Monthly Archives: May 2011

May 31

The best drinks for youth athletes

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

I have a rule of thumb. The more slick the ad campaign the more horrible it is. I’ve felt this way for a long time about sports drinks. This is what ABC news had to say about it.

They make drinking sports drinks look so sexy, fit and fun on the commercials. Super fit, famous athletes chugging down. If you drink these…you’ll look like this…you’ll be like this. That’s all you have to do.

And don’t believe kids don’t pick up on the message. I see overweight kids drinking them everywhere; at school, at the mall, in the 7-11. Like they are doing something good for their body.

I knew about the sugar (I’m on a no-sugar journey right now…and it is tough) and how many empty calories there are in them. But what I didn’t realize that the second best thing for kids to drink is being eliminated. And they need this for strong bones, teeth and muscles.

If youth soccer players or other child athletes stop drinking milk, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a continued rise in orthopedic injuries.

Stopping kids from drinking sugar/caffeine drinks is difficult. I know in my case, my son is addicted. And now that he’s 18 it’s sad to see him drink 3 sodas a day.

However, we have to try.


May 28

Choosing Up Teams for U8 Soccer

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Yesterday’s post was about getting kids to buy into being part of the team. Today’s post is on a similar subject.

Always mix up your teams

One of the biggest problems that a coach can face is dividing kids into teams for drills. So many times, kids are either picked last, or left out entirely. How many times have we seen it at elementary schools? Here are some ways to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

  1. Randomly pass out vests during a break
  2. Organize kids by birth month
  3. Group kids by hobbies and interests

Whereas before, players were being told that they were less important, here, they’re being told the opposite: that each of them is a valuable part of the team.

Team-building like this both includes the less-skilled players, and also allows the kids to get to know one another, and build team unity.

This article here on how to choose teams lists over 40. I’m sure you can find some that will work.

I always try to mix up my groups as much as possible. It gives everyone a chance to learn or help each other. For high school, I like having the varsity workout with the freshman as well. They serve as leaders, teachers and role models.

When I was in high school, the varsity would pound on us freshman like a piece of leather. And we did the same when we became varsity. This is not a way to build a cohesive team, to make the sport fun or to teach kids.

And that is what youth soccer should be about.

Do you agree? Do you have a different philosophy? Let me know by filling out the comment for below.

Thanks! Ron

May 27

How to give ownership of the team to the players

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Kids having fun playing soccer

Typically, coaches have a hard time giving power away. They are the coach and they want to be in charge.

This is fine. And there are times when it is necessary.

But if you want your soccer team (or any team) to feel like they are involved in the program you have to give up some decision making. You have to let them make decisions and lead. They probably will not do it perfectly (especially when first starting)  but they will improve and get better at it.

And if you never give them chances to make decisions, make mistakes and even fail, how are they going to perform during a game? When they are playing ultimately it is there decisions and actions that will determine the outcome. I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to have practice and experience making those decisions.

There are three big areas that you can get kids involved during practice; pre-practice, during practice, and post practice

Here are six ways to involve the kids and get them feeling responsible for the success of the entire team:

  • At the beginning of practice always have a student lead the group in stretches and warm-up. Having a routine greatly helps in this. That way all the team knows what to do.
  • Give every kid an opportunity to lead; not just the captains. Involve all the team, not only your best.
  • After a drill, ask the team for feedback. Did the drill work? What could be done to improve it?
  • During this meeting have them “Give or Get”. This is where they can give a compliment to someone or get a complement back from another teammate.
  • At the end of practice always have a brief team meeting. Get team feedback.
  • Have a kid create a drill or even an entire workout depending on the age. Give them the opportunity at the end of practice and have them write it down for the next practice.

Spending time building a team pays off way more than in just wins and losses. When kids feel ownership, they take responsibility an enjoy the team more. This makes it more likely they will try harder, focus more and even continue playing.

The leadership and contribution skills they learn carry over beyond sports as well. It will make them better students, bosses and parents. And isn’t that what we really want?

Want ideas on exercises to use and how to use them for soccer skills and fitness? Then head on over to Athletic Skills for Soccer and pick up your copy today.

May 26

Is Your U8 Soccer Team Safe?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

The other day, I started thinking about our kids and how safe they are.

While you want them to have fun, make friends and improve there are other issues which we often forget.


Keep kids safe and happy

In youth soccer, it is important to build the right kind of environment for players. Here are some tips.

