ESPN Kids Writer Mailbag 20

Q: How can I become a good volleyball player? Vanessa from Florida
A: Vanessa, I really just have one answer for you - practice! Get out there and bump, set and spike! While you're practicing, though, it would be a good idea to learn the game. Watch pro and college matches live or on TV. Read up on the sport. Talk to coaches and older players to see if they have any tips for you. But, as a general rule, the more you play the better you will become.

Q: Who is your favorite football player? John from Illinois
A: John, this is a hard question. There are a lot of football players that I root for. Some are just great players, others I cheer for because they are good people who help out in their communities. I root for just about everybody on the New York Giants, my favorite team. But I would say that my favorite overall football player is Peyton Manning. He is the best player I have ever seen and I love the way he plays the game. He tries hard and goes out of his way to make his teammates better. Off the field, Peyton has a good personality and is very involved in charity work.

Q: What is a slap shot? Mathias from Ohio
A: Mathias, a slap shot is the fastest shot in hockey. It happens when a player winds up by raising their stick behind and above their body, and then brings their stick forward to strike the puck lying on the ice. Slap shots are much faster than a wrist shot or backhand shot, but are more difficult to pull off. Players can't take slap shots unless they are wide open and facing no defensive pressure.

Q: Is being a sports reporter hard? Isa from Arizona
A: Isa, being a sports reporter is hard work, but it's also a lot of fun. It takes a lot of education and training before you can get a job as a sports reporter. Also, many people want to get into the field, so the competition for jobs is tough. However, if you stick it out, work hard and be patient, good things will happen. Once you get a job as a sports reporter, you get to talk to some pretty cool athletes and other sports personalities. If you love sports, it's a great job to have!

Q: Do most college football players go on to play pro football? Beth from Delaware
A: Beth, actually, the vast majority of college football players do not play pro football. There are about 9,000 Division I college football players in the country, and only about 300 are invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. Of that number, only a few end up getting drafted. Some research says that only about 2% of college football players end up going pro.

Q: Is it harder to be a coach for a college basketball team or a pro basketball team? Hudson from New Jersey
A: Hudson, I think this is a very interesting question. Both coaching positions have unique challenges. In college, the players are student-athletes, meaning that coaches have to make sure they stay on top of their school work and earn good grades. Pro athletes play basketball as a full-time job. I would think that for this reason it's harder to be a college coach. The job is not just about winning basketball games, but teaching young players how to grow into responsible adults.

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