Volleyball Is A Rapidly Growing Women’s Sport – And A Great Option For Young Girls

Synopsis: Volleyball is quickly gaining in popularity with girls across the country, and thanks to the combination of excitement and discipline that it offers, it could continue to grow for years to come.

 

Over the years, volleyball has not been a sport that has received the same level of attention from girls as options like soccer, tennis, basketball, or softball. However, that is all changing quickly. Volleyball is now one of the most popular sports for girls to participate in, and college volleyball is rapidly growing as well.

When you take a closer look at the game of volleyball, it is easy to see why so many young girls want to participate. It is an exciting game that requires athleticism, eye-hand coordination, teamwork, and plenty of practice. If a girl has grown up playing other sports, the skills learned in those other games will likely translate nicely to the volleyball court. Balance, quickness, agility, and flexibility are all rewarded when trying to get the ball back to the other side of the net.

Not Just for Tall Kids

Many people think of volleyball as a game that is only for tall people, but that is a mistake. Yes, height can be an advantage when playing volleyball, but not every player on the floor needs to have height on their side. There are different positions in volleyball just like in basketball, so there is room in the game for players of all different heights. As long as a young girl has a passion for the game and a willingness to work hard and learn new skills, they will have no trouble fitting in with a volleyball team.

Learning Teamwork Skills

If you are the parent of a young girl who is interested in volleyball, you will love the teamwork skills that are developed in this game. Volleyball is all about passing with teammates, communicating while the ball is in the air, and sticking together as a group during tough matches. There are certainly individual skills that are developed while participating in volleyball, but it is really the team component of the game that holds so much value for young people.

It’s Just Plain Fun!

At the end of the day, sports should be fun for kids. Girls love playing volleyball because they can cheer for their friends, enjoy competition in a fast paced game, and hit shots that they will remember for years to come. Not all girls will go on to earn college scholarships for their volleyball skill, but they can still have great times and create lasting friendships while playing this exciting sport.

There is room on the volleyball court for girls of all different backgrounds and skill levels. Some girls will want to strive for the opportunity play in college, while others will only choose to play for a year or two. No matter what your daughter has in mind for her own volleyball career, this is a sport that she will likely look back on with fond memories.

Why Kids Quit Sports and What Parents Can Do About It

Your all-star has been playing little league for years. He’s gleefully gone off to practices and played like a champ season after season. Suddenly he’s saying, “No way” when it comes to sports play. What happened? The entire family has spent time (and money) on your child’s sport, and now it seems like he’s just giving up. The question, “Why did my child quit?” doesn’t have one easy answer. Likewise, there isn’t just one single way to get kids back into the swing of sports.513

The Win at Any Cost Mentality

The more that a child feels pushed to compete, the less he wants to play. If you had someone telling you to, “Win, win, win!” would you want to go out onto the field? Probably not. Overemphasizing winning puts unnecessary pressure on a child and takes the fun out of the game. Unless your child’s on a serious track to the Olympics (and very few are) there is no need to focus solely on getting the win. This doesn’t only apply to parents — often coaches and even other children on the team are at fault. Friendly competition and a ‘try your best’ approach are the way to go.

How can you prevent your child from losing interest in the game they love? Dial back the pressure. Help your child focus on enjoying the sport, learning and making the best of his time on the field. If the coach is the one who is pushing the win, have a talk about the possibility of easing up. Not every coach will agree with you but you might bring up good points and the coach may consider modifying his techniques.

Other Activities

Just because your child begged to play basketball when he was 7-years-old doesn’t mean that he has found his one and only extracurricular activity. As children grow and develop they begin exploring other options. A child who joyously hit the soccer field in first grade may discover that art is his true passion later on.

What can you do about it? Not much. Experimenting with different activities is part of growing up. You should encourage your child to investigate his options, and not limit him. If he has a real talent or is meant to play the sport, he’ll eventually come back to it.

Lack of Support

In some cases there is a real lack of support when it comes to sports and performance. A coach may ignore your child’s efforts, you might not be able to leave work early enough to show up to all of his games or he may never hear, “Good job” when he really needs to. A child may also perceive a lack of support when he or she misses or mistakes compliments and praise or compares himself to another child who is getting an overdose of support. When a child doesn’t feel supported, he’s more likely to give up than one who has a ‘cheerleader’ in his corner.

What can you do about it? Be the cheerleader, be present and be the one giving the praise.

School Stress

Moving up through the grades also means an upswing in the amount of schoolwork required. Spending a few hours a week training or practicing eats into study time. If your child is struggling in school, he may worry that sports take up too much time.

