Social Media do’s and don’ts for Athletes | part 3

What Should You Post?

1. Say thank you. This is always a good option. Teach student-athletes to take time to thank those who support them. Fans, teammates and family for example.

2. Support others. Student-athletes can provide a positive example for other students by sending positive messages about their peers in other sports or activities at school.

3. Share news and humor. Social media is meant to be fun. Join in conversations and share things you find interesting or entertaining.

4. Engage in discussion with those you admire. Petroff discussed how prior to social media, it was difficult to interact or even hear from famous people that student-athletes admire. But now, they can follow them on Twitter and learn what they’re talking about and even interact with them.

5. Post anything consistent with your personal brand. Again, how do you want to present yourself in public?

Finally, Petroff ended with a simple message we can all afford to remember sometimes: “Live your life, don’t tweet your life.”

Has your school hosted a social media seminar for your student-athletes? We’d love to hear what advice you think is important to give them. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Social Media do’s and don’ts for Athletes | Part 2

Four Things to Keep in Mind:

1. It’s a tool, not a toy. Social media isn’t just something for your own entertainment, Petroff says. If used effectively, social media can be an asset to help a student-athlete’s individual brand, their community, their team and the school they represent.

2. Nothing is truly private… ever. Petroff says there are two types of social media users: Those who realize they are functioning in public and those who don’t. While many kids think they can delete a tweet or delete their Facebook profile if need be, many don’t realize that content posted on the internet can last forever. Content can be captured in screenshots or saved by other users. And that message someone thinks only his or her friends will see? Student-athletes should keep in mind that tweets, Facebook statuses, or Instagram photos could end up being viewed by thousands of people.

3. If you retweet it (or share it), you own it. Yes, this even applies to people who put that cliche saying, “RTs do not equal endorsements,” on their Twitter profile. That phrase is basically worthless. As Petroff says, “Freedom of speech does not equal freedom from consequences.” This is something with which younger student-athletes struggle. They retweet a trash-talking tweet from a friend and all-of-a-sudden they can be caught in the middle of an ugly conversation over the internet.

Petroff shared the example of Ryan Spadola, now a wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins. In 2011, Spadola was a top wide receiver at the FCS level of college football for Lehigh University. Before an NCAA quarterfinal game, he retweeted “an inappropriate and repugnant racial reference.

Even though the tweet wasn’t Spadola’s, he was still suspended for retweeting the message.

4. Personal branding: Every tweet reflects who you are. How are student-athletes choosing to represent themselves? Are they sending the right message about themselves to the public? Petroff reminded the Oregon high schoolers that coaches, college admissions officers and employers all use social media to learn more about candidates. What does your social media portfolio say about you?

When it comes to social media, there are plenty of examples of what not to do. But Petroff says it’s important to provide positive examples of how student-athletes should be using social media.

Social Media…friend or foe?

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media For ABVM Players

If you want put yourself in the best position to be recruited to the best college it means you can’t use social media like your friends do, like it or not.

social media

Photo Credit: seyyahil via Compfight cc

As we’ve talked about in a previous social media post, college coaches are crossing athletes off their lists because of the content they’re posting on social media.

Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not against athletes using social media. At all. There are many benefits to using it and it’s a great way to stay in contact with friends and family and have some fun, but there are a few things athletes need to be aware of if they’re looking to impress recruiters.

Below I’ve listed 12 things I believe it’s important for athletes to keep in mind. Not all of them are compulsory, but they’re good for all athletes to know.



1. Do use correct spelling and grammar

Not compulsory… but will make you look more mature than other players that recruiters may be looking at.


2. Do share your accomplishments

Some players I’ve talked to believe they may look arrogant by posting or tweeting about their accomplishments on social media. While it’s best not to go overboard on this, there’s nothing wrong with sharing the accomplishments you’ve worked hard to achieve. Remember not to disrespect the competition and to praise and thank others whenever you get a chance.


3. Do connect with coaches, skill trainers, and others that may help you

There are thousands of coaches and skill trainers on social media and they’re all out there looking to connect with others. Get in touch with them! Especially ones you find that live close to you. You never know what opportunities may arise.


4. Do remember that people can see the time of your tweet or post

If you’re sending out tweets at 2am and you have an early morning training the next day it’s going to explain why you’re struggling to give top effort the next day.


5. Do watch what you re-tweet

Don’t re-tweet anything you wouldn’t write yourself. Just because you didn’t write it originally doesn’t matter. By re-tweeting it you’re telling recruiters and your other followers that you share the same thoughts.


6. Do recognize the accomplishments of others

Recognize and give a shout out when other people you know achieve something great.



