Author: Emily Cohen
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Should You Speak Up?
(Feb 19th, 2014)
You are at your 8-year-old daughter’s recreational soccer game and you are livid. Why? Because your daughter isn’t getting the playing time you think she deserves. You seethe and stomp back and forth on the sidelines. Should you confront the coach after the game and demand more playing time for Lucy?
Why Wasn’t Marcus Smart “Idiot-Proof”?
(Feb 10th, 2014)
I love the Olympics. Truth be told, I’m more of a sucker for the Summer Games, especially swimming, but what I really love most of all are the amazing stories of perseverance and focus by athletes from around the world. Athletes who toil in obscurity to excel in biathlon, skiathlon, bobsledding, luge, and yes, curling.
Changing the Game: An Interview with John O’Sullivan
(Jan 21st, 2014)
I recently had the opportunity to speak with John O’Sullivan, a former college and professional soccer player, current youth club soccer coach, and author of Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes.
Being the Coach’s Favorite is No Bed of Roses
(Jan 14th, 2014)
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about coaches who play favorites, giving some kids more playing time than others for various valid – and not so valid – reasons. After the blog ran, I heard from many parents of kids who were on the short end of the favorites ‘stick’, but what surprised me was that I heard from parents whose kids were the beneficiaries of being the coach’s favorite player.
Is Your Child’s Coach Playing Favorites?
(Nov 6th, 2013)
I was livid. My son, the back-up second baseman, had been told by the coach that, if the team had a sizeable lead, he would come into the game in the 5th inning. But here we were, up 20-2, and the coach made no changes. Ok, I thought, maybe in the 6th. Nope. In the 7th? Hardly. Game over and my son never played. I couldn’t even see straight. To make matters worse, later that night, I found out that the starting second baseman had implored the coach to put in my son, and he brushed him off.
Synthetic Turf Fields: Friend or Foe?
(Jun 12th, 2013)
It’s summer and temperatures across the country are soaring into the triple digits. Most of us are doing everything we can to stay cool and indoors, out of the scorching heat, but it’s ‘high season’ for sports tournaments. That means hoards of young and teenage athletes are participating in baseball, soccer, lacrosse, softball, and other field sport games from early morning until sundown—and often even later, with lighted fields.
Staying Hydrated, Happy and Healthy for the Summer Sports Season
(Jun 5th, 2013)
Did you know that young athletes are at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses than adults? This is because kids don’t sweat as much as and absorb heat faster than adults. Plus, kids tend not to want to drink water or other fluids while they’re exercising. Even though most pediatricians recommend that kids should drink half of their total body weight in ounces of water each day, we all know that, in reality, that is the exception rather than the rule.
Six Ways Parents Can Help Prevent Sports Injuries
(Jan 24th, 2013)
Last week, I was invited to participate in the NFL Health + Safety Conference in New York City along with more than 40 other bloggers and writers. Sitting at a huge conference table at NFL headquarters, we heard from representatives of the NFL and USA Football about the success to-date of the Heads-Up Football program in reducing head injuries in youth football, as well as plans to expand the program in the coming year.
Is Cheerleading a Sport?
(Jan 11th, 2013)
Since writing my last two blogs on concussions, the first focusing on youth football and then on soccer (based on reader requests), I don’t think a day has passed where I haven’t read an article, a statistic, or a quote about concussions. The topic has clearly risen to the point where it cannot be ignored any longer, and this week’s announcement by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), part of the National Academies of Science, of a sweeping study of the rise in youth sports-related concussions is a huge step in the right direction.
Preventing Concussions: Is it Possible?
(Dec 12th, 2012)
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog on the heightened awareness of concussions and brain injuries (“A Concussion Epidemic?” November 5, 2012), focusing on youth football. In the blog, I mentioned USA Football’s “Heads Up Football” program, which focuses on specific tackling techniques and other measures, such as limiting physical contact in practices, to reduce the risk of concussions.
A Concussion Epidemic?
(Nov 5th, 2012)
“Just back from Children’s Hospital. Concussion. Out of football for 2 weeks!”
