Coaches Who “Work the Refs”

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Boo hoo. My favourite teams in the NCAA basketball tournament are gone. My alma mater, Wisconsin, was hammered by my second favorite team, Cinderella squad, Davidson. Then on Sunday, Davidson was beaten by Kansas.

However, an incident in the Stanford versus Marquette game highlighted a coaching tactic that I really hate. The Stanford coach was ejected for walking onto the floor in order to continue complaining about a referee’s call. He had already been warned once about his behavior.

This took place early in the game – with three minutes left in the first half.
While assistant coaches are prepared to take over their team, this was akin to changing a ship’s rudder in the middle of a storm. His team bailed him out – barely. Stanford won on a last-second shot in overtime.

While I respect coach Trent Johnson’s sincere apology in the post-game interview, this incident brings attention to a form of coaching behavior that I truly dislike.

Many coaches, at all levels and in many sports, now feel they aren’t doing their job unless they are “working the refs.” The thinking is, if they complain enough about every questionable call, they’ll get some “make up” calls later in the game.

The result is a constant stream of complaints aimed at the officials…from the same builders of character who preach composure to their athletes.

They might indeed get an extra call here or there. But they also risk losing credibility with the officials when they really DO have a legitimate complaint.

However, the biggest drawback is the message they are sending their athletes. They tell them not to whine and sulk and complain after a bad call. Then they go ahead and do it themselves. It’s a mixed message and one that makes it difficult to develop positive behavior among young athletes.

One reason for this trend? The television attention that coaches get when they are performing their referee rants. It’s a not-so-subtle form of approval for their poor behavior.

Just let the athletes play the game.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]March Madness,NCAA, tournament,sports,sport,basketball,sports, referees[/tags]

15-Passenger Van Problems

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The most dangerous aspect of coaching is travel. School teams are frequently transported by van, often with the coach at the wheel. I’ve been that driver/coach dozens of times, and it can be risky business.

Coaches experience an adrenaline crash after competition and must often fight fatigue at the wheel. And being the captain of a vehicle containing other people’s children is an incredible responsibility. Their lives and the well-being of their families and friends is literally in your hands. The frightening thing is that their safety is sometimes out of your control. Snow, fog, oncoming drivers (possibly impaired), rain and ice may all be the cause of an accident you can’t prevent.

That’s why my heart goes out to the families of the high school athletes in New Brunswick, who were killed recently while driving home from an inter-school basketball game. I particularly feel for the coach who was at the wheel when their van hit a patch of ice and slid uncontrollably into the path of an oncoming transport. It’s every coach’s nightmare.

It has yet to be been determined whether it was a contributing factor, but the team was traveling in a 15-passenger van. Studies have shown that these vans lose their ability to maneuver when fully loaded. Part of the problem is that adding passengers to such vehicles raises their center of gravity, reducing their stability. The other problem is their configuration, in which a large portion of the vehicle extends past the rear wheels. It’s an unstable design.

Many schools now prohibit the use of such vans. This leaves many teams with a problem— how to provide transport to away games. A common solution is to rent two 7-passenger vans. The problem is a slightly higher cost and the fact that you need two drivers. This is a trade-off because the chances of finding two experienced drivers are less than finding a single driver who is good behind the wheel. The other option is to rent a bus with a professional driver. The obvious problem here is cost.

There is another solution — a 12-passenger van. They are essentially the same as a 15-passenger, but less of the vehicle extends beyond the rear wheels. Our squad has been using them this year and they’ve worked well. There’s enough room in the back luggage area to accommodate at least one bag for most of your passengers. And the cost is about the same as a 15-passenger van. Not all vehicle rental companies carry them, so don’t give up if the first company you contact says they’re not available.

It’s worth looking into.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports,vans,team,physical education,coaching[/tags]

Injury Excuse Extraordinaire

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I have heard many reasons for injury in my 25 years of coaching. Some were beauties, but I think the one I heard this week is the best ever.

