Young football players

Picking a new sport

You’ve played soccer since preschool and were first at bat on the t-ball field. But, now you’re thinking of starting a new sport. How can you pick a new athletic activity? It’s not always easy – especially if you’ve been playing the same sport for years. Whether you’re looking for a change or want to add another activity to your roster, make selecting a new sport easier with a few simple steps!

Pick a Sport YOU like

It’s easy to get drawn into an activity because all of your friends are doing it. Consider it peer pressure – in a positive way. Joining a sport gives you benefits galore, including a healthier lifestyle and teaching you social skills (such as teamwork and sportsmanship). Sometimes it just takes a push from your friends to join in, get up and start a new sport. That said, if you honestly don’t want to play the sport, don’t do it. Considering a sport because your friends rave about how much fun they’re having can help the selection process, but considering a sport that you have no interest in only because your friends tell you to, isn’t the way to go.

Go To a Game, or a Few

You’ve been to your fair share of major league baseball games, but have you seen your local community team at play? If you’re considering joining the school or a rec center team, take some time to see a game or two. Doing this gives you a better idea when it comes to if you want to join the team or not. Introduce yourself to the coach while you’re there and discuss the possibility of joining in.

Talk to Your Parents

While talking to a coach can help your decision-making process, discussing the new sport with your parents gives you a point of view from the people who know you the best (even if it feels like they don’t). Ask for their input. If you don’t agree with what they say, talk to them about it. Maybe one of your parents played the sport in high school and knows you won’t like it or maybe they just know what you will and won’t like. Your parents can also help you to match your school, homework and after-school activity schedule with possible sports practice.

Make a List

Not sure at all what sport you want to play? Write a list of what you’re looking for or what skills you feel confident in. For example, if you’re a social person and prefer a team sport, tennis may not be for you. But, if you like being independent this type of sport might fit you. You probably won’t meet every point on your list. Try to match your potential pick with as many items on your list as possible. That’s okay if you miss a few points. But, if you’re missing all of them, it probably isn’t the best option.

Give It a Try

Sometimes the only way to make sure that you enjoy an activity is to do it. If you’re not 100 percent sure about a sport, sign up and give it a try anyway. You might find out that it’s your favorite activity or it might be a dud. In either case, you won’t be left wondering if you made the right or wrong decision. Imagining, talking about and thinking what it would be like to play the sport isn’t the same thing as playing it. Give yourself a chance (at least a few weeks of practice) to decide whether the sport is, or isn’t, the right fit.

 

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How Can Sports Help You in School

School and sports. Do they seem like two completely different things? In one you’re running down a field, throwing a ball and getting active. In the other you’re sitting at a desk with your head in a book. If they seem like total opposites, they can be. That said, sports can actually help you in school. Here’s how.

Stopping Stress

Playing a sport can lower your stress level and reduce anxiety, according to the Institute of Medicine. Why is this important in school? Let’s say you have finals or a big test coming up. You probably feel a little stressed – at the very least. Right? Hitting the track for practice, getting into the weight room during training time or running around the soccer field regularly can help you to relax! The less stress you have, the more of your mind you can devote to your school work. Along with that, reducing general (or school) anxiety lets you calm down and focus.

Better Performance

Research may show a connection between being physically active and having better brain function. What do the scientists think? Some studies have found that intense physical activity helps children to actually think better. This may lead to increased test scores and overall better grades. Of course, physical activity alone isn’t the key to school success. Even though some research says that sports and stand-out school performance go hand-in-hand, other factors such as studying, focus, hard work and motivation are absolutely necessary to do well. This means that relying solely on your sport to give you an academic boost won’t do. But, it is possible that athletic activities can help do better in your classes.

A Healthier Body

A study of more than 1,900 fifth, seventh and ninth graders in California schools found that children and teens with a lower BMI (body mass index) had better standardized test scores in math, reading and language than those with higher BMIs. Since sports lead to healthier bodies, it’s possible that your athletic activities are leading to better school performance. What’s the concensus from the research? Lowering your BMI, through sports and other physical activity, not only helps your body, but also helps your brain.

