Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Jul 15

Does Your Child Exercise?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

I bet you think that some kids are born athletes and others are not. Most people do.

I don't believe so. I think all kids are born athletes. Some are born MORE athletic than others but we are all athletes.

Unfortunately, our kids are loosing this athletic ability too soon. The reasons are numerous and pervasive.

  • Limited time playing outdoors
  • Schools reducing and eliminating physical education and recess.
  • Video games on consuls and tablets.
  • Parents so busy and out of shape, they don't want to play, move and exercise with their kids.

The lack of movement in our kids lives is having an enormous impact on our kids and our nation. Kids today will have a host of problems from being overweight to diabetes and heart disease from this lack of activity.

If you're a parent then you're going to have to face some serious truths.

You're going to have to help your child move, exercise and get outside. If you don't, they most likely won't do it.

Do you agree? What do you do to help your child be an athlete? Share on Facebook and Twitter to discuss.

Jun 10

Athletic Skills is Changing

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Every child should be an athlete.

This is me!

Hey…thanks for stopping by.

I noticed my last post was in October. October of 2014. That’s crazy!

I’ve been doing some blogging on my other sites. I can’t believe it’s been that long since I posted here.

I spent a lot of time working on this site and the program but I never got the views or traction I wanted. I need more feedback from my readers and it just didn’t happen.

So, I left it. And pretty much left blogging and Internet Marketing as well.

Well, I’m back. With a pivot.

Coach Ron Usher ( is going to focus on three areas of swimming. Those areas are:

  1. Adults learning to swim
  2. Swimmers wanting to be better and faster
  3. Parents wanting to teach their kids to swim

Probably each subject should have their own website but man, that’s too much.

Athletic Skills for Kids is going to be re-branded as well.

Previously, it was Athletic Skills for Soccer and I wrote mostly about training for soccer. My focus was on the kids who weren’t the best. Maybe they were overweight, or late bloomers.

I still think there’s a great need for information and help for parents in this field. But I thought it was needed for all the other sports too; basketball, volleyball, football, swimming, etc.

Each subject should have a website as well. That’s even more crazy.

As you can see, the whole thing becomes overwhelming.

So my new plan for Athletic Skills is to focus on only one area:

Running for kids.

I think that parents for most sports will be looking for running.

Parents of kids who are overweight or nonathletic will probably be looking too.

I’ve got a wordpress site that actually gets a lot of comments on a running post I made. Hopefully, it can bring them over here too. Here is the link to the blog for kid fitness expert.

It needs some love too. Though I made the header all by myself. OK, I won’t get a job as a graphic designer or web guru.

My goal is to start writing a blog post here once a week. I’m mainly focusing on the swimming one for a variety of reason. I’m also working on the marketing and business side of this.

It’s summer vacation and I’ve got a couple of weeks to be productive, learn, write and make some friends.

Hopefully, you’ll join me.


Oct 24

Focus and the Force in Youth Sports

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Focusing on the ball!

I was watching Star Wars: Rebels the other night (actually, it’s pretty good for a cartoon) and the kid is being trained by a Jedi to use the Force. The Jedi is good at using the Force but he’s a horrible teacher.

In one scene, he keeps yelling at his student, “Focus, you’re not focused!” Like I said, he’s a horrible teacher but the whole focus issue struck a nerve.

Focus does not mean success. You could be focusing and still not skilled enough to accomplish the task. Or, you might just be focusing on the wrong thing. It’s very difficult to tell when you’re not a mind reader.

I think teaching kids to focus is a very valuable skill. And I think teaching them what to focus on is a sign of great coaching.

Ask two kids to balance a broomstick on the palm of their hand. Instruct one to look at their palm. Have the other look at the top of the stick. Who has the better focus? Can you guess?

Probably both have the same skill in focusing. I bet the one looking at the tip will be successful. The one looking at their palm will have a very difficult time no matter if they have the focus ability of Michael Jordan. They are focusing on the wrong thing!