Many times, fields are not made safe for kids. Schools and cities are strapped for cash and cutting back. One of the areas that get neglected are parks and fields. They are expensive and take time to maintain. So as parents and coaches be sure to check the field regularly.

Some of the major things to check are:

  1. 1. Rocks, glass and dangerous objects in the field. Always do a run down before the team takes to the field.
  2. 2. Anchor down goals. Make sure the goals are safe. Also, make sure the team knows not to climb and play on them.
  3. Make sure kids are aware of parking lots and streets. In some communities the fields are next to vehicle traffic. Make sure the kids know safety rules, especially the younger ones.

Obviously, doing these things will make your kids less likely to get hurt when they play.

However, it is also important to make sure that kids feel psychologically safe, as well.  Here are some things to check towards a safe mental environment:

  1. 1. Be aware of negative comments coaches, and parents. Many teams and leagues have guidelines for parents. Another great source for parents is the               Positive Coaching Alliance.
  2. Encourage positive team interactions. As kids get older and more competitive the meanness and sarcasm can get out of control. This is unacceptable and it’s the coach and parents job to make sure that all kids are safe…and feel safe.

    If a child is in a negative environment, he or she is less likely to play to the max, and less likely to become a confident, competent player because of it.

Making sure that a playing environment is safe is one of the most basic things that you should do. Make sure that you’re constantly making sure that players are safe, so that they can keep having fun.



May 24

Biggest Loser and Kids Sports

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

The Biggest Loser is one of those shows that is like scratching a scab. It’s irritating and slightly hurts yet there’s something fascinating about it. Last night was the season finale and I caught most of it.

One of the reasons I hate it is that it makes people think that you have to kill yourself to get fit. You need a drill sergeant screaming in your face and have to do near impossible tasks till you fall down or break down like some stain on the carpet. (Got news for you. It’s dangerous and stupid. Don’t train like that. Especially if you’re working with kids.)

Last night as they milked every bit of emotional energy they could, they showed clips from the past and asked the contestants about being fat. It was amazing how much better they felt about themselves; and in every aspect of their lives. Every contestant had major issues (not to mention health) with their self-esteem, confidence and life outlook.

And they all seemed much more confident at the end of the show. Of course, being exposed to national TV probably gave them some skills but I got the feeling it was legitimate. And it made me think of our kids.

What can we do as parents, teachers and coaches to make sure that our kids don’t get like these contestants did before the show? Do people have to be adults before the learn good healthy eating and fitness habits? I hope not.

The Athletic Skills for Soccer teaches you (parents and coaches) how to work with kids to make fitness fun. While geared for soccer, it works for anyone. If you’re concerned about your child’s fitness habits and want to make sure they develop healthy living skills check it out.

Athletic Skills for Soccer. It’s not just about soccer.

May 15

Gymnastics and soccer fitness

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

This article here about about adults using gymnastics as an exercise routine got me

Gymnast showing strength development

thinking. Gymnastics has a lot of things going for it.

  • It doesn’t require a lot of equipment
  • It’s mostly bodyweight exercises
  • Gymnastics works on strength, balance, and flexibility
  • There is a large component rhythm, creativity and even dance.
  • It’s challenging. When you learn a new move you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
  • There are lots of options that you can take it to. Floor, beam, whatever. (I’m not a gymnastics guy…I don’t really know all of them. I just know there’s a lot)

So what does this have to do with soccer and soccer fitness. We’ll there are a few negative things about gymnastics as well.

First, it takes an incredible amount of time and money. Second, a lot of the coaches are pretty whacky. As a coach, most of the ones I see are whacked out with dreams of grandeur on the Olympic stage for everyone who comes into their gym.

Third, it’s not for everyone. Tall, big or overweight kids are going to have a very difficult time. And finally, if you can’t do the skills soon you’ll be out. There is very little room for those who aren’t competitive.

Soccer could learn from gymnastics about how to build strength, flexibility and coordination. Also, some of the structure of the developmental program might be copied.

But most importantly, kids who don’t do well in gymnastics might be able to come down and have success on the soccer field.

A lot of the exercises in the athletic skills program are simple gymnastics types. They build coordination and strength. To teach your child how to be stronger and more confident go to athletic skills for soccer right now.

May 14

Parents coaching U8 Soccer super stars

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

There are Youtube videos of soccer super stars. Occasionally, you’ll find a ten year old that gets drafted by Manchester United or some other team. And you think, “Gee I could get rich if my kid could do that.” Many parents do.

