Month: September 2016

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How to Become a Better Defender in Football & Soccer

Soccer by nature is a low-scoring sport involving lengthy battles for the ball and field position. Those low scores make defenders very important to the success of a soccer team. Playing defense is not the most glamorous job and defenders rarely score or make the headlines, but often they are the difference between winning and losing. By focusing on fundamentals and learning some tricks of the trade, you can become a better soccer defender.
Study film and tape of offensive players to get an idea of what moves you will see. Even if the film is tape of professional leagues and not someone you will face in real life, you can better see how to slow down and stop an offensive player and then implement those strategies.
Watch the ball and your opponent’s waist so you know where he is going at all times. By focusing on the ball and his waist, you will not be fooled by any trick moves or hesitation dribbles he might use.
Take angles to cut off the offense and stay in front of your opponent. Taking angles means that you run to a spot to cut off the ball instead of chasing the player in a straight line, while positioning yourself between your opponent and the goal at all times.
Keep your balance, stay on your feet and learn to play at different speeds. US Youth Soccer notes that staying balanced and learning to slow down from a sprint are important parts of stopping the ball. Teach PE adds that staying on your feet and using controlled aggression while trying to tackle is important. Tackling refers to trying to steal or tackle away the ball from your opponent. Leaving your feet or being too aggressive can give her a clear path to the goal.


Drills to Make a Child a Better Baseball Hitter

Successful batting requires a whole lineup of skills including strength, coordination and confidence. Coaches can help their young players develop those skills through creative batting drills. It’s important to vary the drills to practice different aspects of batting — and to keep kids interested.
This drill uses a tee to help batters hit in a variety of locations, according to QC Baseball. The coach places the tee in the middle of the plate thigh high to the batter, and the batter swings a few times. The coach moves the tee closer in for a few swings, and then moves it out for an outside “pitch.” She also varies the height of the tee so the batter gets used to hitting high and low pitches. During this drill, the hitter should visualize a real pitch. He should look at where the pitcher would stand and imagine an actual windup and pitch, with the ball ending up at the tee. recommends this drill to improve a batter’s thinking process and reaction time. The coach has several balls, each painted a bright color. He picks up a ball and puts it in his glove without letting the batter see it. Right before he pitches, the coach calls out a color. The batter should swing only if the coach has called the correct color.
This drill helps batters develop strength in the top hand of their grip, according to Hastings Little League in Hastings on Hudson, New York. Strength in the top hand is important because the top hand guides the bat toward the ball. The coach softly tosses a ball above the batter’s waist. The hitter holds the bat with only her top hand and tries to hit the top of the ball, sending the ball straight to the ground.
In the short-toss drill, the pitcher can deliver the ball to the batter with greater control, according to Hastings Little League. The coach stands about a quarter or third of the way closer than usual to the batter and uses an L-screen for protection. He throws the ball to the batter several times at a steady speed. From this distance, the batter can improve his skill level and work on a quicker bat.


Emmitt Smith

Emmitt J. Smith III excelled at football at every level. He was a consensus All-American running back and prep Player of the Year by Parade and USA Today as a senior at Escambia (Florida) High School.
At the University of Florida, where he was an All-American and three-time All-SEC selection, he established 58 school records in three seasons, including a career rushing mark of 3,928 yards.
Joining the Dallas Cowboys as their No. 1 draft pick in 1990, Smith (born 1969) was even more sensational. Almost immediately, he emerged as one of the game’s greatest performers.
Though not exceptionally fast, Smith combined quick moves with the power of a fullback. No one was more determined to reach the end zone.
A Pro Bowl choice in each of his first six seasons, Smith is the only player in NFL history to rush for more than 1,400 yards in five consecutive seasons.
In 1995, he added to his ever-growing list of accomplishments when he set a new NFL mark for touchdowns scored in a season, with 25.
At the same time, he compiled a career-best 1,773 yards rushing. Hardly one-dimensional, his 62 receptions in 1995 marked the fourth straight season in which the versatile running back caught 50 or more passes.
How valuable is Smith to the Dallas offense? Well, while football is more than a one-man sport, the Cowboys through 1995 were 62-8 in games where Emmitt had 20 or more carries and 43-5 in games where he gained at least 100 yards rushing. His 20 postseason touchdowns are an NFL record.
The pinnacle of Smith’s career as a rusher came on October 27, 2002, when he broke boyhood idol Walter Payton’s all-time career rushing mark. Smith carried the ball for two more seasons before retiring at age 34 with 18,355 yards rushing.
When likened to Hall of Famers Payton and Jim Brown, Smith used the comparisons as motivation. “When my career’s over,” he would say, “I want to be able to say … no, I want to have the new kids, the new backs, say, ‘Boy, we have to chase a legend to be the best,’ and they’ll mean Emmitt Smith.”
To learn more about football greats, see:


