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Silent Sidelines: Kerry GAA ask parents to stop shouting at kids

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"One parent is yelling 'shoot it' - that's usually the player's parent. One parent is yelling 'pass the ball' - that's usually someone else's parent who wants the kid to pass the ball to their son. Another is saying 'dribble it'. So who's the kid supposed to listen to?"

Kevin Eastman is a top collegiate and professional basketball coach who was an assistant at the Boston Celtics when they won the NBA Championships back in 2008.

Eastman once conducted an experiment with a young AAU team that involved placing a player at midcourt and covering his eyes with a blindfold. He then asked all of the players’ parents who were in attendance to direct the young man on how to get to the basket and make a shot. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t go well.

“A couple of them were yelling, ‘go right, go right!’ Two others were going, ‘left, left!’ The other was saying, ‘turn around!’ All of a sudden, the kid was so confused that he was nowhere near the basket,” Eastman explains in a video for the Positive Coaching Alliance.

“Half-way there I told him to stop and I said (to the parents), ‘this is what they’re hearing’.”

In recent years, the issue of over-zealous parents making a nuisance of themselves at sporting events has become a major talking point globally and Ireland is no exception. Anyone who regularly attends underage football games in this part of the world can tell illuminating tales of mothers and fathers who are guilty not only of over-instruction but also of directing abuse at coaches, referees and even players, at every age group from U10s right up to minor.

In fact, the problem has become so severe in the GAA that administrators have encouraged the implementation of Silent Sidelines in various juvenile competitions right across the country.

The terms of the innovative Silent Sideline initiative stipulate that each team nominates one lead coach. That lead coach is the only person who can interact with the children once the game begins, which means that parents and spectators must refrain from communicating with the players throughout.

Applause and positive feedback for scores and good play is permitted, but in general shouting is discouraged. Two Silent Sideline signs, similar to the ‘quiet please’ signs seen at major golf tournaments, are held up by adults throughout the match.

Earlier this month, Kerry GAA and Kerry Coiste na nÓg introduced the practice for U12 County League games, with all participating clubs asked to co-operate. As well as helping to retain and attract more referees (who are less likely to receive abuse from angry parents), the initiative also encourages kids to think for themselves when they’re out on the pitch.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Killarney Legion U12 coach Donal O’Leary says the Silent Sideline has worked very well so far.

“I’ve noticed that the kids are feeling more like it’s their game rather than the coach’s or mom and dad’s,” he said.

“Parents are well-intentioned 99% of the time but I think this is just an educational thing. You think you’re doing the right thing by saying, ‘go on Johnny, kick it!’ but you’re actually better off letting the children make their own mistakes and learn from them.

“It’ll also help to change the culture in our game, where it’s acceptable to basically say what you want on the sideline. It’s a good initiative all around and it’s definitely something we believe in.”

IN-GAME COACHING

Coach Eastman isn’t the only expert to have questioned the practice of (and logic behind) shouting instructions at players during games.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said that coaching players during games is difficult, even for him.

“I would like to have a timeout like basketball but that can’t happen. I think managers move a lot (on the sideline) and make a lot of gestures, but it’s more to release adrenaline or pressure, because the players don’t understand too much what we are saying.”

If one of the best coaches in the world finds it hard to give meaningful instructions to his players once a game kicks off, what hope does an unqualified (in sporting terms) parent of an 11-year-old Gaelic footballer have?

Eastman has also spoken of the role he played at his own son’s high school basketball games. Fellow parents often asked why this elite level coach wasn’t telling his child what to do when he was out on the floor.

“The answer is simple,” Eastman said. “I’m a parent, not a coach. I’ll clap for Jake but I very seldom even say ‘good shot’ or anything like that, because for that time period I’m the dad, not a coach. His coach is his coach.”

Whatever about the questionable rationale of shouting at children when they’re playing sport, one also has to consider the destructive and long-term impact negative feedback can have on a young person.

One simple, throwaway comment today can affect someone’s self-esteem for years. If we’re not careful with our words, we run the risk of pushing youngsters away from sport altogether and, far worse than that, leaving them with emotional scars that last for years, far away from the courts and the playing fields.

In that regard, Kerry GAA’s Silent Sideline project certainly appears to be a step in the right direction.

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Are you getting enough sleep?

