Category Archives: For Coaches

This category is messages for coaches. They may be shared news or tips. Or it could be commentary or special offers.

This week on Kidz “n” Sports

This week on Kidz “n” Sports we are going to be talking about Stopping the Tsunami in Youth Sports. What is the Tsunami you ask?

My guest will be Vincent J. (VJ) Stanley, the founder and president of Frozen Shorts. Stanley is on a mission to help change the paradigm of youth sports. He is a former college hockey player who later became a broadcaster and author. Stanley values the benefits of sports for our kids but also would like to see a change in the way competitive sports are run these days.

Do you think youth sports is too competitive?
Vote on the Weekly Poll page.

If you are a travel ball player, coach, parent, or just a lover of youth sports you want to tune into Kidz “n” Sports, airing from 9 AM to 11 AM Pacific time on the Rant Radio Network. ( If you miss the live show, you can pick up the on-demand audio/video from the Rant Radio Network web site.

Tune into Kidz “n” Sports every Tuesday for more information on youth sports topics.  If you want to call the show, the number is (855)96-Rant (7268).

Kidz “n” Sports is Back!

Beginning June 4th, Kidz “n” Sports will be back on the air.

After a two year hiatus, Kidz “n” Sports, the talk show about youth sports, will be back on the internet at the Rant Radio Network.  The show will air live from 9:00 AM

Coach Mike on Kidz "n" Sports
Coach Mike hosts Kidz “n” Sports, the internet radio talk show about youth sports.

to 11:00 AM every Tuesday morning with a podcast of the show available 24 hours a day.

Kidz “n” Sports, hosted by Coach Mike Davis, aired on Adrenaline Radio from 2006 to 2011.  Guests ranged from coaches and players to umpires and parents.  We had doctors on to talk about concussions in youth sports, something that is being taken much more seriously now with laws being passed in many states.  We’ve talked about most active youth sports.  We’ve had high school, college, and youth coaches on as well as players and officials.

What will the first show be about this time?  I’m still working on that.  But you can submit your requests via email to Also, if you would like to advertise your business on Kidz “n” Sports, I want to hear from you as well.

The whole purpose of Kidz “n” Sports is to help parents help their children to learn from, enjoy, and be successful in their youth sports careers.  Whether a player goes on to play in college or quits playing sports after their freshman year in high school, we will have something for them.

So I hope you’ll tune in.  This new edition of Kidz “n” Sports will hopefully be better and more fun than ever before.

Finally – My Third Post on High School Tryouts

Well, that week went by pretty fast…..LOL.

I’ve finally gotten a chance to sit down and write my last blog in my series on high school tryouts.  As I had posted, our whole house was under the weather for a week or so and now that I’m in season I have seen time fly by way too fast.  But for those of you who are still with me, I present a synopsis of how I run my program and what I look for in tryouts.  Please remember, every program has differences and whether across the board or within one school’s programs, every tryout is different.

I’ve coached at a small private high school and at two larger public schools, counting my current position.  I’ve also coached one year of a JV program at a public school.  In my experience at my three varsity programs we often found ourselves needing bodies.  We would have anywhere from four to fourteen players tryout for the team.  These are new players, not the returning players.  And while I have cut a few players, I generally keep most of those coming out because of the low numbers.

I am quite sure there is probably not a coach alive that would not want to have skilled travel or club players on their team in any sport.  It not only leads to having a stronger team, but it is also easier on the coach in developing practice plans.  A coach can work on more advanced issues because he or she does not have to spend as much time teaching basic skills.  These players almost always have the basic skills down pat.  That doesn’t mean the coach can skip teaching basic skills.  It just means you do not have to spend as much time.

I remember after I had left the private school I coached at and was hired at Newport Harbor, a division one high school in the Sea View League, which at that time was arguably one of the toughest leagues in the U.S. as far as softball goes.  At one of the tournaments we were playing in, I ran into a coach that my teams had played against previously.  He asked me “So Mike, isn’t it nice to just be able to roll the ball out and let them play?”

Of course the answer is yes, if it were just that easy.