There are four main components to focusing. They are:

1. Staying engaged with the task at hand. An example of this would be watching a fly ball and following it so it lands in your glove.

2. Being able to remove distractions. Ignoring the pressure of a big game or a loud crowd are examples of this.

3. The ability to process a lot of information at once. Peyton Manning is a master of this. He doesn’t focus on one receiver. He’s able to see the entire field and knows what everyone is going to do.

4. The focus of flow. This is where you’re able to trust your instincts and your training. The samurai called it, “mushin”. You don’t really think…you just act.

As a youth sport coach, what do you do to help your players focus? Are their techniques you use? Do you talk to them about it? I’d love to hear some thoughts, ideas and advice.

Coach Ron Usher

Sep 25

A Nice Pee Wee Football Practice

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

flag football playersI got to watch a 2nd grade class work on some football skills. It was pretty cool how the teacher did it.

First, she’s the only one out in the field with 40 kids! That’s a lot of squirmy kids. But she kept them inline and interested.

First, she had set up cones so that the students would stay inside her boundaries. And she had a plenty of flags and balls. Every kid had flags and every pair of kids had a football.

The first drill I saw them do was to pair up. She taught them how to hold the ball and taught them about what a fumble was. Then one partner took the ball while the other partner spread their arms and legs apart to make as big a star shape as possible.

The students with the balls then ran around the other students in a bit of mass pandemonium. It was fun to watch.

After a few minutes of running they switched places.


The next drill was a flag pulling drill. Students without the ball (defense) would pull the flags on the students with the balls (offense). If your flag was pulled, you gave the ball to that person and then you became a defender. Again, she taught them the terms of offense, defense and fumble.

They ran around for a few minutes and then she had them put the equipment away and take a water break. I think she had another activity for them but it was time for me to go.

All in all it was a very nice lesson. Kids had fun, learned and were active. It was a direct contrast to the middle school class I watched that played dodgeball. That’s a completely different story.

Sep 21

25 Open ended questions for PE and Youth Sports

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Image of a question mark

The right questions improve learning and performance

(Feel free to comment or add your own at the end!)


Open ended questions are the type that encourage deeper thinking from your kids. They are the ones that don’t have a correct answer and can’t be answered yes or no.


“What the hell are you doing!?” is not an open ended question. Neither is, “What is the airspeed of an unladened European swallow?”


Coming up with open ended questions can be tough. I always loved it when I did but was frustrated that I couldn’t pull them out of my pocket.


There are different types of open ended questions. But as a rule they fit into these categories:

Making predictions

Stretching thinking

Assessing feelings

Considering consequences

Solving a problem


Here are practical examples for you to use.

  1. What happens when you…..?
  2. Is there a better way that you can do this?
  3. How would you…..? (get faster, improve)
  4. Why do we….?
  5. When you ……, what happens?
  6. How can we improve…….?
  7. How do you know when…..? (you’ve improved, you’ve got it)
  8. Can you explain… your teammate?
  9. What do we need to do now?
  10. How can we take it to the next level?
  11. What else can we do to…..?
  12. Is there another way we can….?
  13. What would happen if we…..?
  14. What do we need to do when….?
  15. How do we…..?
  16. What’s the best (fastest, easiest) way to…..?
  17. If we did…..then what would happen?
  18. How many ways can you……?
  19. Why do we…..? Anything else?
  20. How will you know when….?(we’ve improved, we’ve got it)
  21. What else can we do to…..?
  22. If you wanted to…..what possible things could we do?
  23. Show me how we can….?
  24. Is there another way to….?
  25. Why would we want to……?

Give some of these a try and see how they work. And if you have more to add, please don’t be shy and leave a comment.

Jul 14

Nineteen Tips for Planning Your Youth Sport Season.

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Every coach, every sport has different seasons.

