Monthly Archives: November 2012

Nov 16

Youth Football and Concussions

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Yesterday’s post about playing basketball throughout your life got me thinking about football. You don’t see a lot of guys in their 40’s to 70’s playing tackle football. Or touch football for that matter.

But it’s not only the physical aspects of the game. It’s the toll of damage the game takes on your head. For guys that have played more than 5 years at the NFL they have a 4 times greater likelihood of having Alzheimer’s disease. My dad played two years of college ball at Michigan State. I wonder if it had any impact on his Alzheimer’s.

Did you know that there are over 60,000 cases of concussions at the high school level per year? That is an astronomical number. It makes me wonder how much longer American kids will be playing tackle football.

There’s a lot that coaches and parents can do to help prevent concussions. One of them is to make sure that their son is fit and athletic. Typically, it’s the losing teams and the weaker players who get hurt.

Tomorrow’s post will have some ideas on exercises that parents can do to help with their child’s fitness to protect them from head injuries.

Nov 16

What Went Wrong: A Coach Looks Back. Chapter 1.

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

I’ve been thinking a lot about my freshman/sophomore water polo team. I’m thinking about the things we did well and the things we didn’t.

When we had our awards night I told the parents that the kids did everything I asked of them. I just wasn’t sure if I asked the right things. Or if I asked enough of them.

I still don’t have any real answers. I can say that it has been a frustrating year or so of coaching. After being out of coaching for almost ten years and not really being “into” it for fifteen, I found that coaching youth sports has changed. As have I.

But I have continued to stay very involved in youth fitness, coaching and physical education. Its just that the actual experience of coaching kids I hadn’t done.

The team I coached is at a private school, known for its high academic standards. Not its athletic. Most of the kids that were on the team were playing their first sport of any kind. And they had very little athletic skills. They couldn’t do twenty good push-ups. They didn’t know how to throw (a real problem in water polo). Heck most of them couldn’t really swim well.

For example, an average time for a freshman boy without swimming experience in the 100 freestyle is about a 1:20 to a 1:30. I had five kids that barely broke 2 minutes.

But beyond the lack of physical athletic skills and swimming ability, at the end of the season, I realized that they lacked the mental athletic skills. They lacked toughness, resiliency, team work, and effort. I thought by putting them through the physical paces of practice and competition, they would pick these up.

They did, but not to the degree that I expected, wanted or needed to have a successful team.

I’m going to have to go back and look at things I used to do as a coach and develop them from the starting point. It really comes down to the psychological and mental skills first.

After that, everything comes together. Hopefully.

Nov 15

One reason why kids need to be athletes

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

I just got done playing basketball with a group of guys who I barely know. Most of them are lawyers and some are in their sixties.  We ran for 90 minutes, had a great workout and basically just had a blast.

Kids who don’t learn athletic skills might not ever get to experience the fun and joy of playing physical games when they get older. They won’t experience the mental and physical challenges and the benefits that come from being active.

And that is a real shame. Because all of us spoke about how much fun it was and how good it was to get together and play. Everyone was in pretty good shape. We all worked out on our own…but running on Thursday nights was way more fun.

I’m glad I was an athlete as a kid. I wasn’t great, but I always liked it. I liked winning, didn’t like losing but I loved hanging out with my friends or acquaintances and trying to do my best.

Kids, today more than ever, need to be athletes. They don’t need to be great, or even good. They need a wide range of athletic skills. They need it now for their health. And they need it 50 years from now when they are older. Because if they don’t get it now, they just might not be able to enjoy it when they are 60.


Nov 14

Athletic Skills for Kids

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

I have decided to change the focus of my blog from one of mostly fitness for youth soccer, to overall youth fitness. Helping kids play sports, enjoy sports and become more fit is a passion of mine and I found that focusing on soccer provided too little of an avenue for me.

By looking at the entire spectrum of youth fitness and health, I hope to have a larger impact on the youth of today. As a PE teacher and coach, I see more and more kids that lack the fundamental skills to not only be successful as athletes, but also to have a healthy life.

I hope you join me as we explore all the issues that are part of being a kid. From athletics, to education, to fitness, obesity, coaching, physical education and even using exercise in the class for mainstream teachers.