Algebra I              How to Study Math
Geometry             ACT/SAT Test Practice
Algebra II
           Becoming a Pro Athlete
Analysis               Teacher Resources
Calculators, Dictionaries, other Online Tools

Hayti High
Hayti, MO

Go Indians!

“Going Pro"
    All my high school and junior high students keep telling me they will become professional athletes, they are going PRO! All my students want stardom, million-dollar salaries, the entourage, and of course those ESPN Sports Center Highlights.  
Your journey to the pros is harder than most high school students could ever realize. I can't promise you a professional career. Many pros have god-given talents, abilities, and body types that you might lack. However, if you are in that small handful of those who make the "Big Time" then I expect to get repaid for my wisdom. Call me! I might want to be your driver or accountant, but most of all I want lots of free tickets!

Seriously, This primer was written with help from the National Federation of State High School Associations for students. I hope it will help students achieve their lofty athletic goals. It is designed to give good advice to make you a better athlete. How great is up to you.

I have been a jock most of my life; and I am also a writer, educator, and official. I was first called "Coach" by student-athletes in the early 70s; then I went to the "dark side" and have been an official for many years. I had several great coaches in school, and I have taught with many more. Throughout these experiences I have observed both successful athletes and unsuccessful athletes who wasted their greatness. To supplement my personal experience, I sent out on-line surveys and interviews to many coaches, officials, parents, fans, and famous athletes asking for their wisdom. Much of this primer should not be considered my original writings, thoughts, or ideas; I paraphrased as much good advise as possible.

      R. Clark

Chapter one:
"Were Not Going to Make It"
The Presidents of USA

      Not all my students can make it! Athletes that make the pros have special talents, a better body, quicker minds, a good work ethic, and been a little lucky. We watch the pros because they can do what most of us only dream about. We watch because they are special and rare!  Athletics above the fifth grade level is a meritocracy; This is not T-Ball where everybody plays well enough to get a trophy. Those who whose talents benefit their teams and coaches will play while others sit. They just don't let anybody play. If they did I would be in the Association with my six foot, sixty-something body, and a lousy jumper. If they did let me and the millions more of us who can't hoop anymore play in the NBA then no one would ever pay for a ticket or even tune in to the TV. I take that back, my mother and mothers everywhere would watch. Many of the mothers I meet think their sons and daughters are D1 or Pro prospects. This may be the only time that it would be ok for you to not listen to your mother.
      Going pro in any sport is possible but not probable. Just go and compute the odds in your favorite sport. Take the total number of junior high or high school athletes playing your sport in our nation and divide that into the total number of freshmen each year who play in college. Then find the number of draft picks in your sport each year and you will see many never reach the next level. The math is even more depressing when you figure in athletes from other countries, for example, the NBA, NHL, and MLB are full of foreign players that have names my students have problems pronouncing.  Basically your odds of make it to the top of ESPN Sport Center Highlights are close to me, your favorite math teacher, winning the Lottery! But we both need to keep dreaming!


High school Players

All colleges D1 to NAIA

Percent high
school to college

Average Yearly Rookie Openings
in Pros

Total Pro Players

Percent College to Pros

Percent High School to Pros












840 MLB
4368 minors








NBA 450
Europe 312



Cross Country























Ice Hockey





















396 MLS
1842 Europe



















Track & Field














Water Polo





USA none
Europe 1234









Average all men's sports

4.5 million





























Cross Country








Field Hockey
















Ice Hockey
















































Track & Field














Water Polo





Europe 39


Average all women's sports

2.9 Million






Mike Fields, Sports Illustrated, "Odds against playing college and pro ball
National Federation of State High School Associations
 › Careers › Football Player
Google> careers

Chapter Two:
"We Don't Need No Education"
Pink Floyd (p.s. Great song; however, PF was wrong!)

     Even those professional athletes who make the big stage can improve, and must improve or they will be gone quickly. To paraphrase the great football coach, Jerry Glanville 'If you are not studying, learning, and thinking then NFL stands for NOT FOR LONG. Your education will be important while playing and even more so after retirement.

