5 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer With Your Child’s Sports Team

DSC00364It’s almost too easy to come up with excuses as to why you can’t volunteer to help out with your child’s team. Just imagine if you did though. If you gave up some spare time to help out, how might that feel?

Time isn’t something that many parents spare. Between working, caring for the children and keeping a home, you’re probably exhausted enough as it is. Add to that the social commitments, some down time and spending time with your extended family, and you’re probably wishing there were more hours in the day.

It’s easy to come up with excuses as to why you can’t be the one to help out with your child’s sports teams. After all, you’re busy, tired and surely another parent must have more free time than you. But will you be missing out if you pass up on this opportunity to really get involved in your child’s favorite pastime?

Here are five reasons why you should volunteer with your child’s sports team:

#1: They Need You

There isn’t much money in youth sports, not at the school level anyway. Your child’s team is probably struggling to get by on a limited budget. Yes, you could cut them a check, but your time is worth much more to them. They want parents who are involved, engaged and supportive. Although you may not know, you have some skills that could benefit the team. Whether you’re a wiz at writing press releases, a an expert fundraiser, or own a van that could be used to transport equipment, the team needs you.

#2: Extra Bonding Time

Going to watch the games is great, and you’re already an amazing parent. But getting involved in the team will give you that extra little bit of bonding time with your kid. It may also give you more of an insight into what your child is like outside of home. You may see him on the pitch every week, but volunteering will allow you into the backstage area too, and that’s a very different field.

#3: It’s Supportive

Telling your kids you support them is great, but showing them is even better. What better way to support your child’s team than by being a part of it? Your child will know just how much you support them when you start volunteering your spare time to help them out.

#4: Community Spirit

One small way you can improve the world is by making positive changes in your local community. By helping out your child’s team, you are getting involved in your local community and offering the skills and time they need to offer a better service. By volunteering, you could help the team reach out to more children, improve their game and offer the children better opportunities.

#5: That Warm, Fuzzy Feeling

You know what makes you feel good about yourself? Doing something worthwhile. Giving up one night in front of the television each week in favor of some voluntary work is pretty much guaranteed to leave you feeling awesome. By contributing your time, you will be making a difference in the lives of people in your local community and your own family. Go on, get stuck in and enjoy that warm, fuzzy feeling after doing something good.

Fighting Childhood Obesity Through Sports

if-your-child-is-resistingIn the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 12 million children ages 2 through 19 years are considered obese. If you’re staring at that statistic and saying, “Wow! That seems like a lot,” – it is. Although the number of obese preschoolers (ages 2 through 5 years) has significantly decreased in the past few years, the rates for other age groups haven’t seen the same decline. The CDC notes that during 2011-2012, 8.4 percent of children ages 2- through 5-years were obese. In comparison, more than 17 percent of kids between the ages of 6 and 11 were obese. That number inches up to 20.5 percent for the 12- through 19-year teen age grouping.

With millions of obese children in America, what can be done to stop this serious health problem? There isn’t one easy approach. Every child is different, making it challenging to give a definitive answer. That said, a combination of nutritious eating and activity can lead to a healthier lifestyle for kids of all ages. How do sports fit in to the mix? Athletics provide children with the chance to break a sedentary cycle, get away from the TV/computer/iPad/iPod/other screen and get active.

Given that sports help fight childhood obesity, it would seem obvious that anyone who works with kids would promote athletic activities. Or is it? According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, only six states require physical education for students in kindergarten through grade 12. With a growing trend towards academics over athletics, if you think your child is getting his fill of sports at school, you’re probably wrong. Where does that leave you and your child when it comes to exercise and activity? You have to rely on after-school, extra-curricular or community-based sports offer kids the chance to get up, get active and fight the causes of obesity.

Using sports as a way to combat weight gain and build a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean that your child needs to be a top-tier competitor. The key in fighting obesity is to get your child active, and not push him to ‘win, win, win’. Emphasizing winning and competition over the actual physical activity may put your child off and make him shy away from physical fitness even more, especially if he is shy or not exactly a natural athlete. Instead of pushing him to win, you should encourage sports as a fun activity. The idea here is making sure that your child is active. If he’s not enjoying himself, he won’t have an incentive to get up and move.

What can you do to use sports as an obesity-fighting activity?

