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The How-To’s of Team Bonding

ten There’s no “I” in team. Right? Whether you’re a parent, a coach or a player, building a bond between team members is absolutely essential. Not only does team bonding foster good sportsmanship, but it also helps the players to develop their social skills. Along with these benefits, bonding brings the team together and helps them to act as a unit – instead of as individual players who happen to be on the same field or court. So, how can you help the team bond? Check out these ways for bringing the group together and creating that much-needed sense of unity.

Take the Pressure Off

There’s plenty of pressure on the field. When it comes to team bonding activities, taking some of the tension away and making things fun is key. Sure, when there’s a game, meet, match or tournament they focus on doing their best because they are competitors. That doesn’t mean it’s compete, compete, compete all of the time.

Team bonding activities create a sense of togetherness, in a competition-free environment. Let the kids relax, work together, and forget about the win. Make fun the name of the game during bonding activities. This may mean playing silly games (not necessarily the sport itself) or trying activities that encourage socialization over sports. Encourage the kids to let loose and put getting to know and trust each other over anything else.

Mix Things Up

Cliques are common in youth sports. They are also major issues in other areas (such as school). Don’t assume that just because all of the kids are on the same team that they are in the same athletic clique. Team-building and bonding should never equal creating an exclusive clique. You’re helping the team to gel, get along and work together.

It’s also likely that at least a few of the kids have come to the team as friends (or have become fast friends after joining the team). If there are a few mini-cliques on the team, help the players to mix things up and start socializing with some of the other kids (meaning the ones who aren’t in their clique). Let’s say three of them consider themselves best friends. While they’re nice or pleasant when it comes to interacting with the other team members on the soccer team, they mostly keep to their own little clique. This behavior makes bonding as a team difficult, if not impossible.

So, what do you do? You could try a team relay race, splitting the mini-clique up and putting them on teams with kids who they usually don’t talk to. By mixing them in with the other players, you’re helping everyone get to know each other – and reducing the risk of isolation.

Set a Goal

Working to reach a goal is a constructive way to bring the team together, without emphasizing direct competition. Technically the kids are competing. But, they’re not competing against each other and they’re not competing against another team. What they are competing against is an obstacle – an obstacle that they must all overcome together.

Whatever your team bonding activity of choice is, you can find a way to set a goal. Whether the team is going on a scavenger hunt or solving a puzzle together, there’s an objective for them to reach together. The key here is that the players work together. Not only are they learning how to get along with each other, but they are building the ability to take in different perspectives, and respect other people’s opinions. When they do reach that all-important goal, they’ll know that they did it together. That feeling of togetherness will continue both on and off of the field.

Building a team means more than just training or doing drills. It’s about coming together and creating a sense of unity. Taking the pressure off, getting rid of the cliques, and setting goals all add to the experience, and help the team to connect in a way that goes beyond the game.

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Mo’ne Davis

In 2014, Mo’ne Davis was named Sports Illustrated Kids’, “Sports Kid of the Year”. The then 13-year-old was already a Little League star when she was awarded this major honor. Born on June 24, 2001, Mo’ne’s known for the game of baseball. She’s one of the most well-known Little League pitchers, and the first African-American girl to ever play in the Little League World Series.

An Athlete From the Start

Mo’ne grew up with her mother and stepfather in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Even though she’s well-known as a baseball player, her pitching arm was first noticed when she was playing football! While playing football with her brother, and a few other family members, program director of the Marion Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia, Steve Bandura, caught sight of the her amazing ability to throw a ball.

But, don’t think that Mo’ne went straight from tossing around the football to pitching in the Little League World Series. Before becoming a child baseball star, Mo’ne tried basketball out. As a point guard, Mo’ne quickly became the best player on the team. Oh, and she was the only girl on the team too!

