Coleman Crawford and basketball go way back. He started at a young age and worked his way to the college level (he still holds University of North Alabama career scoring and rebounding averages records). Following college, he put his basketball skills and IQ to work on the sidelines as a coach. He began at the college level – including four NCAA teams – then moved to international opportunities and the NBA Developmental League before settling in as Cooper Fitness Center’s Basketball Pro. His coaching experience eclipses 40 years and continues to this day.
As the NBA season kicks off, we asked Coleman a few questions about his coaching experience and his tips for growing as a basketball player.
Who was your favorite NBA team growing up?
“I didn’t necessarily have a favorite team, but instead had favorite players. I enjoyed following the Milwaukee Bucks because Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played for them, and I eventually pulled for the Lakers when he moved to L.A. I enjoyed following the careers of my favorite players.”
What did you gain from coaching in the NBA Developmental League?
“Coaching in the D-League was a big change from collegiate coaching. Coaching college athletes involves guiding them with their grades and off-the-court behavior on top of their basketball skills. In the NBA D-League, it was purely coaching and total focus on the game. I was able to build the team needed to win, and the players were solely focused on making it to the next level–the NBA. We won a championship when I coached in the D-League and six of the players went on to play in the NBA, which was exciting and rewarding.”
What is your favorite coaching memory?
“When I coached at Florida State, we beat Duke, who was the number one seed at the time. It was incredible! I also loved being able to coach my son at Tulsa and Florida State.”
What do you like most about coaching youth versus coaching adults?
“My favorite group to coach is, surprisingly, the 5-7 year olds. They are new to the sport, have no bad habits and have no fear. I see so much improvement and growth throughout the time I work with them, and I love introducing them to basketball. Coaching adults is enjoyable because they are usually very focused on improving one or two areas of their game, whether it is shooting, ball control or defense. They are open to learning new things and growing as players.”
Who do you think will win the NBA Finals this year?
“I’m currently a Cleveland Cavaliers fan because Lebron James is my favorite player. So I’m hoping for back-to-back championships!”
What skills do you teach your players that NBA players are always working on, too?
“The best NBA players never stray from the basics of the game. They practice the fundamentals constantly in order to master them. They also get into a routine that works for them, which usually consists of working hard and putting in extra practice time. The best players on NBA teams – Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Lebron James – are often the hardest working players on the team. Hard work distinguishes average players from elite players. Working on the fundamentals early on, as we do in our basketball camps and programs, can help kids grow and develop into solid players. On top of building physical skills, we also work on the mental aspect of the game.”
What are your top tips for any NBA hopefuls out there?
“Work ethic, skill development and mental prowess all tie together in basketball. The best players work tirelessly to master their skills. Try to always play against the best possible competition, because that challenge will bring out the best in you as a player and will give you an idea as to whether or not you’re improving. Keep working hard and never stop trying to improve and grow.”
For more information about Coleman and basketball programs offered at Cooper Fitness Center, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com/ProZone or call 972.233.4832, ext. 4337.
Catching Cooper Fitness Center Tennis Pro Corey Noel anywhere outside of the courts can be a challenge, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. With more than 15 years of experience coaching tennis and a variety of tournament championships under his belt, Corey brings expertise and focus on the game to adults and children alike through Cooper Fitness Center’s tennis programs. Get to know Corey on a more personal level:
When were you first introduced to tennis?
I started playing tennis when I was 15 years old, which is a little late to begin. I joined my high school team and loved it! It’s never too late to try a new sport, especially a lifelong sport such as tennis.
What is your favorite memory of playing tennis?
I once played a match in college in which my opponent was very unpleasant and bickered quite a bit. The official eventually came out and gave him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. We continued playing, and I won. Immediately after the match ended, my opponent was upset about losing and was issued another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Since our match was over and the rules called for the penalty to be applied to another match, the official gave the penalty to his teammate playing on another court. The teammate then lost his match as well. I like to say I won two matches at once because of the incident!
What is your favorite memory of coaching tennis?
Coaching is challenging. I once had a job of coaching a high school tennis team full of beginners. We had 12 students on the team, and by the time the season ended, eight of them went to the state championship. It was extremely rewarding to see the improvements they made that season as individuals and a team.
Who has been your biggest influence in the world of tennis?
My college coach, Bryan Whitt, helped me develop as a player and later helped me kick off my career as a tennis pro. He has offered me plenty of coaching advice over the years, and still coaches at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Who is your biggest role model?
My dad is my biggest role model, because he is kind and respectful in all circumstances. He fully lives by the rule of treating others as you would want to be treated.
What’s your favorite workout, other than playing tennis?
I love to cycle. I’m usually very competitive when it comes to sports and exercise, but riding a bike is one of the only times I’m able to let go and just enjoy the activity.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment professionally? Personally?
On the personal side, I’m proud of how I paid for my degree myself. I worked all through college and never had to take out a student loan. As a professional, being named Tennis Pro at Cooper has been incredible, and it was also amazing to be selected to sit on the Dallas Professional Tennis Association Board of Directors.