Team Building

You already know ‘there’s no I in team’. You’re a good sport on the field, and that teaches you to do the same off the field too. Even though school isn’t exactly a team effort, you need social skills to navigate through your academic day. Why? There are times when your teacher may ask you to work on a group project, pair up with a friend or study with classmates. Your team experiences during sports practice and games can help you to get along with your study group, participate more fully and work together.

Learning Leadership

Whether you’re the team captain or not, sports can teach leadership. There are times when, at practice or during games, that you’ll need to help your teammates, call a play or take charge. You bring these leadership skills to school as well. This may translate into you taking a role in student council, heading a study group or feeling more comfortable presenting a project in class.

Sports can also help you in seemingly small ways at school. From the time management skills that you develop balancing practice and homework to the mindset that you have to succeed, sports give you abilities, ideas and knowledge that lead to school success!

 

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Player Profile: Sue Bird

 

Sue Bird is arguably one of the best basketball players in the US right now. She is often considered one of the best point guards ever.  After 14 years of playing professional basketball, Bird continues to perform well for her team. Bird is set to represent Team USA in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. This will be her opportunity to earn a fourth consecutive gold medal in basketball.

 

She is 36 years old and 5 ft. 9in, and was born in Syosset, New York. She has been shooting hoops ever since she was a five-year-old spectator watching her big sister play in basketball games. Bird now wears a number 10 shirt to honor her sister’s birthday which is in October, the tenth month of the year. She credits her sister, Jennifer, for being the reason she plays basketball today.

 

Sure has been playing professional basketball for 14 years. She played basketball throughout high school and won a number of awards for the sport. While in college, Bird competed in a game against Notre Dame that has been dubbed ‘the best women’s basketball game ever played’.

 

She won gold medals at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics and is hoping to go on to do the same later this year in Rio. She plays for the Seattle Storm and represents her country at national events.

 

Speaking of why she started playing basketball, Bird told FIBA: “You just played because it was fun. You played because your friends rang your doorbell and said ‘hey, let’s go’ and you just went, you know. And from there, I started to join teams.” Bird is the most decorated athlete in FIBA history to play in world championships.

 

Diana Taurasi, author of her biography writes in Bird’s official website, “Even with all her remarkable accolades, Bird is still the kind, sweet, and thoughtful person we all know and love. She’s everybody’s favorite teammate, maintains a high appreciation for her fans and habitually gives back to the community from an authentic desire to make the world better. There’s something unmistakably genuine, honest, interesting and all-around fun about Bird.”

 

When asked by KidzWorld whether she had any tips for kids hoping to make a career out of playing basketball, Bird had the following words of wisdom to share: “If that’s your dream you have to really work hard for it, but always make sure you’re having fun. If it’s not fun, then you really have to re-think what you want to do. You always want to be able to smile at the end of the day and have fun out there. I guarantee that if you have fun while you’re playing, you’ll keep getting better.”

 

 

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3 Tips For Getting Into The Olympic Spirit

 

 

The Olympics will kick off in Rio on Friday August 5 2016 and continue for over two weeks. With the 2016 Olympic games approaching, it’s time to start thinking about how your team is going to get involved this year. While a trip to Rio may be off the cards, there are other ways you can celebrate these historic games.

 

International sporting competitions like the Olympics are a great way to encourage team bonding, sportsmanship and some healthy competition within your team. Your team will be inspired by the athletic performances on offer at the Olympics. The Olympics encourages people to watch sports, to talk about sports and generally become interested in sports. This can be great for team morale and provide a boost to your team members. So, to make the most of those two weeks of sporting fun, here are three tips for getting into the Olympic spirit:

 

  1. Have an opening night party

The opening night celebration at the Olympics is a pretty big deal. The hosting countries usually spend a great deal of money on an entertaining and vibrant evening performance to be enjoyed around the world. You’ll get to see some of your favorite athletes and cheer on the US as athletes are introduced to the cheering crowds. Invite your team mates to watch the celebrations!

