Why I stopped yelling and started coaching


In today’s world you can walk the streets of a major city and ask people what their definition of a coach is. Chances are you will get answers ranging from “someone who coaches a team” to “ someone who teaches athletes how to play their sport.” These examples are fine, but I believe we have limited and stereotyped the real meaning of being a coach. In the next few paragraphs I hope to shed some light on what I believe coaching is and why I stopped yelling.


[Picture taken at the 2017 Illinois girls state track and field meet.]

It was 2013 when I started exploring coaching or what I thought was coaching. I can remember watching YouTube videos, going to my little brother’s sporting events, and observing how other coaches lead their teams. I was fortunate enough to see many different styles and approaches to coaching, but there was a problem; none of these styles fit me. I witnessed a lot of yelling, especially after athletes made a mistake during their competitions. I can remember in college when I was an athlete how certain coaches would yell more than others. To someone, on the outside looking in, that may have looked and sounded like coaching. What they don’t know is that many of the coaches I had on the college level never took the time to connect with many of my teammates. I believe the foundation of coaching is having the ability to connect with the athletes. Anyone can yell and sound like a coach, but there’s more to coaching than reading a practice schedule and barking orders.


So what is coaching? My definition of coaching is rather short. In its simplest form, my belief is that a coach is a teacher. Yes, that simple; a teacher. Think about it. What is the goal when a parent signs their child up for youth soccer or t-ball? I can bet the majority of parents would agree that they don’t sign their young athlete up to get yelled at or humiliated.  The goal should always be to learn and grow. Coaches are supposed to teach kids valuable lesson in addition to the sports instruction. I often tell my track team that my goals and objectives are to teach. Can teaching be done through yelling? Yes, but why do we need to yell to make a point or drive home a concept? Coaches that take the “my way or the high way” mentality, are typically one’s that need their voice to be heard.


I can remember it as plain as day the last time I yelled at an athlete in a negative way. It was May of 2015 and we were coming back from a high school boy’s state track competition. As we all know, high school boy’s can sometimes be a squirrely bunch when they are around each other. I had two boys on the bus arguing over a seat and I turned around and yelled something, which later lead me to apologizing to that athlete. That was the last time I yelled at an athlete in a negative way. I knew deep down that that was not coaching or who I was, but simply, yelling without positive intentions.  I didn’t bring any learning examples for the situation over the seat, which is something that is often missed with coaches. We often yell in a negative manor without providing a teaching component so the situation can be handled better the next time.


[Explaining the order of events to one of our first year athletes. This was the first track meet of the year for Dallas International School.]

My coaching philosophy has evolved since 2015 and it has also evolved since 2017. Some may read this and scoff at the fact that I don’t yell at the athletes I work with. I use my coaching to not only motivate athletes, but I also use my voice to teach them valuable lessons about life, address situations that may occur, and most of all; respect them as human beings. Do I get excited and scream out of joy? Absolutely, and that is perfectly fine, but yelling at an athlete for making a mistake is where I draw the line. What I have found is that most athletes that I’ve worked with don’t respond as well when they are yelled at. It usually takes an event and/or incident to change our outlook or approach when it comes to coaching. For me, it was the 2015 incident that has shaped and changed the way I deal with all situations within coaching.


I don’t claim to have all the answers or think my approach is superior, but I do believe more effort needs to be placed on teaching athletes. We must also continue spreading positivity within the coaching community and within the organizations and teams we work with. As a coach, you never want to look back and regret something you said to an athlete. Although I am not proud of the incident in 2015, I don’t regret it. It was a valuable lesson learned and has shaped me into a much better coach. My goal is to help other coaches avoid making some of the mistakes I made early on in my coaching career. I hope this post can help you along you journey to becoming a better coach.


More on Kendrique Coats


Kendrique Coats is the owner of Coats Performance, which provides sprinting and athletic development training in Frisco, Texas. Over the years, Coats has spent most of his coaching time on the high school level coaching boys and girls track and field as well as overseeing strength and conditioning programs, which included stops at Pontiac Township High School in Illinois and Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. Now the head track and field coach at Dallas International School in Dallas, Texas, Coats looks to bring many of his training and coaching philosophies to the new program.  For more on Coach Coats and his work, be sure to follow on Twitter @kendriquecoats, Instagram @CoatsPerformance, and his website www.coatsperformance.com.   You can also connect with Coach Coats via email at kcoats@coatsperformance.com


Early Sports Specialization

By: Kendrique Coats, Owner of Coats Performance


Early sports specialization seems to be the moneymaker these days, and why not? As numbers increase in youth development and travel leagues, surely someone has to take advantage of the naivety of many parents of athletes at this age group that think early specialization is “a must.”  Forking over hundreds of dollars just to play on travel leagues that commonly allow for little rest, cause over-exertion, and in some cases allow little time for actual development, which is lacking for many young athletes. We define development as working on fundamental skills that every athlete should know or have a firm understanding of by the end of a beginner’s season.  Over the years, we have seen an increasing number of athletes (mainly ages 10-20) who lack basic fundamental skills and body awareness.  We hope that this short article will give parents and young athletes insight on how sports specialization can hinder athletic growth and development.

Early Specialization
Early specialization amongst young athletes is one of the more talked about topics in athletics.  Many place such an importance on specializing that early development physically and psychologically is ignored.  We all know the travel league coach that recommends parents keep their son or daughter in the same sports year around to get as much exposure (for recruiting purposes) as possible.  Others have read and are influenced by stories on how some of the elites (1% of athletes) specialized to become successful.  Let’s give a definition of what sports specialization is.  We define sports specialization as participating or training in the same sports three quarters of a year with little rest or opportunity to enjoy being a kid and/or desire to compete in other sports.  We have seen a number of kids go down the path of specialization, and two things have been noticed.  First, many of the kids that specialize at an early age seem to be pushed by parents, uninformed youth coaches, and/or trainers who are trying to live vicariously through the athlete.  Secondly, kids have a tendency to resent parents or burnout from those particular sports as they get older.  Now, before everyone loses their cool, we understand not all athletes undergoing specialization experience these issues. However, we do understand that injury tends to be higher with children that specialize, which makes it more important for athletes to explore other sports during developmental ages.

