Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tips for Flying RC Airplanes

We have all seen the YouTube videos of the Ace flyers, making dramatic swoops, loops, and spins with near perfect precision, but the fact of the matter is that no one starts out as an ace flyer. It takes years of practice to do those stunts. That is why I would recommend starting out with a good simulator program for your PC. There are many on the market today, so do some research and find one that works with the type of A/C and flying you are looking at doing. Also get into your local RC flying community. Start showing up and asking questions of some of the more seasoned flyers, most will be only too glad to share some of their ability on the subject. And when it's time for your first flight, your new buddies will be there to help you out.
Always do a preflight check before takeoff. First, turn on the transmitter, then the airplane. Do a basic hand test of the plane to make sure everything is functioning correctly, then do a range check, collapse the antenna on the transmitter, walk 50-100 feet away and check that your equipment is responding properly. Determine wind direction and speed by throwing a light material (grass clippings work well) into the air.
When you are ready for takeoff face your A/C into the wind. If you're launching you're A/C by hand, give it full power and launch it with a straight and level toss into the air and quickly grab the controls. If this is still new to you, have a friend launch your airplane for you. If you are taking off from the ground slowly advance the power and wait for it to gain enough speed for takeoff
Once you're in the air, keep the throttle at full power until the plane achieves sufficient altitude, allow yourself some room to recover from mistakes, and then reduce the throttle to half power. Practice flying in an oval pattern, turning in the same direction for a while. After you have feel comfortable with one direction try flying the opposite direction. When the oval gets too easy, mix it up and try a figure eight. Remember to keep the A/C as level as possible; raising the nose too much can make it stall.
When you are ready to land your airplane face it back into the wind, slowly reduce the throttle and glide it in, when you are about five feet off the ground cut the throttle completely. Raise the nose of the A/C at the last second, for a perfect three point landing.
Well that's the basics. Thanks for reading

Monday, March 19, 2012

3 Ways to Handle Sports Parents That Want to Be Too Involved

Parents form one third of the youth sports support system (alongside coaches and other volunteers). They are the ones driving your athletes to practices and games, providing nutritious half-time snacks, organizing team parties and filling your stands...yes, they are invaluable! Most parents are content in their roles as fan and supporter, but how is a coach supposed to handle a sports parent that decides their place in on the field?
Here are 3 ways to manage the "helicopter" (that hovering) sports parent:
Establish ground rules 
Make it very clear to your sports parents at the beginning of the season that the only people allowed in the dugout or on the field are the coaches and players. You can explain that you want to minimize the amount of distractions that could divert your player's attention away from the game. Having mom or dad watching from the sidelines, for some unfocused athletes can be distracting enough! Your sports parents need to respect you as the coach and your decisions if they fully expect their kids to do the same.

Set up a code of conduct before the season starts of what kind of behavior is and isn't acceptable during practices and games. Many sports organizations already have policies in place and you can just enforce the rules. Over involved and zealous sports parents tend to be the ones that become "those obnoxious sports parents" over the course of the seasons-the ones that coach from the sidelines, yell at the officials and argue with other parents. You want to prevent that behavior from happening before it has a chance to. Some parents may take offense to being pushed back to the stands, however, simply reinforce that it's for the well-being and safety of their child and other children.
Get them involved in a small way 
Some parents can't help themselves...they love their kids! They have good intentions, but they want to be involved in everything their kid is doing, including your team. If you find yourself dealing with a parent that wants to help, find a way to let them participate but in a way that actually helps you or your sports organization. Get them to catch for your relief pitcher or take the soccer players on a warm-up jog around the field. Let the parent handle some of the smaller tasks so you can focus more on the game at hand. It makes them feel involved (and keeps them occupied) and frees up some of your time! Maybe they can help at the snack shop or take on some additional much needed volunteer roles in your sports organization (help is always needed!).

It's better to have a sports parent working for you then working against you. If you can get them involved without usurping your authority as the coach than everyone gets what they want and you don't to worry about a confrontation later on in the season.
Speak to them privately 
If you have to talk to one of your parents, make sure it is done privately. Talk to them before or after practice or a game and explain why they need to reel it in a little bit. It's not that you don't appreciate their dedication to the team and their child's athletic career (of course you do!), but they need to treat you like the coach so their child sees you as the coach as well. Again, it's a matter of respecting you as the coach and also a fellow parent. You don't want to do this in front of the other parents or the players as it's embarrassing and might make your parent defensive. Most of the times sports parents don't even realize they've crossed a line, so a quick and private reminder will get everyone back on track.