Is the Monday Night Football Furor Fueling Bad Sportsmanship?
(Sep 26th, 2012)
I, along with several million other football fans, watched in disbelief on Monday night as the Seattle Seahawks were awarded a game-winning, last-second touchdown after Golden Tate clearly pushed the Green Pay Packers’ defender in the end zone. The replacement refs (filling in for the regular NFL refs, who are being locked out) made no call on that, disagreed with each other whether it was a touchback or a touchdown, and have had everyone from first-graders on the playground to the President of the United States in an uproar since then!
Say Goodbye to the Clipboard!
(Aug 31st, 2012)
Summer is winding down and many kids are already back to school—and back to fall sports—especially soccer. Some estimates state that nearly 14 million children under the age of 18 across the United States participate or play soccer today. That’s a lot of kids! And a lot of soccer coaches, some with more experience than others. Maybe you are one of those coaches and you’re wondering how you’re going to manage practices and games this season.
Rethinking Vince Lombardi
(Jun 5th, 2012)
Walking to our car with my 12-year-old daughter after her soccer game last week, I was in the middle of telling her how proud I was of her entire team for the effort they showed that day — they lost 3 to 2 — when another player and her mother walked by. “If only your defense wouldn’t have let in those goals, then you would have won,” the mother said.
An American in Paris
(May 31st, 2012)
Even if you’re not a tennis fan, the fairytale that was American Brian Baker at the French Open this week was riveting, exciting, and offers many lessons for young athletes in all sports who suffer career-threatening physical setbacks.
How Young is Too Young to Travel?
(May 10th, 2012)
Flying home from Spring Training a few weeks ago, our flight was packed with 7- and 8- year-old boys. Had they gone to see their beloved San Francisco Giants or Oakland A’s play up-close and get autographs? No. They were returning from a four-day baseball tournament where they played against other 7- and 8-year-olds from up and down the West Coast and neighboring states.
Tough Love or Verbal Abuse?
(Apr 3rd, 2012)
Since I started blogging on this site about a year ago, I’ve written extensively about parents who behave badly at tryouts, practices and games. Those yellers, screamers, and tantrum-throwers who think they always know better than the coach—and love to let the coach know. And the one-uppers who never miss an opportunity to tell you how much better their children are than yours. Even the back-stabbers, who act like they’re your friends but then spend hours talking to the coach, trying to get their children more playing time than all the others.
Should Your Child ‘Play Up’?
(Mar 12th, 2012)
Every year at tryouts, no matter for which sport the tryout is held, hyper-competitive parents can be heard boasting to their friends that their child is going to ‘play up’ because he or she is so much better than his or her peers, needs to play up to improve, has grand ambitions of playing in college, or any number of other reasons. Statements are thrown around with much confidence:
Five “Linsanity” Lessons for Youth Athletes – and their Parents
(Feb 22nd, 2012)
Who doesn’t love the Jeremy Lin story? Whether or not you are a basketball fan, it’s pretty hard to escape the catchy, punny headlines: Linsanity! Another Win for Lin! Lincredible! At 23 years old, Lin has defied all odds to help the New York Knicks win 8 of their last 10 games, including a decisive victory against the defending NBA champs, the Dallas Mavericks. Even Mark Cuban, the opinionated owner of the Mavericks, had to acknowledge that Lin is ‘for real’.
Handling the Stress of Sports Team Tryouts
(Feb 8th, 2012)
For several years, I was a division commissioner and later player agent for our area’s Little League baseball organization. The most stressful time each year was the team formation (for the younger kids) and tryout (for the older ones) process. One group of parents complaining loudly about the coach and their children’s teammates. Others blaming the surely Machiavellian league of ‘stunting’ their child’s development because their ‘clearly exceptional athlete’ was not drafted into a higher division. And, yes, even accusing me of denying their child the “unalienable right to play baseball” because he was drafted onto a team by a coach he didn’t already know and, horrors, with some kids he didn’t already know and therefore would not be interested in playing.