How does early specialization effect athletes
Although research regarding specializing is still evolving, there is no denying the conflicts that begin to show with many early athletes who specialize.  We also cannot ignore the benefits that come from specializing.  Young children that specialize and have success early on don’t always continue the success as puberty hits.  The athletes that physically mature earlier than their peers commonly have early success; but as others mature, that success becomes less noticeable.  Moreover, according to Bruce Reider, who wrote an article Too Much, Too Soon for the American Journal of Sports Medicine stated, “Highly specialized athletes were more likely to report injuries in general and overuse injuries in particular than those in the low specialization category.  Youngsters whose weekly participation exceeded more hours than their age in years also were more likely to recall an injury of any type than those who adhered to this guideline.  Finally, youth athletes who played their primary sport more than eight months out of the year were more likely to report overuse injuries in both upper and lower limbs.”  Additionally, the United States Youth Soccer Director of Coaching, Sam Snow, understands the stress that large doses of training on a yearly basis can have on a young body, which can turn into injury or mental fatigue.

Matthew Bousson, who is a high level sports consultant, experienced human performance coach, and a biomechanics Ph.D. student was gracious enough to give us some of his time and thoughts on the importance of early age athletic development.

Importance of movement at an early age: “Learning new movement skills at a young age is imperative to not only development future sporting success but to improve, and maintain, “movement literacy.”  Unfortunately with the growing trend in declining physical activity in schools and further on into adulthood it is important we continue kids playing and learning new movements, skills and coordination patterns.  There is also the argument, supported by scientific research, that early sports specialization can significantly increase the risk for injury. Many coaches have encouraged multi sport athletes for years, with a growing number of coaches “seeing the light” and adding in new movements and challenges to their programs.  I strongly believe in keeping kids moving, playing and having fun for as long as possible before specializing in one sport. Improving things like balance & coordination, motor control sequences and kinesthetic awareness will only help and add to their athletic profile as they grow.”  Parents and athletes, it’s no secret: early development is key to increased chances of future success.

Five tips to keep in mind before specializing your son or daughter
1) Be active and play as many sports as possible.  As Coach Bousson suggests above, “Learning new movement skills at a young age is imperative.”

2) The most valuable player award your son or daughter won at age eight doesn’t automatically get them a division one scholarship or starting spot on a local middle school or high school team.  Focus on developing fundamental skills at an early age.  Your athlete will have a larger base to grow from.

3) Don’t be afraid to rest your child.  You can’t drive a car 100 mph (a.k.a playing 5 competitive games every weekend during a summer) and consistently expect your athlete to perform at high levels without stopping for fuel and maintenance.

4) Coaches will tell you specialization at an early age is your best option for a scholarship.  Some of these are coaches wanting to either capitalize off of your son/daughter’s early talents to grow their organization or increase revenue by getting more kids to join.  Don’t get me wrong, there are perks to competing on travel teams. But, if a coach is telling you that your son or daughter needs to specialize instead of develop, he may be more concerned with chasing a trophy to put in his man cave to showoff to his/her old high school buddies than your son/daughter’s well-being.  We call these coaches, “Coaches that have never left high school.”

5) Specialization for your young athlete will not make them the best on their high school teams.  Think of athletic development as baking a cake.  You can’t skip the preparation steps and expect the cake to turn out well.  Although genetics play some role in athletes overall potential, progressive development will be far superior than quick solutions for early success or notoriety.

Not all athletes that choose to go down the road of specialization go through what has been described in this article.  Predicting which sport an eight year old will be successful at is difficult and it makes it even more difficult when they take a risk with one sport instead of playing many.  Parents: We cannot stress enough how important it is for your son or daughter to develop at an early age instead of putting the primary focus on joining travel league teams.  Many believe this takes the place of development, when in actuality it may be harming an athlete’s growth and development.  Eight to ten year old athletes do not need to experience what professional athletes experience.  This is a time for growth, discovery, and a fun experience that will ultimately help them in their future.

We will leave you with this short clip below.  Maybe this will help you when deciding between spending hundreds of dollars and traveling hours away from home to compete or saving and investing in the development of your young athletes athletic development.  Just remember, it’s hard to cheer for an athlete when they are out of games because of injury.


If you liked this article, be sure to share and/or comment your thoughts.

For more information on Coats Performance, please go to http://www.coatsperformance.com.  In addition, please follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @CoatsPerformance.




  1. Reider, Bruce. “Too Much, Too Soon?” The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 1 May 2017, journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/.
  2. Snow, Sam. “Are Kids Specializing in Sports Too Early?” US Youth Soccer, 1 Mar. 2015, http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/are_kids_specializing_in_sports_too_early/.


Ten Sprint Facts I Wish Everyone Understood

By Tony Holler, Track Coach, Plainfield North High School

I consider myself a coach, a veteran of 36 years of coaching football, basketball, and track. Stuart McMillan recently tweeted, “A good coach knows a lot about a little and a little about a lot.” I know a lot about sprinting.

I was tempted to title this article “Shining Light into the Darkness”. My goal is to share ten facts with three groups of people: athletes, parents, and coaches. Despite the fact that speed (moving fast) is central to athleticism, too many people live in the dark.