So what do I look for in tryouts and why did I cut the few players that I have cut?

First, I remember back to a philosophy I learned from the UCLA program originally although I’ve heard it repeated many times elsewhere.  There are only two things you can control in life, your attitude and your effort.  That is what I look for in my new players.  If there attitude is right and they are willing to give the effort, I am reluctant to cut those players, even when they are very raw and have a lot to learn.  That’s what coaching is about and that’s also what JV is for.  I have an excellent JV coach that is good about working with young players and teaching basic skills.  Obviously, if I had forty or fifty players trying out the young inexperienced players who have played little or no softball would probably not have a chance to make the team.  So far that hasn’t been the case.  What I have been blessed with are some remarkable young ladies who are willing to work hard and learn.  Sometimes these players only play one season.  Other times they have developed into pretty decent players, even if they were not super players that would go on to play in college.

I am willing to carry a slightly larger roster, say 15 or 16.  I am even willing to carry the limit of 20 players if I had that many while still leaving enough players for JV.  The reason I feel this way is that to me, playing high school sports is different than playing for a club or travel team for one big reason:  PRIDE!

Sure there is pride in winning a national title with your club or travel team.  But it is not the same as winning a league, city, or state championship with your high school team.  Most players will stay with a travel team for one or two years.  But you are at your high school for four years.  And there is something special about wearing your school colors, receiving your varsity letter, and representing your school before your friends.  I like to see as many players as possible have that opportunity as long as they are willing to work together and contribute as a team.  Talent is secondary to making the team.  Of course, I will put the best nine players on the field as the starting unit.

Most schools have students that through no fault of their own did not have the chance to play sports.  Kids are at the mercy of their parents.  Maybe they played at a middle school but just did not receive strong coaching.  And if the parents could not afford private lessons or club ball, is that the player’s fault?  It is easy to say that such a situation is not my problem.  My job is to put a competitive team on the field.  But especially if you don’t have large numbers trying out, if you want to build your program sometimes you have to be willing to take on a player who needs a lot of work but who has a great attitude and is willing to learn.

I am willing to teach first so I can win later.

I had asked for other coaches to share their philosophy with us so that you can see more examples.  I had a few tell me they would send something in but only one did.  Below is that coach’s story.

(I’ve received the following response from a JV coach, Patti Mascone)


In response to request for coaching philosophies, I am a JV softball coach at Atholton High School in Maryland, a medium-sized school in the suburbs known for academics.

The JV level offers a great opportunity for 9th and 10th graders who may not make the Varsity team (some don’t want to play Varsity because they may ride the bench). If we did not have JV, we would have to cut too many girls every year. I have to thank our county, Howard, and the high school, for instilling a lot of the fairness and communication into how our programs handle tryouts.

Of course, my tryout portion is based on those who have been “cut,” for lack of a better term, from Varsity, so that puts limits on what I am looking for. I can’t really pick kids to “pieces” of the puzzle, as that is more for the Varsity level. A JV coach needs kids who can play multiple positions and are overall players.

We have very few travel players in our district, so I spend a lot of time at JV level teaching the game to athletes who may not have had much softball experience. We are also instilling educational experiences to help the players in their future adult lives. So first, we have to look for athletes at JV level. For travel players that do come our way, we look for players who are good leaders, mentors, and teammates because of the variance in skill level. We have strict academic/homework requirements during the season, so we also want and have to take kids with good grades. I definitely read the honor rolls and ask the kids at tryouts to describe on paper their school activities and honors and what they would contribute to the team. I had one player who wrote such a great essay on her tryout sheet, I read it to the team as motivation.

I like to keep anywhere from 15-18 players, because at JV, we keep track of playing time and get everyone in. There are also injuries and other school activities to account for–we play three games a week once we get going (20 total). We have priority system so that kids can do both an activity (e.g., ROTC, band) and a sport to the satisfaction of all involved. However, academics and tutoring take precedence over softball in all cases.