1. Don’t use an inappropriate Twitter handle

First and foremost, the Twitter handle or username you’re going to be using to promote yourself on social media must not make you look bad or immature.


2. Don’t get into arguments online

This is a must. As an athlete you’ll always be in the spotlight, and criticism, whether warranted or not, comes with being in the spotlight. There will be criticism directed your way and all players wanting to be great need to be the bigger person and not retaliate. The last thing you want to do is say something angrily online out of frustration.


3. Don’t post anything negative about your coach, team-mates, or the competition

There’s nothing that will cross you off a recruiters list quicker than bad mouthing your coach, teammates, or the competition. Doing so will show poor attitude and a lack of character.


4. Don’t use profanity or derogatory words

There’s no need for them and using them is a terrible habit to adopt. Using them makes you look very unprofessional and immature.


5. Don’t post about getting drunk or using illicit substances

Whether you drink alcohol or not, there’s no reason to be sharing it on FaceBook or Twitter. As for illicit substances, if you’re using them stop. They’ve wrecked far too many lives and they’re not worth it. Don’t succumb to peer pressure and use them.


6. Don’t share your password with anyone

You don’t want your friends giving you a bad name by posting inappropriate content trying to be funny.



To put it in a nut-shell, recruiters use social media to determine your character. They use your posts to find out who you really are. How you interact with others, what you like to do with your spare time, etc.

You need to present yourself the best way you can and following the tips above will go a long way to help you do that.

Players: If you wouldn’t want your parents or coach to read it, don’t post it.

Coaches: Consider running a social media seminar/meeting at the beginning of your  season. Let the players know the importance social media can play in their future.

I’d love to know… have you had any negative experiences with your players and social media in the past?

Social Media do’s and don’ts for Athletes | Part 1

Many schools are now going on the offensive. Social media seminars for student-athletes are becoming commonplace in high schools and colleges across the country. Last night, I attended such a meeting at Oregon High School near AB’s headquarters in Madison, Wis. Whether they serve as a refresher course or even as a guideline for those considering implementing such a program at their school for the first time, here are a few notes from the meeting.

The speaker was David Petroff, director of athletic communications at nearby Edgewood College. In his role with Edgewood, Petroff is charged with educating student-athletes on best practices for social media.

“I don’t want to scare them, but rather have them see the positives and the power of social media,” he says about his student-athletes. But Petroff noticed that by the time kids reached college, too many bad habits had already formed. Now he speaks to local high schools to try to give kids a head start.

Sports Photography

Shooting an action photo with sharp focus is really the ultimate goal in sports photography. Sure, there may be times when photographers try to show motion, and will intentionally let the action blur, but 98% of the time, you want to capture the emotion and incredible contortions an athlete goes through during the course of a game. Plus, you want to be able to tell that this is your son, daughter, spouse, or friend in the photo. Capturing the subject with crystal clarity is the way to get that done.

Focus is achieved in two ways: using a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action, or using your auto focus. This second option (auto focus) is what we will (ahem) focus on in this article.

Today’s cameras have amazing auto focus capabilities. We can set our camera to auto focus and let the camera do all the work. Some of the more expensive longer lenses even have ultra-sonic motors built in to help with the tracking of the moving subject. But, camera technology is only powerful if you know how to use it correctly. Auto focus has become something that most camera owners take for granted these days. However, there are a few camera settings that control how that auto focus works, and these are often overlooked. Here are three auto focus areas that every photographer needs to be aware of.

1. Auto Focus Modes
It seems as if you should be able to just attach a lens with auto focus capabilities, click the shutter, and the lens should snap into focus and take the photo. However, camera manufactures are always on the hunt for how to customize your settings. Sometimes it makes your life easier and sometimes it makes you have to work a bit harder to get the shot. In the realm of auto focusing, there are a few optional modes that are available to you. Let’s look at the two most important ones:

Single Shot Focusing (One Shot for Canon or AF-S for Nikon): This is the auto focus mode for subjects that are not moving. Push the shutter button halfway, let the camera find the subject and locks down the focus, then push the shutter the rest of the way to take the photo. This setting is perfect for still life, but not for sports.

Continuous Focusing (Canon calls it AI Servo and Nikon calls it AF-C): This is the mode you have to be on when shooting sports. In this mode, once you push the shutter button halfway, the auto focus will track the moving subject until you push the button all the way down. It takes some practice, but it is a necessity for all action shooters.

There is another mode called AI Focus, which is an attempt by camera manufacturers to make a hybrid of the two modes. If the subject is moving, it keeps on tracking, but if it stops, it will lock. This setting is interesting, but for sports photography, don’t mess with it. Stay in the continuous focus mode.