What can you do about it? Teach your child how to create balance in his life. Create a workable schedule that allows him to study and practice without stress.

Friends

A new set of friends may put new pressures on your child. Last week he was totally into soccer, and this week he’s telling you, “Mom, it just isn’t cool.” These don’t sound like his words, and you’re pretty sure that his new best bud is the one behind the sudden sports ditch.

What can you do about it? Help your child be his own person. Talk about peer pressure and teach him how to stand up for himself. Let him know that a real friend won’t judge him or make him feel badly for doing something different.

When all else fails, don’t push. Children’s sports shouldn’t be tasks, duties or obligations. They should be fun-filled learning experiences that build character and bring out the best in your child!

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

Synopsis: 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.

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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 last three editions of this competition. While the U.S. team looked a little bit shaky early in the tournament, they progressed nicely as cup continued and finished the job with a dominating 5-2 win over Japan.

Women’s sports don’t take 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 eye-hand coordination that hasn’t quite developed just 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 in the soccer field, girls need to be physically active and overall fit. Even if they only play soccer for their early school years, the lessons they learn regarding fitness will be valuable as they move on into adult life.

  • Focus on Teamwork

Soccer is one of the most team-oriented games that kids can play. Working together is vital on the soccer field, as no one can defeat the other team all by themselves. 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, but that 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 that they feel for this game can be traced to the thrilling performance of their heroes wearing the Red, White, and Blue.

The Importance of Having an Emergency Action Plan

team-sports-and-child-devSynopsis: In the middle of practice the weather changes suddenly as the clouds darken and the winds kick up, bringing in a pop-up thunderstorm. As most of the parents have dropped off their kids for practice, there are not enough vehicles available to seek shelter. Coaches need to be prepared to handle the unexpected; be it a change in the weather, a freak injury to a player, or other surprise scenarios.

Coaches signing on to lead an athletic team generally know what is required to prepare a team to compete. Just as they may have to bone-up on some sport-specific fundamentals or seek for pointers on player treatment and handling parental issues, they should also research methods of developing a coach’s Emergency Action Plan.

Medical Emergency

Creating an emergency medical form to be filled out by parents, and to be present with the coach during all practices and games, is a ‘must do’ for anyone coaching youth athletes. The form should include:

  • The address of the child/parents
  • Home and mobile phone numbers of the parents (and at least one other relative/contact)
  • A list of any prescription medications the child is taking
  • A list of known allergies (food, bee sting, medications, e.g.)
  • A list of medical conditions (asthma, e.g.)
  • A section that permits the coach to transport (by car or official emergency vehicle) to the nearest hospital.

If there is more than one hospital locally, include a section, which allows a parent to list the preferred hospital (for insurance purposes, e.g.). Coaches should make copies of each form, keeping the original at home and placing the copies in a container to carry with them.

Medical Kit

Bumps, scrapes and contusions are a part of most athletic events. Coaches can prepare a medical kit (purchasing a trainer’s kit or a fishing tackle box, e.g.). Stock the kit with the basics: anti-bacterial ointment, adhesive bandages, elastic tape, elastic bandages, scissors, eye wash, hydrogen peroxide, petroleum jelly, non-stick gauze pads, gauze and medical gloves.

Players with asthma should have their inhalers readily available. Coaches need to be aware of the medical instructions for each player’s inhaler use and closely monitor players are using inhalers in accordance with the prescription directions.

Weather-Related/Unexpected Emergencies

Coaches need to be familiar with the surroundings of practice and game facilities. If the sport is indoors, it is a good idea to know the building evacuation routes available. If possible, have a diagram of the routes available (place it in the container with the emergency medical forms). If the team is a visitor, the coach needs to ask the home team coach about emergency exits, etc. If the sport is outdoors, develop a plan for evacuating the field when rain and thunderstorms occur.

Note: Players should be taken to the safest area possible at the first sign of lightning or the first audible thunder clap. There are also weather apps available for cell phones which provide lightning detection.

All coaches and parents should be aware of the evacuation plan. Take ten minutes of practice time to discuss these plans with everyone. It is a small price to pay for the safety of everyone.

 

 

Proper Nutrition for the Youth Athlete

Synopsis: Quitting time for Mom and Dad is five o’clock. Bobby’s soccer game is at six, while Susie’s volleyball game is two miles away from the soccer field and starts just 15-minutes later. This leaves little time for grabbing a healthy pregame meal. With a bit of preparation, an unfortunate trip to the fast food drive-through can be avoided.