It is imperative that a coach keep an objective grading sheet on each player at tryouts and that all prospects participate in the same drills. It is hugely beneficial to give the prospects a copy of a blank evaluation sheet or tell them what the categories of evaluation are prior to the start of tryouts. Of course, some things like “hitting form” will remain somewhat subjective, but by applying a number from a scale, the coach documents what the coach saw, which is better than writing “like her hitting form.” I also allow some time at the end of tryouts to redo a key skill evaluation or add one so that the kids know they were seen by me. (I typically ask the group what they want to show off.)

At the end of tryouts, each cut player is told why she is cut, in private. The player or parent of a cut JV player may discuss my evaluation and ask about evaluation criteria. The parent or player is not allowed to inquire, discuss, or know anything about the assessment of another player. I don’t and can’t discuss other individuals. I find that a total score keeps the decision and discussion more objective by allowing both a “points cut-off” and “highest point total.” Everyone is used to grading systems, so it works.

About 1/3 of the tryout score is based on sportsmanship, attitude, communication, and other teammate or team member qualities (such as the essay). This is so important. The coach also should NOT be fooled by first impressions. For example, I have timed how long it takes a fielder to make a play (and not just running), because some fielders who seem slow actually make quicker and more consistent defensive plays.

I also use the tryout sheet as a benchmark and go over this sheet with the player at the end of the season during individual evaluations; the player then knows what she needs to do to try and make Varsity the next year.

Because our system keeps all JV and V sports separate (they play at the exact same time), there is no concern about players going back and forth. You either play JV or Varsity. Of course, the Varsity coach can call you up, but once you go up, you stay up. This creates a lot more certainty for everyone involved.

(This is the coach’s personal philosophy and is not speaking as a representative of her school.)

I hope you can take something from our programs to help you in your own.  Or if you are a parent of a player trying to make a team, I hope these last three blogs have helped you understand the process a little better.  Next week I will talk about my policy for seniors.  Can a senior play on JV?  Or do you cut them if they’re not a varsity player?


High School Tryouts – Comments of the Rejected

This week in the second part of my series on High School Tryouts, I will focus on the comments often heard from parents or players when they have failed to make the team.  These comments vary widely.  Some are legitimate and some are rumor or perception.  Nonetheless, it is obviously the perception of the person offended that they should have made the team.  In our society today, it is much less common for a person to look at himself or herself first for a reason for failure.  It is much easier to blame someone else, in this case……the coach who cut them.      Let’s look at some of these comments.  Then we can see if there is a better path we can take.

“The coach put his/her favorites on the team.”

This comment is quite common and may often be true.  But that doesn’t always mean that the coach was wrong.  Every coach has to decide which players he or she wants on the team.  And while it is largely a talent issue there are other factors involved.  Your child’s personality may come into play.  Some players are loud and proud, others are quiet and timid, and there’s a whole range in between.  Just like anywhere else in society, the coach is more likely to notice the loud and proud.  My daughter was usually pretty quiet when trying out for a new travel team.  I’m sure that she was overlooked a few times because she would not come off as a potential impact player.  Once she was on a team she usually received positive comments from the coaches as to her effort and attitude.  And once she got to know the team and felt accepted, she usually wasn’t so quiet.  Even though I’m her Dad, I would say she would rarely be the first person to impress someone in a group tryout.

At the same time, keep in mind an old saying “It’s not what you know but who you know.”  Some of the players trying out may have had a relationship with the coach previously.  Perhaps they attended a camp or clinic ran by the coach.  Maybe the coach knew a lower level or travel coach that the player played for.  Almost everyone feels more comfortable working with someone they know where there is a known quantity to deal with.  This can especially be true when a coach has to pick a limited number of players out of a large group.

“They kept other players that were not as good as my kid.”

Again, this often may be true.  But it can also be your perspective, especially if you are new to the sport and may not understand the advanced skills and issues.  Again, personality may be involved.  Or it is possible that while your son or daughter is very talented they may have mechanical flaws in their game that a coach may choose not to deal with.  For example, I have heard some high school coaches say that they will not take a player who throws sidearm.  Throwing sidearm can cause more errors and also lead to injuries in the arm and shoulder.  There are some players who have thrown sidearm for many years and may be very good.  Some coaches just choose not to go there.  This is a habit that is difficult if not impossible to break.  You can try to change your player or you can perhaps consider another team.

