Posts Tagged ‘Coaching Credentials’

Coaches Need Credentials-Think ISPA

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Last night I spoke to a group of coaches on bullying and teasing. What impressed me about this group was the wide variations in the range of knowledge about working with young people in athletics. It reminded me and energized me that our mission at the International Sports Professionals Association-ISPA is a valuable one. COACHES NEED TO BE CREDENTIALED to assure that they keep continuing to learn and also adhere to high standards of ethics to work with young people.

Here at ISPA we credential coaches. Coaches should also keep in mind that this credential is important for their career advancement. Even if you are a volunteer coach it is important to be credentialed. Look through our web site for more details.

Dr. John E. Mayer, President-ISPA

Thuggery in the NFL

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Plaxico Burress accepted a plea deal that will place him in jail for two years for carrying an illegal weapon into a night club and then accidentally shooting himself. Many sports analysts seemed more interested in when Mr. Burress would be back to play football than discussing the ramifications of Mr. Burress’ actions. It seems that much thuggery has surrounded the NFL as of late and many analysts are focused more on how much football these individuals will miss and not on opening a dialogue on how these activities can be prevented. Playing football in the NFL is a privilege, one that for many is a highly compensated privilege. Because playing football in the NFL is a privilege it can and in some cases should be taken away permanently when deemed necessary. Sports analysts should be focusing on why players such as Plaxico Burress should be allowed to play again and not when can they can play. There needs to be more dialogue on how we can prevent these thuggish actions. Furthermore, commissioner Goodell needs to have zero tolerance when individuals do not uphold the standards of conduct set forth by the NFL and society.

Less Doubt on Chicago 2016 Olympics

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

I have just returned after a weekend in Seattle, WA. where I ran in their marathon. I have returned with an enthusiastic appreciation of how well Chicago can put on a world-class event and how pale other city’s efforts can be.

I don’t feel qualified to comment on the financial controversy that is surrounding Chicago’s bid to hold the 2016 Olympics and I must admit the questions raised have fueled some doubt as to the viability of such an event in Chicago. But, if there was any doubt in my mind whether Chicago can organize, plan and execute a joyful and safe international event, it was erased this past weekend.

Upon arriving in the city of Seattle I exited an expressway ramp only to be dumped in the middle of somewhat confusing road construction. I found myself stalled in traffic next to a Seattle Police squad, so I thought I would get my bearings on where I was headed. My window was open as was the officer’s. With a smile I went to ask for directions, but immediately upon eye contact with me the male policeman sneered, “What the hell do you want?” Keeping up my smile and a friendly demeanor I asked my question to which he gave a curt answer punctuated by, “…now get the hell outta here.” Welcome to Seattle.

That was just the beginning of a very weak effort by this city to showcase itself. Lack of signage maneuvering around the city to get to the required registration and expo locations made the days before the race maddening and stressful. An estimated 35,000 racers were signed up for this event and if they brought one companion each, that’s a minimum of 70,000 people, many visitors, coming into your city. The lack of a city presence in helping us navigate around with construction surrounding the necessary venues was significant. And this is all before the race day itself.

Race day was more frustration. Long lines to take shuttle buses to the race start, lack of communication, poor logistics on the roads to the event, and neglect of spectators’ needs highlighted a long list of deficits in planning and execution. And, speaking of spectators, the ‘crowds’ coming out to support and enjoy the event were sparse. I’m not talking about the many and ample groups of volunteers who did a great job throughout the course, but the citizenry of Seattle coming out for the event was negligible. Contrast this with the CROWDS often two and three people deep that throng the entire marathon course at the Chicago Marathon. Chicago supports and appreciates a world-class sporting event. Most of the spectators dotted along the course were friends and family of the racers, not from the community.

Speaking of the course. The Seattle Times extolled the ‘beauty’ that the path weaved through Seattle and nearby towns. Sure, I’m spoiled by Chicago’s architectural magnificence, but even someone who has never set foot on Chicago or New York or Boston cannot call the course we ran, ‘beautiful.’ Sure, there was a stunning stretch for a couple of miles through Seward Park where we passed a bald eagle sitting on a tree limb right above our heads something other cities cannot duplicate, but the remainder of the course weaved through some nondescript residential sections of suburbs and small towns and many, many sections of highway. Ever run for miles and miles on a slanted, ridged highway? Your knees and ankles will remember that for months. And the beautiful (sic) view of industry on either side of the highway pales in comparison to running through the Chicago neighborhoods. Google a picture of Safeco Field where the Mariners play, ugh!

I could go on and on about how Chicago puts on an event, but I think you get the picture. I felt it important to comment on how well Chicago holds such events in view of all the recent publicity the Olympic bid was receiving. I don’t know about all these financial shenanigans, but if there is a city that knows how to welcome visitors and hold a global event, Chicago is the place.