2. Focus Points
Another thing to be aware of on your camera is the focus points. Again, this is the camera maker getting fancy and allowing customization. Here is how it works: when you push your shutter button halfway to activate your auto focus, the focus point is the part of the photo that will snap into focus. It is basically like the cross hairs of a scope. If you set your focus point in the center, that is the spot that your camera will focus on. You can also move that around and make the hot spot at the bottom, top, or side. You can even increase the area of your focus point or make it smaller.

Many photographers prefer to keep the focus point in the center of the viewfinder. The camera and lens will put that spot in focus. To illustrate this point, think about this a common scenario: you are photographing soccer and there is an athlete with the ball and a defender trying to take it away. You have two people in your frame, one on the right and one on the left. Once you push your shutter halfway to focus, your auto focus springs to life and follows your command to put that center spot in focus. The problem is that center spot is now hitting a mom in the background under the bright blue umbrella. So when you view the photos later you see two out of focus athletes and a perfectly focused image of a fan in the background. Has that happened to you? Once that focus spot is chosen, you need to be aware that this is the spot the lens will focus on each time.

3. Back Button Focusing
Talk about a top secret sports photographer weapon! This is one of those customization tools that will dramatically improve your photography skills. While this is more on the advanced side, if you play with this and get good at it, you will never go back.

The auto focus functionality relies on a two-step process. Push your shutter button halfway, which engages the auto focus, and then snap the photo by pushing the button completely. The problem with that is the lag time and the instability of pushing the button halfway. For instance, let’s say a fantastic moment happens on the field very quickly. If you want to capture that moment you would push the trigger. Now your camera has to find the focus, then trip the shutter. In the sports world, that is an eternity. You need to catch it immediately.

There is a setting in your camera (do some research in your camera manual or online to personalize for your own camera) called Back Button Focus, which allows you to control your focus with your thumb on the back of your camera by pushing a designated button. Now you can follow the action through your camera and use your thumb to lock in the focus as the play progresses. When you see a moment you want to capture, simply push the shutter button and the shot is instantaneous. There is no lag time because you have already been tracking the focus, and your hands are steadier, which helps get a clearer shot. You are moving the auto focus command from the shutter button to a button on the back of your camera, giving you much more control.

To review, get your camera out of that One Shot mode and over to the Continuous Focus mode. Be aware of where your focus point is, and practice. Ready to step up to a new level? Try the Back Button Focus mode.

As always, have a blast!

The ABCDs of Being a Happy Sports Parent

As a sports parent, you have a choice in every situation. You can choose to yell at your young athlete, the coach or the official, or you can choose to stay calm and not take it all so seriously. You can choose to nag your young athlete to work hard, or you can choose to let them learn the consequences of their choices.

Recognizing that you have a choice and actually following through on that choice process are two different things. But once you understand that making a choice is a process and once you grasp what that process entails, you can take control of your reactions. I love the process laid out in the book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, where the author lays out a four step process: A,B,C and D. Let’s do that with youth sports parenting.


Learning to make good choices in terms of behavior starts with an awareness that you actually have a choice. Furthermore, one must accept that maybe, just maybe, one’s behavior is less than desirable.

How many times have you said something and immediately knew that it was not the smartest thing to say? That’s awareness, and that’s the first step in the process of making good choices.


Once you become aware that you are starting to overreact, then ask yourself this question: Do I need to step back, pause and gain perspective?

Obviously, this is not easy in the heat of a moment. The more you practice it, the more of a habit it will become. Sports parents are notorious for emotional outbursts, which would be avoided if they’d stop to breathe and pause before proceeding.


Once you step back and try to gain perspective, it’s time ask yourself this question: What’s really going on in this situation? Am I perhaps missing something? Asking yourself this question may require you to do some soul-searching.

For instance, you sit through a game where you feel your young athlete gets little playing time and it makes you very upset. You feel your blood pressure rising and are aware that you might explode at the coach after the game. You stop to breathe and pause before proceeding. You take a minute to ask yourself what’s really going on. Is your child frustrated, or is it just you? Is this a situation that your child should handle by talking to the coach him or herself? Does your child fully understand his or her role on the team? Do you?


At this point, you can decide what the best course of action is. Choose the action that will be best for your young athlete, not for your frustrations. Choose the action that will best help your young athlete to grow through the situation, not what eases your anger. Decide to take a big-picture view of your child’s youth sports experience, in hopes that he or she will truly learn and grow from it.

If you start practicing this choice process, there’s no doubt that you’ll have less regrets and more fun watching your young athlete play youth sports.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called Her new book, 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents, is on Amazon.