10 Keys to Unlock Your Coaching Potential


Parents sift their children through activities and sports in an effort to make them more well-rounded and prepared for the world. Toward that effort, we place our children in the hands of teachers and coaches with a variety of approaches and philosophies. Some are hyper-focused on winning and losing, others on pure fun (“everybody gets a trophy!”), and some tackle the more sought after hybrid: win or lose, and have fun either way. However, if you’re lucky, you may win the coach lottery, as we feel we did. Our children have a coach who brings not only his knowledge and love of the game to his team, but also totes his heart, soul, and grit along for all to share.

Enter: 10 Keys to Unlocking Your Coaching Potential

Over the last six months, I’ve been inspired on a weekly basis by a gentleman who goes by the name Coach Zi (pronounced “zee”). Coach Zi is a tennis coach who came to us highly recommended by a family friend.  She told us Coach Zi would not only teach our children tennis skills but life skills as well. So with three children who were moderately interested in tennis at best, I was somewhat hesitant to pay for weekly lessons. However, my wife and I  decided to give Coach Zi a call and set up our first lesson at our neighborhood courts.

Fast forward 6 months

My kids along with two of their friends are not the only ones who look forward to their weekly tennis lessons with Coach Zi. On tennis days, I feel like a child anxiously awaiting recess, eager to watch Coach Zi instruct our kids with a formula unlike any other. For me, witnessing him in action is a refreshing reminder that there ARE amazing role models for kids.  In a time when there is so much pressure to win (see a previous post called The Art of Losing), Coach Zi’s emphasis is on teaching skills, building confidence, and crafting well-rounded citizens.

Coach Z in Action

What makes him so special and how can we learn from his qualities?

From day 1, Coach Zi keeps the kids at ease

He understands that each child is unique, and learns differently. He speaks in a calm, almost melodic tone, still demanding and receiving the respect he deserves.

Each lesson is peppered with skills and drills, as well as proper tennis etiquette on and off the court.

Today he demonstrated the proper way to shake hands at the net. “Gentlemen should always take off their hat while shaking hands with an opponent, especially when shaking hands with the opposite gender.”

Coach Zi searches for connections with each child.

Before, during, and after the lesson, he chats with the kids about their interests other than tennis. Once he makes a connection, he won’t forget it.  My son recently told him he liked lacrosse. Coach Zi was somewhat unfamiliar with the sport but asked my son many questions to help him better understand. Several weeks later, Coach Zi showed up and asked my son if he watched the NCAA lacrosse final. Coach Zi not only watched it but shared some of the highlights.

With Coach Zi, the well-being of our kids is always number 1.  

He preaches hydration, nutrition, sun protection, and overall safety each and every lesson. He not only tells them to hydrate but also how to hydrate properly and how it affects the body. The tennis lesson will briefly become a science lesson.  If it’s cold he’ll discuss the importance of layering and keeping an extra layer in your bag.

Coach Zi makes sure each child is equipped with the proper gear.

He would literally GIVE you a racket if you didn’t have one or if your racket was damaged. He emphasizes the importance of proper footwear, hats, and grips.

Coach Zi calls conditioning a reward and makes it fun yet challenging.

How many times have we witnessed the opposite? A student or young athlete misbehaves, and the coach or teacher makes him run a lap or do pushups as a punishment. The last thing we should ever do is give exercise a negative connotation.

 Coach Zi encourages reading and the importance of education.

He often checks in with each child to see what he/she is currently reading. He’ll also throw out random history, geography, and math lessons. My daughter enjoys when Coach Zi goes off-topic, like the time he explained square roots and quizzed them throughout the lesson.

Coach Zi respects each child whether a beginner or advanced.  

This is a HUGE reason why our kids LOVE tennis lessons.

Coach Zi keeps tennis fun by providing a positive atmosphere, and an unlimited Rolodex of drills and games.

My oldest son said, “Coach Zi notices the smallest mistakes and always help us fix them.  I like how he pays attention.”

Coach Zi has an infectious, deep, hearty laugh to complement his sensational sense of humor.

I guess for me, Coach Zi is remarkably inspiring because of the complete package he brings to each and every lesson. As a physical education teacher for more than 20 years, I’m always searching for ways to improve my craft. Having the honor of observing Coach Zi has provided me with professional development I could not find at a conference, hear at a lecture, or read in articles and self-help literature. I am privileged and humbled by my opportunity to meet and observe this outstanding coach.

Oh, and by the way, along with everything mentioned above, my kids’ skill level and knowledge of tennis have blossomed.  Thanks, Coach Zi.