Sports and School Performance: How Exercise Helps Kids Do Better In School
(Jan 30th, 2012)
When I started high school, there was nothing I wanted more than to join the swim team – really, any team, but my best friend was joining the swim team so I wanted to as well. No matter how much I begged, my mom still said “no.” Why? First of all, it would take my attention away from my schoolwork and ruin my all-important GPA, she said. Second, according to her, I would never be a good enough swimmer to really compete so why would I want to set myself up to fail? (But that’s a story for another blog on another day).
Athletes and Eating Disorders: Understanding the Risks
(Jan 12th, 2012)
A few weeks ago, a girlfriend from college invited me to go sailing on her boat on the San Francisco Bay with some other women. I eagerly accepted. The day was resplendent and the company was equally sunny. Lots of laughs – until one mom mentioned that her daughter was repeating her sophomore year of high school and I asked why. “Bulimia,” she said. Her daughter, an athlete, first became too weak to play the sport she loved. Then, her eating disorder led to her missing so much school that the family finally pulled her from school and sent her to a rehab facility in another state. She’s doing better now, back in school, but she’s a year behind.
Wrapping Up The Fall Sports Season
(Dec 8th, 2011)
The fall sports season is coming to an end and winter sports are around the corner. Most football, soccer and volleyball teams are winding down, with just the final few playoff and championship games left to play.
Trophies For Everyone Makes For Everyone Mediocre
(Dec 1st, 2011)
Once a week, my family of four drops everything for 30 minutes of ritual ‘gathering around the hearth’. The moment? Wednesdays at 9pm watching the hit TV show, “Modern Family”. In last week’s episode, Jay gets upset at Gloria for applauding their son’s not-so-artistic Thanksgiving table centerpiece and says, “These days, kids get a medal just for crossing the street!”
A Team Manager’s Thanksgiving for Youth Sports
(Nov 22nd, 2011)
As I began writing my Thanksgiving shopping list today, I listened to the sounds of my children arguing in the other room. No school. No soccer practice. No tennis lesson. No baseball practice. One day into Thanksgiving break and I was already missing the usual routine. I realized how thankful I am for the fact that my kids are involved in youth sports, which keeps them busy and out of each other’s hair.
Should Girls Play on Boys’ Teams?
(Nov 17th, 2011)
I recently had the opportunity to interview Alex Morgan, the 22-year-old U.S Women’s National Team forward who made a huge splash at this past summer’s Women’s World Cup, for Soccer America. After the article ran, a reader posted a comment that proved the seed for this blog post. The reader asked, “What about girls playing on boys teams to elevate their play?
Team Pictures | How To Take A Great Team Photo
(Nov 8th, 2011)
Long after a season is over, the team photo brings back all the great memories made during rainy – or even snowy – practices, weekend tournaments, and come-from-behind wins. Sure, you’ll have lots of action shots from throughout the season, and parents and players might even share these on your TeamSnap team page, but having one, official team photo worth framing is worth the extra effort.
Go Green With Your Team: Raising The Bar of Sustainability in Sports
(Oct 25th, 2011)
When the St. Louis Cardinals played the Texas Rangers last week in Games 1 and 2 of the 2011 World Series, there were a lot of ‘green’ things at Busch Stadium other than the grass on the field. A member of the Green Sports Alliance (GSA), the not-for-profit brainchild of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Paul Allen (owner of the Portland Trail Blazers, the Seattle Seahawks, and co-owner of the Seattle Sounders), the Cardinals are one of 20+ professional sports teams to commit to making tangible changes in their facilities to conserve energy and promote sustainability. These efforts include installing lighting occupancy sensors, adding solar panels, introducing in-stadium recycling programs, reducing water consumption and energy usage, and even handing out compost bags as giveaways!
Team Travel on a Budget | Six Ways to Save a Buck
(Oct 17th, 2011)
In these challenging economic times, when a youth sports coach mentions team travel, a collective groan is often heard from the parents—especially if the tournament or competition requires air travel.