 

  1. Hold a mini Olympics

You don’t need to leave the Olympics to the professionals, you can get your team involved too. Why not organize a mini Olympics event for your team to compete in? This could be a day long tournament with your neighboring teams, allowing the local community to get involved and support community sports. A general athletic competition solely for players from your team to get involved with could also be a valuable event. Selling tickets to the event and putting the money towards something new for a good cause could also serve as a fundraising event for your team.

 

  1. Celebrate your sport

Whatever your sport might be, you should take this opportunity to celebrate it with your team. Invite the team to join you watching your favorite sports professionals compete for the medals. Nothing builds comradery quite like cramming in the club house and watching the games around a television. It’s also a great learning opportunity, after all, these competitors are the best in their field, what can your team learn from them?

 

How will you be celebrating the Olympics this year?

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5 Great Ideas For Team Cooperation

 

Being a team is about much more than just shooting a few goals. To achieve perfection on the pitch, you’ll need to work hard to strengthen and maintain relationships off the pitch. After all, a team who plays together, stays together. If you’re looking for fun and engaging ways of encouraging team bonding, look no further. This list is all you need to build the perfect team:

  1. Community service

Few things leave a person feeling more content than chipping in, helping out and getting things done. If you want to teach the players to work hard, get along and have fun, community service is a great way to do so. There are lots of different things you can do to make a difference in your local area. From picking up litter in the local park to giving under 5s their first taste of life on the field, there are plenty of things to choose from. Ask the team to submit ideas and give them the chance to vote on which activity they do.

  1. Forest Fun

The great outdoors is the perfect place to get to know each other better. Being out in nature can have a positive effect on your attitude and helps you unwind and sleep better at night. From a weekend camping and hiking in the mountains to an afternoon of extreme den building in your local woods, there are plenty of different options for outdoor activities. What could be better than cooking dinner on a barbecue, toasting marshmallows around a campfire, and climbing trees?

  1. Helping Each Other

The best bonding activities don’t require big budgets, hours of planning or a laminated itinerary. In fact, sometimes the best teamwork building activities come from the heart. Look out for and seize opportunities to help each other out as a team. Is there anything that could be done to make life easier for anyone on the team? If so, take the opportunity to work together and achieve this. The team could pull together to help repair storm damage at a team member’s home or club together to organize a welcome home party for a player recently discharged from the hospital. Although you can’t plan these things far in advance, it helps to be aware of what’s going on in the team to see how you can all help.

How do you make sure your team respects, cares for and supports each other?

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team is Inspiring a Generation

USWNT_CelebratesSynopsis: The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team took home the Women’s World Cup in 2015, and inspired a whole generation of young female soccer players at the same time.

One of the biggest sporting events this year has been the Women’s World Cup, hosted in Canada. The United States team took home the title after missing out in the last three editions of this competition. While the U.S. team looked a little bit shaky early in the tournament, they progressed nicely as the cup continued and finished the job with a dominating 5-2 win over Japan.

Women’s sports don’t receive the spotlight nearly as often as men’s sports, so it is always worth noting when a large event such as the World Cup captures the attention of the country. Not only is it exciting to watch these women perform at the top of their game, but it is also inspiring to a whole new generation of aspiring soccer players. Thanks to the performance put forward by the U.S. Women’s National Team, countless young girls will now be dreaming of becoming the next Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan.

A Great Game for Kids

Soccer is an incredibly popular sport among young people, and it is easy to see why. Kids love it because there are few rules – especially at the youth level. They can run around, kick the ball with their friends, and have a great time. Since soccer is a ‘hands-off’ game, kids aren’t held back by hand-eye coordination that hasn’t quite developed yet. They can jump into playing soccer basically as soon as they are old enough to play with a ball, and it is a game that can be played with very little equipment.