   1.  Running is not sprinting. If you stop reading here, you’ve learned something most people don’t understand. Sprinting is something you can do for a short period of time and requires full recovery to repeat. Anything lasting for more than five seconds is working on something other than speed.

Screenshot 2017-06-26 10.15.52I took this picture at the NCAA Track & Field Championships. Deajah Stevens is sprinting, not running.

   2.  Running does not improve speed. When football coaches encourage their players to run at full-speed over a three-hour practice, they are confused. No one can run at full-speed for three hours. Yes you can try to do your best over a three-hour period but it won’t be “full-speed”. Running is sub-max. Full speed is max-speed. Max-speed is sprinting. Running makes you good at sub-max running. Sprinting improves speed.

   3.  Weight lifting does not improve speed. Lifting weights will improve strength. That strength may transfer to athleticism but won’t directly improve speed. The strongest kids on the team are seldom the fastest. The typical weight room celebrates indiscriminant hypertrophy (bodybuilding). In my opinion, kids who lift weights get better at lifting weights. Beware of muscle-bound poster boys who live in a weight room. Strength coaches will tell you that great teams are made in the weight room, but remember, when you ask a barber if you need a haircut, he will always say yes.   

Screenshot 2017-06-26 10.16.04Bodybuilding will make you slower. This guy looks good in the mirror but his strength is non-functional.

   4.  Racehorses are not workhorses. This will offend most coaches but it’s a fact. Horses that plow a field all day can’t win a race. Too many coaches take thoroughbreds and force them to plow fields.  If you want a fast team (and who doesn’t?), treat all your horses like race horses. Train them for speed, not work.

   5.  Sprinting is the most explosive exercise in the world. Nothing in the weight room moves at 10 meters per second. The most explosive lifts may approach 2 m/sec. I’m not telling people not to lift, but sprinting, in and of itself, builds functional strength that directly transfers to athleticism.

Screenshot 2017-06-26 10.16.20.pngLast season I coached the fastest 14 year-old in the nation, Marcellus Moore, #1 IL indoors in the 60m (6.86) and 200m (21.95). #2 IL 100m (10.41), #1 IL 200m (21.28). Marcellus did not get fast by lifting weights or surviving high volume workouts.

   6.  Any fool can get another fool tired. Know-nothing coaches often work their kids the hardest. Toughness wins! I believe toughness is just as genetic as speed. Coaches don’t create toughness by designing crushing workouts. Even if hard work created toughness, I would still opt for fast, energetic athletes. Slow and tired athletes lose no matter how tough they are. If you want fast kids, work smarter, not harder. To get faster, you must sprint intensely for five or six seconds and then rest long enough to do it again.

   7.  We are not the result of what we did yesterday. We are the sum of what we did for the last six weeks, the last six months, and the last six years (my “6-6-6 Theory”). Speed grows like a tree. Stay patient. Every year I time over 10,000 40-yard dashes. I time thousands of 10m flys with a Freelap timing system. I “record, rank, and publish” all measurements. Since speed grows like a tree, I measure often. Growth inspires.

   8.  Speed is a barometer of athleticism. What metric is the #1 indicator of future success at the NFL Combine? The 40-yard dash is a measure of both acceleration (strength and explosion) and max-speed. Surprising to some, speed is not only important for running backs and receivers. The fastest offensive linemen are always drafted highest. The highest drafted 300-pounder will usually be the fastest 300-pounder. The best athletes are the best players.

Screenshot 2017-06-26 10.16.31.pngSlow people complain about the use of the 40 as a metric of football athleticism but the data is strong. Among the best football players entering the NFL, the fastest in the 40-yard dash usually have the best careers.

If no one reaches max speed on a basketball court, is sprinting irrelevant for basketball players? Josh Bonhotal, Director of Sports Performance for the Purdue men’s basketball team, believes max-speed sprinting to be the key to basketball athleticism:

“Too often, I see coaches overemphasizing conditioning during the offseason and never developing absolute capacities of strength, power, and speed. In particular, a common mistake is to attack repeat sprint ability when you have never truly developed speed and thus sprint ability itself.”

If most baseball players don’t steal bases, is sprinting irrelevant in baseball?
Major league baseball has found itself with a shortage of athleticism. Specialization has created players who are good at hitting and throwing but weak at explosive sprinting. Several major league teams are looking for ways to reverse this trend by making speed a priority in their farm system.  

Even endurance sports like cross country, soccer, rugby, and lacrosse are beginning to explore speed training.

How about a non-running non-speed sport like volleyball? Sprinting and jumping use the same fast-twitch muscle fibers. Sprinting and jumping have a reciprocal relationship. Volleyball players jump high and move quicker as their 10m fly times improve.

   9.  Beware of “The Grind”.  Any coach who embraces “The Grind” is not a speed-based coach. You don’t train a racehorse by grinding unless you want to improve its ability to plow fields. Grinding improves grinding, not speed. Hard work seldom translates to undefeated seasons, but coaches are addicted to slogans and paramilitary thinking. Coaches live in constant fear of getting out-worked. Great athletes and great teams are a combination of smart training, enthusiasm, talent, and luck.  

Screenshot 2017-06-26 10.16.45.png Hard work does not improve speed.

   10.  Sprinting improves sprinting. No one gets fast by running slow. I never train tired athletes. I never train beaten and battered athletes. Rest, recovery, and enthusiasm are more important than any workout. If I want to train kids two days in a row, I make sure today’s workout does not ruin tomorrow’s workout. My racehorses usually perform well.  

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that speed is critical to athletic performance and that speed must be trained wisely.  

Where can you find training?

This is tricky.

