uses video analysis to help improve skills, technique, and training. 


Should Kids Get Trophies for Participation?

I know I’m going to get some flack for this, but I strongly believe that youth sports programs should give kids trophies just for completing a season.

Yes, I’ve heard all of the arguments a thousand times as to why we shouldn’t … such as the idea that we are somehow “teaching that everyone is the same.”

However, through third grade, participation trophies are entirely appropriate and even beneficial.

Past that age, you’re not helping the kids, but athletes in third grade and younger need the encouragement.

Listen, all you competitive parents and coaches. I am well aware of the fact that it’s a very competitive world out there, and we need to prepare our kids for it. I have worked in an extremely competitive business world as a corporate manager for a Fortune 500 company, and I have run my own business for over a decade now, in addition to all of the work I’ve done in the sports world.

But we’re talking about the inner workings of the mind of an 8 year old. The truth is, they don’t have the comprehension and the identity structure to even understand the real-world ramifications of competition.

Some coaches are just throwing these kids to the wolves with this misguided notion:

  • You don’t start learning math with algebra. You learn one apple and another apple equals two apples.
  • You don’t start learning how to read by diving into novels.You start with the ABCs.
  • Nobody begins a first piano lesson with a concerto. You start with twinkle twinkle.

Are you getting the picture?

sporty family

If the whole point to having our kids play sports is to learn life skills (and it should be the whole point), then the first thing young kids need to learn is commitment and not giving up when things get tough.

That’s the purpose behind giving a trophy for finishing the season. This is a simple concept, and you can teach it verbally to children day and night and they still might not get it. But put kids in a program (sports or otherwise) and have them go through the typical trials and tribulations and stick it out and then recognize them for that achievement.

Yes, competitive parents, that is a grand achievement for a second or third grader.  Leave your desire for your 7 year old to win the championship at home; there’s plenty of time for him or her to learn skills, discipline and other more mature lessons from sports.

Kids at this age can understand commitment and create a very powerful belief that goes with them the rest of their life if this is done right. Their first trophy on their dresser is a strong reinforcement of this learning.

  • No, don’t give the kid a trophy if he doesn’t finish the season.
  • No, don’t continue giving participation trophies past third grade.
  • Yes parents, praise the kid for finishing the season and make sure he understands that what the trophy is for.

Commitment and completion are valuable life skills by themselves. Having fun and getting exercise and attention from the parents is all icing on the cake. Everything else can wait until they are older.

Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his free ebook: “The 10 Commandments For a Great Sports Parent” and also a free training and .mp3 guided visualization to help young athletes perform under pressure by visiting: http://MentalToughnessTrainer.com.


Using Video to Help Your Team Fundraise

Fundraising: it’s never fun, it’s always time consuming, and it rarely gives you the funds you need. Selling cookie dough, wrapping paper or magazine subscriptions doesn’t cut it. Why? Because it doesn’t connect with your donors.

At Hudl, we’ve worked with thousands of teams to help them improve their skills with video. When our teams began creating amazing highlight reels, we realized video could be a powerful fundraising tool as well. Video gives you a quick and easy way to engage donors with a relevant message. Say goodbye to those giant candy bars they never eat. Now, it’s just a matter of watching and choosing to donate.


Here’s how to achieve your fundraising goals with this season’s video:

  • Get social. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or a team website, make your mission public. More people viewing means more donations for your team.
  • Show off your team. Use video highlights from any season – past or present – to showcase your team’s successes.
  • Personalize your message. Are you raising money for new equipment to improve safety? Is your team a national tournament qualifier that can’t afford to attend? Do you have talented players in need of a scholarship? Whatever the goal, get specific! Donors are much more likely to relate if the message is personal.
  • Ask small. An ultimate goal of $500 may seem steep, but think of it as 50 people donating $10. Even better is 10 people donating $50 – it’s the average amount donated through Hudl, where teams have raised almost $1 million this year!

Have you used video to fundraise before? Tell us in the comments below. We’d love to hear about your successes. Good luck this season!


Allie Davison is a Business Development Representative for Team Sports for Hudl, a software company that helps coaches and teams improve their game and reach their fundraising goals through the use of technology. 



Confessions of a Crybaby

I am a crybaby. Sometimes, I cry when I’m inspired or sad. Sometimes, I cry from disappointment or joy. I cried when my high school football team won the state championship. I even cried during an episode of Hannah Montana that I watched with my then 5-year-old daughter.

I’m sensitive, and a lot of things make me cry, especially the things I care deeply about. Tears are an expression of how I feel, and I don’t hold them back. In fact, I recently presented a leadership award to a 9-year-old athlete with tears in my eyes. I had to stop a few times during my speech to settle my voice. I am happy to report that during my speech, not one person attending shouted, “Suck it up, big boy. There’s no crying in award presentations!”

Why is it that that when kids cry during sports, they are labeled “crybabies”? When a kid cries, it seems to be some horrible indication of weakness. What I find most surprising is that the parents are usually the ones that get the most upset and embarrassed when their child cries.coach-comforting-crying-athlete_web

We spend countless hours coaching and encouraging our kids to work hard and give it their all. Before games, we preach about having fun, making an effort and believing in yourself. It’s a fact of life that things don’t always go the way we plan. We will all experience the pain of failure. We won’t always make the tackle or record the strikeout. Throughout our lives, reality will often fall short of expectations regardless of preparation or how much we believe in ourselves.

