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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another League Management Web Site

I found this company in the Albany NY area.

League Sports Service www.leaguesportsservices.com

At first glance I wondered how this was different than using www.Leaguelineup.com or www.eteamz.com but it appears that it simplifies and manages the background check process for volunteer organizations and their coaches. Obviously this is a hot button today with all the report incidents on such web sites as www.badjocks.com and just about anywhere else you turn in the news.

They also offer roster management and communication tools to enable leagues to be more effiecient managers of informaiton.

If you have any experience with League Sports Services I'd like your feedback.
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Punters, Kickers and Long Snappers

I was in Las Vegas a few weekends ago to see some college buddies. One of them is also a Division I college coach and I tagged along with him to a Chris Sailer Kicking combine.showcase in downtown Las Vegas as my buddy was in need of a good kick off guy and a punter.

I learned a few things:
1) Long Snappers - apparently most colleges want someone who can get it back to the punters hands in .75 seconds or less. Ideally .72 or less but .75 is the max range. Under .70 and you are in pro territory. When you think about guys blocking punts or deflecting punts with little more than a few knuckles lengths of distance, you can see why there is a big difference between .72 and .75.



2) Three Step Punters - two steppers are preferred because of quickness. As my buddy said, "When we see a three stepper we are trying to block a punt that game, without expection."

This gets me to my story. My buddy watches a three stepper and thinks he has a good leg so he says to the player.
"Son, you've got a nice leg but I don't like the three steps. We block punts from three steppers. Can you show me a few kicks with a two step approach? "

First Kick - three steps
Second Kick - three steps
Third Kick -he never saw the kick because he walked away and crossed off the player. "Uncoachable" where the words he used.



Now, get inside the kids head. Here he is in front of 30 colleges coaches (USC, Boise) to name a few I saw. Here are my guesses as to why he did not try a two stepper:
1) Muscle memory and nerves - he just could not do it under the pressure.

2) He was not interested in my buddies school and thought it better to boom kicks for the other 29 coaches using his three steps.

3) He did not want to shank the punt in front of my buddy.



My buddy did not care about the result he just wanted to see him try it.



Combines are scary places for kids - many of them probable felt it was all or nothing. The truth is the coaches go to Chris Sailer and ask him who to watch for first based on their need. Sailer, who has already seen these kids during his sessions prior to the scouting period, knows who they are and lets the coach know. Even a bad day by a good kicker is not

Recruiting Video Home Style

Tired of waiting for your coach to get you a highlight video. Not interested in paying $500+ for a service company? Then do it yourself.

Or perhaps you are one of the few athletes who understands the need to study extensive amounts of game film to critique your own skills and self scout? If you get game footage, there are programs out there that allow you to create "cut-ups" or "high-lights" that you can then watch anywhere you can play a CD Rom. This would be an example of the athlete who understands what it means to "go the extra mile" or "do what it takes."

My buddy Nick Interdonato who owns www.compusports.com , a sports and coaching software online retailer, has a very good, inexpensive ($195) product called Easy-Cut - Simple and Affordable Sports Video Editing .

While MAC and Movie Maker are free, they lack the tagging functions that this has to be able to create the cut-ups I spoke of. Colleges are now using iPods and portable
DVD/CD players to give to their athletes as homework.
You don't have to buy something new to make video as it is off the rack on PCs and MACs, but for scouting and use on a team level, something like Easy-Cut is a good option.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Links and Stories

Sad story about an aspiring ball player who drove too fast around a corner...Read Story

Vanderbilt Baseball Coach, Tim Corbin, continues to recruit well - leveraging is teams #1 Ranking to strengthen the program...Read Story

Purdue investing in facility upgrades Read Story

TEXT Messaging Ban - students and coaches weigh in on the topic - Read Story

Earling Signing Day in the future of College Football? Read Story

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Recruiting - You are not good enough!

Talent is what rules athletic recruiting. If you can figure out how to get evalulated by a coach, the rest is up to your talent level relative to the coaches needs and talent evaluation style. That said how do you get real good at what you do? Besides natural ability, there is something else. I call it "uncommon focus and drive" to do things that make you the best you can be.

I mention this, yet again (for those of you who read my newsletter at www.athletesadvisor.com for all those years can attest) because simply playing your sport, playing on the travel team and showing up at practice a few hours a day does not cut it. It might for the uber talented, but not for most of you.

In a previous post I wrote about the practice habits of the current New England College Lax player of the year, Greg Rogowski, of Merrimack College. On Tuesday, the son of a man I sat next to at a recent awards dinner was featured in the Times Union. Matt Johnson, a lax star at Bethlehem HS has earned a scholarship to play for the UAlbany Great Danes. Albany, an NCAA quarterfinalist as of this post, has a very strong, rising program. What made me chuckle was how Johnson would sacrafice summer fun to stay at home and take 250 shots a day on his backyard goal. Rogowski claims to have taken 400-500 a day, even soaking the balls in hot water during the winter.