Distance coaches who don’t understand sprinting lead some track programs. Distance training (running), by nature, is high-volume and process-driven. Some track coaches coach like they were coached in high school. Old school track and field was typically high volume. Distance runners ran ten 400s, sprinters ran ten 200s. For some perspective, Plainfield North’s hardest sprint workout this year was 3 x 200 with two minutes rest (sprinting at max-speed).

Tough, hard-working, masculine men who train their teams like armies lead too many football programs. These wannabe generals truly believe that putting kids through crushing workouts will make them tougher. They also believe that toughness wins games.

Screenshot 2017-06-26 10.16.56.pngMaybe this makes a Marine tougher, but it doesn’t make him faster.

Too many baseball programs encourage specialization. Kids never learn to sprint. The same can be said about basketball, volleyball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, and rugby.

Too many private trainers value weight lifting in the absence sprinting. Kids fall in love with the way they look in the mirror. Indiscriminate hypertrophy is a dumb idea and reduces athleticism.

I get emails from parents from all over the country. Where can I find a sprint coach?

Joining the track team is always the best option. In addition, some football teams are embracing shorter practices done at high speed and high intensity. With the exception of track and football, kids will seldom, if ever, be exposed to sprint training.

The only other place to find sprint work will be private training, but be careful. Don’t fall prey to muscle-bound Neanderthals and ex-college football players selling hard work and bodybuilding in the absence of speed. Sprinting must be the priority. You can’t plant beans and grow corn.



Tony Holler has taught Chemistry and coached track for 36 years at three different high schools, Harrisburg (IL), Franklin (TN), and Plainfield North (IL). Inducted into the ITCCCA Hall of Fame in 2015, Holler’s teams have continued to feature great sprinters. Along with Chris Korfist, Holler co-directs the Track Football Consortium held twice a year (June and December). Holler has written over 100 articles promoting the sport of track and field and sharing everything he knows. His articles can be found at ITCCCA.com, FreelapUSA.com, and SimpliFaster.com. You can follow Coach Holler on Twitter @pntrack and email him at tony.holler@yahoo.com.


Blue Light; Sleep, Cancer, and Sports Performance

Sleep: there aren’t enough hours in the day for this insignificant phenomenon that many bypass to get one last job done before the end of the day.  Some claim that sleep isn’t necessary for success, but do we have it wrong?  Are we missing out on opportunities to become successful or has the influx of social media via the technological advances made sleep a thing of the past?  How many have stayed up late at night just to scroll the news feed of your favorite social media platform to catch up on irrelevant news content that floods our brains?  Lets not forget your favorite television series that you must stay up for otherwise you might die if you have to wait until the next evening to see if your favorite male character proposes to his crush, right?

Many may raise the question of, “why is it important to sleep?”  According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, truly understanding sleep is still a process that many scientists are continually researching to better understanding.1  Research has also found that sleep is an important process for not only repairing and rejuvenating the brain, but also for the development and plasticity of the human brain.  So why is sleep an overlooked aspect of overall health and sport performance? In the paragraphs to come, I hope to shed some light on some of the research done regarding blue light and sleep.  We will be looking at what has caused some of the issues with improper sleep hygiene, negative health implications it can pose, how it can be a hindrance to athletic performance, and helpful suggestions that may improve sleep for those who find it near impossible getting quality sleep.

Blue Light
I am sure that many have become accustomed to nightly routines of watching popular television shows, chatting with friends on small handheld devices, and staying up during the late hours to finish work.  Seems fairly senseless, right?  What many of us don’t know is how these small bedtime routines have actually altered our quality of sleep and life.  As we stay awake at night looking at the screens of these devices, our eyes are exposed to what is called blue light, or artificial lighting.  The artificial lighting that comes from many electronic devices affects the human circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural wake and sleep cycle.2  Why is this significant?  Many studies have been published that continue to find the correlation of increased blue light exposure with the loss of sleep.  Although we get natural blue light from the sun, the amount of time many people look at screens that give off artificial lighting is alarming.  Just think about the number of kids and adults you see during dinner at your local restaurant or watching kids interact after school.  From personal observation, most are interacting in different ways that don’t involve verbal communication, but rather, communicating with the tips of their thumbs.  Moreover, technology and exposure to blue light causes disturbances of the central nervous system, which will put off the production of melatonin (sleep hormone) for up to 90 minutes making falling asleep more difficult.3

The body has a unique way of operating to ensure that many of the processes are functioning properly.  The pineal gland, a small region in the brain that is sensitive to lighting picked up through the eyes, and the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which controls the body’s circadian rhythm, are just two areas that blue light greatly affects.  To show how sensitive the brain is to blue light, think of it this way: you finally made it to bed after a long week with the hopes of getting the best sleep you’ve gotten in weeks; two hours go by and you need to empty your bladder because you’ve consumed water before going to sleep; upon entering the bathroom, you turn the lights on and the bright light shocks you like the New England Patriots Winning the 2017 Super Bowl in overtime; you then walk back to your room like a zombie, get into bed, and bam: you can’t fall asleep.  I am sure this has happened to many of you.  Light, especially at night, may be the cause of your sleepless nights.  As I mentioned above about the pineal gland being sensitive to light, it then signals the body to stop the production of melatonin because it believes it is light outside as a consequence of the late night light exposure.  Melatonin production is decreased, which then causes you to feel awake at three in the morning.

Health Implications of Blue Light
Technology is the now and it is our future, which is apparent amongst the millions of active users on a daily basis.  It is inside classrooms for educational purposes, how we do business, and how many communicate.  But is all of this good for humans?  Over the years more and more research is diving into this topic.  Whether you are a researcher or an observant citizen, you can see how technology has affected humans: good and bad.  Although these technological advances have many good applications in everyday life, there are many dangers that come with it.