  • They have different lengths
  • Some have weekly competitions, some twice a week
  • There are sports that last six weeks and sports that last a year.
  • Some coaches have a lot of control over the athletes
  • And some coaches have almost no control.

Planning varies by sport, age, and skill. A coach planning a ten week high school soccer program is going to plan for different things than the coach planning for her 17/U championship soccer year-round program. Same sport, same age but completely different goals, objectives, strategies and tactics.

But whatever level or sport you are coaching at there are a lot of common grounds as well. Here are twenty tips to help you have a great season.

Sports Planning Tip #1. Do it and write it down. Don’t procrastinate. Write it down so that you have a record and something to always go to

Sports Planning Tip #2: What are your goals for the season? Not your goals for the team (though you should be thinking of what they are, too). But what are your goals? What do you want to do a better job at? What do you want to learn this season? How much time do you want to put in?

Sports Planning Tip #3: Circle the “Big Games” or the championship meet. These are the ones that you need to rest the kids for. They are also the ones that you might spend more time on mental/psychological/teamwork.

Sports Planning Tip #4: What are the most important skills the team needs to work on? Here are somethings to consider:

  • General Conditioning
  • Sport Specific Conditioning
  • Individual Skills
  • Team Skills
  • Mental Skills

Each one of these skills can be broken down into many different categories depending on the age, skill and sport. Your job is to figure out what needs to be covered…and when. Again, be sure to write this down on your calendar.

Sports Planning Tip #5: Start with the big picture and work down. Start with the entire year or season. Then break it up into early, middle and late. What about post season? Be sure to think about that as well.

Sports Planning Tip #6. Cycle different components of the skills. On sports that are very short (six weeks) this might not be possible. But for longer seasons skills such as speed can not taught and then always ramped up. Olympic coaches have a plan for 4, 8 and even 12 years!  Plan for different intensities; easy, medium, hard and recovery.

Sports Planning Tip #7: Have a plan, but know it might change. Things happen to athletes, teams and coaches. Your plan is not written in stone. Be prepared to adapt. But don’t throw away. Always come back to it as much as possible.

Sports Planning Tip #8: Add social, fun and team building activities. These are critical for the success of every team at every level. Be sure to schedule them in.

Sports Planning Tip #9. Engage the staff and team in the plan. Head coaches and assistants need to be on the same page…or at least the same book. Athletes will perform better and be more engaged if they have some idea of what and why they are doing something.

Sports Planning Tip #10: Seasons are broken up into macro, meso and mini cycles. For age-group swimming a macro cycle was from September to August. A meso cycle was short-course (September to April) and long course (April to August). Each one of those I broke up into mini cycles usually one or two weeks long. Thinking of breaking up your season this way will help greatly with teaching skills and monitoring conditioning.

Sports Planning Tip #11: Write down the specific goals/skills to work on for a week (mini cycle). You might try writing the specific workouts to do but this isn’t always necessary. This is usually done on the weekends. I always did in Sunday night.

Sports Planning Tip #11: Individual practice sesssions should be written down before each practice. I did this either right after the previous practice, or the night before. Occasionally, I had time in the morning to write my workouts up.

Sports Planning Tip #12: Consider using a whiteboard or some other technique to show the team what they will be learning.

Sports Planning Tip #13: Plan for holidays. In swimming Christmas vacation is a critical time. Yet many families want to leave to ski. If you expect your team to workout over the holidays, they need to know it and be prepared. One reason my last coaching job was so disappointing was because all the families took off during breaks. I had no idea how bad it would be.

Sports Planning Tip #14: For individual practices focus on one or two kids. Or focus on a particular skill.

Sports Planning Tip #15: Each practice should have at least:

  • Warm-up
  • Conditioning component
  • Skill component(s)
  • Social/Team/mental component
  • Closure

Sports Planning Tip #16: How will you assess the practice session? What will a good practice look like? How about a bad practice?