Fitness is a Top Priority

As a game based on running, soccer places a high level of importance on overall physical fitness. In order to succeed on the soccer field, girls need to be physically active. Even if they only play soccer during their early school years, the lessons they learn on fitness will be valuable as they move later on in life.

Focus on Teamwork

Soccer is one of the most team-oriented games that kids can play. Teamwork is vital on the soccer field, as no one can defeat the other team individually. Not only is it a great lesson for kids to have to rely on the help of their teammates in order to succeed, but working together with others is a good step toward developing social skills.

Although not all young athletes are going to grow up to play on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, it doesn’t make the dream any less exciting. For young girls who fell in love with the game of soccer this summer, signing up for a team and making new friends will be a great experience. Whether they play for just a year or two, or go all the way to college and beyond, the passion they feel for this game can be traced into the thrilling performance of their heroes wearing the Red, White, and Blue.

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Olympic Swimmers Work Hard In and Out of the Water

 

Synopsis: Whether competing in the 50 meter Freestyle or the 10K Marathon, the preparation for Olympic swimmers is much more than just practicing in the water. Swimmers also must take part in strength and conditioning sessions, follow specific nutritional guidelines and be prepared mentally for competing against the world’s best in the sport.

 

Did You Say No Water?

Known to the elite swimmer as the dry land routine, this consists of conditioning sessions which are used by athletes of many sports. For instance, coaches will have their swimmers do plyometric box jumps to build a swimmer’s lower body. There are also specific exercises to improve a swimmer’s range of motion, and fighting the body’s fatigue factors. Weight training, running and drills which use a medicine ball are common among swimmers of all Olympic events.

The Black Line

It’s the thick black paint, located at the center of each pool lane, and it is something the Olympic swimmer calls the ‘life’ line. Practice after practice the swimmers (unless in the backstroke) will keep an eye on the black line as they complete lap after lap during typical three hour pool sessions. Not all this time is spent on a swimmer’s specialty event. A lot of it includes drills to work various aspects of the entire swimming performance. Drills will concentrate on a swimmer being able to increase hip movement, use of the core muscles and getting faster feet. Add a typical practice totaling six or more thousand kilometers (a few thousand less on ‘taper’ days) and it is easy to see why Olympic swimmers are among the fittest of any athletic participants.

Nutrition

Despite the much-ballyhooed ‘unhealthy’ diet of gold medalist Michael Phelps, swimming coaches and nutrition advisors steer Olympic swimmers to proper nutrition as part of overall training. Swimming at the elite level burns up a lot of calories, but it doesn’t mean the calorie replacement should include sugar-laden, fried or processed foods. Also, the jury is out regarding replacing ‘real’ food with specialized ‘sports foods.’ With real food, it is easy to figure the amount of protein, vitamins and nutrients are actually being absorbed by the swimmer’s body.

Swimmers Getting Older

U.S. Olympic swimmers have come a long way since a 13-year-old Donna de Varona was part of the women’s preliminary heats in the 4×100 relay. The average ages of men and women Olympic swimmers has increased over the past 60 years. A published report shows the average age of a male medalist in the 2012 Olympics was 26.2 years. This compares to the average age of 21.2 during the 1984 games. For U.S. women, the average ages of swimmers winning medals has not risen as drastically. In the ’84 Olympics, the average age was 18.4 years, compared to 21.4 years at the 2012 games. Better funding of Olympic athletes in the U.S., as well as more concentrated training efforts and better nutrition guidelines are believed to be valid reasons for athletes remaining active in Olympic swimming for a longer period of time.

Perhaps you have overlooked swimming for a while because it may not seem like a challenging sport, however at the beginning or Olympic level it is very physically demanding and competitive. If you haven’t done so, give it a chance you might be the next US Olympic swimmer …or diver.

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The First Day of Camp: What to Expect

 

If this is your child’s first time at camp, they may be feeling nervous. It can be scary when you don’t know what to expect and your child may feel better if you prepare them for what to expect on that all-important first day of camp.

