"Lori Chalupny is a fantastic midfielder," U.S. womens soccer team head coach Greg Ryan said. "First and foremost, her work rate both directions, defending and attacking--she went from 18 yard line to 18 yard line tonight....What she does to our midfield and our front line is she runs through the opponent's defense and gets in behind the other side of them and creates great attacking chances, scoring chances, for us. She really makes our midfield much more dynamic than we've been in the past."
It is that work ethic and dynamic dimension that helped Chalupny score the second-fastest goal in World Cup history, with a deflecting strike that found the back of the net just 55 seconds into the game. That proved to be the only scoring power the United States needed as the 1-0 win over Nigeria sent the team out of the toughest group in the tournament and on to the quarterfinals.
Even knowing the result immediately upon sitting down at my desk to start work yesterday morning, and seeing the highlight of the one and only goal of the match, I still tuned in late last night to watch much of the replay of the game to see how the team looked overall.
The Americans countered the Nigerians speed by moving the ball the more effectively than they had previously during the opening round--despite soggy conditions caused by the leading edge of a typhoon that forced todays games to be postponed.
Ill be cheering them on as they continue their attacking ways against England in a quarterfinal match-up on Saturday.
Last month we addressed the importance of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals for ensuring a path to success. Whether your goal is to run a marathon, shed some pounds or help your team make the playoffs, staying motivated will get you there. I teamed up with Toby Guillette, the endurance sports specialist, to discuss strategies that will keep you on track to reach your goals.
There will always be obstacles along the way to reaching your goal. When you encounter hardships or setbacks, stay focused by using positive self-talk. Self-talk is the internal dialog that reflects and creates our emotional states. Your self-talk can influence your self-esteem, energy level, performance and even your health.
According to sports psychologist Dr. Andrew Jacobs, a study on negativity and positive thinking found that the average person requires 12 positive statements to overcome one negative statement. For example, if you say that hitting a certain pitcher is too difficult, you have to say "I can hit this pitcher" 12 times in order to give you a better chance to make it.
So what is the solution? Use awareness and practice to change your negative self-talk. The first step in beating the cycle is recognizing how often you think negatively. The second step is substituting positive thoughts for the negative ones. Instead of telling yourself I feel slow and tired remind yourself that I will keep my pace and finish strong.
In addition to saying the positive statement, visualize yourself being successful in your mind, and see yourself doing it over and over. Once you become aware of your negative thinking, and substitute the negative thoughts with positive ones, you will have a much greater chance at succeeding.
Everybody has heard the term "See the ball, hit the ball." So why do most hitters, coaches and instructors ignore this critical hitting aspect?
This is the most basic of hitting concepts. We all spend a great deal of time and resources on the mechanics of executing a quality swing. But none of that matters if you can't see the ball.
Your kid doesn't know if there is something wrong with his vision. He doesn't know if he needs glasses (or contacts) or if his prescription is too weak. He assumes what he sees is the way its supposed to look. Before you hustle him off to another pricey session with a hitting instructor, get his eyes checked.
And make sure that instructor spends time on baseball-specific vision training, not eye drills that make you choose a color or have you sitting down looking at a computer. That's not specific to baseball.
If you're not training vision in your stance, then it's not specific to the sport and it will have very little, if any, carryover to the batters box.
See the ball. Hit the ball. Its that simple.
(Jon Doyle is a former NCAA All-American baseball player who now works as strength and conditioning specialist. For more tips check out www.baseballtrainingsecrets.com)
US Youth Soccer, the largest youth sports organization in the country, is celebrating the fifth annual Youth Soccer Month this September.
Youth Soccer Month celebrates the various programs available to children interested in participating in soccer, including the inner-city, special needs, recreational and elite soccer programs that have facilitated the growth of the sport at all levels. It also focuses on four main messages:
Fitness: The health and fitness (physical, psychological and social) benefits of playing soccer.