  • Make sure that your child chooses athletics that require actual activity. Standing around on the sidelines cheering on his team doesn’t count towards his daily activity requirement. Picks such as swimming, track, soccer or gymnastics are examples of active sports.
  • Let your child choose. Forcing him into football when he would rather wrestle isn’t going to help your child enjoy what he’s doing. Give him plenty of options and don’t settle on just one at a young age. There’s nothing wrong with swapping soccer for volleyball when the season’s over.
  • Don’t let your child quit. Switching one sport for another after the season’s done isn’t the same as giving up entirely. It’s normal to feel frustrated when a sport is new. Be a cheerleader, and praise your child’s efforts.
  • Work out at home. If your child is anxious that he won’t be able to keep up with the other kids, start slowly at home (this counts as exercise too). Race around the backyard or organize a soccer game with his siblings.

Keep in mind, the focus needs to be on getting and keeping your child healthy. If he’s already obese or has a related medical condition, always consult a doctor before starting any sports program. Let the coach know what your child’s goals are and if there are any special medical considerations to take.

What’s Too Much When it Comes to Scheduling Sports?

640Monday is soccer practice, Tuesday is swim team, Wednesday and Thursday are both gymnastics days and Friday is karate. Then comes the weekend. There’s a soccer game on Saturday at 8 a.m., followed by a swim meet start-time and a belt promotion test for karate both at noon. Your child has to miss his belt promotion because it conflicts with the out-of-your-area aqua club event. Whew! Sounds tiring, right? Four different sports at one time – is this too much? Knowing how much is too much when it comes to your child’s athletic activities is key to maintaining balance. It also allows for young athletes to have fun practicing a sport, instead of having crammed schedules and no free time .

The Overscheduling Dilemma

The thought of your child not having an after-school activity makes you shiver. If he’s not at baseball, basketball or skating, he’s probably going to be sitting in front of the TV or laptop zoning out. While this is a popular picture of the unstructured child, it isn’t necessarily true. Kids need some time that isn’t scheduled, warns the American Academy of Pediatrics. This means that packing every second of your child’s out-of-school time with sports, sports and more sports can be very overwhelming and isn’t always healthy.

Structured vs. Unstructured Activities

You may not want to overwhelm your child with extracurricular activities but you also fear excess free time. That’s why it’s important to find a balance. Structured activities, such as soccer practice or ice skating lessons do much more than just take up time, they provide a opportunity to improve motor skills, stay healthy, learn and have social interactions with peers. That said, unstructured activities don’t equal laziness or the lack of learning. Unstructured activities allow your child to think creatively and learn to know him or herself. For example, instead of having a coach coax your child into drills, they can create their own outdoor movement play game and bring on their own brand of motivation!

The Magic Number

The truth is – there is no magic number of sports activities that your child should do. Whether you’ve scheduled too much, too little or the ‘just right’ amount of athletics depends on several factors. These include:

  • Younger children (such as preschoolers and kids in elementary school) may not have the ability to focus on several different sports at one time. Throwing soccer, t-ball, gymnastics, ice-skating, basketball and tennis at a young child all at once may confuse them. Let your young child focus on one sport per season. Older kids and teens may also want to engage in fewer sports activities. This is because they need to spend more time to seriously focus on the area in which they excel.
  • You want to expose your children to all of the possibilities that the sports’ world has to offer. But, does that mean they have to try absolutely everything? Expose your children to a variety of activities – within reason. If your child truly doesn’t want to play a sport, seems distressed or refuses to go to practice, don’t push too much. There’s no medal for playing each and every sport that your community leagues offer. Instead, pay attention to the activity for which he express the most interest and make it a priority.
  • Older kids need more time for school work. If your child has two hours of homework each night, a five-day per week sporting schedule may create a situation in which their grades suffer. Keeping a balance between curricular and extracurricular activities is important in achieving success for student athletes.

Remember, balance is a must-have factor. Your child shouldn’t feel like he or she is on a never-ending merry go-round of sports activities, but also shouldn’t feel like he or she has absolutely nothing to do. Avoid overscheduling and take your children’s ages and interests into consideration before deciding how many sports they should play. In the end, sports should be exciting, engaging and educational for children. Being in balance allows this to happen without pushing your child or making athletic activities feel like chores.

How To Make Fitness A Family Priority

selfieSynopsis: Family time is precious these days, and that means you need to get as much out of it as possible. You might think you don’t have much time for fitness, but all you need to do is incorporate fitness into family time. It’s not only fun, but it will also benefit every member of the family.