Becoming a Baseball Superstar

Along with basketball, Mo’ne also began playing several other sports. She played soccer and (obviously) baseball. As a pitcher, the then 13-year-old could throw a fastball at seventy miles per hour. Wow! Not only did she excel at baseball, but she was also an honor role student at school.

When her team, the Taney Dragons, made it to the Little League World Series, Mo’ne helped lead them to a 4-0 victory. This put her in the public eye, and showed the world that baseball is not just a boy’s sport. She became an instant celebrity, inspiring children, and adults alike.

Hoop Dreams

Even though Mo’ne is known for her pitching skills, baseball isn’t her only focus. She’s putting basketball in the number one sporting spot. As a high school student, the baseball champ is looking forward to a future as a WNBA star! But, don’t think that this amazing athlete is relying on her big baseball win for anything.

Instead of playing for her school’s team, Mo’ne is concentrating her basketball efforts on the AAU Philly Triple Threat team. She realizes that there are lots of girls playing AAU basketball who are better than her – and, that’s why she works so hard. Yes, she might have won fame for her fast-pitch. But, Mo’ne doesn’t have plans to return to the game. That doesn’t mean she’ll never pick up a baseball again. Instead, her plans seem to focus more on basketball than anything else. Before heading to the WNBA, Mo’ne has dreams to attend college. Her top pick is the University of Connecticut, where she wants to play for the UConn Huskies.

Future Forward

As a pioneer in women’s sports (or rather, sports in general), Mo’ne Davis is one to watch. Since her Little League win she’s gone on a press tour, signed more autographs than you can probably imagine, met some serious sports royalty (basketball star Stephen Curry, football star Russell Wilson and tennis legend Billie Jean King) and even met President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Mo’ne might just be doing what she enjoys, but she is also a major inspiration for a lot of people. She’s showing girls that they can do whatever they want and be whoever they are. In a boy-dominated league (Little League), she’s one girl who truly broke down barriers.

Mo’ne Davis might still be a teenager, but she’s already released a memoir (2015’s “Mo’ne Davis: Remember My Name”), and launched a shoe collection. Partnering with M4D3 (Make A Difference Everyday), the basketball player helped to create a line of sneakers for kids and women. The proceeds of the sneaker sales are set to go to Plan International USA’s, Because I Am A Girl initiative.

Baseball star, basketball player, celebrity and inspiration. Mo’ne Davis is a young woman who we’ll be seeing much, much more of!

Photo Credit:  Disney | ABC Television Group (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Winter Workouts: Helping Your Child Stay Active When It Gets Cold

The temperature’s dropping and heading outside to play soccer or softball is a total no-go. When the weather won’t cooperate, getting out and active becomes much more of a challenge. Your usually active kiddo is suddenly sidelined by the snow and freezing cold. Now what? Well, you could let them spend the chilly months sitting on the couch playing video games or scrolling through your smart phone. Or, you could check out these winter workout ideas!

The Outside Indoors

Some of your child’s favorite physical activities can happen both outside and inside. How? Even though you might take your little swimmer to the community pool for aqua club practice in the summer or take your shortstop to the school’s baseball diamond when the weather’s warm, you don’t have to end the activities when it’s too cold outside to play.

There are plenty of indoor options for typical outdoor sports. Your community center or the area high school might have an indoor pool that hosts lessons or open swim sessions. Sports complexes and recreation centers may have indoor batting cages or soccer arenas for not-so-nice weather practice and games.

Of course, you can also sign your child up for an indoor winter sport. Basketball, indoor soccer, wrestling and gymnastics are all examples of ‘winter’ sports that kids can play inside.

Snowy Fun

If your child isn’t looking for an organized sport, but still wants to keep in shape, the winter weather does offer some imaginative opportunities. As long as it’s not too cold out, and you limit the amount of time that your child spends outdoor, and you make sure that they’re dressed for the weather, they can get a winter workout outside.

Use the snow as added resistance and jog around the backyard, make snow people or snowball obstacles for your child to race around, or go for a more traditional winter-activity such as sledding (that walk back up the sledding hill is much more of a workout than you probably think).