       As a student-athlete your number one priority should be to make excellent grades! NO PASS- NO PLAY! Is the minimum standard. If you are planning to be a pro or college athlete you need to speak with you high school guidance councilor who will need you to take the accelerated high school courses that will enable you get into college.  You must be prepared to get your ACT score higher than 18. You can play with a minimum of 18; however, that will not be high enough to get you into most colleges in our area. The best measure of being well prepared for college is staying on B or second honor rolls while taking the accelerated classes .College scouts get their films from stadiums and field houses. I have never heard of a college assistant coach showing up at the local playground to watch the dropouts in a street game. (I know Kobe, LeBron, and several others never went to college! So if the pro scouts have been following you around since fourth grade maybe you can make the jump also. However, most athletes must excel academically to get into college.
       There is a very important mental aspect that many young players do not yet appreciate.  Being an athlete does not just involve your body, it also involves all your mental faculties. Rookie safeties in the NFL talk about the game being played faster than they can see; however, once they have experience (both on the field and in the film room) they see the offences in mental slow motion and can adjust. The speeds of their opponents did not change, the only thing that has changed is their knowledge of the game and their mental focus.   Lack of focus is detrimental to survival in any sport. It is hard to run through the three hole behind your blockers if you don't remember where in the line that hole is supposed to be. This year we even had a running back on national TV that spiked the ball after what he thought was a touchdown. Since he was on the five yard line, it was ruled a fumble and not a touchdown. The number one reason for errors among major league baseball players is a temporary lack of mental focus. No coach needs a player who has problems thinking!

     Athletes study daily! Think studying is boring?   Don't go on to play for the colleges or professional teams. In most sports you will spend more than four hours in the classroom working on playbooks, chalkboards, and studying films for every hour you are dressed on the field. Athletes are not carrying those huge play books around campus to build-up their muscles, the coaches actually expect you to memorize and recall all that information. Performing poorly academically at the study sessions and film meetings is the reason most rookies in the PROS don't get enough playing time or get cut.  You will hear the coaches on TV saying things like," He was a great athlete, he just didn't fit into our complicated system" Sounds so much more polite than what they really mean. " He was a great athlete, but was just dumb as a rock and could not learn, so we cut him!"

     Study your vocabulary and plays. A NFL team does not just get in the huddle and say, "Everybody run left, and I will throw it long. " A NFL team may have a play call that sounds like " Double Waddle, left, turn in, post, double over, button, dropper on 2." This play call might talk about snap count, blocking schemes, two or three pass routes, a safety read, or an emergency option. Every team has a different vocabulary, and that is why even a veteran quarterback needs time to adjust to the new offenses and new playbooks when they change teams, coaches, or, schemes. Even in the professional ranks some timeouts are wasted because some athlete did not understand the call. (This will really make your coach explode! Maybe enough to replace you with someone who does understand.) I observe many high school games lost each season because someone didn't know what their responsibilities were on a specific called defense. If you don't know what the coach is talking about in practice then ask him and study harder.

     Study your sport and position. There are a hundreds of books, videos, and web pages designed to help you with specific techniques of your skills package for each sport. Need help with your batting stance or rebounding position, just find the proper help and begin to study. Attend all the mini-camps and summer camps your family can afford. Watch your sport not just for entertainment, but study the best players closely to see what they do and how they achieve success. Even the pros watch each other to improve. Most rookie years in the pros are spent on the bench charting plays or watching defenses develop. Yes, studying is important AGAIN!  It is important to study your sport to put knowledge along with physical ability. Smart players need less coaching, and can understand the finer points their great coaches want them to remember. Your coaches and the veteran players around you can show you how to better study the game films and scouting reports. A major league third baseman has studied enough to know if he should either be on the foul line or three steps off the line. This is why it looks easy like the ball is being hit right toward them most of the time. Study to become the smartest player on the field, they are usually the ones offered coaching jobs later in life.

    Study your sport's history: It would also be a great move to study the history of your sport. It is smart, polite, and humbling to acknowledge the great players who came before your hopeful greatness showed up. Students who wish to be great football players, or just great football fans, need to know enough to talk intelligently about 'Slingin' Sammy Baugh, Otto Graham, 'Bronko' Nagurski, Bart Star, 'Broadway' Joe Namath, O.J. Simpson, Walter Payton, Joe Montana, 'Papa Bear' George Hallas, Vince Lombardi, and many more. I know they are all old school, but they made it to the Hall of Fame for winning. So STUDY!