 

Camp is one of those monumental milestones. Your child will make new friends, learn new skills, gain confidence, learn problem-solving skills and, most importantly of all, have fun. Camp is designed to be fun – we want your child to have the time of his life. For kids who haven’t attended camp before, the idea of camp can be a little daunting. Your child may feel nervous about not knowing anyone, worried about the activities offered or simply feel unsure of what to expect. You can help your child to settle in by preparing them in advance for that all-important first day of camp. Here’s an overview you can go over with your son or daughter.

 

Meet new people

There will be a lot of new faces on that first day of camp. Your child will be introduced to fellow campers as well as meeting all of the staff and volunteers. It’s a lot of people to say hi to, but don’t worry, we have plenty of ways of helping everybody out of their shells.

 

Learn names, make friends

There’s no better way to get acquainted with your fellow campers than by goofing around. We have plenty of fun ice-breakers up our sleeves to help the kids get to know each other, learn everybody’s names and relax a little. By the end of that first day, the camp full of strangers will already feel like a camp full of friends.

 

Exploring

We’ll be taking the campers on a guided tour of the camp facilities. We want to make sure your child knows where the toilets are as well as where to find all of the different activities. Campers will get a chance to explore their new surroundings and make themselves at home.

 

Learning the rules

Camp isn’t about rules and regulations, it’s about having fun. That said, to make sure people can have fun safely, we need to make sure everybody knows the ground rules. We’ll be explaining the rules to all of the campers on the first day. And once that’s done, it’s time to start having fun!

 

Buddying up

Your child will have a staff member to go to with any problems and these will be assigned on the first day. That means your child will have a point of contact for any issues that may arise. Of course, we hope there aren’t any, but if there are, we want you to know your child has somebody to talk to. Your child will be introduced to their assigned staff member on the first day and they’ll spend a little time getting to know each other ready for the summer ahead.

 

Don’t forget, letting your child know what to expect in advance could help your child relax and look forward to camp. If you have any questions, just ask!

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5 Healthy Breakfasts to Kick Start Your Kid’s Day

 

Your kid has a lot to do today. There are trees to climb, problems to solve and games to be played. To make sure they start off on the right foot, give them a healthy breakfast to energize them for the day ahead.

 

Whether your kid is heading off to day of learning at school or a day of running riot at summer camp, they’ll need a decent breakfast to make sure they have the energy they need. It’s hard work being a kid and having the right fuel in your belly can make all the difference. Here are five healthy breakfasts for your child to enjoy this week:

 

  1. Oh-what-a-beautiful-morning oatmeal

Oatmeal is full of energy and will help keep your child feeling satisfied long into the day, however it isn’t super heavy so they won’t feel too full to move either. If your child has a sweet tooth, try adding coconut oil for a sugar-free way of sweetening up this breakfast option. You could also add cinnamon for some extra flavor. Experiment with different flavors and toppings to spice up this breakfast option.

 

  1. Peanut butter towers

Peanut butter is a great energizing food. It’s high on fat which is great for the brain, and contains lots of essential vitamins. Peanut butter towers combine the health benefits of peanut butter with the tantalizing sweetness of fruit. Let your kid choose which fruit they wants to use (banana or apple both work great), cut the fruit into slices and then layer up with peanut butter until you have (yep, you guessed it)… a tower!

 

  1. Sun’s-coming-up smoothie

A smoothie is a great way to give your child a boost of vitamins, minerals and energy at the start of the day. It’s also something that can be easily adapted each day so your kid will never say “mom, I don’t want a strawberry smoothie again”. Experiment with different flavors and ingredients until you perfect your recipes, and don’t be disheartened if it takes you a few tries to get it right. Add a small handful of mixed seeds and nuts for that extra vitamin boost your child will need throughout the day. Depending on the flavor, your smoothie will have a different color; spinach smoothies are green, berry smoothies are purple and mango smoothies yellow… they make for very fun drinks!

