Flow, Learning, and Youth Sports

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, September 2014.

During the summer when I was in middle school, I walked to a halfcourt gym near my house and played basketball for as long as there were other children to play against. On some days, when the competition was good, I would play for three to four hours without realizing it, my only sense of time coming from my grumbling stomach as lunch time approached and passed. During these games, I played against a wide spectrum of different players; playing against older and bigger players forced me to learn new shots, similar to those that the San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker uses around the basket. Playing against smaller players forced me to work on my quickness to protect the ball. When I was the best player there, I would challenge younger children and play with a disadvantage, playing one against two or shooting only shots outside the key. […]

Speed of Thought in Sports

Originally published by Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, November/December 2013.

“Speed kills” is a mantra popularized by an anti-drug campaign in the 1980s and by former Oakland Raiders head coach and owner Al Davis. The mantra, in part, has led the NFL to obsess over 40-yard dash times by NFL draft prospects even though few plays require players to run 40 yards in a straight line. In team sports, speed is a valued quality, but our understanding of speed in team games often is misunderstood.  […]

Fun Games, Obesity, and Burnout

Originally published by Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, September 2013.

Every day, my twitter feed is littered with articles about childhood obesity, and the need for children to eat better and exercise more. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. In 2011, only 29% percent of high school students had participated in the recommended 60 minutes per day of physical activity on each of the 7 days before the survey (CDC, 2011). Meanwhile, I am bombarded with articles about burnout and the need for recovery. Are the two related? How can we – at the same time – have a nation plagued by obesity from a lack of physical activity and a nation plagued by burnout and overtraining in youth athletes? […]

Getting to know why children play sports

Originally published by Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, January/February 2013.

The Golden Circle, codified by author Simon Sinek, explains the ability of some to inspire or succeed despite the same access or talent as their less inspirational or successful peers. The Golden Circle is three circles: The largest circle is labeled “What”, the middle circle is labeled “How” and the innermost circle is labeled “Why”. […]

How to Maximize Coaching Hours for Coaching Performance

In another article, I suggested that if we believe that coaching is a learned skill, and not an innate talent, the 10,000-hour rule popularized by Dan Coyle, Malcolm Gladwell, and others should apply to coaching as well as to our athletes.

When I was young, I coached as much as possible. During college, I coached a different team during every season and coached AAU too. By the time that I graduated from college, I had a dozen years of head coaching experience in volleyball and basketball from nine-year-olds through junior-varsity and with boys and girls. Additionally, I spent my first few summers after college working 8-10 weeks of summer camps which provided even more coaching opportunities to teach skills and manage teams. When other coaches rested during lunch, I ran my own individual workouts teaching skills that were ignored by the normal camp schedule. By the time I was hired for a head coaching job in a professional league when I was 25 years-old, I had considerable coaching experience even though I had not played college basketball or coached at any level above NCAA D3.  […]

Quit! You Might Improve

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, July/August 2011.

I recently started jiujitsu. In the fall, I tried Pilates. Last year, I bought a paddleboard and started paddleboarding. The winter before that, I taught myself to swim. Before that, I tried boxing and kick boxing. I am, to use the description of George Leonard in Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment, a Dabbler. I enjoy the newness of an activity. I enjoy learning. However, once the newness of an activity wears off, I move on. Once I reach an acceptable level of learning, which for me is far from mastery, I try something new.  […]

10,000 hours and coaching expertise

After Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Coyle and others popularized the research of K. Anders Ericsson et al., 10,000 has become the number that most quickly grabs one’s attention. Seemingly, everyone has heard of the 10,000-hour rule, and many see it as “The Way” or “The Answer.” […]

Do Youth Sports Leagues Provide Enough Play?

In the rush to athletic achievement, myelin, 10,000 hours and deliberate practice have become the new buzzwords. However, what about play? In Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, Stuart Brown M.D. defines the six properties of Play as: Apparent Purposelessness: done for its own sake Inherent Attraction: it’s Read more about Do Youth Sports Leagues Provide Enough Play?[…]

The First Step to Athletic Greatness and Lifelong Physical Fitness

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness. At the gym this week, I watched a seventh grader work with a personal shooting coach for an hour. After his lesson, his mother spoke to another coach and had the coach watch her son and offer pointers. Then, the child shot for another hour as his Read more about The First Step to Athletic Greatness and Lifelong Physical Fitness[…]