Dr. John E. Mayer
International Sports Professionals Association-ISPA
(Headquartered in Chicago, btw.)

Jeffrey Jordan Epitomizes a Student Athlete

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Last week, Jeffrey Jordan, Juanita and Michael Jordan’s son announced he was going to not play college basketball for the University of Illinois this season so he could concentrate on his studies.

This announcement has so many admirable qualities to it that this post can only highlight a few. First, what a great message to send to the countless student athletes around the globe. Second, and these are in no means in any order of admiration, what character this decision took. Third, what courage this decision took. Fourth, what maturity this displayed.

Certainly the bulk of praise for this decision goes to this fine young man, but I also must acknowledge Juanita (Yes, mom first.) and Michael Jordan for raising a young man under unfathomable scrutiny and instilling these values and characteristics in this young man in spite of all those pressures.

To us professionals in The International Sports Professionals Association this is a wonderful example of what athletics represents and can aspire yet to be in this age of steroids, misplaced values, and dubious characters.

Dr. John E. Mayer


International Sports Professionals Association-ISPA

Dr. Mayer In The Wall Street Journal

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Dr. Mayer was recently interviewed for an article in the Wall Street Journal about relationships in professional tennis.

Excerpt taken from The Wall Street Journal: …All athletes wrestle with the distractions of romance in their personal lives, but tennis is one of the few professional sports where players must face love interests and old flames on almost a monthly basis on the courts and in player hotels. Dr. John Mayer, a Chicago-based sports psychologist and president of the International Sports Professionals Association who has worked with two dozen professionals on tour, likens tennis to high school or Hollywood.

Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert

“It’s kind of an incestuous world,” says Dr. Mayer. When it comes to romance, he says, even the most accomplished male players tend to behave like “neanderthals” and female players like “giggly Jonas Brothers fans.” This often results in “very adolescent” relationships, he says, that last an average of three to four months and tend to have noticeable effects on a player’s performance at various stages.

In the seduction or “wooing” period, Dr. Mayer says, performance generally peaks. Canada’s top player, Frank Dancevic, for example, says he achieved the best result of his life the first time he brought his girlfriend to a tournament in Indianapolis two years ago. “I think I was just trying to show off-I didn’t want to look like a wuss,” says Mr. Dancevic.

As relationships progress, however, things can get complicated. Dr. Mayer says he watched one tour relationship hit the skids after the male player repackaged a watch given to him by a major tour sponsor and sent it to his girlfriend, another pro player, fibbing that he’d bought the watch in Paris-not knowing that his girlfriend had received the same watch from the same sponsor.

Click here to read the entire article:   Tennis Gets Hot and Heavy

Summer Hydration= Increased Activity and Increased Heat

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

I thought it may be useful to pass along hydration guidelines as we approach the summer months when many of us are more active and those we coach, train or advise are looking for the best information on fluid intake and the body’s needs.

The following is an excerpt from the soon to be released book: Family Fit (ISPA/NP2 Publishing, 2009) by Dr. John Mayer. With permission from the author and publisher.

Visit Dr. Mayor’s web site for purchase information.

Water, Water Everywhere

One food mentioned on the preceding chart deserves special attention in our families—water. Water is often neglected in households. It has been consistently shown to be as good a thirst quencher as any sports drink or other beverage. We just do not drink enough water in our diet even though it is vital to our physical well-being. Make sure your family drinks plenty. The average healthy adult should drink the equivalent of about 5-6 glasses of water per day. It is a widely held myth that we should be consuming water according to the 8×8 rule. That is, eight 8 oz glasses of water per day. We don’t require that much water for a variety of reasons. Dr. Heinz Valtin, Professor Emeritus at Dartmouth Medical School and author of many of the most esteemed textbooks on kidney function and water balance has studied the body’s need for water all of his career. His research gives me great confidence to talk about the proper needs for water in the body. (more…)

Bullying and Teasing in Sports

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Sports and Bullying/Teasing

Dr. John E. Mayer

President-the International Sports Professionals Association-ISPA

In my career as a Clinical Psychologist I have established a national reputation for expertise in the problems of the adolescent years. One of the issues that I am frequently called on to help with is teasing and bullying among young people.

The last decade has seen more and more research being reported on the specific problem of bullying and teasing. It is encouraging to see so much attention in this traditionally neglected area of aggressive social behavior.

The findings are disturbing. One of the most recent studies and one of the few longitudinal studies of this problem highlights an alarming number of adolescents who bully. (58.4%) This study appeared in the journal, Child Development,79, 325-338.