By Angela Kerrisk from Activate Fitness We have all heard the phrase “routine is the killer” however for many of us who, on a daily basis, stretch ourselves thin wearing a variety of different hats, simply creating a specific and sustainable routine will separate the successful and organised from the stressed and overwhelmed. Incorporating a […]

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By Angela Kerrisk from Activate Fitness

We have all heard the phrase “routine is the killer” however for many of us who, on a daily basis, stretch ourselves thin wearing a variety of different hats, simply creating a specific and sustainable routine will separate the successful and organised from the stressed and overwhelmed.

Incorporating a routine helps to bring direction and structure, and as Craig Ballantyne so wonderfully put it in his book ‘The Perfect Day’; “Structure = Freedom”.

In our childhood, we became accustomed to a bedtime routine. In fact, those of us who are parents go to great lengths to create this routine for our own children, knowing the benefits it brings. However, as we moved into adulthood, that same routine was thrown out the window by the demanding world of school and full-time work.

Sleep and health are locked together. When we improve our sleep, we have better energy, mood, and recover easier from exercise. When we sleep better it helps us to make better nutrition choices because sleep regulates our hormones. Yet it’s one of the first things we sacrifice in order to get through our full to-do list. Whatever these or our end goal is, jeopardising our health seems to be counterproductive and also just a little crazy! Why is it that as adults we stray so far away from one of the very foundational rituals that can keep us feeling grounded?

So how much sleep do you need? About six to eight hours is good but the exact number depends on the person. No matter who you are, you’ll feel worn out if you don’t get enough.

Here are some suggestions to help you achieve greater balance and a sound night’s sleep:

Limit caffeine:

It takes a long time for caffeine to get out of your system, so avoid it late in the day. Typically, have your last caffeinated drink 10 hours before your bedtime.

Be active:

Physical activity reduces stress and improves sleep. One exception is not to do a hard workout right before bed as it might be tough to wind down for a while afterwards.

Unwind early:

Turn off screens well before bedtime. Bright screens can mess with your body’s sleep mechanisms, so turn off TV’s, tablets and smartphones earlier in the evening. Take the dog out, brush your teeth, get into your pyjamas, and get into bed before the time you want to be asleep.

Brain dump for the next day:

Spend 5-10 minutes each night writing a list of to-do items to ensure you hit the pillow feeling organised and in control.

Set out your clothes the evening before:

This small task can save you a lot of last-minute rushing. Take the extra five minutes now when you have it.

Cool, dark and quiet:

When it comes to sleep, you want it cool, dark and quiet. Adjust the temperature or get a fan going, hang some blackout curtains and try to reduce any noise near your bedroom.

Buy an alarm clock:

This will help you to avoid being distracted by notifications should you wake and check the time in the middle of the night. Set an alarm right now for tonight. When it goes off, start your evening routine so you get into bed on time for a good night’s sleep!

Here at Activate, we promote and encourage balance to ensure we are living a happy and healthy life. Sleep is one very essential and key component of this. We hope these tips help you get some much-needed rest! When you combine great sleep with sound nutrition and solid training, you’ll feel amazing and make more progress toward your goals.

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Kerry Stars “pursuing dream to build own sports centre”

By Sean Moriarty Kerry Special Olympics Club is still pursuing its dream to build a sports centre in Derreen, a senior club official has confirmed to the Killarney Advertiser. The club has identified a site, with support from Kerry County Council, between the existing Killarney Legion and Killarney Celtic sports grounds. However, the project remains […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Kerry Special Olympics Club is still pursuing its dream to build a sports centre in Derreen, a senior club official has confirmed to the Killarney Advertiser.

The club has identified a site, with support from Kerry County Council, between the existing Killarney Legion and Killarney Celtic sports grounds.

However, the project remains on the long finger as the club has been concentrating on the safety of its members throughout the pandemic.

The delay prompted Cllr Donal Grady to ask Kerry County Council if it had any plans to build houses on the site.

Mr Grady asked the question in the context of making sure the land did not go to waste and not in opposition to any plans by Kerry Stars.

“The site referred to was originally identified as a potential site for development as a specific sports facility. That project has not materialised,” a Council official said.

“Kerry Stars had been in contact with Kerry County Council regarding use of the site, and it was expected that further communication would be received from them in the very short-term. As yet, Kerry County Council is awaiting further communication and will liaise directly with the Kerry Stars group before we can give consideration to use of the lands under the ‘Housing for All’ housing plan.”

However, Kerry Stars chairman John Spillane said they still “have every intention of pursuing our dream of have our own sports centre”.

“The location makes perfect sense, it is the sports hub of Killarney and all the clubs there could help and learn from each other.”

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