ESPN Kids Writer Mailbag 12

Q: I usually play forward, but my coach switched me to goalie. What can I do to make this change easier? Courtney from Mississippi
A: Courtney, the best thing you can do is to work hard to learn the position. Talk to other people who play goalie to see if they have any tips for you. Watch and study professional keepers. You may not realize it, but having played forward, you have an advantage. You know offensive strategy, so that should make it easier to defend against opposing forwards. More than anything, though, get out there and practice. Have your friends and family members take shots on you, even if it's just against the side of your house. The more shots you see, the more ready you will be to stop them during a game.

Q: How many home runs did Jackie Robinson hit in one season? Kassidy from Arkansas
A: Kassidy, the most home runs Jackie Robinson ever hit in one season was 19. He accomplished that in 1951 and 1952. However, Robinson was never really a true home run hitter. On the field, he was known as an all-around player who could get hits, steal bases and play great defense. Jackie Robinson played as hard as he could at all times and was known for his extreme effort and hustle.

Q: The Eagles are my favorite team. Do you think McNabb will get traded? Tony from Kansas
A: Tony, that is an interesting question. Throughout his entire career, McNabb has been a hot topic in Philadelphia. Even when he has played well, fans have criticized him. For this reason, he has always been the subject of trade rumors. However, I do not think that McNabb will be traded this year. The Eagles had some surprising success last year, reaching the NFC Championship game. This season, Philadelphia will field an excellent group of young receivers, like Reggie Brown, DeSean Jackson and rookie Jeremy Maclin. I think that in order for this group to fully reach their potential, it will need a good, veteran quarterback to lead them. That quarterback is Donovan McNabb. The Eagles need him this season, and if everything falls into place, they will again be a very dangerous team in the NFC.

Q: Do you like to play tennis? Natasia from New York
A: Natasia, thanks for asking! I love to play tennis. It is one of my favorite sports. It is great exercise and a great activity to play with friends. All you need is one other person and you have a game. Even if you can't find anybody to play with, most tennis courts have concrete walls that you can hit against to practice. When the pros play tennis, I think it is one of the most beautiful games to watch. Players are quick and strong and are able to hit the ball perfectly. Watching pro tennis is a great way to learn the game.

Q: What is the hardest stroke to learn in swimming? Nettie from California
A: Nettie, I think that most elite swimmers believe that the butterfly is the hardest competitive stroke to perfect. You'll notice that beginning swimming lessons often teach the crawl, backstroke and breaststroke, but only more experienced swimmers learn the butterfly. It is extremely difficult because the arm and leg movements must be done in time with each other in order to move quickly through the water. There are also breathing techniques specific to the butterfly that are difficult to master.

Q: In high school track and field, what is the longest race? Josh from New Jersey
A: Josh, in standard track and field events, the longest race is the 10,000-meters. This is the equivalent of a 10K race, which is 6.2 miles long.

Q: How do you throw a change-up? Michael from Illinois
A: Michael, there are several different ways to throw a change-up. The most common method is to put three fingers on top of the ball instead of two, which is how pitchers commonly throw fastballs. When throwing a change-up, pitchers use the same arm speed and arm motion as their fastball. However, since they are using three fingers on top of the ball, it moves slower. Ideally, hitters who are expecting fastballs are fooled by the slower pitch.

Q: What pitcher has the most strikeouts of all time? Michael from Texas
A: Michael, Nolan Ryan is the all-time strikeout king with 5,714 strikeouts. He pitched 27 seasons for the Mets, Angels, Astros and Rangers and is the only player with more than 5,000 strikeouts. Randy Johnson of the San Francisco Giants is second on the list with 4,869 strikeouts.

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