      Concentrate During the Game. Mental focus is required of all coaches, athletes, and even officials. As an official I don't expect everyone to see what I saw or to agree with my calls; however, my truly blown calls came because of a lack of focus for just a few seconds. Stop yelling and laughing at us officials, because just a small lack of concentration by a player or coach can lead to crazy or negative aspects in your games. Lack of concentration is the only explanation for: receivers who drop a ball in their hands, defenders who forget to cover the most famous receiver, infielders who forget what bases the runners are on, batters who forget the count, basketball players missing too many free throws, coaches forgetting how many time outs they have left, batting out of order, and the 'way to common' too few or too many players on the field. Truly great players and coaches have very few of these mental breakdowns.
  Study the rule book
for your sport. As a referee, I am always surprised when I find talented players and some coaches that do not understand the rules well enough to succeed. Have a receiver line up on the line of scrimmage when he should be off and the touchdown is called back by my pretty yellow flag. Don't blame the officials, blame the receiver who practiced this play all week and then forgot where to stand. Breaking a rule you forgot about or don't understand is still a penalty or violation.  It is hard to be the superstar if keep getting your team penalized for stupid mistakes. We recently heard a NFL Head Coach admit on nation wide TV that he didn't fully understand the overtime rules. The rule book was written for a purpose and if you know it well it could give you an advantage in your sport.

      The odds say only 1 in 12000 high school athletes will be worthy of those ESPN Sports Center Highlights.  While you are waiting for those college signing days and all those pro scouts to show up, PLEASE GET A GREAT EDUCATION. Well educated people have options and can get a good job even if they don't fulfill all their dreams.  Well educated people become leaders and contributing members of our society, while under educated people have much fewer choices and will always be on the bottom of our social spectrum.

Chapter Three:
"Put me In Coach I am Ready to Play, Today"
John Fogerty

You are not in the NFL or NBA yet! Sports is not your job yet. Your current status might be junior high, freshman, JV or varsity. You should have fun and keep improving. Even if you are the "Da Star" on your field or team you still need to improve. Keep improving because if you keep advancing in your career eventually you will not be the best on your team, you will be a rookie.  It is not about being better than most people; it is about being the very best you can be!  Growth is a long-term concept; however, one can improve with every practice, every game, and every season.
     If you are on the bench and all the playing time you get is five minutes a game or just the third downs, put your all into every play. If your not playing much the only place you can impress your coaches is called practice. We all know playing is more fun than practice, but practice is where you need to get the coaches attention and improve your skills. We coaches try to motivate and teach, and we are waiting to be impressed. Practice so that your coach turns to his assistant and says, " We were wrong about that kid, he is getting better! Lets play him more next game."
      You can only star and improve if you are on a team now.  I have had students tell me they were going to be a star the someday, right after they quit their junior high team because the coach made them run or made them tuck in their shirt. I try to hide that smirk that comes across my face on those occasions. The very worst career move an athlete can make is to throw the jersey at the coach and quit. See a later chapter in this booklet to find out how to get along with coaches.  It is difficult to improve if you can't play right now because of grades, attitude, conduct, age, suspension, or jail. You can always play community, church, AAU leagues, street ball, or hoop in the prison yard; however, it is so much harder to make the next level if your not playing for the schools. I have met several college recruiters and even a couple pro scouts; I met them at school games, and I have never heard of a scout showing up at a street ball pick up game.

Chapter Four:
"Practice Makes Perfect"
The Muppet Babies

     Being one of the best ever is all about working and improving. It is a concept many young people do not comprehend; its called the Work Ethic. It takes hard work to get better! It is no mistake that Magic, Michael, and Larry were some of the hardest working NBA players ever! Each was there a couple hours after the coach stopped practice. (Go ahead if you are younger than thirty-five feel free to google the term 'work ethic' or use youtube to figure out who those HOF players were.)

     This is true about athletics, playing music, driving a car, playing computer solitaire, and most of the other skills in life! Being a great athlete does not just happen. Many of my student-athletes will never know how good they could become because they are unwilling to work hard. The games are fun; however, the hard work is practice and workouts. Many high school athletes have excelled in sports until now without a total effort because they were born with some athletic skills. The competition gets tougher at every level with every cut. Eventually you will find yourselves playing with and against those that have more skills, learned more, or have worked harder than you have.
      Lazy Athletes
will never fully succeed because their cheating minds will not allow them to follow their dreams! Your hard work in practice and workouts will have a great effect on your playing time and how great you become in the future. Athletes learn that the coaches are incapable of seeing everything thus lazy athletes only perform well when being watched constantly. If you are the type of player that is half-doing their jumping jacks, and the one who runs 8 laps, and pretends that it is ten laps the coach ask for, is not just cheating their coach. You are cheating your team, and more importantly you are cheating your chance for future greatness. Lazy players are not on the track for the pros or college or even high school greatness. Being lazy in practice and workouts is a quick slide to the end of the bench and maybe the next cut list!