One of my sprinters has been nursing a sore hamstring. When I asked him how he had strained the muscle, his response was that he was playing hockey…video game hockey!

That’s right, he pulled a muscle playing a video game.

His full explanation: he was sitting on a chair with his legs upraised, feet resting on his bed and the controller on his lap. As he was playing, he kept shifting his weight back and forth and sideways while avoiding checks from virtual defensemen. When he stood up to go the bathroom, he found that he’d pulled his hammie.

I give him full credit for honesty. He must have been tempted to say he’d pulled the muscle while squatting 400 pounds or performing uphill sprints in the snow.

Do you have an injury that matches this? Send it in the comments section, or through the PE Update discussion forum!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports,physical education,injury,coaching[/tags]

Team Christmas Parties

Xmas Elf

One thing that has become a tradition with my track club (for over twenty years) and now my university team, is the annual Christmas party.

Every year around this time we get together at our house for a potluck supper and other festivities, including the showing of race videos, a slide show put to music, annual awards presentations, and finally, a cutthroat Kris Kringle.

So, last night we held my university team’s Christmas party. As always, it was an informal affair. My wife, Terry, dresses like a Xmas elf. She loves the job, which includes hosting the Cutthroat Kris Kringle. There are many rules for Kris Kringles, but the way we operate it , everybody brings a wrapped gift costing less than ten dollars, then writes their name on a slip of paper and puts it into a container. The Christmas elf selects the first name – that person chooses a gift from under the tree, then selects the next name. Each subsequent person has the option of either selecting from under the tree, or stealing a gift from someone who has already selected. It’s a lot of fun, especially when athletes, who tend to be rather competitive, start to steal from each other. However, everyone realizes it’s all in good fun and the hooting and hollering keep it that way. By the way, some items get re-gifted and return year after year. With us, it’s a furry jock-strap and a rubber snake – they’ve become part of the Christmas party tradition.

The video and slide show have become easier to produce as technology has improved. I usually bring a camera and camcorder to all our competitions, and assign an athlete or parents to be the camera person for the day. By the end of the year, I end up with a great visual history of the season. At the party, I just run the videos off the camcorder, but with the photos, I produce a slideshow with a soundtrack. Technology has made this easy – I use a Macintosh, and programs like iPhoto and Expressions (my favorite), make it a snap to organize the digital photos and produce a professional-looking slideshow. The soundtrack just comes from mp3’s already on my computer.

I call the awards the “Annual Turtle Awards,” because the actual award is a Turtle candy that I toss at them (I call it the Slowpoke Awards for my university crew, because we hand out Slowpokes). The awards are tongue-in-cheek and are based on some of the funny occurrences throughout the year. For example this year’s awards included “The Worst Sense of Direction Award,” the “Kamikaze Start Award,” and the “Just Shoot Me” award.

As for the “Quotes of the Year” award, throughout the year, I do my best to immediately write down the funniest comments before I forget them. I end up with a collection of these quotes on the back of file folders, napkins and slips of paper. It’s a hoot to recite the quotes during the party, and once I compile them on the computer, they become a permanent reminder of the fun we’ve had and all the crazy characters I’ve coached over the years. Some of this year’s quotes included “I used to be obsessed with Mr. Bean. I used to pretend I WAS Mr. Bean (strange coming from a female runner), “I feel sorry for whoever dates me,” and “Is that a mitochondria in your shorts, or are you just happy to see me.” The winner was, “We’ll give you chocolate…and ice cream…and BEER, if you stop at the mall on the way home!” (I did…but they didn’t).

A Christmas part takes some preparation but it’s a lot of fun. It becomes a gathering point for athletes and alumni every year, and it’s one of the things that makes Christmas feel like Christmas for Terry and I.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,coaching,Christmas,party,team,sport,sports[/tags]

A Canadian Cross-Country Running Experience

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Well it was an interesting weekend. I made the six-hour drive to Guelph, Ontario, for the Canadian Cross-Country Running Championships. For those of you who know what Canada is like in December, you might be asking, “But wasn’t it cold? Wasn’t there snow?” The answer is yes, it was cold, and yes, there was snow.