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The pre-game meal for youth athletes does not have to be complicated. Just as parents pack a school lunch for kids, they should also pack a pregame meal which can be eaten an hour before game time or practice. A peanut butter sandwich, fruit (like an apple, orange or grapes), yogurt and carrot sticks can supply the energy needed for a youngster to participate in a sports activity. If a child is old enough to safely operate a microwave, prepare a serving of pasta or rice to be reheated. It is a solid choice as a pregame meal and it has carbohydrate intake to supply energy. It is best to caution on the ‘light’ side when it comes to pregame foods. If there is not enough time for an actual meal, let the young athlete munch on a granola bar, trail mix or pretzels.

The best drink solution when faced with the short time allotted between a meal and game activity is a non-carbonated sports drink. Many nutritional programs for professional athletes involve a game day regimen of pre-hydration via such drinks. Stay away from the sugary, carbonated beverages. Water is also a great option.

Make sure the meal the night before an athletic event is also healthy and balanced. A meal consisting of a combination of carbohydrates, a little protein and fruit can provide the stored energy required for athletic competition. Poultry, fish, beans and other legumes can supply the protein which will help muscle building and quicker recovery time for the athlete. Breads, milk and vegetables provide the carbohydrates. A healthy breakfast adds fuel as well. Cereals, milk and fruit contribute much needed nutrients.

Don’t forget the postgame nutrition. A lot of calories are burned off when a kid plays an hour or more of soccer, football or basketball. It has been determined chocolate milk to be an excellent choice after an athletic event. Some say it is better than a sports drink for replacing nutrients lost from sweat. Chocolate milk is a good source of potassium, sodium and electrolytes. The fact it takes milk longer to leave the stomach means more of the nutrients are absorbed by the body. Chocolate milk is also a great source for protein and carbohydrates which assist in muscle recovery and muscle building.

Of course, the best postgame meal is one where the entire family is involved. Take advantage of winding down with everyone involved, whether it is over one of Dad’s grilled steaks or surrounding a pizza picked up on the way home.

Golf is Only for Adults – Or Is It?

DSC_0524Synopsis: The golf course is often considered a playground for adults, but kids certainly have their place to participate in this challenging and rewarding sport.

Golf has a well-earned reputation as one of the hardest sports in the world. While the physical demands are not very intimidating, the skill required to play at a high level is immense. Many people spend their whole lives playing this great game without ever mastering the finer points of the golf swing or the putting stroke. Because of its difficulty, golf has been long thought of as a game best-suited for adults. While it is a great choice for many adults, there is more than enough room on the golf course for kids as well.

Following are a few reasons to strongly consider starting your kids out on the links at an early age.

It’s a Friendly Game

Sportsmanship is a difficult thing to teach kids, but it is a natural part of the game of golf. While you might be competing against the person you are playing with, you are also rooting for them. Etiquette is an important facet of golf, and it is something that can go a long way toward the development of a young person. Even if they don’t go on to fall in love with the game like so many do, the lessons of sportsmanship and etiquette will certainly stay with them.

Facing a Challenge

Giving your child the task of learning how to play this difficult game is something that can help them develop learning skills which will be used later in life. The ability to take instruction from a golf teacher and put it into use is not much different from taking any other kind of instruction whether in school in or in the workplace. The ability to adapt and grow is important in life, and those are lessons regularly found on the driving range and the putting green.

Independence

Perhaps one of the best things about placing young people in golf is the independent attitude that they will need to develop. There are no teammates to blame when a golf shot goes wrong, so your child will need to learn to take ownership of their mistakes and simply work hard to do better next time. These can be tough lessons, but they are also very valuable.

The Game of a Lifetime

Many people who pick up the game of golf when they are young never give it up. Golf is a game that your child can grow into, and they can continue to play it long into their adult lives. Whereas games like football and baseball tend to be over when the school years are finished, golf is something that they will be able to take with them and enjoy for as long as they wish.

Make no mistake – golf is a tough game, whether you are a kid or an adult. However, most kids love the challenge that golf presents, and it is a game that will allow them to spend plenty of time with their friends. Consider enrolling your child in a golf camp or program to see just how much they can learn from this great game.

 

Communicating with the Coach

232323232fp83232>uqcshlukaxroqdfv7944=ot>2477=875=394=XROQDF>266-533924252ot1lsiThe coach isn’t just some person who stands in front of the kids barking orders. Children’s sports coaches are multi-talented leaders who are there to help their team succeed, teach the rules of the game, impart good sportsmanship and be supportive. That said, coaches aren’t perfect – and neither are you or your child. There will be times when you have to bring up a touchy subject or strike up a not-so-pleasant conversation. Knowing how to effectively communicate with the coach is a must-do for every parent of a young athlete.

