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Original Issue

Ask The Coach Guidance for those lost in sports

Dear Coach: My six-year-old son doesn't want to play any sport
that involves winners and losers. Should I try to increase his
competitive spirit?

Dear Knute: Many very young children naturally shy away from
competitive situations. "Some children see competition as
conflict," says sports psychologist Patrick Cohn. "They want to
be well liked, and they see being competitive as going against
that grain." Wait until your son is older before you assess his
competitive spirit. As for what to do right now, although you
can't magically create the fire of Tiger Woods in him, you can
introduce your son to a variety of athletic activities and show
him how fun they can be without stressing winning or losing.
"Most kids get involved in a sport because they love the
activity," says Cohn. "Competitiveness only comes later."

Dear Coach: Can the right sneakers really improve my basketball
playing? Should I believe the ads?

Dear Footloose: Sneaker commercials are glamorous, entertaining,
convincing and, for the most part, just hype. "A lot of the
gimmicks they put in shoes today, like the pumps and the gels,
don't make any difference," says podiatrist Douglas Stoker, who
has worked with numerous high school and college athletes. Forget
all the bells and whistles and look for a sturdy shoe with a firm
midsole that will protect your foot from twisting. Says Stoker,
"How well a shoe fits the structure of your foot is most
important as far as performance is concerned."