Chapter Five:
"I Know I got Skill" Hauled O'Neal

     Practices are for the coaches and the team concept. They are not long enough for you to stay in fabulous shape or sharpen your skills package. You should be working on your conditioning and skills after you head home and on the weekends. Your skills package will determine how valuable you are to your team and sport. Parts of this package are set by heredity while other skills can be practiced maintained, and improved. Height, weight, wingspan, hand size, and other physical attributes are out of your control. Work on the others you can do something about including speed, agility, quickness, balance, timing, and strength. Your package also includes all the specific things that need to be mastered for you to compete well in your sport or position.
      Craig Biggio, a recent inductee to The Baseball Hall of Fame, was worried that he would soon not get enough playing time so he began to practice catcher and second base positions. His being willing and able to master two totally different skill sets allowed the Astros to keep his great bat in their lineup. Several college quarterbacks and runners have had great pro careers when the team moved them to safety or receiver.   If you are having problems playing, work on improving and adding to your skills package. Being able to do a variety of skills could add to your worth as a player. Learn to switch-hit, bunt, snap on punts, kick, box out, take a charge, play special teams, or play different positions.
      Your skills package is shown off during the games, matches, or meets; however, no one improves their game package without hard practices and workouts on their own. To improve one needs to know where the weaknesses are so that you may work hard on them. One of the things that has made me a better official is supervisors who are honest with me. Once they told me I was looking at the wrong action or that I was out of position to make a good call, then I had something specific I could work to improve. Ask someone knowledgeible about your weaknesses.  Don't ask your mom, because she loves you, and mistakenly believes that you could play for the Titans, Cardnals, or Grizzlies today, at age fourteen!  Look at your game through the eyes of a coach or how about through the eyes of those pro scouts ya'll keep looking to show up at your little league games.
      Try this experiment to analyze yourself. Make a list of your skills package. Include the basics height, weight, body type, wingspan, hand size, vision, speed, agility, quickness, reflexes, balance, timing, upper strength, leg strength, and stamina. Now add to your list every skill needed for your sport and position. Try to include each skill and to be very specific. Now take your list and grade yourself honestly. Most scouts use a scale of 1-5 with 5 being superior, but use can use any grading scale that makes sense to you. Now if your list looks just like your loving mother's opinion of you, then it is probably wrong! Take your list to coaches, teammates, opponents, officials or long time sports fans to rate your game honestly and have them highlight the places you need to improve.

Chapter six:

"My Body is a Temple" Jack and Laurie Matri

     The major tool of an athlete is his or her body. If you treat it badly it will never allow you to be a great athlete. You need to treat you body as well as a great mechanic treats his tools, as a farmer treats his tractors, or as a NASCAR crew treats their car.  Eating well is important. I am not a nutritionist, if you need help deciding what to eat or what to avoid - find an expert on healthy foods. All growing teenagers should avoid extreme diets or weight gaining techniques that your doctor does not recommend. You should pay special attention to what and when the coaches tell you to eat. This will not be a problem when you make the pros as some team trainer will approve all your meals. You should especially watch what you eat immediately before a performance. I once had a great distance runner who got three laps around the track and stopped to throw up. I ask about his health because I was concerned he might be ill. The problem turned out to be 2 hot dogs, nachos, a dill pickle, and two cans of Pepsi, twenty minutes before the race.
       Sleep and rest are important.
Your young body was meant to have about 1/3 of each day in the sleep mode. It is no mistake that the Lakers have a curfew the night before games and are ask to get into their hotel rooms and get to sleep immediately after their flights. Rest is also very important after the contest, so don't celebrate a big victory too long.
      Injuries to your body
are a part of sports. All great athletes learn to “play with pain.” This means that you put the small amounts of pain (that would make others quit) behind you and perform. However; no coach wants players playing injured if it makes the injury more severe or permanent. If you are injured or experience severe pain -- you should stop training, and report your pain and injuries to your doctor, coaches, trainers, and parents. Once injured you need to listen and respond to those who help with your rehabilitation. The doctors or PT people know what they are doing. They treat injuries like your all the time. If they “say stay off your feet” that is exactly what they need you to do to get well, take their advice or go to medical school yourself. Never try to come back before the coaches and doctors agree you may perform. Listening to your coach ahead of time and using the proper techniques will reduce your chance of injuries. That is the reason the football coach teaches you to keep your head up while tackling, it prevents most neck injuries. Good stretches in the warm-up and warm-down exercises will cut down on injuries because you will be more flexible.  