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Join the Movement: Keeping Kids in Motion


If you’re like me, you consistently seek ways to improve your craft.  You search for the latest research and ideologies which have the potential to improve you as an individual as well as those you influence.  In my case, I’m a physical education teacher with a passion for keeping my lessons challenging, fresh and fun for my students.  I carve away at my profession by reading blog posts, articles, and books related to keeping children active not only during PE class and recess but throughout the day.  Of course, much of this research can be shared and implemented at home with my own children.

One of the MANY articles shared on KKM

As a way to share my professional knowledge and experiences with parents, teachers, and peers, I initiated a Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion.  Whenever I come across something exciting, innovative, and useful, I truly want everyone to know. Perhaps other teachers, parents and kids can benefit as well.  Posting information on Keeping Kids in Motion not only allows me to share, but also gives group members an opportunity to provide feedback and/or share any information they deem appropriate in regard to promoting lifelong fitness in today’s youth.

Backyard Game Created by Kids shared on KKM

If you answer “YES” to any of these questions, you’re ready to join Keeping Kids in Motion:

  1. Are you a teacher or counselor who shares a similar passion for improving your craft?
  2. Are you a parent looking for new ideas and activities to enhance child movement?
  3. Do you have a blog or have you written an article relating to keeping kids in motion?
  4. Do you have a video of your family playing a cool, active game in your backyard?
  5. Do you have a question another group member could answer?

If this is the case then I would love for you to join the growing Keeping Kids in Motion Facebook group.  Feel free to read the posted articles and watch the countless videos posted by people just like you.  Together we can teach each other.  Together we can learn from each other!  Together we can keep our kids in motion and prepare them for lifelong fitness!

Appeared on KKM

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

“That’s a Whole NOTHER Ballgame!” Nother?


Have you ever had a conversation with someone when he/she suddenly says something that sounds grammatically incorrect yet it kind of seems correct?  Despite what your talking about, you immediately refocus your thoughts on the one specific sentence uttered rather than the original topic of conversation. You could be in a heated political debate, ready to hammer home your point when you’re suddenly blindsided by a misused word or phrase by your fellow debater.  Now I’m no wordsmith and I’m sure I frequently butcher the english language.  In fact, it may be fun for you to count my grammatical and spelling errors in this very post.  As an odds maker, I’d set the over and under at 12.



Recently I was speaking with a friend in my neighborhood, when he broke out the word NOTHER.  “That’s a whole NOTHER ball of wax”, he said.  Have you ever heard this word used in a sentence?  I bet most of you have.  If you haven’t, after reading this post, I guarantee you’ll will in the near future.  Trust me – it’s everywhere!


Everyone!  Professional athletes love to use it in post game interviews.  After defeating the Miami Heat in the NBA finals the other night, one Golden Warrior explained why his team looked so good in their victory and so bad in their previous game when they lost to the Heat by a large margin.  He said, “When we can hit our three pointers and tighten up our defense we’re a whole NOTHER team.”  Yikes!

Politicians are infamous for using NOTHER.  “We may have lost the New Hampshire primary but fear not!  Iowa is a whole NOTHER fight I know we’ll win!”

Cable New Anchors are chronic offenders of the NOTHER Bug.  Surely NOTHER isn’t written on their teleprompter… Right?  “As we take a look at the northern counties in Virginia, one can see that voters support the democrats, however the southern counties are a whole NOTHER demographic.”  

Meteorologists often give the day’s forecast and followed by the long range forecast.  “Don’t let today’s rain dampen your spirits.  There’s a whole NOTHER system approaching the southeast bringing low humidity and dry weather for the remainer of the week.”

Oh No!  I’ve heard My family use it.  In fact, just last Friday my wife made pizza.  As we were devouring the first pie, my younger son reached for the last piece much to my other son’s chagrin.  My daughter, the peace maker, said, “Relax, there’s a whole nother pizza in the oven.”  Oh no!  NOTHER has spread to my family!

Surely I would never use NOTHER in a sentence.  Especially since I cringe whenever I hear it.  For me, hearing the word NOTHER used in a sentence is like nails on a chalkboard!  Eww.

Well, I kid you not!  Just three hours ago I was helping my son fix his bike.  We couldn’t find a proper sized allen wrench to adjust his handle bars.  As I was searching through my tool box on the other side of the house with no luck, I screamed to my son, “I HAVE A WHOLE NOTHER set of wrenches in the car!”  NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  It’s an epidemic!   (This is what put me over the edge and lead me to writing this post.  I’m hoping that expressing my concern in words is the remedy to cure my case of the NOTHER bug.)

Have you ever heard the word FUS-trated used instead FRUS-trated?

That’s a whole nother blog post!

*Upon researching nother, I learned that it was misused so often that Dictionary.com said the heck with it!  Lets just make it a word.

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Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!



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