Question: Do you think there is any connection between their practice habits and the results they have on the field? Don't try to argue there is not.

So, you say you want a college scholarship and you say you want to be the best and you even say you work hard. But do you really? Think it over and when you wake up tomorrow decide what you need to actually do every day to be the best you can be.
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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Auburn Baseball to build fence around Alabama

Baseball
And keep players from jumping across the state border. You'd better be pretty good (and a pitcher) to get a look from out of state.

Slater said his plan to rebuild AU baseball includes an emphasis on recruiting in-state athletes, balancing the classes so the team is not top-heavy, as it was when he started, and improving the team's consistency.

"The plan, quite simply, that I believe Jay's alluding to and talking about, is something I mentioned on day one," Slater said. "We're going to recruit the state of Alabama. We're going to recruit in-state kids, and as we move forward with this program, we're going to transform this roster.

Read article about Auburn baseball plans to rebuild using local players.

Tennis
Temple has to have other more pressing problems at hand than to try this
switch on the tennis courts. You have to laugh at the details of this little con...

General College - Admissions News
Looks like administrations are opening up their doors to a little more transparency by actively promoting student blogs to prospective students. MySpace, FaceBook, Youtube, etc are all places to interact with college students and learn about student life. I guess colleges feel if they monitor and endorse certain blogs, they can at least have some influence in where students look for information (and a little more control).

Anything that is linked from a college's official web site will have some editorial control to it - don't believe that there is not. Whether they chose the writer or have some over site, there is control. Read article



Friday, May 11, 2007

Cure to all baseball pitching injuries found!

Dr. Mike Marshall (yes, the former Dodger) has a cult following but low credibility with professional baseball. I have read a lot about him and his methods which are, to say the least, different from the norm. Yahoo Sports did a great article on him which includes video clips of his students.

You have to
watch and read this if you at all consider yourself a pitching person.

When I was running the Big Apple Baseball Coaches Convention, I used to get emails from Marshall followers challenging us to bring in Mike to go head to head against our "so called" pitching experts, Rick Peterson and Brent Strom. The emailer said most pitching coaches should be arrested for arm abuse!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Virginia Intermont College Cuts Sports

Financially strapped Virginia Intermont College plans to eliminate its track and field, cross-country, tennis and soccer programs next year, officials said Wednesday. Read full article

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Should Women Run?

Mike Boyle wrote this article on women runners... Why Women Shouldn't run

Later, Boyle posted the response in his newsletter...


Should Anyone Run?

From Shane Lakins

Recently Mike Boyle sparked a lively debate within the running community when he wrote the article "Women Should Not Run". The actual title was supposed to be "Should Women Run?", but the end result would have been the same. The title it ran under just added a little more fuel to the fire.


Ironically as a running coach, I do not totally disagree with his comment. There are some people who should not run. In fact, if you only looked at the number of injuries incurred by running enthusiasts in a given year (between 50-80% depending on the source) then Mike may have fallen short by singling out women when in fact he should have said nobody should be a distance runner! Similarly, if we only looked at the number of ACL injuries produced from women playing basketball, one might deduce that this is an even more dangerous sport than running. These ACL injuries are caused by many of the same musculoskeletal and biomechanical problems that Mike noted for women distance runners.

As fitness professionals we owe it to our clients to inform them about the inherent risk of certain activities, but we also suggest they find activities they enjoy. If they enjoy running or playing basketball, then it is our job to educate them on how to run and jump properly to decrease their chance of becoming one of these injury statistics.

I think Mike has oversimplified things a bit and looked at the result (which is a lot of injuries) and not addressed the real issue which is biomechanics. Kind of like "throwing the baby out with the bath water" as he says. It's funny, if you golf you get a pro to help improve your swing, if you swim you get a coach so you don't drown, but if you run... well, anyone can do that, right?

Too many running programs follow simple linear progressions assuming that all people improve at the same rate. Furthermore, most of these programs, whether they are on-line or group driven, rarely address the need to run properly over the need to run "X" number of miles or for "Y" number of minutes.

Personally as a coach, I care about results, but results come as part of a process. Running is no different than any other skill in sport... it must be learned and practiced; however, it is often assumed that running is a natural thing and each person will develop their own technique (true to a point). Not to digress, but have you ever seen a baby born with a pair of shoes on? Over-dependence on shoes and orthotics, to stabilize the body and absorb all the shock, has led to a herd of brain dead runners simply putting one foot in front of the other and not considering the consequences of their actions, until they are injured. Then what do they do? They look at where the injury occurred and usually their doctor, physiotherapist or chiropractor says you need orthotics, lots of treatments and bigger more stable shoes. The problem is not the shoes, it's the person in the shoes!