     You should never play a sport or practice without the recommended safety equipment. This equipment should fit well, and not be modified without a coach or trainers knowledge. Blocking practice without your pads and helmet might land you on the DL instead of your favorite college team. Many a great catcher has been injured in practice or while warming up the pitcher; if you are catching, you need pads and mask no exceptions. 

      Drug test are a way of life in the pros, college, and high school. The truly great athletes respect their bodies too much to play with drugs. Illegal drugs will cost an NFL player a 5 game suspension. Drugs will cost you 180 days and your entire athletic future!  Besides testing for illegal substances, and tobacco, all college and pro teams along with the TSSAA or other state high schools associations are beginning test for enhancement drugs. Examples would be steroids, growth powers, blood doping, and hormones. College juniors and seniors who test positive for steroids must sit out an additional year before being eligible for the NFL draft. As you know, steriods and growth hormones probably cost Barry Bonds a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. There exist no proven ways to beat the test, except not being a user . If there were ways to beat the test you would never hear of a rich, pro athlete who was suspended or fired for flunking the test. Never take any substance (including herbal, over-the-counter, or homeopathic) without a doctor and coaches clearance. When you are drug tested, provide the tester with a list of all medications you have take taken recently. Even the simplest antacid, pain pill, or sinus medicine might make a drug test appear positive. Remember it is possible to show positive on a test, if you have been exposed by being in close contact with a friend who is using. Second hand highs do show up on the test also. If you are found in possession of illegal drugs, but not using them, you are still in big trouble! See my chapter on staying out of legal trouble.  If you are hanging around people doing drugs or illegal activities, my advise is that you read that chapter twice because your future stardom could be in jeopardy.

Chapter Seven
"Change Your Mind" Sister Hazel 

      Your mental state
can affect your play at any time. Coaches try to promote positive mental traits like a positive attitude, visualization, leadership, and tenacity. A positive attitude is what the coaching staff is always trying to achieve. A positive attitude is important for a great player. Coaches need you to think positively about success constantly. It takes courage to keep being positive when the defense makes a lucky tackle or your shots are not falling; however, it is necessary for success.

      Another positive attitude is tenacity. This word means to keep trying and never giving up. Sports are part luck. Some times the ball just bounces away from you. Sometimes your opponent will score on a lucky play. Some times you will turn the ball over with a stupid mistake. Still other times you are playing great competition and will find yourselves down by a few points near the end of the game. Never give up!—The history of your sport is filled with come-back stories of greatness. The great teams have an attitude that allows them to come back from adversity and play well. It means that you never stop trying and that you never quit.
      In golf, I have been taught visualization. The great golfer sees the ball going exactly where he has planned. He visualizes each body movement of the required shot. All athletes need to learn to visualize success to achieve it. Visualize from your perspective and from the stands. When you make a great block remember what it looked like, and it is easier to repeat. You also need to analyze your mistakes. Don't dwell on them, but visualize how you will do better next time.

Chapter Eight
" Crazy Train" Ozzie Osborne

     Not all attitudes or emotions are positive. I had a coach in high school, who later went on to the college level, who used to yell about ' Keeping your head on straight.' He seemed to spend a considerable amount of time yelling that in my direction. What he meant was that great players need to be able to control their emotions as well as their bodies.  Countless sports careers were never fulfilled because of a lack of self-control or the wrong mental attitude! 

     Don't be a hothead! How many times have you seen a NFL player go off and cost their side fifteen yards. You can watch an NBA game and just know that one of the players is about to blow his cool and get Td up. Those players who have that repretation of not being able to control their emotions will always be under more scrunity from the officials. No athlete or coach can help their team after they are disqualified and sent to the locker room.

     Peer pressure can come from your fellow students or your teammates. The poorer players do not want to be shown up lazy. They might try to encourage the whole team to run at ¾ speed so that they will not look slow or lazy. Some will run only 8 laps instead of ten as they figure the coach is not counting. You should lead all your teammates to improve in spite of this pressure. If you give in to this pressure you will be just a regular, average player on your team, and those scouts (real or imagined) seldom care about regular, average players. Peer pressure can be very positive for a winning team. Many times you have heard it said about a player, ‘He/she works so hard in practice that he makes all of us better by just hanging around him/her.' When players are surrounded by great athletes with great attitudes, their performance tends to improve. Peer pressure from your fellow students is always a problem. Star athletes are popular, and spome people believe that 'popular' requires certain traits. Don't allow anyone to focre you to do something you should not do. This is true of athletics and life in general.

