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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.

 

Do’s

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.

 

Don’ts

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

Awareness

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.

Breathing

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.

Curiosity

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?

Decision

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 jbmthinks.com. Her new book, 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents, is on Amazon.

Tips for Improving Your Club or League’s Communication

An organization without good communication is like a plane without wings. It just isn’t going to work.

No matter what size or sport your club or league is, communicating effectively is vital to success. Here’s how to make sure your organization is flying high.

Take Everything Online

Club and league head honchos sometimes use several tools to manage their organizations. Email for sharing schedules, paper for registration, digital spreadsheets for rosters—we’ve heard them all. And while these tools can certainly get the job done, they aren’t integrated. Which often means entering the same info in multiple places. Which takes valuable time out of your day. Which nobody likes.

Fortunately, you can consolidate. Club and league management software puts everything listed above (and more) in one place. Rosters, registration, schedules, communication tools and more are easily accessible on your phone or computer. Plus, club and league management software automates tasks that could otherwise take ages. Speaking of which…

Automate Your Scheduling

For many organizations, miscommunications arise when schedules aren’t clear. For example, let’s say you’ve got some league games coming up this weekend. If you construct your schedule manually, you could easily end up with scheduling conflicts, like having two games on the same field at the same time. And what’s worse, you might not even realize you’ve made those mistakes until the day of your games. Yikes!

When choosing league management software, find a solution that creates your schedule for you. Whether it’s league games or practices, look for a product that automatically catches those scheduling conflicts before they become problematic. And while you’re at it, make sure you can set blackout dates as well.

Try Before You Buy

Free trials are super helpful, especially when making an important purchase. Thing is, many companies that build club and league software don’t offer them. That might be a dealbreaker, because once you’ve paid, there’s no turning back (dun dun dun!).

Here at TeamSnap, we’re one of the only companies around that offers free trials of our club and league management software. We want you to be sure you like it before you buy it. And if you’d like to bypass the learning curve, we’d be happy to set up a demo and give you a guided walkthrough.

Ready to take your club or league’s communication to the next level? Start your free trial of TeamSnap for Clubs & Leagues today!

Kyle Massa is TeamSnap’s content manager. Outside of work, you can find him writing, reading and playing guitar for his cats.

Is Your Sports Club, League or Organization Stuck in the Past?

Landline phones. VHS decks. Rabbit-ear TV sets.

Unless you’ve been watching too much Stranger Things, you’ve probably noticed that all these items have been replaced with something better. The same can be said of paper and endless email chains—especially in terms of sports club and league management. There are better tools for the job these days, like TeamSnap for Clubs & Leagues.

How can TeamSnap take your organization into the 21st century? Let’s take a look.

Simplify Scheduling

Creating your schedule by hand is kind of like doing math on an abacus. Think of TeamSnap as your high-tech, handy calculator. We’ll automate all that tedious scheduling so you can get back to what really matters.

You’re in luck! We’ve just made some exciting updates to our scheduling features. For example, our app automatically creates league and practice schedules for you. Just enter relevant info into our app and let us handle the rest. Plus, we account for blackout dates and virtually every scheduling conflict you can think of.

Make Registration a Breeze

We’ve got nothing against paper—it’s just not ideal for registration. Paper forms can get lost, torn, mixed in with the wrong forms or mistakenly used for origami. That’s why we take our TeamSnap registration online.

Documents such as health waivers, registration forms and more can be filled out and sent in lightning fast when you handle them online. There’s no risk losing them since they’re all in your computer. And since you’ve got everything you need online, you’ll never have another paper cut again.

Want to learn more about how we can help with registration? Download one of our free ebooks today!

Access Info from Anywhere

Soccer PlayersStoring club and league contact info on your phone’s address book is a great way to run out of storage space. And if that information ever changes, you’ll need to manually update. Fortunately, TeamSnap can help.

With us, coaches, players and parents enter their contact information directly into our app. That means you’ll always have access to the most recent info without the need to track people down. Plus, you’ll have no need to worry about storage space (or lack thereof).

Ready to take your club, league or organization into the 21st century? Get started with TeamSnap for Clubs & Leagues today!

Kyle Massa is TeamSnap’s content manager. Outside of work, you can find him writing, reading and playing guitar for his cats.

Photographing Basketball

In theory, basketball should be one of the easier sports to photograph right? All of the action happens in a 4,500 square feet rectangle as opposed to let’s say, a football field which is 57,600 sq ft. The players are also driving at a hoop that is only 18 inches wide. How hard can it be? You would be surprised.  But, with some practice, you can be shooting for the NBA in no time.

I love shooting basketball. There is a quickness and intensity that is exciting and challenging as a photographer. Let me warn you of a few obstacles you may encounter and then I will give you some tips on how to snag great looking action photos.

Light
The number one challenge you will encounter doesn’t even begin on the court. It starts up in the rafters. Blurry, grainy and strange color shifts are the complaints I hear most from first time basketball photographers due to the lack of light. Chances are you are photographing your son or daughter at the local Rec. Center, Middle School or High School Gymnasium where the light is dim to say the least. Although the gym looks bright enough to our eye, your camera will immediately start screaming for more light. Grabbing for your flash? It’s not that easy. You want to go with available light. A flash will light up only what is right in front and everything else will go black. Also, the players and refs don’t like those flashes popping in their eyes during play especially coming from the floor. Do you want to learn how to use the existing light? Head over to the Advanced Photo Tips category. There you will find a whole article about overcoming lighting and color shift problems when photographing indoor sports.

Speed of play
The next thing that will become apparent is how fast the action happens. I remember when I photographed my first college game. I was having a hard time balancing how to look through my camera and look over my camera to find out where the ball went. The main thing is to get quick at looking up, finding the ball and then back through the lens to snap the photo. You will need to learn to be fast on the trigger and do more editing later. Don’t over think it. With basketball, you need to shoot on instinct and be bold.

Positioning
The angle you choose to photograph the game will dictate the types of shots you can get. The baseline (the out of bounds line beyond the backboard) on either side of the net is a great place to be. The players are coming straight at you and you don’t need a long lens. You can get by with a 50mm, 85mm or 105mm. You can’t say that for many sports that require longer glass. If you are allowed to sit on the baseline, move back 3-4 feet so the refs can do their thing. Oh, speaking about refs, you will most likely get more than you fair shots of referee behinds. Be patient. It is a reality of this sport at any level. If you are in, near, or underneath the net, you can get some nice lay up photos. However, keep in mind they are right on top of you so beware of flying bodies. I also like getting out to the far corner. This allows you to get a great angle of the lay up as well as the passing and defense before the shot. Another great angle is from the stands on either side of the hoop. Depending on the length of your lens, you can get some amazing shots at the net and remember, the higher you go up in the stands, the cleaner your background gets without so much background clutter.

Targets
So what are you prime shooting opportunities in basketball? You always have a chance to get some dribbling shots as the team brings the ball down court. There are chances to photograph the strategic positioning around the net both offense and defense. You have a chance to get a shooting shot should the offense shoot from outside and then of course you have the play at the net with dunks and lay-ups. Also watch for scrums on the floor. This is when there is a loose ball and there is a mad scramble. The bench is always full of drama both from the coach and the players as well. Finally, don’t miss the celebration during close games. Is that enough to get you started? Basketball can be an exciting sport to shoot once you learn how to overcome the lighting obstacle and know where to look for the peak action. Have a blast!