If you want a simple example of what I mean, video tape someone running on concrete with shoes on and then without shoes. I don't care if they are male, female, skinny or over-weight, you will see that what they consider normal (in shoes) is very, very far from the true normal (without shoes).

Most runners do not fall into the elite category, but they can learn a lot from this group. One is they do not land on the heel and the other is they are almost all running at 180+ strides per minute, regardless of gender, leg length, speed or nationality. Approximately 80% of the running population are heel strikers with a stride frequency of 140-165 per minute. Believe me, if you do not know how you land or how many strides you take, you are well on your way to being one of Mike's injury statistics whether you are male or female.

Unfortunately the injury statistics have also resulted in running shoe manufacturers reacting by making bigger, more padded and reinforced shoes. The end result is that people have forgotten how they ran as a child in the back yard without shoes. We now have springs, air bags, gel packs and a myriad of space age technology in the heel of shoes to protect you from your own landing. If the heel is so soft and the natural place to land, why do you need all the artificial padding? The truth is, a runner should never land on their heel (sprint or distance). Mike is correct, the typical way distance runners land is an injury waiting to happen. Next time you buy shoes, remember that more is not better if you actually want to run correctly.

Is running for everyone? Of course not, but with some proper coaching and understanding of some biomechanical principles a lot more people would enjoy the sport without the need for a team of health professionals to keep them going. So ladies, fear not you can run!

Shane Lakins is Head Coach of XC and Distance Track at Queen's University and been part several national teams for Canada. He owns Kingston Body Management and writes and lectures on fitness and running related topics. He is in the process of writing a book on the biomechanics of running set for release in the summer of 2007. Shane can be reached at: shane@kingstonbody.com

What do you think? ray@athletesadvisor.com


NCAA takes on MySpace? A mismatch is there ever was one!

With the recent banishment of TXT messages in the recruiting wars (they now reside in a back room with full color media guides) this article points out that if it is not one form of communication it is another and the NCAA will never catch up to the method. What I don't like is the NCAA fearing "preconceived notions." Fact is everybody as some notion or expectation about a recruiting trip regardless of the source or how they found the source.

Student athletes need to do more research, not less, about their college decision. What they are told by 'official sources" is never the complete picture.

As it is, many colleges already regulate the myspace.com and facebook.com pages of their athletes.


" More college-age teens are turning to MySpace, a cyber community, to find out about a school that is recruiting them.

According to the NCAA, recruits are going online, talking with college students at the prospective school they're considering, and learning things coaches would not tell them. This can lead to "preconceived notions and can shift the dynamics of the recruiting weekend," according to a presentation before the NCAA convention in January 2007."

Read full article from DesertNews.com's Dick Harmon.
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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Clips, Snippets and Links

Basketball
3 Pt Line extended for 2008-2009 season - should open the paint for the Big Fellas.

High School Recruiting - if you have followed the court ruling on this issue in Tennessee you might find this article on controlling conduct, not speech, interesting.

Football Recruiting
I never cease to be amazed by the mob mentality a lot of college football coaches have when it comes to recruiting, judging talent and offering scholarships.
This article points it out again that the first scholarship offer is the hardest to get..then the rest of the schools get in line. Do they not trust their own evaluations of talent enough? Are they afraid to make mistakes? Do they not want to pull the trigger too early and draw light to a "diamond in the rough"?

From Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com director of scouting, "
The hardest offer to gain is that first one,” Crabtree said. “Coaches will never tell you this, but they say, Why is so and so offering? They must see something. One or two offers can snowball.”

Read full article
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Monday, May 07, 2007

Bad Grades - Less Money. The dreaded APR..

Baseball
The NCAA released its Academic Progress Report recently and six baseball programs had scores low enough to merit the maximum scholarship penalty of losing 10 percent of their scholarships. For a complete list of the programs penalized, go here.( all sports shown)

The six programs that will be limited to 10 rather than 11.7 scholarships starting next year are Fresno State, New Mexico, Temple, Texas-Arlington, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Texas Tech.

Several other schools have to cough up more than one scholarship, including Oral Roberts (1.06), Lipscomb (1.10) and Florida International (1.12). In all, 27 schools either saw scholarships reduced (20 in all, some by as little as .05 scholarships) or were publicly reprimanded (seven).
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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Recruit me now? Hard to during the season.

I bumped into a UMBC Lax coach the nigth before the America East Men's conference finals against SUNY Albany (won by SUNY 15-14). We briefly spoke of recruiting which he said was about to head into "summer pressure mode." Camps, showcases, tournaments. The road show and busiest time of the year for the coaches.

He indicated that the bigger programs (Virginia, Hopkins, Syracuse, etc.) are getting like hockey and some of the other early commit sports by extending verbal offers after a players sophomore year. In effect trying to lock down recruiting classes two years in advance. This coach was skeptical of that approach as players and needs can change a lot in that time frame. Hockey used to have a gentleman's agreement about not recruiting players after they had verbally committed. Not so in football or basketball - not even close.