Many people in developed countries have become accustomed to different forms of technology, but over the years an increased number of people are suffering from insomnia, obesity, seasonal affective disorder (seasonal depression), and cancer.   Going back to an earlier question: Is all this technology safe for humans?   A recent study conducted by the Breast Cancer Organization concluded that, Women who work at night — factory workers, doctors, nurses, and police officers, for example — have a higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who work during the day.  Other research suggests that women who live in areas with high levels of external light at night (street lights, for example) have a higher risk of breast cancer.”4   Many may raise the question of, how does shift workers or residing in areas that have higher levels of external light have an impact on human health?  If you remember from earlier how I mentioned what blue light is and how it affects the body’s ability to produce melatonin, it begins to make more sense.  These artificial lights that many are exposed to, especially night shift workers, have an internal battle with their body’s natural sense of time and sleep.  This then causes the suppression of melatonin, which many researchers, including physicist Dr. Edward Carome, believe this is the beginning to many health complications. Dr. Carome has discovered that melatonin production at night is important because it acts as a “strong cancer fighting antioxidant.” Additionally, blind men have a decreased risk of prostate cancer than those that can see, and blind women have a decreased risk of breast cancer than those that can see.  The reason for this is because the blind are maximally producing melatonin compared to people that can see who do not maximally produce melatonin.5

Moreover, a study (of many) conducted by Professor David Blask Ph.D, M.D. of Tulane University, experimented with blood samples from cancer patients at different times of the day to monitor melatonin levels.  What Dr. Blask found was “exposure of human subject to bright light at night suppresses the nocturnal circadian melatonin signal resulting in high, daytime-like rates of tumor metabolism and grown.”6  This is furthering evidence of what has been found by many researchers.  From the number of studies, one could make a safe assumption that melatonin production and sleep are important necessities for health and well-being.

Sports Performance
As a former high school and collegiate athlete, working out, eating healthy (what I thought was healthy), and practices played a major role in everyday life. During my athletic career, there were only a few times sleep was a topic of discussion (Yes, there is a good chance that I was zoned out like a squirrel in a tree on a warm spring morning and missed these conversations, but that’s besides the point).  Like many, the small things are often viewed as insignificant and if it can’t be measured in a weight room, well, it really isn’t important.  A significant portion of increased athletic performance and adaptations come from the sleep we get in the days and weeks leading up to practices and competitions3. Also, the body needs the proper amount of sleep for natural responses to occur such as the natural release of the human growth hormone (HGH), muscle repair/gains, and maintenance.  In a study published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association athletes require a greater quantity of sleep to recover sufficiently from injury, intense training periods, and competition .8 “Training is just a small part of getting bigger, faster, and stronger.  Some of the most important responses/adaptations happen during sleep.”3

Assuming that most of us have gone through a night or two where sleep was nearly impossible, think back on how you felt the next day.  Maybe you felt sluggish or moody, had increased junk food cravings, or felt a decrease in your thought process.  These examples sometimes become more apparent with athletes that have had a rough night of sleep.  Many great coaches are able to sense this without any high-end technology by reading body language. Sometimes our eyes are the best tools to assess when athletes have had a good or bad night of sleep.  According to John Underwood’s study on sleep and athletic performance, sleep loss can result in an eleven percent reduction in time to exhaustion during exercise.  Additionally, “when exhausted, blood flow to the brain decreases.  Blood flow is required for pre-movement and balance. When the brain doesn’t work, the body doesn’t work.”3 This is no coincidence given that our brain is the control center for many of the functions that take place in our bodies. Sleep is a must; it can be the difference between a great performance and mediocre performance.

Moreover, because the education of sleep hygiene is sometimes forgotten, many athletes look for different alternatives to offset sleep debt.  Some athletes have resorted to various supplements to help increase energy, with energy drinks being one of the most popular.  Side note: if you are someone who depends on energy drinks to get through the day or to get you “amped” for your gym session, this is a problem.  In most cases, if a sound nutritional and sleep routine is followed, this should give one optimal levels of energy.  Caffeine supplementation is a widely talk about topic within the sports performance field, but athletes sometimes become dependent.  A study was conducted with a group of Navy Seals, which yielded positive results to mental and physical performance when consuming caffeine.  It is important for athletes and coaches to understand that the stimulation of the central nervous system can sometimes put an athlete at an over-aroused state, which can lead to declined performances.3  Although adult athletes have shown positive effects from caffeine, parents have been advised to prohibit young athletes under eighteen the consumption of energy drinks.  A study published by the United States of America Football Organization, warns about increased anxiety and arrhythmias as a result of children who take caffeinated energy drinks.  In addition, the same study found that individuals who ingest caffeinated energy drinks more often suffer more mistakes because of over-arousal, an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and a disrupted sleep cycle.9

We often forget the importance of good brain health.  The brain accounts for many functions within the body, but often the last to get attention when training. Although caffeine has been shown to increase mental and physical performance, athletes and coaches must understand the importance of getting proper sleep and naturally nourishing the brain instead of depending on stimulants to overcome sleep deficits and to increase performance.  I am not saying that caffeine is bad.  Research has found advanced athletes benefiting from caffeine.  However, what I am saying is that young athletes should not be turning to these types of supplements/stimulants to offset sleep debt or a bad nutritional diet.  There are many natural ways to increase energy that can be more beneficial than teaching youth athletes that they can get a quick and easy fix to mask a bad diet through beverages or supplementation.