The idea that the only way to improve your team’s skills is by traveling to far-flung locations is a myth. For most youth sports teams, especially those with players under 12, the farthest you really need to go is a couple of hours away from home. Which means you can meet the coach’s goal of upping the competition while still not breaking parents’ budgets.
Who Are The Role Models In Women’s Team Sports?
(Oct 3rd, 2011)
Cape Cod League baseball provides an unrivaled environment for baseball fans – young and old – to meet and mingle with top college ballplayers, many of whom go on to become MLB stars. My family has been going to Chatham to root for the A’s (now the Anglers) for the past 10 years. Some of our sweetest memories are of Jeremy Cleveland sticking his bat through the fence during a game in Brewster to have my son and his friend rub it for good luck, talking with Chris Young about Princeton in the Chatham dugout, Zane Carlson beaning my son in a game of pickle during a week-long baseball camp run by the players, and Grant Green’s enthusiastic encouragement of my daughter in a mostly-boy camp. The players clearly knew — whether it happened when they arrived in Chatham or before – that part of their experience would include being a role model to the youngsters who came to see them play.
Youth Sports Parents | Sleep Deprivation Deprives Kids of More Than Just Sleep
(Sep 20th, 2011)
The date: June 24, 2011. The time: 3pm. The scene: The Panama City airport. Between waiting for our two-hour-delayed-and-counting flight back to San Francisco (via a connection in Houston) and the commotion in the airport as the Panama Men’s National Soccer Team arrived from its match against the United States earlier that week, my husband’s cell phone rang.
“When are you guys back?” asked our son’s summer baseball coach. “Either late tonight or early tomorrow morning, depending on our connection,” answered my husband. “Well, tell Josh he’s the starting pitcher tomorrow at 9am! Welcome home!” Click.
A Team Manager’s Guide to Getting Ready For the Season
(Sep 8th, 2011)
Labor Day weekend marks the official end of summer, as well as the official beginning of the fall sports season. Whether your child is playing soccer, football, water polo, volleyball, hockey, or a host of other sports, if you are the ‘team parent’ or ‘team manager’, you have a lot to accomplish in just a few short weeks.
Focusing on Healthy Snacks
(Sep 2nd, 2011)
It’s that time again. Not just “Back to School” time, with backpacks, books and new clothes, but also “Back to Sports” time. Fall sports – football, soccer, water polo, cross country, and volleyball – are all about to be in full swing in just a few short weeks, and that means rushing kids from school to practice or games and then back home. Meals – or some semblance thereof – in the car and snacks at the field.
Is Sugar The New Crack?
(Aug 19th, 2011)
Two months ago, at the beginning of the summer, I wrote about the sugar content of sports drinks in this blog. After the blog ran, we conducted a survey of TeamSnap users, asking you to guess the number of teaspoons of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade (answer: 9 teaspoons!). Forty percent of respondents guessed 6 teaspoons or less, vastly underestimating the amount of sugar in a bottle of the most popular sports drink on the market.
Concussion Symptoms and Recovery: More Than Just “Getting Your Bell Rung”
(Jul 27th, 2011)
Last Monday evening – a gorgeous, fog-free evening in the Bay Area – I had one of those ironic moments in life. Earlier that day, I had decided to write my blog on concussions. As the game ended, my son’s baseball coach motioned me over. “Are you taking Chris home?” he asked. When I answered, “Yes,” the coach said, “Well, I think he may have a slight concussion. I took him out of the game right after he made that diving catch in center field, because he slammed his head pretty good and he was groggy. His pupils seem normal but you should watch him on the drive home.”
What Every Sports Parent Should Know About New Concussion Legislation
(Jul 21st, 2011)
It’s a moment I’ll never forget. I was on the phone with my husband, who was picking up our son from baseball practice. All of a sudden I heard a lot of commotion and then sirens. I asked what had happened. He said, “The pitcher for Marin Catholic was hit in the head with a comebacker.”