Sports Planning Tip #17: Be prepared for the unexpected. What happens if it starts raining? Do you have indoor plans? What if the field gets closed or is rented out on accident? Have a plan B and C ready.

Sports Planning Tip #18:  At the end of the season, take a break. And then reevaluate the plan. What worked and what didn’t? Always try new things. Experiment.

Sports Planning Tip #19: Look for different sources for information and inspiration. Go to coaches of other sports or ages. Watch their practices and talk to their coaches. Look to other sources; historical leaders, religious and spiritual leaders, and business leaders have similar problems that youth sport coaches have. Learn from them.


Jul 13

World Cup, Brazil Collapse and Youth Sports. How to Prevent Your Team from Doing the Same

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of sad soccer player

Teach your team to be resiliant

This years World Cup has brought a soccer fever to the US. More people are watching it and talking about it than ever before. I’m wondering if it will have a boost on US youth soccer programs (probably) or professional soccer attendance (probably not).

What has fascinated me this year is Brazil’s collapse. Losing 7-1 to Germany and then 3-1 to the Netherlands. It just goes to show how important mental training and preparation are at every level.

I am sure that the Brazilian side is as skilled as any other team. They have the speed and talent to beat anybody. But when they got down quick against Germany they fell apart.

You could see it in their faces and body language.

You could see it in their interactions with each other.

They were never able to get back together as a team.

And the slump continued to the third place game.

I have no idea what kind of physical training and preparation Brazil does. I’m betting that it is cutting edge and creative. They are incredible athletes.

But somewhere along the line they reverted to a typical group of middle school kids.

The mistake they made was they didn’t work on resiliancy. Or if they did, the players, coach and team didn’t master the lesson.

Everybody has to learn how to get back on track. Individuals and teams will make mistakes. They will get behind. In sport and and life it happens. Like the famous quote says, “Six times down, seven times up.”

Here are five ways to help your youth sport team be resiliant and to bounce back.

Youth Sport Resiliancy Tip #1: Talk about it in practice

Bring it up in practice. Don’t wait for a game; by then it’s too late.

Youth Sport Resiliancy Tip #2: Be a good role model

If you lose control and start yelling and get emotional it sets a bad example for your team and it will make getting back on track more difficult. When things are falling apart you must remain calm and collected.

Youth Sport Resiliancy Tip #3: Teach breathing and relaxing skills

Teach your players how to breathe deeply and relax. Five deep abdominal breaths and shaking of the limbs will relax the body and get your team physically and mentally ready to come back.

Youth Sport Resiliancy Tip #4: Teach Teamwork

Teams that are close emotionally tend to support each other. This togetherness is critical in difficult times.

Youth Sport Resiliancy Tip #5: Rehearse being behind in practice.

Set-up scrimmages and mini games where one side is behind and has to score quick. Get your athletes prepared by rehearsing what they need to do by actually practicing it. Similiar to a two minute drill in football, it works with every sport.

It’s funny how the issues that kids have in youth sports can carry over to the most elite and professional levels (though I’m sure the Brazilians aren’t laughing). A large part of youth sports is preparing kids for life beyond and outside of sports. Taking time to teach mental skills goes a long way to improving your team, your individual players and creating successful adults.

Jul 12

Moving Warm-ups for Youth Sports

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of basketball player jumping for a dunk

This is definitely not me.

I play basketball on most Saturdays. Today was pretty brutal with lots of running and jumping with a bunch of guys who are younger, faster and more skilled. It’s frustrating but always fun and a great workout.

I like to observe myself during the game. My skills are probably a little better than the average non-athlete kid in middle school. This gives me a unique perspective on what I need to work on, what kids need to work on and ways to incorporate those skills in PE or at practice.

One area, that I get beat on is jumping. My vertical jump isn’t very good but I’m ok with that. What gets me is that I can’t jump quickly, I can’t do repeated jumps and jumping from different positions makes things much worse.