 

  1. Quite-the-morning quinoa fruit salad

A fruit salad is bound to be a hit with the kids. It’s naturally sweet, bursting with flavor and can be tweaked to fit their tastes. The only downside to a fruit salad is that it doesn’t leave you with a full tummy, in fact, your kids might feel hungry again not long after eating this. By adding some cooked quinoa to the fruit salad, you can ensure your child is getting that extra little bit of sustenance to keep them going until lunch. Simply stir in some cooked quinoa to your fruit salad and voila – enjoy!

 

  1. Breakfast burrito

The breakfast burrito is delicious, great to eat on-the-go and way better than toast. Toast is just food on top of bread, a breakfast burrito is food in a tortilla. See the difference? You can fill the burrito up with whatever you like. Great fillers include mashed avocado (full of energy and good fats), black beans (these bad boys will help your child feel full for longer) and salsa (it doesn’t sound like a breakfast food, but trust us).

 

These are only a few options for a nutritious breakfast that will be a total hit with your young athletes. Its always a good idea to involve them in the process of cooking like putting fruit in the blender or wrapping up the burrito, it makes it more fun for them and easier for you.

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Sports, Players and Giving Back through Community Service

 

We all know the typical fundraiser routine. Coach or parent-in-charge hands out forms to buy candy bars, wrapping paper, candles, frozen cookie dough or subs. The athletes’ parents quickly hit up everyone on their email list for donations. The money goes to a good cause – the kids themselves! Sports leagues put it back into the community to help buy uniforms, equipment and support training clinics. But, what about donating it to someone else? Supporting local (or even national) organizations by fundraising and service projects gives the kids a chance to learn about giving and teaches them that teamwork happens both on and off the field.

Pro sports teams do charity fundraising and community service in spades. Use the professionals as role models and start your own team donation project. How?

Piggyback on the pros. If you’re not sure where to begin, pick a charity organization that belongs to a pro athlete who plays in the same sport as your team. Peyton Manning’s Peyback Foundation serves disadvantaged children, the Mia Hamm Foundation raises awareness about bone marrow donation, the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism helps children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and that’s only a few of the famous celebrity sports figure charities out there.

Stage a special tournament. Celebrity sports stars do, and so can your players! After choosing charity, set up a fun-filled game that takes the kids and the families above and beyond regular season play. Invite the entire community, donating admission/ticket funds to the charity, you can also set up a concession stand to get even more donations. Make the event truly stand out with a silly theme (such as Halloween costume basketball) or try an adults vs. kids game.

Work for it. Take a break from lifting in the weight room and do some heavy lifting for a good cause! Ask your team to volunteer to help clean up at a local nursing home or the community park or find some other work-related service opportunity that’s age-appropriate. Wear team shirts or your team’s colors. Don’t forget to ask the families to help out too. The more hands to help the better. Cleaning up at home is never fun, but if you’re doing it with your friends and for a good cause you will discover its actually a good time.

Teach a new team. If you have older kids on your team, have them volunteer in an underprivileged area. Not all kids have the same opportunities when it comes to playing sports. Some communities might not have leagues, and if they do not every child can afford to play. Set up a free-of-charge clinic in partnership with a community center, rec center or school that serves less fortunate families. Invite the community out for a day of sporting play!

Send a message. Sometimes all a charity needs is a little word of mouth – or advertising. After choosing a cause, design special team shirts that announces it. Wear the team shirts during a major game and add signs to the field. Add a website or email address to the shirts/signs for taking donations. The message shirt is a nice change pace when it comes to branded, logo or advertising-based t’s.

Not all fundraising efforts have to go directly to the team. Even though your players need funds to keep their play-time alive, they can also learn valuable lessons by giving to others. Along with these ideas, you can take traditional money-making efforts (such as selling team merchandise or having a raffle) and turn them into charity work. The important part is to get the team in on the action, motivating them to give back to the community.