Talk Off of the Field

You don’t appreciate the way that the coach just yelled at your child when he sat back and didn’t go after the soccer ball. Should you march up to him and speak your mind? Absolutely not. Unless something is happening that puts your child’s (or another child’s) safety in jeopardy, wait until the game is over. Waiting does two things: 1. It gives you time to calm down and think about what just happened. You can prepare what you are going to say and say it without blowing up., and 2. It doesn’t make you seem like ‘that’ parent. You know, the parent who flies off the handle and cusses out the coach in front of the team. Everyone, including your child, is watching you. Act as a role model, keep calm and wait for the right time to talk.

Set a Goal

Whether the problem is the coach’s or your child’s behavior, you need to have a clear goal in mind before starting a conversation. Obviously, coming up with a solution is the overriding objective for any communication with the coach. With that in mind, break the problem down into specific issues. For example, your child whines every time that he has to go to practice. The goals for your conversation with the coach might be to find out if there is a problem with your child and his teammates or get ideas on how to handle the whining.

Listen

What does your child’s coach have that you don’t? An insider’s opinion. The coach may see and know things about your child’s sports play that you don’t. Before jumping to point out flaws or correct coaching behavior, let the coach talk. For example, you’re not thrilled with the lack of playing time that your child is getting. You don’t understand why the coach isn’t putting your child on the field and you’re ready to do something about it. Step back and start by asking what’s going on. It’s possible that your child asked to sit out or that there’s a perfectly acceptable reason.

Work as a Team

Both you and the coach have one common goal – your child’s success. You’re a team, and need to act like one. Remind yourself (and the coach, if needed) that your child’s needs come first. Even if you don’t agree with everything the coach says, you need to keep an open mind.

Communicating with the coach is a fact of life when you’ve got a child who plays a sport. Initiating a conversation in an appropriate way and knowing what to say during your discussion can save time, face and your child’s team-time fun.

 

7 Steps You Can Take To Reduce Your Child’s Risk Of Injury

All parents worry about their children getting injured. As the parent of a sporty kid, you might find yourself worrying about this more than most. You’ll be pleased to hear there are simple steps you can take to reduce your child’s risk of injury on the field.

One of the hardest parts of being a parent is seeing your child get hurt. Even just a graze on the knee can be heartbreaking to witness, and most parents would swap places with their child in a heartbeat to protect them from pain.

All children suffer the odd injury, and this risk is increased if your child spends a lot of time doing physical activity. That doesn’t mean you have to simply accept that accidents will happen? Well, there are things you can do to try and keep your child safe from injury. Here are seven steps you can take to reduce your child’s risk of injury on the pitch:

#1: Trust the Coach

This is probably one of the most important steps you can take to keep your child safe. The coach will be responsible for your child’s welfare during games and practices, so make sure you can trust the person coaching your child’s team. The coach should be properly trained in best practices, as well as being first aid trained.

#2: Check The Equipment

Don’t just join the team closest to your house; make sure it is a reputable one. If you’re happy with the coach’s commitment to safety, next it’s time to check the equipment. Does it look safe? Is it regularly monitored for wear and tear? Is the pitch in good condition? These are all important questions to ask yourself before selecting a team for your child to join.

#3: Use The Right Kit

Hand-me-downs might save you money, but they could be putting your child in danger. When it comes to footwear and protective gear, your child needs to have gear that fits properly. A badly fitted helmet will not provide the same level of protection as one that is the right size for your child.

#4: Use Sunscreen

Sunburns may not sound like a sports injury, but many children play sports outside without wearing sunscreen. Sunburns can leave your child in pain and cause a lot of discomfort. If your child constantly plays without applying sunscreen he or she will also increase their risk of more serious skin conditions later on. Sunscreen is an important part of protecting your child during outdoor sports.

#5: Warm Up and Cool Down

Warming up before a game, and taking the time to cool down afterwards, can protect your child’s muscles from injury. Make sure warming up and cooling down is a part of your child’s regular sports routine. Speak to the coach to make sure that they are warming up safely, and that the team cools down together after each session.

#6: Stay Hydrated

We all need to drink extra water when we exercise. One hour of exercise means you need to drink an extra six-ounce glass of water. If you don’t have water at hand, it’s all too easy to forget this. Dehydration is serious and could leave your child feeling unwell, especially in warmer weather. Make sure you send your child with a bottle of water to each game, so she can have it nearby when she gets thirsty.