Fun: Whether recreational or competitive in nature, involvement in soccer is easy, affordable and rewarding.
Family: Playing soccer ties families together as schedules, vacations and family time are coordinated.
Friendship: The relationships generated through playing soccer extend beyond the field.
Plans for Youth Soccer Month include working with local leadership to organize grassroots public-affairs campaigns, numerous local events, media-relations initiatives and more.
Interest in the sport of soccer is at its highest level ever in the United States, with more than 19 million children, ages five to 19, participating regularly. Notably, more children are participating in organized soccer than peewee football, youth basketball or Little League baseball.
Also, be sure to check out the Womens World Cup action that starts this Monday. Read national team member Lori Chalupny's blog on her World Cup experience in China.
If youve watched any of the Little League World Series youve certainly noticed how hard the pitchers throw: 65, 70 even 73 miles per hour shows up on the gun. One of the big issues a hitter faces as he starts playing on regional and national levels is the ability to hit the high-speed fastball.
Typically you will see players swing a weighted bat on deck in order to gear up for the cheese. If this is part of your routine I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this will not increase your bat speed and, in most cases, will actually decrease itobviously not what you want.
This is because when you swing a heavy bat 15 percent or greater than your game bat you not only change your mechanics (which leads to inconsistent batting mechanics) you also teach your body to swing slow. Sure the bat will feel lighter in your hands, but you will swing slower. Now it is OK to loosen up the shoulders and wrist by moving a heavy bat around your body, just dont replicate your swing.
I know by now youre saying, Jon, if a heavy bat will hinder me, what should I do?
Its quite simple really, swing a lighter bat! Swing a bat 10-15 percent lighter than your normal game bat on deck 5 to 8 times. Try to be as quick as possible when you do it. This will increase your game bat speed because now your body will know what it feels like to swing faster.
This is a very simple tip, yet extremely powerful and effective.
(Jon Doyle is a former NCAA All-American baseball player who now works as a strength and conditioning specialist. For more tips check out www.baseballtrainingsecrets.com )
Setting goals is one of the most effective ways to motivate an athlete. Goals provide a sense of direction while increasing effort and quality of performance. Teams and endurance athletes alike must choose goals carefully to follow a path towards success. I joined up with Toby Guillette, the endurance sports specialist, to provide a useful guide for setting S.M.A.R.T. goals in athletics.
1. Specific: These goals are most clearly defined by the five "W" questions: who, what, where, when, why? The answers to these questions will begin to bring your goals into focus.
2. Measurable: By establishing a system for measuring progress toward each goal you set, you will increase motivation by experiencing a sense of achievement when reaching the smaller incremental goals along the way. To prevent ambiguity and vagueness, make sure to incorporate an assessable time frame allowing you to carry out those steps and feel successful.
3. Attainable: Once goals are identified and specific increments are achieved, the larger goals that used to seem far away begin to grow closer as you grow as a person. It's truly amazing how one begins to figure out ways to make goals become reality. Previously overlooked opportunities manifest themselves and bring you closer to attaining your goals, all the while, new attitudes, abilities, skills and strategies develop to help you to reach them.
4. Realistic: By truly believing that your goal can be accomplished, your target will be realistic. This is something that you and you alone must decide. Be sure to set each goal so it represents ample growth. By following these guidelines, higher goals often prove easier to reach than lower goals, because lower goals produce a lower level of motivational energy.
5. Timely: Goals should be set with a starting point, ending point and fixed intervals along the way. This will perpetuate a
sense of urgency for you to act as target dates approach. Goals without deadlines tend to fade in importance and fall in rank of priority where less commitment is established.
No matter what skill level, goals that follow this outline will facilitate the growth of the athlete. Experiencing incremental progress during the journey toward your dreams and desires provides a steady reward that has the power to maintain motivation--as long as you keep in mind what you want to accomplish and how you plan to get there.