Must Have Apps For Sports Parents and Team Managers: Location, Precipitation, and Hydration
(Jun 15th, 2011)
Summer tournaments mean travel and travel means planning accommodations, meals, and activities in places you probably don’t know very well. Or at least not as well as your hometown. And summer weather—heat, humidity, and thunderstorms—can throw a wrench into many tournament schedules and downtime plans.
Getting Organized For Summer Tournaments? Must Read Tips on Managing Your Team at Tournament Time
(Jun 8th, 2011)
Six beach soccer games in two days, second-place medals, exhausted but happy girls, and everything but the weather went as planned (some things team managers can’t control) at the first tournament of the summer. While coordinating a dozen or more families for a tournament is a huge undertaking, I think the team bonding that occurs at these tournaments is more than worth the effort.
The Truth About Sports Drinks and Why Young Athletes Don’t Need Them
(Jun 1st, 2011)
Last week, I talked about staying hydrated in the hot summer months to prevent heat-related illnesses. And although most experts recommend plain old H2O, I’m sure many of you thought, “I’ll just buy a six-pack of [insert your favorite sports drink here] and that’ll be just as good or even better.” Guess what? You’re wrong.
Sports Parent Challenge: How To Find The Right Summer Camp For Your Kid
(May 11th, 2011)
This is the second part of our series on selecting the right summer camp for your young athlete. Click here to read last week’s post on What Sports Parents Should Know When Selecting Summer Camps.
Considering a Camp For Your Young Athlete? What Sports Parents Should Know When Selecting Summer Camps
(May 5th, 2011)
Over the last few years, the number and types of summer camps has grown exponentially. One of the areas of greatest growth is in sports camps. But how do you know which one to pick? And how do you not overload your child with too many?
Balancing the Scales: Avoiding Overscheduling in Youth Sports
(Apr 25th, 2011)
My husband and I were thrilled when our 11-year-old daughter was selected for a Class I soccer team earlier this spring. It’s something she wanted and drove—she’s pretty headstrong—and we followed her lead. She loves soccer and wanted the greater challenge on the field. At the parent meeting, the coach clearly stated that once the calendar hit August 1st, it was serious soccer. From that date on, he expects the girls to be at every practice leading into the season. We were on board 100 percent.
It’s Just A Game: Keeping Fan Rivalry In Check
(Apr 18th, 2011)
I apologize in advance for the somber note of this blog, but I really can’t find any humor here. Every so often, a senseless act of violence—in the name of ‘fan rivalry’—occurs, and takes the joy out of a sport I love. Last week, it was professional baseball. On Opening Day, two so-called ‘fans’ of the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Bryan Stow, a 42-year-old father of two, a paramedic who typically helps others, into a coma. Why? Simply because he wore the orange and black of the Dodgers’ main rival, the World Champion San Francisco Giants.
Bag Check: The Well-Equipped Team Manager
(Apr 14th, 2011)
If you’re old enough to remember the television show, Let’s Make a Deal, then you have a pretty good idea what my team manager’s bag looks like: a large duffel-type bag with everything but the kitchen sink inside. I’m ready for just about anything the coaches and players throw at me—and maybe I’ll win that new car behind Door #2.
Bleacher Basics – Guidelines for Youth Sports Parents
(Apr 8th, 2011)
Maybe you’re a seasoned veteran with many years of schlepping your children to multiple youth sporting events under your belt. Or perhaps you’re entering this spring sports season as a ‘newbie’, with a youngster eager to play T-ball for the first time. Either way, you’re likely to find yourself in the stands with other parents for the next few weeks, and I guarantee you it’s not all going to be fun and games. Some of the parents will scream so loudly, you’ll start bringing earplugs to the games. Others will drive you to bring a roll of duct tape!
Building – And Bonding – Your New Team
(Apr 1st, 2011)
Skills evaluations and tryouts are over. You have your team for the new season. All the players have to do is start practicing and everything will come together, right? Wrong. Team chemistry and bonding – among both the players and the parents – is vitally important to a successful season. And there are many things you, as a team manager, can do off the field to help foster a tightly connected, cohesive team.