If you want your kids to be sports-loving fitness fanatics, you need to model that behavior for them. It’s no good if you’re simply cheering them on from the sofa, you need to live a healthy life if you want them to, as well. It can be tough changing old habits, but if you want your kids to develop a lifelong love for good health, then it’s important you change your ways too. Here are a few tips to help you make fitness a family priority:

#1: Prioritize spending time outdoors

Time indoors is all too often spent in front of screens, and so it’s important to get out and about as a family. Make sure to spend time outdoors as a family at least once a week. The more time you spend outdoors, the better. The woods, fields and parks aren’t filled with screens and there are no comfy sofas to lounge on. There are no walls to bounce off, and you’ll soon discover all of the benefits that outdoor living can offer your family. The great thing about heading out into the open air is that you don’t really need a plan. Just head out there and see what mother nature has to offer you.

#2: Get the whole family involved

Organize a family barbecue with games for kids and adults. Find a game you think everyone will love; soccer, basketball or volleyball, and make sure the whole family participates. Split into teams, and make sure it’s done fairly. The kids will love it, and you might be surprised to discover that the adults enjoy themselves too. Make sure it’s not a competitive affair; it’s the taking part that counts.

#3: Ditch the car

Most people are aware that environmentalists and health advisors recommend leaving the car at home for journeys of less than a mile, and yet not many people actually do it. Make a pledge that you will start walking more, and get the whole family involved. This could mean walking to school, cycling to the local shops or catching a train to visit friends. It’s all about getting out there and staying active. You might be surprised to find out the difference a brisk 20 minute walk a day can do!

#4: Go swimming

Swimming is lots of fun, and it’s also a really great way to improve your fitness. Whether you live near a beach, indoor or outdoor pool, it’s time to start taking full advantage of it. Make sure the whole family goes, and try to go each and every week. Most children love swimming, and if you make it a regular and enjoyable experience, that love could last a lifetime.

#5: Don’t see it as a chore

If it’s not fun, your children won’t enjoy it. Your attitude has a lot to do with how your children approach things in life. If you see fitness as a chore, your kids won’t want to do it. If you’re passionate about it, and your kids enjoy spending time with you as you get fit as family, then it will be a fun experience for everyone.

#6: Head to the park

Playgrounds are like tiny gymnasiums for kids. Obviously they’re a lot more exciting than real gyms, because not many people get to go down a huge slide halfway through their workout. Parks are a great place for fitness because your kids can climb, run, jump and generally go wild to their hearts’ content in a relatively safe environment. Try adding in an after school visit to your local playground at least one day a week.

 

Helping a Shy Child Feel Comfortable On the Field

543Playing a sport might not require the same audacious personality that getting dramatic on the stage does, but for a child it can be just as scary. While sports build confidence and self-esteem, starting out with a shy or hesitant temperament is a hurdle for the child, parents, teammates and coaches. Does this mean that a shy child shouldn’t get active with athletics? Of course not! Parents and coaches can help a slow-to-warm-up child feel comfortable on the field with some careful planning and kind words.

What can you do to help your shy child?

Role Play

Your child may spend countless hours in the backyard kicking the soccer ball around, but when she gets on the field for real, your child seems scared. You know it’s not the actual athletic activity that frightens her. So, what is it? There is a coach giving her direction and teammates yelling her name. Shy kids may not know how to handle this social sporting situation. Set up a game at home in which you, your spouse and siblings (or a few family friends) play the roles of their coach and the other players. Role-play the game, focusing on how your child interacts with the other people on the field. The more practice your child gets, the more comfortable she will feel. This leaves her mind free to concentrate on the game, instead of on the social side of things.

Focus on the Pluses

Your child may not speak his mind and he often shies away from anything that’s unfamiliar. But, when it comes to hitting a ball he’s a homerun super-star. Find and focus on the positive parts of play for your child. If he excels at a sport, or a specific part of the sport, praise him. Keep in mind, not every child is a natural athlete. If your little slugger is still learning the game or isn’t the top player, you can still find a positive to point out. This could include his amazing effort, how well he focuses during game play or his good sportsmanship practices.

Hang Back

Shy children don’t want to be the center of attention. If the spotlight scares your child, don’t focus it on them. Although you want to cheer them on, don’t have to go overboard and embarrass them. Nix the high volume, “Yeah, you can do it! Get the goal! Make the shot!” screams as you run up and down the field alongside your child. Instead, hang back and provide praise in a low-key way.