If you could play a match against one tennis celebrity, who would it be?
Andre Agassi. He’s always been my favorite player.
How long have you worked at Cooper?
What is your favorite part about working at Cooper?
The people at Cooper are amazing and very friendly. Everyone here is passionate about exercise and self-improvement, which is a culture you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
What would you tell someone who is new to playing tennis and looking to improve their game?
Learning to play tennis is all about commitment and repetition. Get out on the court three or four days a week or as much as possible in order to work on all aspects of the game. It can be tough, but well worth it.
What’s your favorite thing to do in down time when you are not on the courts?
What’s down time?! Just kidding! I like to relax and watch TV or Netflix, and I’ve been traveling more.
If you weren’t coaching tennis, what other profession would you have gotten into?
I actually studied to be a teacher, so I would likely be teaching high school English and coaching tennis at the high school level.
What do you believe you teach/offer besides just technical tennis skills (i.e. confidence, teamwork in doubles play, etc.)?
As a coach, I try to teach problem solving. Tennis is the only major sport in which coaches are not allowed to actually coach during a match, so it’s important to teach my players independence and how to make decisions to improve their game on their own. There’s a lot of psychology that goes behind the game of tennis.
Corey points out that one of the most important things to know about tennis is that it’s a sport anyone can play, no matter of age, gender or experience. This makes it different from most sports, but is what he likes most about it. He says it’s rewarding to see his students grow and pick up new skills quickly, and then enjoy playing tennis as a lifelong sport.
Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Unhealthy kids are growing into unhealthy adults, causing a major health care problem in the United States.
When it comes to helping kids form healthy habits, it’s best to start young. Studies have shown that different types of exercise affect a child’s mental capacity in a variety of ways. A simple 20-minute walk can immediately affect a child’s attention, function and academic success. However, the reverse is true for highly structured, rule-based exercise, such as a sport or coordination drills. This type of exercise may be too taxing for children immediately before a test or other activity that requires sustained focus. Instead, higher intensity exercises seem to build a child’s attention span gradually over time. Children who are physically fit perform better in attention tests–even small improvements in fitness lead to noticeable changes in the brain.
Participating in sports or other fitness-driven activities, especially right after the school day, can be a natural and less forced outlet to allow children to build up their attention span while having fun. Cooper Fitness Center’s IGNITE! program combines fitness, sports, movement and games to help improve athletic performance for this purpose. In the long run, children are learning how to focus for future tests and other tasks that require concentration.
Various studies have linked academic performance to overall health and fitness in children. Data taken from students in California show the following relationships between fitness and academics:
- Higher levels of fitness = increased math testing scores
- Higher levels of fitness = increased language arts testing scores
- Healthier lunches = increased math and language arts testing scores
- Higher levels of fitness = higher school attendance rate
- Higher levels of fitness = fewer negative school incidents
A study of more than 2.4 million Texas students found that students who are physically fit are more likely to do well on the state’s standardized tests and have higher school attendance. Physically fit students are also less likely to have disciplinary problems. The Cooper Institute developed FitnessGram, the first “student fitness report card,” in an effort to improve school physical education programs and children’s health.
“The impact exercise has on the growing brain is unparalleled,” says Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, founder and chairman of Cooper Aerobics. “Increased exercise improves cardiovascular health, and that helps the brain function more efficiently and enhances its ability to learn.”
Playing sports such as tennis or basketball can help children improve their attention while also helping them reach a higher level of fitness, which is beneficial to them at both a young age and as they grow into adults.
It is recommended that students do at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity every day, with more than half occurring during regular school hours and the remaining outside of school. Estimates suggest only about half of U.S. children meet this guideline.
Cooper Fitness Center offers various after-school youth programs to help kids get up and moving while boosting their brain power. Learn more about sport-specific programming and other youth programs at cooperyouth.com/dallas.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Downtown Dallas will open to the public tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 1. Within the museum there will be 11 permanent exhibit halls – ranging from engineering and brain health to sports. And while I am only slightly biased, I am most excited about seeing two of my favorite Cooper Aerobics teammates featured in the Sports Hall.
A few months ago the folks at the Perot Museum contacted us looking for local experts to feature in the Sports Hall. The Sports Hall is more than information on elite athletes; it explores the physics, anatomy and physiology of sports, teaching visitors about the science behind their bodies in motion. To help visitors understand how to get the maximum use out of their body, there will be several interactive “Coaches Corners.” Two of the coaches you’ll see are Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, registered dietitian at Cooper Clinic, and Carla Sottovia, PhD, Director of Fitness and Personal Training Education at Cooper Fitness Center. And while you might not think of Meridan or Carla as “coaches” in the traditional sense, they are definitely two of the best coaches you’ll find when it comes to learning how to live a longer, healthier life.
Here’s a preview of a few things that Meridan and Carla explore in their Coaches’ Corner:
- As a professional fitness trainer, what resources do you use to help people improve their fitness, and how do you know what works?
- If you want to be a professional fitness trainer, what type of education is important?