Don’t forget about the winter sports that actually use the weather to your child’s advantage. Skiing, snowboarding, outdoor ice hockey and ice skating will all keep your athlete active and in the game.

In-Home Options

You can’t get to the local gym and the weather is way too fierce to send your child outside for a run around the yard. Does that mean exercise is out? No way! There are plenty of ways for your young athlete to workout at home. Obviously, there are weights to lift, jumping jacks to do, and pushups to keep your child in shape. But, what else? Get creative with at-home workouts, making it fun (and surprisingly interesting) for your child.

Turn your living room or play room into an obstacle course. Push two chairs near one another, hang a towel on top (going from seat to seat) to make an army crawl obstacle. Line up chairs to make it more like a tunnel crawl. You can also add obstacles to jump over, run around, or hop through. If you don’t have the room to make a full-blown obstacle course, clear some space and turn on your child’s favorite music. Dance and creative movement are easy ways to get active, and develop motor skills such as balance, coordination, and strength. It’s also an awesome aerobic workout that can improve your child’s stamina.

From doing traditionally outdoor activities inside to snow-packed action (and much, much more), your child’s winter training doesn’t have to suffer just because the weather won’t cooperate. Try switching up the workouts, spending time both outside and inside. This keeps your child excited to exercise and gets them to look forward to the different kinds of physical activities. If you’re still not sure which workouts are best for your child, ask your child’s coach for ideas that work with the specific sport. This makes for a seamless transition from season to season.

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Communication is Key: The Parent-Coach Relationship

Your schedule is filled with parent-teacher conferences, and your inbox is packed with classroom newsletter emails. You’ve got the school thing covered when it comes to constant communication. But, what about your child’s coach? The parent-coach relationship is crucial to your child’s success. Understanding the what’s, when’s and why’s of communicating is the first step in developing this all-important relationship.

What Is Parent-Coach Communication?

Okay, so this one seems pretty self-explanatory. Obviously, parent-coach communication equals parents communicating with coaches, and vice-versa. That said, there are many different ways to communicate. The forms that communication takes include both in-person discussions as well as other, less face to face time. Phone calls, texts and emails are all ways that parents and coaches can connect, discuss the child’s progress and alert each other if there’s a problem or an issue.

Keep in mind, there’s a major difference between communicating with the coach and telling the coach how to do their job. If you have a question or you are unsure about why the coach made a specific decision – ask. Come from a place of understanding and wanting the best for your child, and not from a place of thinking that you know best. Let the coaches do their job and give them the chance to explain the why’s and what’s to you. While it’s perfectly okay to ask, telling and sounding accusatory won’t foster positive communication. You want to open up a helpful dialogue, and not alienate the coach.

When Does or Should Communication Take Place?

Communication can happen almost anytime. It can be in-depth (such as during a meeting or parent-teacher conference type of discussion) or less formal (such as in passing), “Great job coach!”. In-depth conversations and discussions that focus on a problem or serious issue typically require some sort of scheduling. Instead of waiting to talk to the coach at half-time or immediately after a game, call, email or text the coach and ask when they are free to meet with you. Make sure that you both have enough time to make the appointment worthwhile. This may mean blocking out a half hour or more in both schedules.

Less in-depth types of communication can happen through text or email, or surrounding game/practice times. Let’s say you want to know how long next weekend’s soccer tournament will be. Simply send an email and wait for a reply. Or, you can catch the coach after practice and ask your question.

You may also want to ask the coach what their preferred method of communication is before assuming that it’s okay to text or email any time that you want. Along with this, ask the coach when the best time is to contact them. Some coaches also have other jobs or have family commitments. If your child’s school soccer coach is also the social studies teacher, it’s not likely that they’ll pick up a phone call at 10 a.m. (or any time during the school day).