I’ve been working on my jumping and it has improved. Typically, I jump in the mornings when I’m doing a strength or metabolic conditioning workout. It’s working but it isn’t carrying over enough to the game.

So here are some warm-up ideas I’m going to use to improve my basketball game. I think they will work for kids and youth sports as well. These warm-ups are designed to be done on a court or field ten to twenty yards wide. All the movements should be done with the knees bent, head up and body in an athletic stance.

Youth Sport Motion Warm-ups

1.Five steps and jump: Five easy steps then plant and jump. Odd numbers work best for the steps because you end up jumping off of opposite legs.

2. Five steps and hop: Take five steps and then hop off the single leg you landed on.

3. Four shuffles and jump: Moving to your left, take four shuffle steps and then jump. Switch direction on the way back.

4. 180 shuffle with a jump: Shuffle then rotate 180 degrees. Then jump. Repeat.

5. 180 Reverse shuffle with jump: Same as the previous drill, but turn back side instead of forward.

6. Five steps, jump and turn. Run 5 steps then jump for distance and turn 180 degrees.

7. Ground clappers wtih jump. On any of the previous drills, bend at the knees and clap both hands to the ground. Then jump.

Youth Sport Jumping Variations

There are lots of ways to develop jumping skills. Basketball and any sport that requires quickness, speed and jumping (most of them) use different types of jumps. Be sure to add these variations to the above drills.

1. Jump for height.

2. Jump for distance.

3. Jump for quickness. React and jump as quick as possible. Emphasize a quick drop and explosion off the ground.

4. Repeated jumps. Instead of doing one jump, add two or three more jumps.

5. Jump with a body action. Instead of just jumping up, add an arm, leg or body action. For instance: Arm claps, throwing/shooting motion, back scratch, split legs or knee tucks.

I’m going to be doing these jumping drills two to three times a week along with my regular workouts. I’m hoping that my rebounding, positioning and movement skills improve.

Having your team or class do them will help them as well.

Coach Ron Usher

Jul 06

Youth Sports: Partner Running Drills to Develop Agility and Individual Skills

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of two puppies running

Running with a partner is fun!

When I watch youth sport teams such as football, basketball, and baseball workout, most teams do a lot of running.

They run a warm-up lap, then they typically do sprints at the end of practice.

The kids are encouraged to go fast and compete. But I don’t see a lot of teaching going on. I’ve written a lot about teaching running technique but most of those posts have been about teaching individual running technique.

But for youth sports there’s a lot more to being able to run than just running by yourself. You have to be able to run in relation to the ball, your teammates and most importantly, an opponent.

It’s a fundamental skill that isn’t typically taught in PE or coaches.

Here are seven partner running drills to help kids learn how to run with an against an opponent. They are fun and will also help your team and kids get used to some physical contact.

Youth Sport Partner Running Drill #1: Holding on to a shoulder.

With your partner, you run twenty yards at a moderate pace. The goal is to run together. Partner holds on to your shoulder. Be sure to vary the shoulders and you can do this running drill with both hands on the shoulders as well.

Youth Sport Parnter Running Drill #2: Bumping drill

Partners run next to each other at slow to moderate pace. On a whistle, they bump shoulders and then separate. Can also be done with a count; “One, two, three, bump. One, two three, bump.”

Youth sport Partner Running Drill #3: Forward/Backward

One partner runs forward, the other stays in front and runs backwards. Player running forwards runs straight and at 45 degree angles for a few steps.

Youth Sport Partner Running Drill #4: Side to Side/Sprint

Partners face each other about five feet apart. Partner A shuffles two to five steps to the side. Partner B faces A and stays with him. After two or three shuffles, A runs twenty yards to a finish line. Partner B turns and tries to beat him to the line.