Start Slow

If social situations challenge your child’s shyness, start with a single sport that he plays as an individual or go for private lessons. This isn’t to say that he can’t, or shouldn’t, play on a team. Instead, let him warm up to a sport through an activity that is one-on-one such as private tennis lessons.

Set Goals

Work together from the beginning to set realistic goals. For a shy child these may include asking the coach to play a favorite position or stepping up to bat with confidence.

Just because your child is shy doesn’t mean that she should skip sports. Ax the anxiety and help your child to enjoy athletic activities. The more comfortable they feel on the field, the more their self-confidence and esteem will grow!

Sportsmanship and Social Development: Bringing Teamwork into Everyday Activities

DSCN1094Your child knows that he needs to shake hands with the opposing team whether he wins or loses. He knows to pat a teammate on the back after he scores or fails, and knows to cheer everyone on. Even though your child is considered a “good sport” on the field, do these positive practices translate into everyday life? They can! Good sportsmanship is part of social development, and can help your child at school, with friends and anywhere off the court or off the field.

Preschoolers

Between ages 3 and 5 your child is laying the foundation of social skill development. While they aren’t “pros” yet, they’re beginning to share, cooperate and take turns with others. As your child is building these skills, they may also be experiencing their first organized sports play. Whether its playing t-ball, pee-wee soccer or another sport, you can help your child to take what she’s doing during practice and games and put it to use everywhere else.

  • Sharing: Passing the soccer ball or basketball back and forth is certainly a way to score — but it’s also a way to share. Instead of one player making every goal or basket, passing during a game teaches kids how to share and support each other.
  • Cooperation: As the saying goes, “There’s no ‘I’ in team!” Even a young child can understand that it takes more than just her to play a game. Take this idea home and explain that helping you to carry the folded laundry or picking up toys with her brother contribute to the family ‘team’.
  • Taking turns: Part of fair play is waiting until you’re up at bat or called to the field. If your child is struggling to wait for the swing at the park or her pre-k teacher tells you that she’s cutting in line during hand washing time, gently remind her about how she sits on the bench until her t-ball coach says she’s up to hit.

Older Children

By the time your child gets into the elementary school years, he or she begin building true social connections and becoming an expert at interacting with others. They will be gaining control over their emotions and become able to use words to express their feelings. That said, your child is still working on his social behaviors. What can sports do to help social development?

  • Kindness: It’s not easy to congratulate someone who just beat you, but doing so takes grace and kindness. If your child can do this on the field, he or she can do it in their own life. For example, he may feel like screaming when his best bud gets the starring role in the school play and he gets a secondary role. Talk about the good sportsmanship he shows during game play and ask him to congratulate his pal.
  • Encouragement: Sometimes it’s a friend who needs a lift up. Remind your child how she can cheer her teammates on to success the next time she tells you a friend is feeling bad.
  • Respect: Your child might not always like what the coach has to say, but he listens to the coach’s direction. The same goes for school and home. The respect that he shows his coach should translate to respecting other adult authority figures, such as his teacher and you.

Sports is so much more than exercise for children. Learning good sportsmanship practices at an early age can help your child to develop social skills that she’ll use when she steps off the field!

What Parents Can Learn From The Success Of Jordan Spieth

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Synopsis: Jordan Spieth has become a Masters Champion at just 21 years old, and parents of young athletes can learn from his path to success.

At 21 years old, Jordan Spieth has already recorded a lifetime of accomplishments playing golf. He is currently ranked second best in the world, and is the 2015 Masters Champion! By any measure, Jordan Spieth’s career is off to an incredible start. He also appears to have the ability to become one of the greatest players in golf history.

So, what can parents of young athletes learn by observing the early career of this superstar? Plenty. Not all kids have the ability that Spieth possesses, but there are still lessons to be learned if a child is interested in golf or any other sport.

Let Them Set Their Own Pace

Jordan Spieth turned professional when he was just 19 years old. To many people, this may seem like a mistake. He had not even completed his sophomore year at the University of Texas when he decided to make the jump into the world of professional golf. Of course, he had already led the golf team at Texas to a NCAA Championship, and had even made the cut in a PGA Tour event as an amateur. There are no sure things in any professional sport, but Spieth was about as close as it gets.