In fact, we drove down in a blizzard. A French exchange student who runs with our club (I coach at Laurentian University and with Sudbury’s Track North Athletic Club), received a true Canadian experience during the drive. He was a little wide-eyed during the near white-out conditions, his comment being, “In France, if it’s like this, we don’t leave the house.” To his credit, he later raced in his shorts.

On race-day, the temperatures was about -8 centigrade (18 degrees fahrenheit), and the course itself was hard-packed snow. It looked like a nordic ski course.

But it was a great event, with music blaring and a group of local drummers heating up the atmosphere. The snow had stopped by race day, and it was a beautiful, sunny day. The footing was OK, since the race organizers had packed it down with a tractor and roller.

Besides, cross-country runners are hardy folk. For most, the worse the conditions, the more fun they have.

This blog has readers from many countries, including places that never see snow, such as Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Malasia, and Australia. For those of you who want a Canadian athletics experience, check out the following FloCast footage of the race.

FloTrack, by the way, is a tremendous website for those of you who are athletics fans. It provides video coverage of many athletics events…in particular, the events that the mainstream media ignores in lieu of Rock, Paper, Scissors tournaments. 🙂

Here’s the link. If you want to see other races from the meet, the links are on the top left. For a school perspective, the Junior races are for athletes under 20. While they include some runners in their first or 2nd year of university, but most are high schoolers. For example, Kendra Schaaf, who won the Junior Girls race, is still in high school.

http://www.flocasts.org/flotrack/coverage.php?c=130&id=6150

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]cross-country running,athletics,sports,physical education, coaching [/tags]

A Good Luck Message From A Caring Coach

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As the scholastic sport season winds down, I’d like to post this message from a coach to his athletes. Circumstances beyond his control left Colin Ward, the head track coach at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, unable to attend the city championships with his athletes – athletes with whom he’d been working for months.

While he couldn’t be there in person, he sent a message that encompasses practical advice with inspirational words. It also embodies the true spirit of scholastic sport.This is the message he sent before the meet.

Coach’s Send-Off
I want to say good luck to all of you as you head into the City Championships! I wish I could be there to see all of our training pay off. I want you to know, you all have the capacity to exceed yourselves, most of you have worked very hard to get to this point, and with these few tips you will be able to make the most of your experience this week!

1. Cheer for each other and watch each other! Most people need an audience, or at the very least, appreciate the words of encouragement that come from friends and team mates.

2. Support each other. Some people will have great days and simply need to be congratulated, others will have bad days, and just need a friend to sit with.

3. The little things matter! Our team usually does better when the conditions are horrible because we pay attention to details. That means……..

  • Rest the day before, and get a good sleep before and during competitions.
    •    Eat well and drink lots of water,
    •    STAY OUT OF THE SUN AND WIND
    •    Dress properly. You should have the clothes to stay warm in any weather. The engine only works when it is hot! If you get cold, you may as well throw away months of training.
    •    Cool down! Most of you know to warm-up properly, but if you don’t cool down you are slowing your recovery. A light jog for 10 -20 minutes is a good use of time after an event.

4. Focus on the positive. You might not do as well as you were hoping to, but beating yourself up over it won’t do any good. Focus instead on what went right, then think about areas for improvement. This is not always easy to do in the heat of the moment, but it is worth keeping in mind.

5. Have fun!! High School will be over before you know it. Enjoy these moments with your team and friends. Years from now it won’t matter how you did, it will just matter that you did.

And post videos and pictures for me, I’ll be following the events closely.”

This is the final blog post until September. I won’t post during the July or August vacation period because I’m not sure there’ll be anyone to read them. Have a great summer!!

Dick Moss, Editor, 
PE Update.com

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To check out the PE Update.com website, click here
Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,track and field,coaching,coach>[/tags]