 

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Managing Heightened Emotions at Game Time

Everyone in the stands knows Danielle is one of the best basketball guards among all middle schools in the region. The desire within Danielle to be the best in hoops may also have jumped over into the young girl’s overall attitude. At first, her parents paid little attention to the occasional verbal outburst at officials and other players on her team.  However, the outward examples of her frustration are increasing and more noticeable to her coach, teammates and fans. What can be done to address a situation such as Danielle’s?

FIRST ON THE AGENDA

In his book, Whose Game is it, Anyway?, Dr. Richard Ginsburg devotes a chapter on the subject of emotional frustrations exhibited by participants in youth athletics. The author suggests parents should be very careful in their first approach to the situation. Do not make an immediate knee-jerk reaction. This can be difficult advice to follow as parents are themselves sometimes wrapped up in the game’s moment. Watching a child fail because of a referee’s decision or a mistake by the child’s teammate can cause a natural frustration for the parents as well. Ginsburg says it best, “The first reaction is no reaction.” In other words, parents need to take a deep breath and not add fuel to the fire.

REACTION BY THE COACH

After a child exhibits this frustration the parents must be prepared for what the athlete’s coach may do next. If it’s the first – or the second or the third – instance where this occurred, parents must accept a coach’s game-time decision. Whether the coach sits the child out for a few minutes, a quarter, or the rest of the game parents need to maintain their composure. Yelling from the stands will just make the matter worse. The time to address the coach’s reaction is not at the end of the game, either. Contact the coach the following day and set up a meeting to discuss the situation.

COMMUNICATING WITH THE CHILD

The advice from Ginsburg’s book is to take a ‘calm but firm’ approach with the young athlete. A good opening question may be as simple as, “What went through your mind to cause you to react in such a way?” Calmly asked it is immediately letting the child to explain his/her actions. Self-control is not an learned overnight.

“Without patience and willingness to provide explanations, setting firm limits can be meaningless and even destructive,” warns Ginsburg. In other words, parents need to have the open line of communication before determining what methods of correction to use.  This is also where the meeting with the coach comes to play. Consultation between the coach and parents can generate an effective way to correct the displays of frustration.

AVOID FEELING ‘HELPLESS’

Whatever steps to correct a child’s temper and frustration during a sporting event are decided upon, it is extremely important for the parents not to lose sight of the desired end result. As in many other facets of raising children, the old saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ aptly fits. There may be ‘instant oatmeal’ but no one has figured out a way to package an ‘instant solution’ for a child’s emotions. If a child’s frustration bubbles over as a result of self-pressure it is going to take patience from parents and coaches in order for an effective change to occur.

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The Importance of Scheduling in Free Play

Today’s parents – and kids – are busy, busy, busy. There are schedules to be followed, clubs to be attended, and homework assignments to be completed. But free play is important too, so how can you schedule some in?

Being a parent isn’t easy. In fact, at times it can be downright difficult. You want the best for your kids, you want them to grow up happy and confident and you want them to look back on their childhood with a sense of wonder. Experts often stress the importance of free play, but how can you allow for it in the modern world?

When you’re busy ferrying your kids around their after-school activities and clubs, it can be almost impossible to find the time to spend doing nothing. If you work long hours and want to soak up as much time with your kids as possible, you may find the weekends fill up pretty quickly too.

The Benefits of Free Play

There are many benefits to letting your kids take the lead for a little bit. Free play means that kids are free to play whatever and however they want. There are no rules, they don’t have to play in a certain way, and they can change what they are doing as often as they like. Free play allows children to develop a sense of independence, to develop problem-solving skills, and to learn  valuable skills which prevent boredom. If done in a group, free play allows your child to hone their social skills, to learn about conflict resolution, and to perfect negotiation skills.