How to improve sleep quality
Many alternatives exist when trying to implement consistency with sleeping patterns.  One of the most popular choices amongst many Americans comes in the form of medication: synthetic melatonin. Although the synthetic form of melatonin does help some with sleep, many become dependent, which affects the human body’s natural ability to produce melatonin.  The Sleep Foundation advises those that choose to consume synthetic melatonin to be cautious because it is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. “For melatonin to be helpful, the correct dosage, method, and time of day it is taken must be appropriate to the sleep problems.10 Like many over the counter supplements, it is important to do a little homework before purchasing.

If melatonin supplementation is not a good solution, then what is the best or next alternative?  Consistent sleep patterns have been shown to help with sleep hygiene.  A structured schedule that consistently has one going to sleep at the same time and waking up at the right time can help with those that suffer from insomnia or other sleeping disruptions.  In addition, there are many applications one can download, such as The Calm App, which provides guided meditation and breathing techniques.  This is something I have tried and saw great results with. Furthermore, stretching before bed has been a beneficial and calming practice I have implemented to increase sleep.  Both have benefited me in my own search for better sleep, but decreasing blue light has been the best choice for increasing sleep.

Here are a few sleep suggestions that the Harvard Medical School Heath News Letter suggests 11:
-Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.

-Expose yourself to lots of natural bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.

-Use dim red lights for night-lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.

Here is a list from research articles on the effects of sleep deprivation
Those who consistently use energy drinks are 1.8 times more likely to report morning sleepiness than those who do not use energy drinks.3

Artificial lighting could be making us frail, withering muscles and making bones more fragile.12

Lack of sleep impairs information retrieval, or the ability to access learned information.3

Students who pull all-nighters: 2.95 GPA, Students who don’t pull all nighters: 3.20 GPA.3

Athletes build up sleep reserves or deficits over1-3 days.3

Sleep deprivation leads to disruption of training intensity and performance at competition.13

A growing body of evidence suggests that a desynchronization of circadian rhythms may play a role in various tumoral diseases, diabetes, obesity, and depression.14

I’m pretty sure that at least many of the sleep disorders we are facing epidemically are related to evening or nighttime light.14

Sleep-related problems affect 50–70 million U.S. men and women of all ages.14

Disrupting this circadian rhythm has also been linked to medical issues like depression, obesity, breast and prostate cancer, and cardiovascular disease. It’s even associated with sleep disorders like insomnia and delayed phase sleep disorder, possibly because it causes the suppression of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.15

Eve Van Cauter, PhD, who termed sleep deprivation “the royal route to obesity.”16

“Continued sleep shortages contribute to depression, heart disease, lowered immunity, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, among other illnesses.”17

Brining it all together:
Over time, blue light has been shown to affect not only sleeping patterns, but also the formation of cancer cells.  Blue light also increases the likelihood of depression, obesity, and seasonal affective disorder – just to name a few.  This is a growing topic within health fields and sports performance, but we must continue to do our homework to get a better understanding of our less than optimal sleep patterns.  For years I have often wondered and grew curious to some of the changes that I have gone through (eating patterns, mood, decreased motivation), and it was not until I started taking a deeper look into sleep and its effects that I began to get a better understanding of the importance of this amazing phenomenon.  Being an athlete and working with many athletes, I often question whether us coaches are giving today’s youth the best information to not only positively impact their athletic careers, but to also impact their lives after sports.  Obesity, depression, and sports injuries are continually growing and some of the same information continues to be regurgitated in different ways, (better training models, nutrition, and the list goes on), but I often find sleep a topic that many coaches briefly talk about. Although there is much more to learn on this topic (and I have only hit the surface), with my findings I hope to help many become more aware of the importance of understanding blue light and how it can hinder our sleep patterns.  Technology is increasing and this may be the devil’s recipe for some of the health issues many of us face when dealing with sleep. Sleep is like water, you need it to function and survive.  Don’t let the quality of your life decrease because of your sleep hygiene.

Kendrique Coats
Owner, Coats Performance LLC


If you liked this and you found it to be helpful, please help us spreading the word by sharing this via social media or with someone you know of that suffers from these issues.  Also, there will be more information to come in regard to improving sleep quality.  Please be sure to follow us on social media (Instagram/Facebook) at Coats Performance for additional information.




1) MG, Frank. “The Mystery of Sleep Function.” Why Do We Sleep, Anyway? | Healthy Sleep. Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, 18 Dec. 2007. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

2) “Blue Light and Your Eyes.” Prevent Blindness. N.p., Mar. 2017. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

3) Underwood, John. “Technology and Sleep.”Sleep and Recovery. Life of an Athlete, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2017

4) “Light Exposure at Night.” Breastcancer.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.

5) Carome, Dr. Edward. “Is Blue Light the New Smoking.” Interview by Daniel Vitalis. Audio blog post. Rewild Yourself. N.p., 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 1 Apr. 2017.

6) Blask, Dr. David E. “Research Interests.” Structural & Cellular Biology. Tulane University- School of Medince, n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2017.

8) Teng E, Lastella M, Roach GD, and Sargent C. The effect of trainign load on sleep quality and sleep perception in elite male cyclists. In: Little Clock, Big Clock: Molecular to Physiological Clocks. Kennedy GA and Sargent C, eds. Melbourne: Chronobiology Society, 2011. pp. 5–10.

9) Frollo, Joe. “Experts Warn against Caffeinated Energy Drinks for Young Athletes.” United States of America Football, 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

10) “Melatonin and Sleep.” Sleep Topics. National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2017.

11) Publications, Harvard Health. “Blue Light Has a Dark Side.” Harvard Health. N.p., 2 Sept. 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2017.

12) Johnston, Ian. “Artificial Light Could Be Making Us Prematurely Frail.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 14 July 2016. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

13) Souissi N, Chtourou H, Aloui A, Hammouda O, Dogui M, Chaouchi A, and Chamari K. Effects of time of day and partial sleep deprivation on short term maximal performnces of judo competitors. J Strength Cond Res 27: 2473–2480, 2013.