Every team is bound to have one mom or dad that thinks they missed their calling to be a youth sports coach (you can remind them there is always room for more volunteers!). Involved parents are great, but there is a fine line between involved parent and helicopter parent. As a coach, you have to find a way to remind them that YOU are responsible for the coaching, safety and well-being of the team without causing and friction between you and them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Impact of Title IX on High School Recruiting

As noted in the national sports news this week, controversy still surrounds the Title IX legislation that we have been living under for over 20 years. In terms of sports and high school recruiting, college recruiting and equality for men and women, this issue may never be resolved. In fact, it seems the more we do to insure equality, the more un-equal things become. The reality is that our good intentions are not going unpunished.
Originally, the Title IX legislation made no mention of sports at all. It was written to insure that equal opportunity was given to men and women when applying for jobs at institutions that received federal funding. It is included as a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, and has been hacked at ever since to serve specific needs of specific groups and individuals.
Since the inception of Title IX, high schools and colleges have actually cut sports programs for men to create balance between men's and women's programs. In some dramatic cases, bleachers, scoreboards and playing fields have been destroyed to create this 'equality'. The mandate was that if you don't have the same facilities for the girls, you can't have it for the boys. So, down they came. How does that help?
I'm sure in many areas there are more young men involved in physical sports than women. And, many schools are limited in what they offer based on student interest. What has been popular in the past for is what is continued in the future. Introducing new sports is sometimes difficult. I know that for many schools adding soccer was a big deal a few years ago. And, it didn't need to be mandated by the government. And this has impacted high school recruiting.
Years ago when I worked in a middle school, boys and girls had separate physical education classes. This is how it was when I was in school too. I thought nothing of it. The boys played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track and wrestled. The girls played softball, basketball, field hockey, ran track, volleyball and did gymnastics. The boys progressed on to high school with a well rounded knowledge to help them succeed in the sports there. The girls, the same. A few years later came Title IX and the classes had to combine the girl and the boys. Are you kidding? None of these kids wanted to have a PE class with the opposite sex. And, when they discovered that the curriculum would be completely changed they were furious. Boys could no longer have a wrestling program because in a co-ed class girls and boys could not be grappling all over each other on the mats. There was no more football; soccer was added. Baseball was dropped and everyone played softball. Gymnastics was dropped. Basketball, track, volleyball and field hockey stayed. And, they added ping pong, badminton, archery, and other fillers like 'skills and drills' (push up, sit up, and pull up games).
In a nutshell; Title IX may seem like a solution to a problem but in fact has created a new, larger problem for all of us. Students are missing out on specific activities they need and schools are being hit with the cost of compliance with no return on their investment. Expensive equipment sits gathering dust and filler activities that are boring to our kids are in place of real physically challenging activities.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Treasure Hunts Vs Scavenger Hunts

The Difference between Scavenger Hunting and Treasure Hunting
First off we must let it be known that scavenger hunts and treasure hunts are quite different beasts. In a scavenger hunt, participants get a laundry list of things that they must collect or missions they are required to achieve. After everything is said and done, objects are counted and prizes awarded to the groups with the most objects and achieved the most activities. A treasure hunt, on the flip side, is a more cerebral pursuit. Team mates have to synchronize to solve a list of tricky riddles or clues, that lead to designated mystery spots.
Kinds of Clues
Treasure hunts are a bit more challenging to devise than scavenger hunts. Rather than creating a list of objects, the treasure hunt master will need to invent clues - and not just any clues. They must be intriguing; stimulate interest, and require patient, inventive, problem-solving. Clues come in a smorgasbord of shapes and formats but generally may be sorted as: Trivia, Coordinated-Action, and Puzzles & Code.
Trivia Clues
Trivia clues lead on players' collective experience. Ideally clues ask for participants to bring their plethora personalities to bare - ex. a sports junkie, a TV junkie and a bookworm all bring different angles to the stage. Just like a round of Trivial Pursuit, by making use of these various angles, players collectively have a much better chance of reverse engineering a solution be it concerning sports, arts and entertainment or novels.
Coordination Clues
Coordination clues are based less on knowledge and more on cooperation. Cleverly composed coordination clues lead groups, through physical tasks, to the awareness that certain tasks can't be carried out by an individual.
Visualize being at an aquarium attempting to tally the number of a particular species of marine life in a big fish tank. One person could go bonkers struggling to add up the moving targets by themselves. The same activity would be achieved far easier if approached as a group - via delegation. For instance, perhaps each player quickly tallies only 3-4 fish in a designated section of the tank. This may be a good solution but entails solid communication and strategy among the group.
Puzzling Clues
Puzzle and Code clues necessitate a different mentality and tend to conjure the most diverse, commonly intense reactions!
Consider a clue encrypted in morse code. The dots and dashes can make some turn light-headed yet others might welcome the challenge. The best puzzle and code clues give birth to creative thinking as a product of number-centric players problem solving along side liberal arts oriented players.
Treasure hunts are wonderful for teambuilding given that they make you think, they mandate you to brainstorm - you need to strategize and communicate and frequently take a break and revisit the problem later. Whether you're writing Trivia, Coordinated Action or Puzzles & Code clues - and the greatest treasure hunts cover all three types - recognize that teams collaborating and thinking together should be able to accomplish more than one person can by themselves - and have a better time doing it.