There are also times where you may be exactly right in your assessment of the situation.  The coach may be wrong.  He or she may have taken players on their team that are not as good of an athlete as your son or daughter.  You might have your child try to talk to the coach.  But there isn’t a lot you can do otherwise.  It is their team and they have a right to take the players they want on the team.  I suggest that you have your player try out again next year.  Maybe then the coach will see your child’s ability and perhaps realize he or she made a mistake in taking some players that didn’t pan out.  Or not.  But if you go around to other parents complaining about not making the team, you have probably just reinforced the coach’s decision not to take your son or daughter.

“The coach only takes travel ball players, that’s not fair.”

Perhaps not, but again that is their decision.  It is quite common to see this in high school sports such as softball, volleyball, basketball, and soccer.  There are a few different levels of this guideline.  Some coaches want to have travel or club players on their team.  Who wouldn’t?  These players have stated by their activity that they want to be a better player.  As a club or travel player they are playing mostly year round.  And in most cases are receiving better coaching, more advanced coaching to be more precise.  A high school coach only has a limited amount of time to practice with the team.  Travel and club teams tend to have three and four hour (and sometimes longer) practices at a more intense level.  A travel or club player is generally a better player.  It’s not a guarantee but it is the general rule.

Some coaches will not only seek or require that you do travel or club ball, but will quietly require that you play on certain teams, or even their own team.  Is this wrong?  I think it may be extreme, especially if they won’t even consider a non-travel player who may be an excellent athlete.  But again….it is their team.  They get to set the guidelines.  Many times these guidelines might be what other parents or a booster club has placed on them.  This is especially true at high profile programs where they have a reputation for being a strong athletic school.  I have been turned down for positions at a high school because they have a favorite travel coach or someone connected to the administration or booster club.  See, it happens to coaches too.

I could go on with several more comments but I would prefer to conclude this blog with some suggestions that may improve your child’s chances to make the team, perhaps even after they’ve been cut.

Before you starting whining to the whole world about how your son or daughter got a raw deal, consider these alternatives:

  1. Have your son or daughter ask the coach for a private conversation.  Then they can ask the coach (if the coach hasn’t explained it already) why they did not make the cut AND what can they do to improve their chances.  If there are a large number of players trying out coaches don’t always have time to talk to each one.  They will post cuts on the locker room wall.  If your son or daughter takes the initiative they may gain the coach’s respect and maybe even a second look.
  2. Plan ahead.  Don’t assume because your child was a star at the local rec league that they have the skills to make the team at your high school.  Just like looking for a job, do your homework.  Try to find out what the coach is looking for.  See if the coach offers summer camps and clinics.  If you can afford to, have your player take some private lessons from a respected coach and if possible try to join a travel or club team.
  3. Help educate your child (and perhaps yourself) about the differences between rec ball and travel ball.  Rec leagues vary.  Some may be very good but most by nature are not geared to be as competitive as travel or club ball.
  4. Finally, teach your child to take responsibility for its own success.  It is up to them to get in better condition, increase strength or skills, and to learn more about their sport.  It is not the coach’s responsibility; their job is to coach the talent they have on their team.  It is not your responsibility to make your child a success.  You cannot do that.  Your responsibility is to provide the opportunity, guidance, and resources to help your child reach their goals.  If they are trying to reach your goals they will not do as well.  I can almost guarantee it.

That’s all for today.  I hope this helps.  Next week I will discuss coaching differences.  I will share how I coach my teams and share how some other coaches run their programs.

Teach first, and win later.

Coach Mike.

I welcome your feedback and love to hear about your experiences.  Feel free to comment here or on my blog site The Coach is Always Right.   