14) Holzman, David C. “What’s in a Color? The Unique Human Health Effects of Blue Light.” Environmental Health Perspectives. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Jan. 2010. Web. 05 Apr. 2017

15) “External Lights Affect Your Sleep.” Sleep.Org. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

16) Cauter, Eve Van. “Obesity and Sleep.” Sleep Topics. National Sleep Foundation, 2003. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

17) Reports, Consumer. “Why Americans Can’t Sleep.” Consumer Reports, 14 Jan. 2016. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.





Issues with Youth Athletics

“Jimmy get ready, we have four games to play this afternoon!”

“But dad, I just….”  

“What did I say,  Jimmy?!  The team needs you. I need you. How bad do you think it would look if your own dad is coaching the team and you are home racing bikes with friends?  Come on, don’t let me down!”

Yet again, another forceful parent pushing their kid to do something to fulfill their own ego.  More than ever we are dealing with a growing number of athletes opting out of sports because of the intense pressure put on them by their parents and the fully stacked weekend schedules, as if they are competing for the Olympics.  When do we draw the line and let kids be kids?   The motto of keeping them busy or keeping them tired is a thing of the past.  Moreover, parents running teams as if they are preparing to compete against the  95-96 Chicago Bulls is rubbish.

It has become a fulltime job for kids

We all know the parents that have taken matters into their own hands to ensure that their little baller gets his/her scholarships.  Often times, putting them on multiple travel teams that require expensive fees and nightly practices after their school practices.  Is this really necessary?  What happened to one practice an evening, finishing up homework at a decent time, and a little playtime?  These days, eight year olds have two full-time jobs, sports, and school. Don’t get me wrong I think there are benefits to being part of travel teams:

1) If athletes are actually being coached instead of scrimmaging all practice.

2) If coaches are instilling in them life long lessons instead of making it about JUST winning.

3) If the local team has an incompetent coach that does not possess leadership or role model qualities.

4) If a local team is not available for that athlete to participate on.  I don’t believe there is a need to travel long distances to develop at young ages.

It has become about parents instead of the athlete

Games have turned into parents trying to coach their son/daughter from the sidelines.  It’s great to encourage and cheer on your young athlete, but, when it turns into coaching them from the sideline, it makes it very difficult for most athletes to be fully engaged in the game because they have two different voices they are tying to listen to – coach and parents.  In addition, games have become a bragging session about where a young athlete has traveled to compete or what travel team the parents want the son/daughter to compete on next year.  “Oh did I just miss my son/daughter make their shot?”   “Yes Mildred, you were busy bragging and showing me your eight year old’s highlight tape for college recruiters…”   “Oh, did you ask your son/daughter about what they want to do?”  The power of letting children make their own, healthy and reasonable, choices is real.

Who’s got biggest muscles?

The number of coaches and dads that have stepped up to the plate to manage a team of energized kids has increased.  This is great; however, many coaches are tying to live vicariously through these young, developing athletes by “stacking” teams with all the talent and crushing every other team in the league.  “ Hey Richard, you got a nice team there!”  “ Yeah, its just like I do it in Madden.”  We get it Richard, your ego has gotten so big that you have forgotten the whole point of a youth development league. We also get that you like to win.  In that case, why don’t you join an adult league instead of using kids to pad your ego?   Coaches,  kids need to understand the fundamentals of the game and how important these are as they continue athletics.  Winning may be fun now, but if a group of kids go through a season of their given sport without learning anything, becoming better people, or having a stronger understanding of the game then you have failed them and their parents big time. Congratulations on your all madden team, Richard…

Where’s the fun?

Some have put such an emphasis on winning that many children think they need to walk away with a win, every game and at all costs.  By no means am I saying winning is bad, but, at developmental ages, if we teach children that the only way he or she is making improvement is by winning, then we have once again failed. Remember the “it’s all about having fun” speech before the games that reminded young athletes to, well, have fun?  It has slowly changed into a pregame speech by an overly aggressive coach that tells the kids to kick the other teams butt.  Hmmm, I question if this is the right thing to teach easily influenced individuals.  This approach places a tremendous amount of pressure on the team to win the game for the coach.

Regardless if you are a coach or a parent, I think we can all agree that in many cases, sports have not given young athletes the ability to have fun.  It has become how many points can be scored and how badly a team can be crushed because you know, the coach told the team to do so.   Maybe its time for many of us to take a new approach and empower young athletes and give them an outlet where they feel they can communicate and be a part of a larger support group.  Screaming and yelling doesn’t do it and the video below shows a handful of situations where the coach is out of line.


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Kendrique Coats

“Believe in the process”


A Different Perspective On Retirement



Many people ponder the idea of retirement as something that will bring them more joy than ever before! More time for activities, personal time, and a time to enjoy things that have been forgotten. Sounds like it’s the life, right? Phyllis had all those intention as well as getting her body/muscle working like before, but she had no idea how or where to start.

Growing up moving and enjoying life has always been a goal, but it has been a struggle at the same time. The activities during childhood seemed simple, but they just weren’t the same as she entered the next chapter of her life-retirement. Phyllis Myers struggled and she needed help getting her muscles working like they use to. After having two knee replacements, being limited to certain activities she could do, and also being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, she realized it was time to do something for herself. Phyllis made the jump by calling to set up an appointment for personal training, which would ultimately change the second chapter of her life forever back in January of this year.