- What are some of the barriers people face when it comes to exercise, and how can they overcome them?
- What are some exercises that can improve flexibility, strength, core and power?
- What benefits will my body experience if I eat a healthier diet for a long time?
- How can I eat more for my health to make me smarter, leaner, faster and stronger?
- Is it true that different sports can benefit from different types of diets? What are the differences of eating for different sports?
- What types of food should endurance athletes eat? How about strength and speed athletes?
- What do you need to know about sports energy drinks?
- What are some easy, tasty snacks that will fuel my body?
The bottom line is, you do not have to train like an elite athlete to get the health benefits of exercise. It’s never too late to make changes to your health, and it’s never too late to feel better.
Are you planning to visit the Perot Museum of Nature and Science? We hope you enjoy Meridan and Carla’s Coaches Corner! Leave a comment below to let us know what you enjoyed most.
This was written by Christine Witzsche former Communications Director at Cooper Aerobics. Christine is no longer with Cooper Aerobics and we wish her all the best with her future endeavors.
The clay has been prepared. The lines have been freshly drawn. Today marks the first day of the 2012 French Open (or Roland Garros, for anyone following along in Paris), the second of the four annual Grand Slam tennis tournaments. Two full weeks of riveting matches – what more could you ask for?
Tennis is one of my favorite hobbies. I guess I could say it’s one of my favorite “workouts,” but when I play I typically forget I’m even working out! For me tennis is a way to have fun and socialize with friends. In honor of National Tennis month, I went ahead and asked our experts at Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas to share a few health benefits of playing tennis:
- Tennis provides good caloric burn, especially if you’re playing singles.
- Since you’re moving around the court in different directions, tennis is a great activity to work on speed, agility and power.
- It’s also great at helping with eye hand coordination.
We’re fortunate to have four tennis courts here at our Cooper Aerobics campus in Dallas. But if you’re looking for a nearby court where you live, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) can help you find a court.
So don’t just enjoy watching the French Open on TV, head outside and serve up a game.
Now that warmer weather is upon us, it’s time to get outside and get moving! Cooper Fitness Center offers multiple ways for children and families alike to enjoy the outdoors—and indoors—while having fun and exercising. Cooper Fitness Center Youth Programs Director Meredith Rosson answers your questions about activities for the entire family.
How can I get my kids Cooperized at Cooper Fitness Center? Our youth programs are based on the philosophy that no child is too young to learn the importance of caring for their health. Through our various classes and activities, we provide kids and teens with age-appropriate health and wellness tools in a fun, active, encouraging and enriching environment. Our goal is to help them achieve optimal health now and as they grow older and to educate them through experience and enjoyment.
- IGNITE! IGNITE! is for ages 8-12, and combines fitness, sports, movement and games to help improve athletic performance. The exercises and activities focus on agility, coordination, endurance, balance, speed, power and strength while promoting a healthy lifestyle and teaching the fundamentals of fitness.
- Cooperized Kidz Now your kids can work out whenever you do. Designed for ages 18 months through 12 years, Cooperized Kidz classes last 30 to 45 minutes and include everything from basketball to hip-hop. Your kids will have so much fun they won’t even know they’re exercising.
- Holiday, Spring Break and Summer Fit and Fun Camps Cooper Fitness Center camps are an excellent way for your children ages 5 to 12 to enjoy their school vacations. As a bonus, they also learn about the importance of good health and nutrition while having fun playing games and sports and making new friends.
- Sport Academies Whether your kids want to try a new sport or improve their skills in a sport they already enjoy, Cooper Fitness Center’s sports camps and academies offer training for all skill levels. Choose from basketball, swimming, tennis, martial arts, and much more.
What family activities are available at Cooper Fitness Center? Cooper Fitness Center offers a variety of fitness activities for families. Whether you are looking for a sport-specific lesson or general fitness classes, we offer it all for children and adults.
- Martial Arts
- Fitness Adherence Programs
- Run Proud 5K and Kiddie K completion as a family
- Parents are encouraged to participate in the Cooperized Kidz classes with their kids
- Annual nutrition lecture put on by Cooper Clinic nutrition department
What can families do at home for fitness fun? When you don’t feel like driving to the gym, there are plenty of ways to get fit at home.
- If it is way too hot to move around outside, try Kinect for Xbox 360. Your body is truly the remote control and you work up a sweat inside together as a family. The recommendation I make to families is to set guidelines and let kids know the Xbox 360 is only to be used with Kinect games—not the kind of video games that have them sit on the couch for hours on end.
- Go camping as a family. You can enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, cruising the river or lake on a paddle boat or canoe, and more. Everyone is sure to have a great time.
- Take a family bike ride to your favorite park. Pack a healthy picnic and have the kids help with healthy food options. Bring a Frisbee for some guaranteed laughs and calorie burner.
For more information on Cooper Fitness Center youth programs, contact Meredith Rosson at 972.233.4832 or visit cooperyouth.com.
Also check out our online collection of Health Tips for additional family and child fitness articles including In Your Corner: Family Fitness at Home This Summer.