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Parents beware, are your expectations in check?

If youth sports is filled with strife and stress for you and your child, this might be a good time to reassess your goals.   Check to make sure that your sports pursuits are really on target with what is best for your child and your family’s values.  The desire to provide the best for your child can be fraught with moments of trepidation, and feelings of frustration and failure. Don’t worry you are not alone.

Author, John O’Sullivan shares concrete ways to help us prevent our fears from draining the joy out of youth sports.  Be a part of the solution by knowing about the sports organizations your child is involved in and read the research on child development and sports.

Read more:  Is “Fear of Missing Out” Ruining Youth Sports?

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Yes You Can! Spotlight On Anthony Robles

Professional and world-class level athletes are in tip-top physical shape. They are at the height of their game and have abilities that most people only dream of. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some pretty incredible athletes whose abilities are different than what you might expect. We’re spotlighting wrestler Anthony Robles, a sports star who has overcome more than a few obstacles.

Early On

Robles was born on July 20, 1988. Unlike other differently abled athletes, Robles didn’t fall victim to a horrific accident or suffer an injury. The wrestler was born missing his right leg. No one knew why. They just knew that he’d have to live life with only one leg. That could have stopped him from doing just about anything. Lots of people who have a birth defect or have had an amputation, give up or decide that they can’t do the same things that other people can. That wasn’t for Robles. When he was 14, the would-be athlete decided to try out for his school’s wrestling team!

The Road to Wrestling

Trying out for the wrestling team was just the start for Robles. Not only was he competing with only one leg, but he was also the smallest athlete on the team. Having two strikes against him might have meant failure but that didn’t stop Robles. He kept going. Even though he came in last place at the Mesa City wrestling tournament in his home state of Arizona, he didn’t quit. There are athletes that would say, “Forget it” or just give in and get out. Robles didn’t let his disability or small size end his new wrestling career.

Support and Belief

A few years after ending up in last place, the wrestler was ready to graduate from high school – with a 96-0 record that he earned during his eleventh and twelfth grade years. He was also a two-time Arizona State Champion and high school National Champion. That’s right, with only one leg Robles was able to beat the top wrestlers in the state.

Fortunately, Robles has an incredibly supportive family. Along with that, he has an amazing attitude. When things don’t go his way, he doesn’t let it get him down. At least, not forever. Robles believes in himself. He doesn’t just think he can succeed, he knows it. It is this belief that keeps him going and stops him from giving up.

College Career

Even though he was a major success, Robles didn’t have an easy time getting into college. You might think that a two-time state champ would have colleges begging him to wrestle for him. But, that didn’t happen. The schools thought that Robles was still too small. And, then there was the missing leg issue. They just didn’t believe in him or his ability. Of course, this wasn’t the first time that the athlete faced major obstacles. His whole life had been filled with obstacles that he had to overcome. This time was no different. Robles did make his dreams of wrestling at the college level come true. Through hard work, dedication and the belief that he could do anything he set his mind to, he convinced the Arizona State team to take him on. In 2011 Robles won the NCAA championship title (for the 125-pound weight class). The same year that he won his championship title Robles also won the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2011 ESPY’s.

In 2012, Robles was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Even though he no longer wrestles, the athlete continues inspiring kids and adults around the globe. Robles is a motivational speaker now, and helps others believe in themselves as much as he has always believed in himself.

Image Credit:  Anthony Robles

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Spotlight and You

Having the spotlight on you as a young athlete can create a lot of pressure.  Along with all the attention and pressure also comes the opportunity to lead your team in the best possible way.

Gaining strong team leadership skills on the field or court are traits that you can carry into your personal and professional life.  Are you making the most out of this time in the spotlight – are you putting your team’s success above your own goals?

See what CoachUp Nation suggests:  What is Your Athlete Doing With His/Her Place in the Spotlight?

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Making the Most Out of Team Play

Your child is super-excited about their new soccer, baseball, basketball or swimming team. There are practices to go to and games (or meets) galore. Maybe it’s the first time that your little athlete has played on a team. Or, maybe they’re an old pro. Whether you’ve got a first-time sports star or a seasoned player, you can help your child to excel by making the most out of their team play. How? Check out what you can do to make sure that your child gets the maximum benefits (and maximum fun!) out of sports play.

Provide Emotional Support

Your child needs a cheerleader. And, that doesn’t just mean on the field. Helping your child to get excited about practice or a game starts at home. Sports bring on a range of emotions. From the pure delight of a win to the anger that a child can feel after a major loss, team play means dealing with feelings. Making the most of your child’s athletic endeavors requires help supporting and understanding their emotional needs.

Celebrate the victories and share in the joyous feelings. But, don’t forget to acknowledge your child’s negative feelings when they lose. This doesn’t mean that you need to indulge poor sportsmanship. Let your child know that it’s perfectly understandable for them to feel a sense of disappointment. Sometimes just being there is enough. Your child comes home from a practice that didn’t go well. What does your sad sports star need right now? A shoulder to cry on or maybe just a hug from mom and dad. You can make a difference, showing your child that it’s okay to be upset and then move on.