3 Tips for Scheduling in Free Play

Now you know why it’s important, let’s look at how exactly you can fit free play into your lives:

1. Make it Routine

It sounds almost counter-productive, doesn’t it? Scheduling in free play surely isn’t free play? After all, if it’s scheduled, it can’t really be free. Well, yes, actually, it can. And if the rest of your week runs to a tight schedule, you might need to schedule in free play. And that’s fine. By including free play as a part of your regular routine, you give this important activity the time and commitment necessary. You could schedule free play for a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon or take a night off from your commitments each week to indulge in some free play. Whenever you decide to do it, make it routine.

2. Do it with Friends

Kids love free play, they can get completely and utterly immersed in a totally made up world with their friends. And, whilst the kids are distracted, you can enjoy some time with your friends as well. You can be anywhere you want to be, a local park on a glorious summer day, bundled up in raincoats in a woodland forest in the pouring rain, or in the comfort of your own home. Let the kids go wild whilst you catch up with your friends. Time well spent.

3. Encourage it

Kids are easily distracted. You ask them to go outside and play, then stumble across them inside 30 minutes later engrossed in a game of pirates. It can be frustrating, but try to remember the benefits of free play. Of course, there is a time and a place for everything, and your new found love of free play is no excuse for being late for school. That said, however, if you have nowhere to be, allow your child to embrace free play.

Do your kids get to enjoy free play time each week?

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3 Books Your Sporty Child Will Love

All parents want the best for their kids. You want your children to hold their own on the field but also have an imagination that loves getting lost in stories. If your children aren’t big on reading, here are a few books that could change that.

Not all kids fit into the stereotypes of booky or sporty, plenty of kids are both avid readers and avid sports fans. Sports are great for teaching your children important life skills and helping them to stay healthy, but books are a great way to nourish the mind. If your children are not big fans of reading, you may be wondering whether there’s anything you can do to unlock a hidden love of books in them. Well, there is and it could be as simple as finding enjoyable and meaningful books.

Your sports-loving kids may like to read books about sports. There are plenty of novels and fiction books that tell stories about sports, about teams and about challenges on the field. By choosing a subject matter your children can relate to, you might find that they engage more easily with the book. So, here are three books for your little sports fans to get lost in:

1. Summer Kicks: The Soccer Series #1 by Simon Alder

This is the perfect book for any soccer fans out there. The author clearly has a lifelong love of soccer which is present on every page. A gifted striker ends up on the losing team and must work hard to pull their team out of the gutter. This book focuses on the importance of teamwork, good sportsmanship and working together. It’s a motivational read and includes some great positive messages. It’s part of a series, so your child will be able to read more if this one just isn’t enough.

2. The Batboy by Mike Lupica

For any baseball fans out there, Mike Lupica’s, The Batboy, could be just what you need to draw out their inner bookworm. This much-loved book is a hit with children and parents alike. It tackles some of the big issues in modern sports from doping to role models, and allows the reader to investigate these themes further. The lead character, Brian, is the batboy for his hometown team, and his idol has recently joined the team, but will he live up to expectations or prove himself to be nothing short of a let down?

3. The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

If you’re looking for a book with a strong female role model, this might be the book for you. Jessica is a runner who gets into a tragic road accident and discovers she may never walk again. Far from letting that stop her, Jessica decides to work harder, to fight back and to dream big. Will she be able to win running competitions after the accident? This book is about determination, it’s about passion, and it’s about following your dreams. A must-read for any sports fan.

Which sports books do your kids love? Share your recommendations in the comment section.

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5 Things All Soccer Parents Have In Common

Being a soccer parent gives you magical powers to spot any other soccer parents within a 5k radius. Soccer parents are your community, they know what you’re going through and here’s how you find them.