The lesson here is simple – observe the progress of your child, and allow them to progress in sports at their own pace. For the vast majority of athletes, turning pro at 19 would be a terrible mistake. They would lose out on the opportunity to complete their college degree, and may not be physically prepared to handle the challenges of competing against full-grown adults. In this case, however, it made perfect sense for Spieth. He had done everything he needed to do at the amateur level, and stepping up the competition was the only logical step.

Your child doesn’t need to be a standout performer to learn from this scenario. In fact, even if your child is only just a few years of age at this point, you can still take this lesson to heart. Don’t feel confined by the expectations of others when it comes to your child and sports. Everyone has a different experience in athletics. If your child is advanced for their age, don’t be afraid to let them play against older kids and better competition. If they are having trouble keeping up, find them a league where they will be comfortable and able to have fun. It’s all about creating an environment of positivity and enjoyment for them to thrive. All athletes develop at different rates. The key is to allow for the development over the need to win.

It’s Okay to Be Unique

Any golf teacher will tell you that the technique Jordan Spieth uses is not conventional. If his parents or a local golf teacher had tried to force him into a swing that was more traditional, he likely wouldn’t be the player he is today. Instead, he was allowed to do his own thing and find his own way. As a result, he has a golf swing that is unique to him, and it is one of the most effective swings in the world! There is a fine line between teaching a child the fundamentals of a sport, and allowing them to use their natural ability. It is up to parents and coaches to walk that line so that they offer the kids the information they need without limiting their creativity.

Jordan Spieth is a rare talent; however, any parent with children who are involved in sports can learn from the story of his career. He has been allowed to set his own pace, and play the game his own way, and he has flourished as a result.

 

Helping Your Child Recover From A Sports Injury

 

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Synopsis: Seeing your child in pain isn’t easy, and while you may not be qualified to take care of your child’s sport injury, there are plenty of things you can do to help his recovery. As your child’s biggest fan, it’s your job to get him out on the field again.

Seeing your child in pain and unable to do the things he loves is never going to be easy. Whether he’s suffering from a sprained ankle or broken bone, you will want to make the recovery process as easy for him as possible. You probably know yourself that recovering from an injury can be tough even as an adult, so you can imagine how it much more frustrating it must be for your child! Here are a few things you can do to help your child have a better recovery:

#1: Seek professional help

Even with the smallest injury, there are things the patient can do to aid recovery. It could mean avoiding certain positions, doing regular strengthening or just keeping weight off it, but a professional is best placed to give advice. Your child’s coach may be able to help, but you could always ask your doctor for advice too. By following medical advice you could speed up recovery.

#2: Following the advice

One of the problems most patients face is that they feel recovered before they really are. As soon as your child feels able to play again, he’s going to want to get out on the field. Putting the body under stress too soon, however, could lead to even more problems. If a doctor has advised six weeks away from the game to allow for a full recovery, it’s important you stick to this. Help your child to understand the importance of letting his body heal properly, after all, another injury could see him out of the game for even longer next time!

#3: Deal with any anxiety and build confidence

If your child suffered a sports injury during a game, he might be feeling anxious about the idea of playing again. He may also be lacking in confidence, especially if he took a tumble in front of the team. Let your child speak openly and honestly about how he feels, and be careful not to dismiss his feelings. Help him overcome the feelings of anxiety by reminding him of how much he enjoys the game. When he does start playing again, make sure you’re there with plenty of compliments to help rebuild his confidence and remind him that he’s a valued part of the team.

#4: Keep up the social side

Being a part of a team isn’t just about sports, there are huge social benefits to it too. Your child’s teammates are probably some of his closest friends, and he may be feeling left out if he’s unable to play for a while. It can be tempting to lock yourself away so you don’t have to watch from the sidelines as all your friends have fun on the field, but it’s important to attend games. Your child will find it much easier to transition back into the team if he’s kept up the social aspect during his recovery. Take him along to the games, and make sure he still goes to any social events or hangouts the other kids might be having.

 

 

Organized Sports for Children with Disabilities

Sports are a win for all kids. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, recreational athletics can be especially therapeutic for kids with disabilities, with numerous physical and overall well-being benefits. Even though kids with delays and disabilities may not engage in organized sports in the same manner as other children, understanding the importance of inclusion is necessary for all parents. Whether or not your child has a disability, knowing the why’s and how’s of including children with special needs in sports makes team play possible and positive for everyone.

Participation Considerations
Are you thinking about signing your child up for team play, but aren’t sure if their disability will get in the way? Before jumping full-force into the soccer season or letting them join the school’s volleyball team, check with a professional. Your child’s doctor or medical care team should okay their ability to play first.