Why cry? Because it hurts!

I have coached kids between 5 and 12 years old for many years. Each season I have been blessed with a few kids who work so hard and care so much that they cry when they fall short of what they expect of themselves. Here is a conversation I had with our pitcher after he hit two batters and allowed five runs in one inning. To set the stage, our pitcher came into the dugout in tears. His father immediately gave him a stern talking to and essentially, if not literally, told him to “suck it up.” I went over and sat next him on the bench.

Me: “Are you OK?”

Pitcher: (Sobbing loudly)

Me: “Are you tired of hearing that there is no crying in baseball?”

Pitcher: (Sobbing slowed)

Me: “What would you say if I told you that’s a lie? There IS crying in baseball. After all, there’s crying in life right? I cry sometimes myself and I’m a tough old man.”

Pitcher: (sobbing stopped and he looked directly into my eyes)

Me: “When you really care about something, and it doesn’t work out; it’s OK to cry. It shows how much you care. One of the things I like most about you is how much you care. Don’t ever stop caring that much about baseball and what you have to offer to your team. Are you OK?”

Pitcher: “Yes, sir.”

Me: “You can keep crying if you have to, but I need you to finish it up soon because we need you. The game is not over, and your team needs you.”

I’ve had similar conversations with kids from dozens of teams and in dozens of situations. After each conversation the child felt accepted and understood, which enabled him or her to accept, own and grow from his or her failure and frustration instead of hiding because of the fear of ridicule. Failures can be the signposts on our journey to success if we read them, understand them and take action. Pretending failures don’t matter and bottling up the emotions is not the way to build strong and emotionally balanced kids.

I am a crybaby because I care … just like the kids I get to coach.

Brad Jubin is a volunteer youth coach in Peachtree City, GA. Together with his family, Brad founded www.APIVEO.com. APIVEO (Always Play IV Each Other) is a free resource that leverages Brad’s personal experiences as a youth coach to help other coaches teach kids about leadership and character through a series of fun and engaging lessons.


TeamSnap Customer Profile: Ravens Women’s Football

With summer winding down, the leaves starting to turn and the occasional chill in the air, many a mind in the TeamSnap Nation turns to football. However, in British Columbia, a group of women are out on the gridiron seeking flag football glory. They are the Ravens, and they are a TeamSnap customer.

Ravens on the fieldRavens team manager Kristen Vestby was an early TeamSnap customer, first starting to use TeamSnap seven years ago when she played football in Edmonton. Upon relocating to the Vancouver area, she joined the Ravens. “The team came together in the fall of 2012,” she said. “We were brought together by a bunch of players who had been in the league for many years, as well as some newcomers to the league.  We were also lucky enough to land one of the most experienced coaches in the league, Mark Lawson, who has been involved in the game of football for his entire life.” Within a year, Vestby found herself managing the Ravens.

Flag football is serious business in Vancouver.  “Our league has 15 women’s teams (in addition to the 60+ men’s teams) split into three divisions, A, B, and C,” she said. As for the draw of flag football to Vancouver-area women, Vestby notes “A lot of us love watching football, and that’s why we got into it, while some of us are here because we were brought to the game by friends. Some just wanted to try something new or get back into organized sports.”

Players on the Ravens come from all walks of life – on their roster, you can find a pharmacy tech, salmon biologist, kinesiologist, business owner, college instructor, corporate controller, lawyer, physiotherapist and mom of five kids, to name a few. Flag football is not their only passion, though – Ravens players can also be found playing rugby, dodgeball, volleyball, floor hockey, tennis, softball, paddle boarding, ultimate frisbee and basketball.

Ravens QuarterbackFor a young team, the Ravens have turned heads with their play on the field. They recently played in the Pacific Northwest Women’s Championship in Duncan, BC – their first time in the tournament. They did not let the big stage or a rookie quarterback stop them, however.

“We were scheduled for five round robin games on the Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m. – 12 hours of football!” Vestby noted. “We ended up going 3-2 in the round robin tournament, defeating two of our biggest Vancouver rival, including one who had defeated us in overtime in the regular season, and one that had knocked us out of playoffs the week before.”

“It was some of the best redemption our team has ever had. ”

Ravens in Duncan BCWith practices once a week and a full slate of games, the Ravens rely on TeamSnap to keep their team organized. For the features that keep their team moving, Vestby suggests “The availability. It’s the easiest and fastest way for everyone to see who is coming to a game, practice or event. TeamSnap allows everyone to know whats going on because people have access. If I can’t make it to practice, Coach can look at the availability and see who is going to make it without me having to tell anyone.”

“I also like the option to track payments, so I remember who has paid and who hasn’t,” she said. “Plus, it helps me organize jerseys, since you can put everyone’s number in the roster so if players join/leave we know which jerseys are available.”

As to why she would recommend TeamSnap to other teams, Vestby simply states, “Because it makes organizing a team so much easier!”

For more information about the Ravens, email the team at ravenswomensfootball@gmail.com, or check them out on Facebook at Ravens Women’s Football.