While growing up, I was a faithful subscriber to Sports Illustrated for Kids. One of my favorite parts of the magazine was a section titled, You Make the Call. There were three situations every issue that tested your knowledge on the rules of various sports.
Here is a Little League situation that I came across today. You make the call:
Runners on first and third, one out. Batter hits a fly ball to centerfield which is caught. Runner on first left when the batter hit the ball and before he could return, is doubled at first. Runner on third crosses plate before out is made at first. Does the run score?
A Corpus Christi Pee-Wee football coach who charged and knocked down a game referee is blaming the 18-year-old ref for the attack.
Witnesses said the coach, Robert Watson was angry at the ref for ordering him off the field for cursing -- as well as at his 5- and 6-year-old players for not blocking. Watson's team, the Titans, was trailing the 49ers 12-6 with 10 seconds left in the Pee-Wee league's championship game when the incident happened.
Police Captain John Houston said the coach had been warned several times about cursing on the sidelines before his ejection. Houston said the referee was left briefly unconscious by the attack but is otherwise alright.
In the face of increasing amounts of abuse such as this from players, coaches and fans, many officials are leaving the profession. But there are steps you can take to help keep them around.
The 2008 Summer Olympics will be held in Beijing, China from August 8, 2008 through August 24, 2008, with the opening ceremony to take place at 08:08pm and 08 seconds. (The number 8 is associated with prosperity in Chinese culture.) From badminton to basketball, the games kick off when the Olympic Torch Relay that begins several months before opening ceremonies makes it's way into the stadium to ignite the flame.
According to the BBC, before the flame gets to Beijing, it will actually go to the summit of Mount Everst. Twice. There will reportedly be a televised rehearsal in 2007 before the actual torch relay in 2008. The full schedule of the torch relay, which must be approved by the International Olympic Committee, has not yet been released.
"The torch will be designed in order to burn at such a high altitude," said Beijing Olympics official Liu Jingmin.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, football, long considered to be the ultimate guy sport, appears to be getting a gender infusion. The National Football League has compiled some notable facts about women and football:
1) In 1996, a girls-only division was made available for participants in the GatoradePunt, Pass & Kick competition. About 125,000 of the 500,000 participants that year were girls. By 2000, the number of girls participating in the contest had risen to more than 1 million. The NFL Gatorade Punt, Pass and Kick program creates lively and engaging competition for boys and girls ages 8 -15 to compete separately against their peers in punting, passing and place kicking skills.
2) More than 30 million women watch football on televisions on an average weekend.
3) Game-day attendance is 40 percent female, with more than 375,000 women attending games on an average weekend.
4) Over 100,000 girls participate in local flag football leagues sponsored by the NFL.
Perhaps the phrase "football widow" is on the way out as more and more females are becoming interested and knowledgable in the sport of football.
(Photo provided by Getty Images, taken by Jonathan Daniel)
There's no place for teasing and heckling on the baseball field, I'm sure you'll agree, yet there seems to be no getting around it. People are going to say what they want. As a former college player and high school coach, believe me, I've heard some wild things.
Unfortunately, teasing and heckling does happen and not just on the field. However, what you learn on the baseball field will help you manage and understand things off the field. I know it does for me.
I spoke with over 300 of today's top Major Leaguers about how they handle heckling (as well as other topics) and one of the main points they shared was, "control what you can control." You can't control what people say to you, but you can control your reaction to them.
Here are a few excerpts from Stepping Up to the Plate that reveal how big leaguers handle heckling. If you like to copy the styles and habits of the pros, you might want to try out some of these positive approaches to heckling too.
You're in the field and you hear something like, "Hey #@!%! You're a *&#@?" Here's what two-time all-star and World Series champion Darin Erstad has learned over the years: "It's an ugly side to the game. You can let it bother you or let it make you stronger. You have to accept that (the teasing) is not personal and you can't take it with emotion."
