The research doesn't support the idea that kids need to specialize to be great, scientifically or antidotally. Plus, if most kids are specializing in a sport at an early age, and most kids don't get scholarships or get to play at the professional level, then maybe don't do what most kids do.Read More
When I messed up, and my pity party was over, I would look up in the stands and make eye contact with my dad. He would smile, give me a thumbs up, and that is all I needed from him.
That is all the kids need--your presence. The rest is just noise.Read More
As adults, we have a responsibility to allow our children to be children. Why do so many parents feel the need to fill every weekend with tournaments and training at the cost of letting a child be a child? What about family time? What about letting kids hang out with their friends? These are a problem that is only being exacerbated by many people in youth sports, specifically the club coaches who promise that taking a weekend off, much less a few weeks, would be severely detrimental to the development of that player. That is just wrong thinking.Read More
My dad passed away on Monday. He was a good man. He was a father to more than his sons and a friend to more than a few. This is one of my favorite moments as his oldest son.Read More
The whistle around your neck is not just to get the attention of the team; it is permission to be one of the most critical parts of a child's emotional, social, and physical development. Take pride in your position, and give your athletes more than just a playbook, give them an experience.
There are not many things more satisfying to me than a smiling baby, an excited child, or a youth victory dance. This whole situation took place in a matter of thirty seconds. It could have been easily prevented by mom reaching down and zipping up his jacket for him, but she paused and let him do it. Had she intervened, the little boy would not have had the joy of triumph after the struggle. But mom, in her great wisdom, allowed her son to do it on his own. Though I am sure it was difficult to see her son struggle, the payoff of victory outweighed the difficulty of failure.Read More
Working at a school with students from over 80 different countries brings forth interesting questions about language that often have nothing to do with leadership, the subject they are in my class to learn. A tennis player from Belgium was confused on the difference between the words price and cost. I pulled out a calculator. “You go to the store and buy a television for $399. Let's say you make $21 an hour and you watch 21 hours a week, which amounts to just 3 hours a day. Instead of working during the time you watch television, or creating something of value, you are missing out on $441 a week. That is $1,764 every single month. After 12 months, you have spent $21,168 watching television 3 hours a day."
The price of the television was $399. The cost of watching it instead of creating something of value cost you $21,168.
His response: “Televisions are expensive.”
Toward the end of every season, I schedule a "kids vs parents" game. A great time to do this is when the team is not doing so well and needs to have some fun, or at the end of the year party. There are many different ways to do this. Here are some tips to make it go smoothly:Read More
Hello Coach Leath, My dad says I can't quit my team, but I don't want to play football anymore. All I do is sit on the bench during the games. What should I do?Read More
What is wrong with youth sports? Don't hold back. Be honest, I won't hold it against you. If you don't have any connections to youth sports now, what was wrong with them back when you participated as an athlete? Ready? VENT!Read More
On Sunday, March 9th of last year, I cried for a few hours. A man passed away unexpectedly doing what he loved most- proudly coaching his daughter to the finish line at what would be his final swim meet.Read More
What do you say to a child after they lose a game? Tread lightly.Read More
Nails in the Fence
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”
The little boy then understood how powerful his words were. He looked up at his father and said, “I hope you can forgive me father for the holes I put in you.”
“Of course I can,” said the father.
I don't remember where I got this story, but it rang true with me as I look back on my younger days.
I think the lesson the young man in this story learns is such an important one and also is a lesson that unfortunately many of us learn much later in life. When we are young, saying or doing mean or hurtful things out of anger or frustration to the ones we love (or even strangers for that matter) seems pretty easily remedied. As children we are confident that the adults and people in our lives are more then capable to forgive and forget our offenses no matter what we would say or do. It’s not until we reach adulthood that we realize the long term damage our words and actions can have on one another. Suddenly as adults we look back on our own lives at the times when someone hurt us with their cruel words or actions and although we were able to forgive them, there are some things we discover were never able to truly forget.
The fact is there are some things that we may say or do that ultimately can never be taken back no matter how many times we apologize to the one’s we hurt. Unfortunately we tend to realize the level of irreversible damage we caused only in hindsight and even more, the ones we tend to hurt the worst are the people we usually love the most. As the saying goes, “To err is human, to forgive divine,” which is true, we are human, we make mistakes, and sometimes we say or do things we don’t mean out of anger in times of great frustration or sadness. Yet, every time we are in a dispute with a friend, disagreement with a loved one, or even just having a bad day, it’s so important to remember to pause and take a moment to think about the possible permanent repercussions our actions and words could have on others. It’s only natural that we will have times in the future where we will lose our tempers or be pushed to personal our limits. However, when we find ourselves in those times of great frustration or anger, we must be sure that whatever we say or do in those moments won’t, like the nails hammered in the fence, end up leaving permanent holes in the one’s we love and in relationships important to us that we will never be able never undo.