Show Up

You can’t be a cheerleader if you don’t show up. Going to practices (if it’s allowed) and games not only shows your child that you care, but makes it more fun for them. Knowing mom or dad is on the sidelines gives your child the chance to show off. This isn’t in the bragging, “I’m so great” type of show off way. It’s more of the, “Hey mom/dad, look at what I’ve learned” kind of way.

Showing up is only half of the equation. Sitting on the sidelines, texting, checking your Facebook feed or catching up on work emails doesn’t really help your child. Technically, you’re there. But, you’re not present. Being present (that means focusing on your child and the game they’re playing) is an absolute must-do.

Talk It Up

Give your child the chance to talk about practice, training, a game, a meet, a match or whatever part of game play they want to discuss. Think about what you do when your child walks in the door after a long day of school. Most likely you say something like, “How was your day?” or, “Tell me about what you did today.” The same line of questioning should apply to athletics!

When your child comes home from practice or the two of you get into the car after a game, ask a few questions. If you were with your child, skip the, “So, what did you do?” You know what your child did. And if you have to ask, even though you were there, you might as well say, “I wasn’t paying attention, so can you fill me in.” No child wants to hear that. Instead, try a question that’s based on something you saw your child do or something that happened during the game. For example, “Tell me about that goal you scored. What was your plan going in it?”

Positive Attitude

Whether you’re providing emotional support, cheering your child on, talking about the game after it’s over or just discussing the sport, keep things positive. It’s tempting to point out the negatives. When another child has poor sportsmanship, a coach/parent screams at the kids or there are several unfair calls made by the ref, you may feel like complaining just as much as your child does. But, now is not the time for negative feelings.

Keep a positive attitude. This shows your child that it’s entirely possible to find the good in every not—so-cheer-worthy moment. Let’s say your child’s softball team didn’t score a single run. That’s okay. Let your child know how proud you are of the way they tried and point out that the whole team had fun playing!

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Girls and STEM

Have you heard that STEM will be powered by women?  If you are a young lady between the ages of 13-19 and science intrigues you – you may want to sign up for 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures.  Be partnered with a woman in science who will mentor you one-to-one with two virtual meetings per month and other engagement opportunities.

Nourish your science dreams with professionals and peers bonded in love of the sciences.  Create a space where you can safely explore and build blocks to achieve your dreams.  This program is free to you because the Global STEM Alliance of the New York Academy of Sciences believes in the potential of the expanded involvement of girls and women in STEM.

Please consider signing up to find out more about the 2017-2018 program year:
1000 Girls, 1000 Futures

Looking for a STEM activity this summer?  Consider Future Stars STEAM camp.

 

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Transitioning to Competitive Play: How to Help Your Child

Sports are supposed to be fun. Right? That’s how they started out. Back when your child was in preschool or kindergarten those pint-sized athletic teams were all about getting some physical activity and having a good time. No one kept score, from the sidelines no one was screaming, “How could you miss that shot?” and no one was competing to be the best in the state. As your child grew and began getting more serious about sports, they wanted to transition into truly competitive play. How can you help your child make the move from “just for fun” to a more competitive-based type of play?

Time Commitment and Being Selective

It’s common for young children to try out different sports. Your child may have played soccer, softball, tennis, and basketball. And, that was just in one year. When it comes to moving from recreational to competitive play, your child needs to narrow down their focus. Yes, some kids do excel at a few sports. It’s not unheard of for a teen to play for the high school football team in the fall and then hit the wrestling mats in the winter. But, narrowing down the selection certainly makes it easier to focus.

When it comes to selecting a sport, your child needs to be aware of the time commitment. If they narrow down their focus to soccer and track, they might not have the time to pull double-duty during the same sporting season. Discuss which sport your child really wants to focus on and why. After that, take a look at the time commitment and make sure that there are no major conflicts. If there are considerable conflicts, take a look at what your child can shift around or juggle. In the event that nothing budges, ask your child to consider picking just one sport to really, truly focus on.

Support School

Focusing on competitive play often leaves little time for school work. Of course your child is still going to school during the day. But, they may not have as much time for after-school homework and they may also need to miss some school days (or partial days) for games, matches, tournaments and meets.

Help your child to create a steady schedule that incorporates both school work and practice times. Put a pen to paper (or go on your computer and create a spreadsheet) and write out the details. This should include blocks of practice/training time, study times, and game times. The rigor and regimen of athletic training translates into study time for many student-athletes. That means sports and school can work hand in hand to help keep your child on track and on schedule.

It’s possible that your child will be so excited to start real competitive play that they put schoolwork on the back burner. It’s understandable that the new, more in-depth, athletic endeavor is exciting. For your child, it’s much more interesting than algebra and English literature. But, you need to explain that school can’t slide. Set rules, making it clear that if the sport negatively affects your child’s grades, they’ll need to take a break.

New Rules

Back when sports were purely recreational your child could miss a practice (or a game) and it wasn’t really a big deal. Now that they’re on the travel team, made the school JV/Varsity squad or are on some other competitive team, things are different.