For more sport specific information and links, please visit





High School Tryouts

I heard recently that the daughter of a friend did not make the team at her high school.  I am a bit surprised, as I know the athletic talent and positive character that this kid possesses.  I know this young lady is very disappointed.  I heard some of the same comments from the parent as I’ve head many times as I have coached youth sports over the years.  I have felt some of the same feelings at times when my daughter was not selected for various travel ball teams.  So I thought today would be a good day for a “review” of the tryout scenario, the associated comments resulting from not making the teams, and the opportunities available or directions to consider going forward.  I know that nothing I say here will change the disappointment of player or parent immediately.  But hopefully, once the tears and anger have subsided, it will help both player and parent get back on the saddle and ride that horse again….. or not.

For the purposes of this blog I will deal most specifically with high school tryouts today.  There are different parameters to high school tryouts that may seem similar to other tryouts but which are unique to high school sports.   The disappointment may be greater because if you don’t make a travel or club team, there are many other teams available to try out for.  But high school is special.  High school is unique.  You can’t just keep trying out for different high school teams until you make a team, even though some parents seemingly try to do that.  When I first started coaching high school softball here in southern California, I heard the comment that “high school softball is a joke.”  Yes, if you want to play at the college level you almost have to play travel ball.  I say almost because it is not an absolute.  I say almost because there are some very good high school teams.  There are some schools where the team is as good as a travel team.  But consider again that to many students, wearing your school colors is a different pride that is rarely seen in travel or club ball.  To me, high school softball or any other sport is not a joke.

The first thing to remember is that it is the coach’s team.  This is true in high school, college, travel and club ball, or any other “competitive” team sports.  Unlike rec ball where every player will get to play, at the higher levels every player is subject to the opinions, whims, and directions of the coach or coaches.  The head coach is going to select the players who they think will help make their team the most competitive.  Each coach has different criteria for picking the players at tryouts.  It may change due to the different number of players needed based on returning talent.  Some coaches are very demanding while others are more laid back.  Some like to carry larger rosters, others want the minimum number of players they feel they can get through the season with.  Some demand that you play travel or club ball, others are simply glad if you do.  Some coaches may even have a silent requirement that you play on THEIR travel or club team, or one specified by them.

The bottom line under any coach is that their perception of your son or daughter is THEIR PERCEPTION.  It is their opinion.  If you lined up ten different coaches in any given sport, and each had to pick fifteen players out of a pool of say, fifty players, you are likely to not have any two teams be identical.  I would say, and this is a guess, that the ten coaches might agree on the top five to eight players.  They might even agree on the top ten players.  But I can almost guarantee that the next five players would be different on each team, depending of course on the overall makeup of the pool of fifty.  Coaches will probably agree on the top players but there are always players that each coach will see something in them that the coach thinks he can take a given player and with the “proper coaching” will make them a quality player.  Sometimes these are even called “projects.”  I will discuss projects in a different blog.  But the bottom line is that just because your son or daughter doesn’t make the team doesn’t mean they are a bad player or that they are not a good person.  Remember, teens are often sensitive on the self-esteem issue, as are some parents.  It’s easy to forget that, especially with high school sports, your son or daughter is graded on a sliding scale.  This year they might not make the team but if they try out again next year they might make the team.

Next week I will discuss the associated comments that are often heard from parents when their child doesn’t make the team.  There are many different comments, some are legitimate and some are rumor.  How do you separate one from another?  Or do you listen to the comments at all?

Remember, teach first, win later.
Coach Mike

This IS Kidz “n” Sports

Coach Mike Davis behind the mic on Kidz "n" Sports radio show.Kidz “n” Sports is about youth sports.  My motto is teach first, win later.

Kidz “n” Sports is about all ages and levels of youth sports, from tee-ball to teen, and even some college too.

My goal is to help parents and players navigate the oft times choppy waters of youth sports.  I am here to help your child have a more enjoyable experience, and hopefully a more successful one. has links for most sports:  governing bodies, related links, and a Wikipedia page for the sport.  More sites will be added.  These pages are to help you know where to go to get your child involved in youth sports.  Once you’re involved with youth sports, will discuss issues you face in youth sports:  How to get a scholarship; how to relate to coaches and officials; differences between rec, travel, and high school ball; and much more.

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So if you are ready to begin, let’s play ball…..  or some other sport.