      Cockiness or over-confidence could keep you from your intended greatness. Great running backs don't look so great without seven other guys blocking for them. Most sports are TEAM oriented. Take my advice: You are probably not as tremendous as you think you are! You are probably not as great as your friends of parents think you are! No one is good enough to “dog it” in practice, and I know you are not good enough to skip a practice or workout. It takes hard work just to be your best. It takes years of hard work to eventually, hopefully, maybe be among the best that get a shot at the pros. If the NBA players are required to do an hour of boring shoot-around's each day during the season, you definitely need to work on your game.

is a thought process that says you can always put off something. Procrastinators are always putting things off and wasting time. It is one of the true obstacles in the way of most people being great in any field. Don't tell me you are going to get in shape, or learn a skill next season, next month, next week, or even tomorrow; do it today ! Start right where you are. Do what you can right now today!

  Chapter Nine
"Why can't We All Just Get Along" Jacob Whitesides

      Getting along with your coaches is important. They are the ones with the power to decide your playing time or how far down the bench they need you to sit. No matter how dumb you feel he or she is they deserve your respect. That means exactly what your grandmother meant by respect; it includes : Yes coach, No Sir, and the proper tone of voice at all times. I can assure you that after many years of being a jock, I have learned that coaches are much smarter than athletes think they are , and that most athletes are not near as smart as they think they are. It is not coaches job to get along with the players. It is the player's job to get along with, learn from, and impress their coaches. Don't always expect the coaches to be your friends! Their job is to push, teach, and sometimes to critique you.  Many athletes have stopped or delayed their careers because they could not handle the criticism from the coach. NEVER yell back at the coach, embarrass them in front of others, or talk badly about them in public. (Public also includes your Facebook, Tritter, and Tagged accounts. )  I know you have little control over your parents; however, if your parents do one of the above it could also hurt your future sports career.   The VERY LAST THING many good athletes have done is to become a hot-head and throw their uniform at the coach and stomp out. Work your differences out in private, keep smiling and keep trying. Ask the coaches what they want and expect from you. Want to understand the coaches? It is simple, coaches are into winning, hard work, obedience, listening, learning, improving, perseverance, hustling, limiting mistakes, and a team-concept. If you can follow instructions, work hard, impress the coaches with your abilities, and help your team to become better then you will get your chance. Remember, the reason coaches yell is that they since how great the team and you could become!

     Getting along with the referees is not your job, if you follow the rules you will probably not notice us much. We also don't need you telling us what you thought about the call. Dont tell us good call. Don't make the call for us. Never tell us it was a bad call and try to correct us! Most the officials I know will listen (Listening does not mean we will change the call.) to a head coach, but have very little paientence when it comes to conversations with players or assistant coaches. Players should not react to a call or penality; and reactions include glaring, mumbling, griping, rolling your eyes, or throwing objects. It is hard to impress the coach, fans, and those scouts you claim are always following you around when you are ejected from the game because you can't control your emotions. Yes, we referees do occasionally blow one, but be careful we also all have super hearing,and the power to kick you out of the game. Some sports allow the captain to speak with the officials. If this is your job do it politely and sparingly. Never state that they are wrong, blind, or cheating. Just state what you thought you saw or how you thought that rule should be interpreted. Let your coach argue anything future.

     Getting along with your teammates is also important to the team concept and winning. Teams need to be cohesive units. You don't have to be friends with every team mate; however, you must work together. Conflict within the locker room must be kept to a minimum.

Chapter Ten

"Locked Up" Akon


      Most teams now run background and police checks on their hopeful draft picks before they waste their pick on someone who has a questionable background. If you can't stay out of trouble in school, at home, and with the police your athletic dreams will end quickly! (The scouts ya'll are so worried about almost never visit the alternative schools, reform schools, home schools and prisons looking for talent!) Trouble at school, home, or with the police could have a deadly effect on your sports career. If your friends get you in trouble - find new ones. You will find many new friends when you sign that big contract.
      Your conduct at home might affect your team status. As a coach, it has happened to me personally several times. I am looking over the notes from a track practice and some parent knocks on my door with a jersey in their hand. The jersey usually belongs to some very fast team member that I will miss! Almost every high school and junior high coach has a similar story . The reason could be because of coming in late, not taking out the garbage, missing homework, disrespect, or being seen with the wrong people.  If mommy and daddy are not happy with your behavior the privilege of playing at school could be gone!