Participating in competitive sports (whether it’s as an individual or as part of a team) requires dedication, time, and commitment. Skipping out on practice to hang out with friends is not okay. Sit your child down and discuss what the team’s, coach’s or league’s rules are. For example, your child’s basketball coach has a rule that any participant who misses three practices (unless they’re pre-excused) is automatically out. Your athlete needs to understand that the coach means business and that they will enforce this rule.

Taking the next step to competitive play is a big deal. It shows that your child is focused and committed to the sport. The transition from a recreational sport to something more serious isn’t always easy. Even though it takes work, with your help and a little time, your child will succeed!

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Attending Camp with Friends

One of the many reasons behind sending children to summer camp is the opportunity to reach out and create new friendships. Does it mean sending a child to a camp which is also being attended by one (or more) of the child’s current friends should be discouraged? Absolutely not!

Added Advantage

Social interaction definitely comes easier for some children. A child attending a camp with a friend will already start the new journey with less stress. There is no doubt children get past the initial stage fright of making new acquaintances, but having a friend at the same camp  can actually make it easier for social interaction with other children.

Make New Friends

When parents agree to send a child along with a friend to camp, they should approach it in a proactive manner. Let the child know it is great to have a buddy along for the camp experience, but also instill an additional mindset – one which lets the child know it is perfectly acceptable to reach out to new children socially and discover new friendships. The parents of all your child’s friends going to camp should get together and talk about this as well. This prevents an instance of one friend having thoughts of abandonment when the other child makes new friends during camp. It allows all parents to reinforce the idea of making the most out of new friendship opportunities.

Keep the Old

Even though parents may have addressed the issue of a friend making new friends at camp, take the opportunity to make your child be aware of what to do if the ‘old’ friend feels left out. Many children would already have the presence of mind to include an old friend in an unscheduled activity, but it is always best to have parents mention this to their children. Most camps are monitored in a way where exclusion is noticed by a counselor or coach, but not everything is always noticed.

Enjoy the Camp

Depending on the camp, friends may automatically be separated in activities for various reasons. For instance, two friends attending a baseball camp may be assigned different stations or drills due to playing different positions, or by skill level of each child. Explain to children that this is to be expected and how the friends can meet up again at lunch or at another time during the camp day.

With a bit of careful pre-planning by the parents, the children attending camps with one or more friends will have the satisfaction of knowing others from the start, and parents will see such desired goals as decision making, peer social interaction and a sense of fulfillment achieved through the camp experience.

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5 Skills Your Child Will Learn By Playing Tennis

Tennis is a sport of a lifetime, you and your child will enjoy for years to come. If you are wondering if tennis would be the right fit for your child, here are 5 reasons you should sign your young athlete up for Tennis Camp today!

If you can see your future self quite happily sitting amongst royalty sipping champagne under the mediocre London sun whilst grinning proudly as your child takes home the Wimbledon trophy, then perhaps you should be encouraging your child to play tennis. This fast-paced sport is growing in popularity across the world as stars such as Federer and Serena Williams are inspiring a new generation to lift up their rackets and head out onto the court.

Aside from the obvious benefits of rubbing shoulders with the sporting elite and getting to boast to your friends about how your child has had to put up a bigger shelf to host all those trophies, there are plenty of reasons why your child will benefit from attending a tennis day camp this year. Here are just five of them:

1.  It Teaches Self Discipline

Unlike team sports, the focus of tennis is on the self. You can’t blame your teammates for a missed goal or a bad pass, you’re the only person on the court and it’s up to you as to how the game goes. If your child wants to do well, they’ll have to commit to working hard and training hard. Perfecting that serve is the ultimate lesson in self discipline and, with it, pride.

2.  It’s All About the Coordination

Tennis is a great way to improve your child’s hand-eye coordination. In fact, it’s good for all their fine motor skills. Your child will learn how to judge distance, strength, timing, as well as, mastering the skill of hitting a small ball with a racket. It sounds easy, but you try getting out on that court and see how many times you can beat Djokovic at the serve.

3.  It Teaches Sportsmanship

It might sound like a made up word, but sportsmanship is one of the most important skills you can teach your kid. Your child needs to learn how to win graciously as well as how to lose. Your child needs to learn how to compete fairly, how to lose with dignity and how to win whilst being respectful of their opponent’s feelings. Tennis will teach your child how to play fair, win with grace and lose with manners.

4.  It’s All About Strategy

Tennis is not an easy sport. You have to make a lot of decisions – and quickly. Your child will learn to think on their feet, react with their gut instinct and be flexible and responsive. Your child will learn when to play safe and when to take those all important risks. Tennis might look to the untrained eye like a simple game of back and forth, but it’s way more complicated than that. Your child will learn key analytical and problem solving skills.

5.  It’s Fun

What should kids be doing during the school vacation? Err, having fun. Isn’t that obvious? Tennis is a great way to achieve that goal. Your child will be learning new skills but, most importantly, they’ll be having fun with their friends. They’ll meet new people, get some exercise and feel proud of their achievements. There are few things more enjoyable in life than feeling proud of yourself.

Plus, you might one day get to share a bottle of champagne with The Queen. Maybe.