How does all-star infielder and 11-year MLB veteran Edgardo Alfonzo overcome hecklers? He explains, "I already have my mind set on what I'm going to do, what I'm going to listen to and what my intentions are. The game's only a couple of hours long, I don't want to take my focus off our (game plan)."
Paul LoDuca, three-time all-star handles it this way. "I take the heckling in stride. I was a short, chubby kid when I was younger, so I got razzed a lot. I still do. I just laugh. You can't take it serious. If you do, it starts getting in your head."
Bonus Tip: Tim Wakefield from the 2004 World Series-champion Boston Red Sox puts it best: "You have to force yourself to ignore (the teasing). A lot of people base their self-worth on what other people think about you. You have to be happy with yourself. My self-worth is based on the type of person I am, not what I do on the field."
Wrap Up: Control what you can control, have a game plan and stay focused on it. Whether you're on the field or in the classroom, what you think about yourself plays a big part toward your success. If you know you're not a @!%&*#, it won't matter what other people say.
David Kloser, speaker, visualization trainer and author of the series "Stepping Up to the Plate: Inspiring Interviews with Major Leaguers" interviewed over 300 Major League Baseball players about success for life on and off the field. David speaks on this topic throughout the country. For more information visit www.SteppingUpToThePlate.com
Last weekend marked the 35th anniversary of Title IX, the legislation credited with increasing gender equity in sports. According to the Women���s Sports Foundation, since its enactment in 1972, female athletic participation has increased by a staggering 904 percent in high school and by 456 percent in college.
As someone who has benefited from Title IX, softball star Jennie Finch is quick to share her appreciation for those women that came before her. "I'm truly grateful for people who have paved the way, and have fought the fight," Finch said in the Daily Freeman. "I'm happy they broke down barriers to give women like myself the opportunity to be successful athletes and make a living playing a sport that I love."
I���m no softball star, but I am also thankful for the positive influence of Title IX in my life and the opportunity to play ball in college. Here are some other women who have enjoyed the effects of Title IX and are part of my favorite moments in sports history:
1996 | New Women's Olympic Sports. Women's softball and soccer made their Olympic debut at the Summer Games in Atlanta, and the U.S. dominated, winning the gold in both sports, as well as in basketball, gymnastics and synchronized swimming. The Atlanta Games made stars of Lisa Leslie, Mia Hamm and Lisa Fernandez, giving rise to professional softball and soccer leagues for women in the U.S.
1999 | Women's World Cup. A billion TV viewers and a stadium crowd of 90,000 witness the celebration as the U.S. wins the Women's World Cup in an overtime shoot-out against China. Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey after scoring the winning goal, giving little girls someone besides a model to look at for a strong, beautiful body. And for the first time, a women's soccer team got as much attention a men's squad usually does.
2007 | Equal Pay at Wimbledon. After 123 years of awarding more prize money to men than women, Wimbledon yielded to public pressure and announced on Feb. 22, that it will offer equal pay through all rounds at this year's tournament.
2006 | Winningest Coach in NCAA History. Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball historymale or femaleearned her 900th career win as the Tennessee Lady Vols beat Vanderbilt, 80-68. That year, Summitt signed a $1.125 million deal for the 2006-07 season, making her the first women's basketball coach in history to be paid a million dollars or more.
2003 | Annika Plays a PGA Tour Event. Annika Sorenstam became the first woman since Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1945 to compete in a PGA Tour event. Sorenstam missed the cut at the Colonialin Fort Worth, Texasby four strokes, but walked off the course to a standing ovation.
1997 | The WNBA is Born. The WNBA kicked off its inaugural season with eight teams, but unlike the other women's pro basketball leagues before it, this one has enjoyed longevity, this year celebrating its 10th year of existence.
2001 | Increased Exposure for the Women's Tournament. The NCAA and ESPN announced an 11-year agreement for the cable outlet to televise every game of the women's national championship basketball tournament.
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