      Student-athletes who get in trouble in school have problems showing their talent to the maximium. If you are in In-School Suspension then you will not play that day. Schools do suspend quality athletes all the time; don't think that your principal will do it to you. Even if you avoid suspension for your bad behavior, your coach might kick you off the team. Coaches actually believe what they have told you about their athletes representing the coach, the team, the school, and the community. Many coaches have shock their head and eliminated superior athletes who could not behave.
      Many athletes have shortened or ended their careers because of their personal conduct. You can make a large list of pro or college players who were cut, benched, fined, or traded because of their conduct. You no doubt have heard about famous athletes involved with team problems like substance abuse, missing curfew, missing a practice, missing a team meeting, talking during a team meeting, missing the plane to an away game, or not dressing up for the press conference. There is another huge list of great athletes that have hurt their careers and endorsement bucks because of an arrest downtown for things like DUI, theft, carrying weapons, altercations with fans, sexual improprieties, dealing drugs, murder, dog fighting, or choking their coach.

Chapter Eleven
"We are the Champions" Queen

 Wrestler Rick Flair once said,"To get to be the best you need to beat the best." This is true in most sports. You need to be exposed to the best coaching and competition available. If you were a serious hopeful Olympic athlete in the area of downhill skiing or figure skating, you would need to leave your family to train in the centers in New York, Utah, or the Alps. Much of this type of training requires more dollars than many of your parents spent on their house.   A student can't usually help where he is born, the amount of money their parent's have, or where they live, but there are creative ways to compete against or get coached by the best without moving.

     The Internet is full of sports videos from the experts like John Wooden, who won 10 NCAA Basketball Championships at UCLA in 12 years. Coach Wooden is now deceased and his greatest star, Bill Walton, is an older sportscaster; however, their playing greatness and coaching wisdom lives on in a video series on basketball fundamentals they created for ESPN years ago.   Among the many available sports videos that I found for free on include, "How to Sprint Faster", "How to Field Third Base", " Spin Serves and How to Use Them" and "How to Wrap Up a Tackle".

     If you are the best baseball or basketball player in your small town then the only way to improve is to play others in bigger towns. Find out if you can play in a AAU league or traveling team. Find out if some local parks department plays your sport in a different time of the year. Play the players who are older than you. Check out the your national federation to search for other leagues or tournaments.  Summer camps are available for most sports. Take the mini-camps that your local high school or parks and recreation groups are sponsoring. Many famous athletes do a yearly clinics for cheap rates in their local hometowns. Many major universities offer camps for students as young as eight or ten and upward. When you are ready ask your coaches or just go to the Internet and search for sports camps in your area. Warning: Check out the camp, its coaches, lodging, meals, and its sports facilities before you send in your money. Try to get independent references, or find out about their past success stories. Most these camps do not reimburse fees just because you are unhappy with how much they made you run or where they made you sleep. Many camps fill up fast so you might want to plan ahead.

Chapter Twelve
"Until I Collaspe" Eminem

Your body needs both stretches, warm-ups, and warm-downs along with your workouts. Warm-ups and stretches help your body to prepare itself for exercise both mentally and physically, and reduce the chance of injury. These warm-up stretches are not your workout/training exercises, your workout starts after you warm-up and before your warm-down. The aim is to increase circulation around the body, in a gradual manner, as not to put full pressure onto the body before it is ready.     

      During the warm-up any injury or illness you have can often be recognized, and further injury prevented.  Extra clothing can be worn, to help increase the body temperature, which in turn will make your muscles more pliable, and ready to be stretched.  For example, you might want to walk before you jog. Slow Jumping jacks are also a great warm-up exercise.  When working out, take into consideration that it may takes a good 30 minutes for your body to be working at its top performance level. During cold weather, and certainly if you're going to do an activity which requires sudden bursts, make sure you spend more time warming up. 

      Good stretches will make you a better athlete and less likely to get injured.  Do the stretches before and after you run your event or exercise, also do it before and after you hit the weight room. Stretching is important during your warm-up, before you run, because it increases blood flow to the muscles. But stretching during your cool-down may be even more important. After running, stretching helps to remove lactic acid from the muscle, which in turn reduces muscle soreness. That promotes better flexibility. Stretching afterwards also will help you relax and identify potential injuries.  Don't Overstretch! While stretching can promote flexibility, stretching too far actually can damage the muscles—particularly if you're recovering form an injury. A healthy muscle can elongate up to 1.6 times its length, but generally doesn't respond well to that much stretching. By overstretching, you create an automatic reflex that actually will cause the muscle to recoil to protect itself from tearing and injury.  The 90-degree angles featuring straight backs and carefully positioned limbs will do great things for your body. Doing the stretches wrong will not help your body, and could cause it harm.  Always STOP when confronted with severe pain . Some pain is normal for the stretches; the more out of shape you are the more likely you are to feel some pain. However, severe pain that keeps you from performing should be reported to your coaches, parents, and doctor.