#7: Rest

Rest is very important for young athletes. Make sure your child gets enough time each day to wind down and rest. If he’s rushing from one activity to another all day long, he’s more likely to feel tired while playing and is more likely to make a mistake that can result in an injury. If he does sustain an injury, make sure he rests until he is fully recovered. Rushing recovery can backfire, leading to an even longer recovery time when a secondary injury is incurred.

 

Five Benefits of Tennis for Young Athletes

IMG_3601Synopsis: Enrolling young children in tennis will not only expose them to a great sport now, but could also could lead to a lifelong passion for this popular game.

While in the United States tennis might not be as popular as sports like baseball or football, it remains a great option for young athletes. As a parent trying to decide which sports will benefit your children the most, be sure to consider tennis as an option. Following are five benefits of choosing tennis as one of your child’s sports.

#1 – Great Exercise

There is no doubt that tennis is great exercise. Rather than the long, sustained running that is seen in sports like soccer or track, tennis players run quickly in short bursts throughout a match. At the end of the day, however, they have worked as hard (or harder) than players in any other sport. The conditioning gained through tennis can apply to a number of other sports, as tennis players develop lateral quickness, change of direction abilities, and more. A young person who goes through a season of tennis practice and matches will certainly be in excellent physical condition when they are finished.

#2 – Learning Skills

One of the best things about enrolling your children in sports is giving them the opportunity to learn specific skills. In the short-term, they learn how to play the sport. In the long-term, they develop the ability to learn how to complete a task, which is something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. There are a number of skills taught to young people on the tennis court, including footwork, forehand, backhand, serve, volley, and more.

#3 – Solo Endeavor

When talking about singles tennis, the player is all alone on the court against their opponent. For a child, this can be difficult at first, but it helps to develop a self-reliance that can be valuable later in life. There is nowhere to hide on a tennis court, so the player is required to step up to the challenge and perform their best.

#4 – Path to College

While a college scholarship should never be the main motivation for participating in junior athletics, the path to such a reward for tennis players is less-crowded than it is in other sports. Even if a scholarship isn’t attained, the opportunity to continue playing tennis on the small college level exists for many high school team members.

#5 – Lifelong Sport

Much like golf, tennis is a sport that can be continued on into adulthood. Tennis courts are available in many public places, and it is an activity that can often be enjoyed for free. Remaining active in tennis later on in life is a great way to stay in shape, enjoy some friendly competition, and spend time outdoors. Plenty of young tennis players will fall in love with the game and continue to play it for decades to come.

Keeping Sports Kid-Friendly

ry=400Unless your young child is on their way to the Olympics, sports should be more about fun and learning than the serious stuff! You’ve seen the parents on the sideline of the soccer field screaming “Go! Go! Go! Get that ball. Get that other kid out of the way!” And, that’s at a preschool game. Then there are the high-profile cases that the media picks up on (like the hockey dad who shattered the glass barrier). Instead of shouting, screaming and throwing tantrums to get your child at the top of their game, try the opposite. Keeping sports kid-friendly is a must-do when introducing athletics to young children. How can you help to keep the fun up and nix the training tirades?

Play Up Interests

Just because you’ve always imagined yourself as a pro basketball player, doesn’t mean that your child has to follow your footsteps. While giving your child options and exposing them to different types of sports is key, pushing them to play when they have absolutely no interest is a whole other issue. Imagine how you would feel if someone forced you to do something that you can’t stand. Would you think that the activity was fun or dread doing it? Your child feels the same way when you pick all their activities for them. Instead, try taking their opinion and interests into consideration.

Have Realistic Expectations

Not every child is meant to be a super-star athlete. While some kids excel at sports, others are not born-athletes. If your child isn’t the number one player, never scores a goal, often strikes out or doesn’t make the all-star team, don’t worry. This doesn’t mean that they have to quit. Set goals or expectations that don’t always involve winning or being in the front of the pack. For example, instead of expecting your 8-year-old to score four out of the five winning soccer goals, have more realistic goals such as try as hard as they can, stay active, support their team and show good sportsmanship.

Think About Age

Remember, we’re talking about ‘children’s sports’, and not pro football training. This is the time for your child to build a true love for the game, and not feel like he has to win, win, win. Take your child’s age and developmental level into consideration. Ask yourself if the sport, coaching and training/practices are appropriate for your child’s age. If any part of it is well out of your child’s league, it may be time to move on and try another activity.

Above all, keep a positive attitude and praise your child. Being the parent who is jumping onto the field, yelling at the coach or is barking orders is never fun – not for you and certainly not for your child.

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