How to Fix a Flat Soccer Ball

If a soccer ball is flat because it has been sitting unused and has lost pressure, reinflation is the answer. Pump the ball by hand or with an electric pump until it feels firm when pressed hard between the heels of both palms. If the ball is flat due to a puncture of its bladder, you can repair the ball in a process roughly similar to that employed for a flat bicycle tire.
Inflate the flat ball fully. Place it under water in a sink or bucket. Apply very light pressure on the ball until you see a stream of bubbles indicating where the ball was punctured.
Score a three-sided flap the size of a rectangular bicycle repair patch, centered on the puncture, in the vinyl cover and the underlying foam, using a utility knife. Do not press so hard that you cut the underlying bladder. Cut through the scored surface with a small sharp scissors.
Pry up the fabric underlying the foam and cut with the scissors on three sides to create a flap and provide a good view of the exterior of the bladder.
Apply rubber cement to the bladder. Allow it to dry for three minutes.
Peel the backing off the bicycle patch and apply over the puncture. Rub the patch down well.
Apply household glue to the surface of the bicycle patch. Push the flap back into place. Tape the flap into place with foot-long strips of duct tape stretched tightly around the ball horizontally and vertically.
Allow the patch to dry overnight. Remove the duct tape. Pump up the ball so the surface is hard again and it is playable.


The Types of Sacrifices Athletes Make

Being an athlete is a lifestyle that consumes every aspect of your life. Whether you¡¯re a professional athlete, recreational athlete or participate in a sport while you¡¯re in school, you¡¯ll have to make all kinds of sacrifices in order to succeed. It¡¯s important to surround yourself with a strong support system — people who understand your desire to be the best and will support you through thick and thin.
Being an athlete is an around-the-clock commitment. You¡¯ll have to give up a big chunk of the free time you spend with friends, family or just by yourself lounging on the couch. When you¡¯re not at the gym or out on the field, you¡¯ll be studying videos of your past performances, opening your eyes as to how you can improve in the future. You might even watch film footage of your competitors so you can learn their strengths and weaknesses to give you a competitive edge.
When you¡¯re in training, you¡¯ll have to follow a rigid diet plan set forth by your physician, trainer or dietitian. You have to consume a precise amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat, meaning you might have to give up on the freedom of selecting your favorite foods and refuse to give in to your cravings. Not only will you have to eat certain foods, but also you¡¯ll have to eat them at specific times, often every few hours while you¡¯re awake.
Long gone are those days when you can press snooze on your alarm clock over and over when you¡¯re in training. Being an athlete is a full-time job so you have to start early and work late in some cases. But when you¡¯re in training, you don¡¯t get to take weekends and holidays off. You still have to continue to stick to a rigid sleeping schedule and get up early enough each day to meet with your trainer or team.
If you¡¯ve ever had a sore ankle, back or wrist, you might have taken a day or two off of work to let it rest. You don¡¯t always get that luxury of taking time off, or even taking a break, when you¡¯re an athlete. You¡¯ll have to learn to work through the pain, especially if you have a group of teammates who rely on you to get the win.
When you¡¯re still in school, you¡¯ll most likely miss out on a lot of the educational experience package. You might not spend as much time on campus as a traditional student and have to hire a tutor to help you stay up to speed on your studies. You¡¯ll miss out on after school activities, class time and social events that other students get to do. Depending on your travel schedule, you may have to give up a traditional graduation ceremony as well.


Training to Dunk a Basketball

Jumping higher is often a goal of basketball players. Not only can it help them be more effective players in the all-around game, it can also help them get up above the rim and learn how to dunk a basketball. Dunking a basketball gives a player a certain confidence that allows him to know that under the right circumstances he can put the ball in the basket any time he wants.
To dunk a basketball, you have to get in excellent cardiovascular condition. Doing interval training will help you improve your overall conditioning and build leg strength. Go to the local high school or college track and run sprints of 100, 90, 80 and 70 yards in succession. Don’t take more than 15 seconds between sprints. When you finish all four, take a two-minute break and repeat the set. Do one more double-set before you leave the track.
The ability to get height on your jump comes largely from the muscles in your lower legs, your calf muscles and your feet. Do calf raises to build strength in these muscles to help you get up in the air and sustain your leap long enough to dunk the ball. Get in the middle of the room — where you can’t touch any walls — and raise up on your tip toes. Hold that for a count of at least two, then return to your original position. Do this 25 times, take a one-minute break and repeat the set. Add intensity by holding a barbell across the back of your shoulders.
Jump soles are attachments that go on the front of your athletic shoes that will help you build running speed and jumping height while you practice. One of the best exercises to do with your jump soles is to alternate sprints with walking. Go to the track and sprint 20 yards followed by a 10-yard walk. Do this five times, take a one-minute break and repeat the set. Do this four times a week to build explosive jumping ability.
Taking steps to improve your leaping ability will help you jump higher. However, jumping higher without having all the other skills important to playing basketball won’t make you a better all-around player. It is OK to work on your leaping ability but work on the rest of your game as well.
Improving your vertical leap to the point where you can now dunk will increase your self-confidence dramatically. Most basketball players can’t do it. A lot of players who can have explosive natural leaping ability. However, taking the steps to work on your leg muscles and the key muscles that control jumping height shows effort and hard work. Those who you play with will have new respect for you and you will feel better about yourself.

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