U8 Soccer Superstar

In my 30 plus years of coaching, I’ve rarely seen this scenario workout. Sure there are exceptions of child prodigies going on to being successes in sports. But not many. And if they do, at what price?

Take Tiger Woods for example. He certainly was pushed by his father to become the best but look at what happened to him. I wouldn’t want my kid to go through that.

Lots of parents push their kids to be the best. And then they see other kids with more skills; speed, agility, ball control and think why can’t my kid do that? They must not be trying. I need to push them more.”

This is not the way to parent your kids or to have a successful youth sport experience. You want to encourage them to play and have fun. If they play and have fun they will get more than enough practice in to be successful.

And if they need more help, work them them in a bunch of sports and exercises. Don’t limit it to just one sport. Use the exercises in my program or get my newsletter that goes into details on what and how to work with your child.

It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort. But it is worth it.

May 10

Swim Coach Goes Overboard

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Have you seen this video about the swim coach who pulled his swimmers hair?

It goes to show that some people should not be coaching and working with kids.

Now, I’ve had kids not try in competition and many times I’ve wanted to pull my hair out, but never the hair of one of the kids. Whatever the swimmer did it doesn’t deserve this.

I mean is this going to “teach her a lesson”. Is she never going to make a mistake, screw up (on purpose or not) again because she got her hair pulled? I don’t think so.

Some coaches and parents get so worked up about winning or hard work or college scholarship or going pro. They miss the whole point.

Youth sports is about fun and friends. It’s about health and fitness. It’s about learning and improving. And that’s it. The other stuff really doesn’t make much difference.

If you’re blessed with the size, desire, natural talent, coaching, and luck to be able to play a sport in college or the pros that’s great. It’s better if you love what you do so much that you keep doing it with friends when you’re ninety.

Do you think that swimmer is going to be competing when she’s ninety? How about next year?

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

May 08

Does your kid run like this?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

This is a pretty funny shot. You can see the whole picture here.

What I love is it shows how a typical kid runs. Look at the one on the left. His face is all scrunched up and he is trying so hard to win. His body is hunched over at the waist, leaning forward. This is not the way to get fast.

The kid on the right is all loose and smiling. Of course, he’s walking but you can tell he’s having fun. He may lose this race to his older brother, but spiritually, he’s much better off.

A lot of kids think that the way to be fast is like the kid on the left.

It’s not. Even at this young age they  can be doing some drills and getting some instruction to work on being faster.

I would have him stand straighter when he runs and to keep his face relaxed. Two simple things that will have a lot of effect when they get a little bit older and start having to run for real.

May 07

Coaching Your Kid and Hiring Yourself for a Lawyer

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

I just read this article by Dan John, a strength and weight lifting guru. He’s a real smart guy and old school. He’s very opinionated and I don’t think a lot of his advice is appropriate for kids (at least not young ones) but I love reading him, learning and getting motivated.

Anyway, he’s a frequent contributor at and I just read his blog post about how he hired a personal trainer to get him to do the exercises that he hates to do. You can read his short blog here.

He compared it to being a lawyer for yourself which is never a good idea. I think we can all agree on that.

It got me thinking about my product; Athletic Skills for Soccer. I think that its a great book and program. I think that there’s a lot of stuff that parents really need to be able to work with their kids. And I think that coaches need to know how to develop athletic skills in their teams, too.

And it got me thinking that maybe parents think they know it all, already. I mean why should they buy a book about how to work with their kid, right? It’s their kid, they see coaches on TV and in the Internet. They had coaches and played sports in high school, maybe even college.

Is this you?

If it is I strongly urge you to rethink it. Preferably your kids coach would teach them athletic skills like how to run. But most coaches don’t know, especially at the U8 level. Or maybe you could hire an expert (like myself) to come over and do it. But I’m expensive and and don’t do that anyway.

No, you’re stuck. You are going to have to learn as much as you can and quickly. You’re going to have to learn about soccer speed, strength and fitness. You’re going to have to learn how to motivate and make things fun.

You can take the long way, or you can pick up my program and start reading right now. All you have to do is click this link and scroll down right to the order form.

You’ll be able to use it right away. And it’s guaranteed. If you’re unhappy or unsatisfied about my program, let me know. I will gladly refund 100% of your money. If you tell me why, I’ll throw in an extra five bucks just for taking the time.

Thanks for reading. Let me know how your kids soccer training is coming.