Youth Sport Partner Running Drill #5: Up/Down Drill

Two partners run for 40 yards. At first five yards, partner A drops to the ground and does three push-ups. Partner B will touch the shoulders of partner A for each repetition. Player A gets up and runs to the next five yard marker, where Partner B does the push-ups.

Youth Sport Partner Running Drill #6: Battle Royale

Two players of approximately equal size/strength face each other. Players place hands on each other’s shoulders and push with moderate intensity. Coach can increase the intensity by increments with a whistle. At a command, both players race to a finish line.

Youth Sport Partner Running Drill #7: Band Runs

One partner in front, one behind. Partner in front (A) has a band, rope or long towel, wrapped around his chest. Partner behind holds on to the band as A tries to run forward.

Many of these drills are tackle football related but they really should be practiced by all teams. Kids used to get a lot of rough housing just playing around. But not so much anymore. One of the biggest problems schools have is with kids not knowing how to be physical or deal with physical contact.

Spending a few minutes during a practice performing these partner running drills will help toughen up your team, teach them how to move against an opponent and work on agility. They are also a blast!

Coach Ron Usher
Every Child An Athlete
Be An Athlete for Life

Jun 30

Seven Types of Strength Training for Youth Sports: Part Two: Practical

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of woman doing sit-up

Check out the sit-up complexes.

Yesterday’s post was about different types of strength training that can be used in a youth sports program. I believe that all youth sports teams should do some type of strength training and so should PE programs. It’s needed not only for the success of the team but also the developmental health and well being of our kids.

By using some variation of types of strength training you’ll be developing all the different muscle fibers and neurological pathways. This should have an impact on performance as well as injury prevention.

Two other benefits are that it is a nice modality break; kids will like trying something different. Also, I’ve found it will tend to prevent overtraining.

Remember from the previous article that there are different levels of resistance, movement, and speed that can be done with most any exercise. Here are examples you can try for push-ups, squats, and abdominal work.

Strength training for youth sport: Push-up complex #1.

Do all four exercises without a break. Rest for thirty seconds to a minute and then repeat.

a. Five push-ups (full range of motion)
b. Isometric hold at bottom of push-up, ten seconds
c. Five push-ups (full range of motion)
d. Isometric hold at 1/2 way, ten seconds

This complex uses isometrics and general strength.

Strength training for youth sport: Push-up complex #2.

a. Start at top position and slowly lower to bottom for ten seconds.
b. At bottom position explode up and perform a clap push-up.

Repeat set for five to ten repetitions.

Strength training for youth sport: Squat complex #1

a. Convict squat (hands behind head, elbows out) for ten repetitions
b. Three explosive jumps.

Repeat set five times.

Strength training for youth sport: Squat complex #2

a. Forward lunge with left leg and slowly lower till right knee touches the ground (ten seconds)
b. Jump up and perform a split jump.
c. With right leg forward, slowly lower till left knee touches the ground
d. Perform split jump and repeat.

Do complex six to twelve times.

Strength training for youth sport: Core complex #1

a. Perform ten sit-ups
b. At top position, slowly lower body till shoulders are just off the ground (ten seconds)
c. At bottom position, pulse body quickly up and down ten times.
d. Rest and repeat for ten sets.

Strength training for youth sport: Core complex #2

a. From sit-up position with hands behind head, hold shoulders off the ground for ten seconds.
b. Rotate 90 degrees to the left and right, twisting the body for ten repetitions.
c. Perform ten sit-ups. Stop at 45 degrees. Hold for ten seconds>
d. Rotate 90 degrees to the left and right, twisting for ten repetitions.

As you can imagine, these are all very tough complexes. They can be easily over done. Elite athletes will love them. Use them carefully with younger and beginner athletes.

Remember, more is not better. And sweat and pain is not a sign that you’re doing great coaching.

Have fun and let me know what you think.

Coach Ron Usher

P.S. These are just examples. Be creative and make up some of your own.

Every Child an Athlete
Be an Athlete for Life.

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