      If your coach has a set team warm-up routine before a game, then don't look sloppy stretching. Stay together. Looking sharp will also send a message to your opponents who might be watching. That message is “ We are in shape, we are here for a serious reason, we function well as a team, and you better give up now and return to the dressing room!”  

Below are some stretches if your coach hasn't picked some out for you to use.

Muscle                        Body                       Mayo

Chapter Thirteen
"The New Workout Plan" Kayne West

No one should ever start a training regimen or play a sport without the advice of a good doctor or trainer. Always wait until you have had a complete physical to begin strenuous activity!
       The weight room is not a playground! Make sure you attempt all weight exercises as your coach has instructed. Lifting the wrong amount or with the wrong form can cause injuries. Doing too much weight or lifting in a bad form is worse than not doing weights at all. When you are new to the weight room get a lesson from an experienced adult coach about weight limits, machine features, and proper techniques. It is not the one time – big time lift or pump that helps the athlete to grow stronger, but doing several sets properly with lesser amounts of weight a couple times a week that will show results.  

      Fitness toys/gimicks are not to be used improperly either. Parachutes, acceleration sleds, giant exercise balls, agility ropes, ankle weights, giant rubber bands, and weight vest are all part of this category. No telling how many potential track stars come up to me wearing ankle weights that are not only not working to strengthen muscles, but they are actually putting too much stress on the knees. If these toys are used improperly they will not help and could injure an athlete. The product should have come with specific do's and don'ts or a suggested exercise routine. If not consult a coach, trainer, or an Internet source before you start improving with your newest toy.

      Facilities are important but not necessary in your training. See if your local high school or college will give you permission to workout in their weight room or facilities. Most high schools leave their track open for the communities. Our local hospital has a walking and running track available to the public. In most areas you can join a heath club for less than a dollar a day. If you have no weights or weight room just increase the amount of push-ups, chin-ups, stairs, and pull-ups you are doing; and buy a cheap set of Dumbbells. If you have to run on a country road or a city block, do so, just borrow a tape measure and measure off your distances carefully. If a chin-up bar is not available use a swing set and bend your legs. If you are short on coaches train your little brother to use your stop watch. Join the YMCA pool as serious swimming is excellent exercise.

      Your goal from your workouts is to be in the best possible shape of your life during the first day of tryouts and throughout the season. Many students failed to make a team because they waited too long to try to get into shape. You should fit your workout into your weekly schedule so that it is as much fun as possible, and becomes a positive habit. Maybe work out with a friend, but remember you should help each other without it becoming a competition. Your workout should be flexible enough to allow for severe weather. Getting pneumonia, heat stroke, or getting blown away by the tornado will not keep you on your road to the pros. If your mommy won't let you workout next Thursday you can move parts of that workout to other days. Before you start training, you need to re-read the chapter on Hard work. If it were easy -- every lazy teenager could become a superstar-athlete!!

     During off-Season workouts you a usually left alone. Any off season workout should be approved by your coach or a trainer. I am old, but I do sit-ups and push-ups, I run Pythagorean Football Fields (standard football field - sprint the 114 yard diagonals and walk the endzones to get your breath between runs.) and occasionally run three miles for my distance work. This is not suitable for a young athlete so make your own workout plan, just be consistent. During the off season you could divide these activities into two or three different workout periods.

      Your workout during the season needs to be adjusted by your coach or the playing schedule.  You don't need to run a marathon the morning before your big baseball game! Always inform your coach of the extra workouts you are doing at home, and ask them if they want to modify them. Your additional workout can be completed a few minutes after each practice. Running a few Pythagorean Football Fields a few minutes after a hard practice will not only make you a better athlete, it might even impress your coaches.

       With any workout or exercise program it is important to set goals. However, you must be able to decide if you are meeting your goals. Take one day a month to actually count and time several events to see if you are achieving an added value. Time yourself at a mile, and a hundred meters. Count the number of pull-ups, sit-ups, and push-ups you can complete. Write these benchmarks down to obsevre your progress from month to month.

Remember if my advise leads your to greatness - I want free seats!