My crystal ball tells me that lacrosse will surpass hockey in popularity in the next ten years and more colleges will add programs in the south and far west. At that point, recruiting may not be so cordial and reflect the more competitive practices of other sports. Stay tuned.

As always, Lax Power is a great source of recruiting info. www.laxpower.com

Friday, May 04, 2007

Who's the best? Good time to find out and learn

May is NCAA tournament time. Regional brackets at any level are a good way to research schools in your sport and learn more about them and the conference they are in.

Use www.ncaasports.com for sport specific coverage and bracket postings.

Softball - http://www.ncaasports.com/softball/womens
Baseball - http://www.ncaasports.com/baseball/mens
Track and Field - http://www.ncaasports.com/track-and-field
Lacrosse M - http://www.ncaasports.com/lacrosse/mens
Lacrosse W - http://www.ncaasports.com/lacrosse/womens
Tennis M - http://www.ncaasports.com/tennis/mens
Tennis W - http://www.ncaasports.com/tennis/womens
Golf M - http://www.ncaasports.com/golf/mens
Golf W - http://www.ncaasports.com/golf/womens
Volleyball M - http://www.ncaasports.com/volleyball/mens
Rowing - http://www.ncaasports.com/rowing/womens
Water Polo W - http://www.ncaasports.com/waterpolo

What do you do with all this great informaiton. I could write a book on it, but I already have. The Making of a Student Athlete.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Lax Star Picks D-II over D-I, why?

The Albany Times Union ran a feature a recently about a former area High School lax star who chose Division II Merrimack College in Andover Mass. Greg Rogowski, now a sophomore is basically unstoppable in college as he led all of college in scoring when he was a freshman!

Surely capable of playing at a lot of D-I programs, he chose Merrimack for two main reasons.
1) He was getting a full scholarship package. School was paid for.
2) They had a specific major he wanted.

Of course they have a good program and I would guess Greg might have had to think twice about the school if their program was poor. It is nice to see decisions made on more than just getting to a D-I program. The fact is that Greg will get to play against D-I guys during summer league play and possible as a pro. Kudos to Mr. Rogowski and the coach at Merrimack, Bartolo Governanti for his recruiting job.

Speaking of Albany area lacrosse. I sat with Fran Johnson at the annual Capital District YMCA President's Dinner. Fran is the proud father of Matt who is a standout at Bethlehem NY High School and will be playing for upstart SUNY Albany next year. Matt is currently the 2nd leading scoring in Section 2.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Everybody loves college athletes - except at Middlebury College

Just a quick link to show you the types of attitudes that exist in colleges. This is example is from Middlebury College but could be from most any school in the country, especially small liberal arts schools. This hardly proves a hostile environment for athletes, but it is not like HS when nobody said things like this (not usually.)

I think you will see more of the big schools do what Kentucky did and that was to purchase their own school plane for recruiting purposes.

The cost of recruiting is very high, something that schools typically keep quiet. In this case, the concept of a specific plane for recruiting will likely open up more discussion than wanted, but it is Kentucky, not Princeton or Northwestern. To me, if it makes financial sense than do it.

What you will not see happen is athletes being flown in on a private jet. That ended a few years ago.

Runners - check out my pal Aimee Rodriguez's monthly soapbox blog http://www.athletesadvisor.com/crosscountry/soapbox.htm . This month "A must list for runners."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Advisor Lands in Albany!

After many years in Boston the Advisor (www.athletesadvisor.com) has relocated to the Albany NY area. So far so good. Here are a few observations and places I've seen.

Runners - as a big fan of Cross Country the sport and as a recreation activity I was happy to see a qaulity running store. Fleet Feet Albany off of Wolfe Road is one of the few (if not the only) running specialty store in the area. The region has has some great runners, especially out of the Saratoga area.

Strength and Conditioning - with all the high school sports coverage the Albany Times Union paper generates I would have thought HS sports were more advanced in a few areas. I have yet to find an athletic strength and conditioning business similair to the likes of Velocity Sports or CATZ, Boyles, etc. Granted, this is not a major market like Boston, but it is not tiny and there is the influence of several college athletic programs which usually drive these businesses. Ill have to keep my eyes open. Please email me if you know of any programs (ray@athletesadvisor.com)

The Towne of Colonie has an amazing park called The Crossings and on the land is a fantastic family/youth recreation center with courts, indoor water park, and great fitness equipment. I saw a lot of HS age athletes working out. With immediate access to a few miles of paved trails, this is a runners paradise.

Also found a great indoor turf complex called the SportsPlex at Halfmoon (Clifton Park) major soccer and lacrosse action at this full size, field turf complex.