There may be special concerns that the doctor (or other medical expert) has when it comes to your child’s mobility, stamina or strength. Additionally, your medical professional may have concerns about injuries. Talking to the doctor can also calm any fears that you have. The professional can present the reality of your child’s condition and what playing sports means for them.

Beyond the Physical
Sure, sports help children develop physically. But, sports can also play a powerful role in your child’s mental well-being. Children with disabilities may suffer from low self-esteem or feel ‘different’ than the other kids. Being part of a team can increase confidence and help your child build social connections.

If your child doesn’t have a disability, playing on a team with a child who does have a disability breeds compassion, and a better understanding of differences. For example, your child may not know any special needs children, and not understand disabilities — or may even be fearful. The opportunity to play on a team with children of differing abilities allows yours to see that a genetic condition or developmental delay isn’t something to laugh at or be scared of. Before he knows it, he may even have a new best bud!

Choosing a Sport
Along with the doctor’s direction, choosing a sport for your child is a joint venture. Not only do you need to consider the pro’s advice, but you also need to listen to your child. This is your child’s time to shine. Let your child help pick an athletic activity he or she will enjoy. Check out a few different types games. You don’t have to go to a professional event to do this. Simply hit the little league field or go to the local team tennis competition to take a look at what’s available.

Special Needs Teams
If you or your physician has determined that your child’s disabilities preclude participation on a mainstream sports team, look for a team that accommodates kids with disabilities. Little League instituted a Challenger Division in 1989 to enable boys and girls with physical and mental challenges to become valued and successful members of a team. US Youth Soccer has a similar league called TOPSoccer. Again, sports have benefits for all children. A disability is all the more reason to get your kids involved in recreation to help them build confidence and learn team-building skills.

Successful Coaches Also Mentor Athletes

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Synopsis: Whether you are coaching T-Ball or at the varsity high school level, your role as a leader of young athletes should extend far beyond teaching the sport fundamentals. Reaching out to today’s youth is not always an easy task, but as a coach you are in an advantageous position to become a mentor.

You may think the idea of a coach accepting the additional responsibility of mentorship is a relatively new concept. The fact is the coach/mentor tie-in has been around since the beginning of organized sports. Look at college basketball coach John Wooden and the NFL’s Vince Lombardi. While they are remembered for winning championships and building dynasties in their respective sports, they are praised more so for the way they delivered powerful life lessons to their players. The ‘Pyramid of Success’ developed by Wooden, and the motivational attitude of Lombardi remain valued sources of inspiration used by corporations and individuals.

Some coaches feel that mentoring a young athlete has to mirror the ways of the work world. A meeting is scheduled, a specific amount of time is blocked off on the daily planner and the two people meet face-to-face. Thankfully, this is not necessary and your mentoring sessions will come about in a casual, more organic way. A few minutes during a water break or a quick walk-up to the athlete while heading to the locker room can bring about surprising results. Players become comfortable around coaches, and learn to initiate such mentoring moments on their own.

The ‘mentor radar’ must always be on high alert with coaches. “How are your grades?” An easy question such as this while walking off the practice field is a great starting point. This quickly eliminates the barrier between the athlete and you. You are not talking about the practice mishaps. You are showing a personal interest in the player. A mentoring session is about listening and understanding what is going on inside your player’s head, and it does not have to be necessarily long.

There are ways to mentor athletes in small groups as well. After hitting fly balls to the outfielders, get them together and talk about something not related to sports. Open up short conversation about the latest movie, or an appropriate news event. Get your players to start interacting with each other. This will make it easier for them to approach you, both as a coach and as a mentor.

You want to keep the communication lines open, so be careful not to cut one of your players short when they approach you. When a player decides to confide in you about a personal issue, now is not the time to turn your back. Even if practice lasted twenty minutes longer than expected, and you are already late for the family dinner. If you fail to listen to your player, you’ll lose all the mentoring ground you have gained from past sessions.

The end of every practice should include insight directly involving your players. This is the time you may want to talk about issues that may be common among all players — for instance if a teacher or parent approached you regarding a few players who decide it is ‘cool’ to leave their lunch trays on the cafeteria tables instead of busing them. You don’t have to single out any of the players, but acknowledge you are aware of such inappropriate behavior and how this has an effect on how others view the team. Providing such positive leadership to youth can go a long way in terms of your players becoming better people overall.