I could see that she was hurting physically and mentally. How she talked about retirement and life was all I needed to know. She looked like an individual that was not enjoying the oh-so-joyful retirement life. Deep down, she knew she had one of two choices: get help or slowly fade into society as many retirees do. During our initial session, she would always mention how she wanted to make the most out of this new chapter in her life as well increasing her energy levels to do more activities throughout the day. In addition, she did not want to depend on others to help her complete basic tasks around the house. Some of these are concerns that many retirees have, but the proper steps aren’t always clear.

Fast forward to now and Phyllis Myers is a complete success story! Exercise has CHANGED HER LIFE and now she wakes up every morning with a purpose. She has a new idea and purpose on how she wants to live the second chapter of life and none of those ideas involve staying in the house because of fears from falling or not being able to move. Phyllis has been such an inspiration to herself that she has inspired others around her! Words cannot explain how proud I am with the changes and sacrifices she has made from the first time she walked through the doors until now. To any retiree that has had these same frustrations on what you’re going to do after retirement, I leave you with this: It is easy to focus all of your time on others or go through life while forgetting about yourself. Being healthy and being able to move is a lifestyle that does not end after childhood, but is life long. No one wants to go outside and have fears of falling because life has slowed down into the retirement years. I encourage everyone to congratulate Phyllis and ask her how her life has changed because of this. Move grove and live life like it is supposed to be lived and that’s without fears or frustration!

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Chasing Pain Is Not Progress

Get your &%^&$ moving!  That’s too slow you’re not moving fast enough!!  You need more weight, if it doesn’t hurt it doesn’t count!!!  Yeah yeah yeah, blah blah blah, we get it!  “No Pain, No Gain,” right?   WRONG!   The fitness industry has shifted in such a way that is sometimes sickening.  We are in a continued era of making working out so intense that if people aren’t sweating their butts off or aren’t on the verge of puking then it is not considered “ WORKING OUT/ TRAINING.”   I guess I missed the memo where EVERY individual that steps foot in a gym wants to be trained to annihilation and I think that method is the farthest thing from quality since MC hammer and his shiny pants.  No? Okay, well too bad because those pants turned me into a believer…. A believer that I will never be able to pull some slick moves like that dude!

So moving on to the topic at hand, I have worked out at a handful of gyms over the years, where trying to find weights or space was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.  I mean, who even likes getting bro pumps in before a Justin Bieber concert?  I tell you, it was the most annoying thing trying to find weights, but it was a good annoying.  A bunch of people in a building getting their fitness on. What could be better, besides the guy who we all have met that seems to be the “pro” at lifting and gives advice to everyone and their mom and then proceeds to load a bar with 1,000 5 pound plates to give off the elusion that he is lifting much more than what he really is.  Now, kudos to him for at least showing up, but come on BROOOOOO.  Then we have the avid gym goer that straight up kills every workout while screaming and always preaches, “ Feel the burn baby!”  “I live for the pain and if you aren’t in pain get your butt out of the game!”  Yes, do exactly that. If you’re in pain, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are making progress. Instead, you may be doing yourself more harm than good and that is something that took me awhile to understand.

I can remember when I took this approach to working out. Every workout was done at 100mph and leaving the gym drained was my main objective. Lifting weight at a pace even Usain Bolt couldn’t keep up with was “cool” and I wanted to be the guy that was doing all the fancy lifts in the gyms that I frequented. Looking back on it all, I was a fool and not accomplishing anything worthwhile as I went. Being a former athlete, intensity was all I knew, and I didn’t have an open enough mind to take a different approach. It wasn’t until various nagging injuries and my lack of progress, due to constant fatigue, that I changed my methodology in regard to working out. Doing so has also helped me grow within the fitness field and has given me a different element and perspective on how to train the people that I have the opportunity to work with. It took me years to understand that pain was not gain and I am glad I suffered my own injuries because I was able to learn from those experiences.

The longer I am in this industry, as well as continuing my education, the more it is becoming apparent to me that chasing pain is not beneficial. One thing remains consistent – the better the quality, the better the workout.  Now, perfection isn’t what that means; it means chasing pain should not be a priority. Yes, people will chase perfection like none other, but that may result in a mental block that keeps some from hitting a personal best. In addition, working out doesn’t have to ruin your body and it doesn’t have to leave you feeling like crap.  It’s time to think of working out in a different and more practical mindset. Because many people have a misinterpreted idea of working out, especially if they have never been in a gym before, that is exactly where I try to educate.  Training doesn’t have to be high intensity all the time and doesn’t need to put people in a position where they are intimidated or dragging their feet to even come through the gym doors.

LESS IS MORE- training to annihilation or exhaustion all the time, A- will eventually cause injuries and B- is not sustainable for life.


See you soon!



Twitter: KendriqueCoats

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I know I’m in the right spot


Working out with the Pontiac 8th grade basketball team. I always make it an effort to educate the guys and give them real life examples on the WHY on the things we do. If young athletes don’t see the WHY, it just becomes boring work. Just remember, ” Any fool can make another fool tire.” Aka- work them hard and not have an explanation for the reason behind why one is doing the work. Yes, it does take extra time to go the extra mile to educate, but that’s where I put my emphasis at. People mention how important it is to be authentic to the people you work with, so you either have it or you don’t have it, but it will be apparent to the trainee. This is my life and to spend an extra 20 minutes trying to get a general fitness or athlete understand what is going on is what I live for! #Pontiacil #AthleticDevelopment #Centralil #PontiacTownshipHighSchool #PersonalTraining #SpeedDevelopment #StrengthTraining 

It Is More Than Just Training For Me

It’s such a blessing to be in a position to not only inspire, but also mentor such a great group of men. It’s more than just training for me, I try to touch souls with EVERYONE I work with.I’m a mentor, brother, father figure, motivator, friend, family, educator, and then a trainer. It’s not about how many I have, but it’s more about how can I change someone’s life!
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