The US Secret Service reported in 2002 that 2/3 of all perpetrators of youth violent crimes were teased or bullied prior to the event. The National Threat Assessment Center found that the attackers in more than 66% of the 37 mass school shootings were persecuted or bullied by others and that revenge was the overriding motive of these school shootings.

In my own clinical work, as I am called into cases around the country that involve youth violence, I can say anecdotally that the vast majority, if not all, of these cases involve teasing and bullying either on the perpetrator’s side or on the victims’ side of the case.

Further, studies are showing that bullies are very likely to develop psychiatric and psychological problems in early adulthood. (Pediatrics, August, 2007) And the victims of bullying display a greater risk for psychosocial maladjustment as well as somatic complaints (e.g. Headaches, sleep problems, stomachaches) than other young people. (see: Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34, 37-48. 2005.)

Bullying and Teasing are serious problems among youth.

The spread of this problem has resulted from decades of neglect on the part of adults who enable this behavior in both direct and indirect ways. In the scope of this article I won’t take the space to explain what the aim of the bully is, but suffice it to summarize that some form of power over another is the most common goal of the bully. Similarly, I will not detail here all the reasons behind why the bully does what they do, but again to succinctly sum it up: Bullying works for the bully. This behavior is repeated because the bully’s aims are accomplished. Sadly, we adults are often to blame for allowing bullying to work well.


Too often a youngster’s inappropriate aggressiveness against other peers is whisked under the carpet with adult epitaphs such as, “He’s going to be a great ball player.” Or “She’s just being one of the boys.” Unsportsmanlike conduct or bullying on the playing fields of sport is regaled as desirable behavior and often cheered. A not uncommon coaching style is to use negativism toward the player as a motivator. This is just another form of bullying in the disguise of an acceptable context, sports achievement. The problem here is that youngsters don’t have the experience or judgments necessary to discern appropriate, aggressive sport participation and inappropriate bullying of a weaker opponent. This is where coaching should mold the athlete, not model inappropriate behavior.

But, athletics and bullying/teasing do have gray areas for coaches, parents and professionals.

Is the Jericho Scott experience bullying? Is he a stronger, more advanced athlete preying on

weaker opponents? Are the batters he throws pitches at with the equivalent of 110 mph

victims? Is he being enabled by a coach who wants to win at all costs? These are questions that

the adults close to this situation must evaluate, control and not ignore.

Athletic and physical prodigies raise important questions for us to answer as professionals who

serve the world of sport. Should they be allowed to participate at the same level as

smaller, weaker peers? These are exactly the questions we should be ready to answer for the

sports world.

What if LeBron James, Lao Ming, Tiger Woods, Andy Riddick, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan

Sheyl Swoopes, Jennie Finch, Candice Parker, Lance Armstrong, or any of these athletic

phenoms were to become restricted from playing the sports they loved and excelled at? Was their

passionate participation in their sport bullying others of such lesser athletic endowment? These

are evaluations to be made by the adults around them with objectivity and fairness. Professionals

serving sports need to be prepared to advise in these situations.

What about coaches who use abusive/bullying techniques themselves? This modeling is another

prime reason why bullying becomes widespread in youth. This Neanderthal approach is not only

ethically wrong; it is not effective with today’s young athlete. It persists and in some circles,

flourishes. We, ISPA professionals, have an obligation to intervene with these coaches.

Currently, ISPA is mounting a membership drive to increase the numbers of coaches who are

credentialed by ISPA. This is an attempt to make a difference in the standards of coaching.

Please help by encouraging coaches to apply for ISPA credentials. Also, if you have affiliation with a coaches group or association, please help us network with these groups toward ISPA accreditation. We can make a difference.

What Can We Do About Bullying and Teasing?

Speaking of making a difference, what are the best ways we can stop this bullying in our young


When you see it happening, discipline those who bully. Do not allow it to take place under your

supervision. And, don’t model bullying behavior through your actions toward others. Modeling

is a powerful way bullying is spread. This is why we are so eager to get coaches credentialed.

What do you tell a child who is a victim of bullying? All of the research and experience with

kids suggest there are only three effective ways to deal with the bully. 1) Don’t react to it in any

way-not even a grimace or flinch. 2) Ignore the bully’s words and actions. 3) Let the adult in

charge know about what the bully is doing. Only these three methods work effectively and for the

long haul. Age old advice such as, “You go back there and push him harder.” Or “Let’s figure

out something to call them that will hurt their feelings even more.” None of these things work

because they reinforce precisely what the bully wants, that is, to get a reaction out of the victim.

More on Dr. Mayer’s acclaimed work on Bullying and Teasing will appear soon in a booklet he

is preparing for a new parenting web site: Visit that web site for more