It’s important to have parent friends who know what you’re going through. This is just as important when your kids are in middle school, as it is in those early newborn days when you’re covered in puke and busy changing diapers. As a soccer parent, you’ll need some soccer parent friends to support and celebrate with you. Being a soccer parent isn’t easy, in fact, it can be hard work. Other soccer parents know what you’re up against, they have the tips and tricks that could make your life easier, and they understand just how important those games are to you. Here are five things all soccer parents have in common:

1. Messy Cars

As a soccer parent, you have no chance of keeping your car clean. You spend so much time driving around in that thing, it’s pretty much your second home. Your kids eat their dinner in the car on the way home from practice, they kick off muddy boots as soon as they climb in, and you’re forever driving over muddy puddles on the way to the field. Look around the parking lot, if there’s another car as filled with Tupperware, covered with mud and stinking of sweaty feet as yours, you have found yourself a fellow soccer mom.

2. A Total Lack of Free Time

Ah, free time. Remember that? Remember when you used to enjoy sleep-ins on Sunday mornings instead of waking early to ferry your kids around for soccer games? Remember when you could spend your evenings watching TV instead of organizing sports kits and baking cookies for team fundraisers? Those days are long gone. If you see another parent who looks like they haven’t slept in years, has a to-do list trailing behind them on the floor, and is already running late for their next appointment, they might just be a soccer parent too.

3. The Ability to Create Healthy, Nutritious and Portable Dinners

When your kids are using their energy on the pitch, junk food won’t do. You might not get to enjoy quite as many sit down meals as the average family, but that doesn’t mean your kids suffer nutritionally. In fact, as a soccer parent, you know just how important it is that your kids eat right. You know how much protein they should be getting, how much energy they need and what the best fast-acting high-energy snacks are. And, in true soccer parent style, you can pack a healthy, balanced dinner into a Tupperware for your kid to enjoy in the car. It’s your soccer parent badge of honor and you can always spot a fellow soccer parent by how many pre-cooked and delicious family meals they have packed into Tupperware in the freezer.

4. A Hoarse Voice

Soccer parents are no strangers to cheering. You can spot your comrades easily at the grocery store after the weekend, they’re the individuals who are hoarse from shouting words of encouragement by the side of the field. You’ll see them but probably won’t be able to say hello because you lost your own voice after a particularly enthusiastic bout of cheering during yesterday’s game. Hey, you’re a soccer parent, that’s what you do.

5. They Know Everything There is to Know About Soccer

You might never have kicked a ball in your life, but you’re an expert when it comes to the rules of the game. You know everything happening in the national league, as well as, how your local team has been doing this season. You know all the lingo, can explain the offside rule without pausing to think and can hold your own in a sports bar. The other sports parents are the same. You all eat, sleep and breathe soccer for your kids, and that’s a part of why you all make such amazing soccer parents. So, now you know how to spot those soccer parents, go and find yourself some soccer parent friends to chat strategy with.

 

 

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How to Survive Getting Cut from Your Favorite Sport

The friendship between Diane and Alicia started six years ago when both began playing soccer in their local recreational program. After attending elementary school together, they were looking forward to being in the same middle school home room. Before their middle school started in September they decided to try out for the soccer team together. On the first day of school, both girls were faced with a personal dilemma. Alicia was named to the soccer team. Diane was not, as she was one of several players not making the final roster.

Why Roster Cuts?

It can be difficult for youth athletes to understand the team tryout process and the eventual roster cuts which are made. The decision to make cuts, especially for school-related teams, may be one based on financial reasons as the cost of operating a team can directly affect roster size. While some larger school districts – particularly at the middle school and freshman levels – may create additional teams to avoid player cuts, financial realities make this impossible for smaller districts.

Achieving a higher level of competitiveness may also be a reason for player cuts. In a perfect world, every coach would have the ability to properly rank the talent of those players trying out. However, the world is not perfect nor is any coach. For example, Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks was told by his coach he was too short for high school ball.

At the high school level, many coaches utilize the tryout/cut process to avoid situations where players become disheartened over not seeing any playing time. Whether a starter or a player listed last on the depth chart, every team member must put in the required ‘sweat equity’ at each practice. Just as the starting midfielder has to do his homework just before bed time, so does the player never leaving the sideline. In some instances, not cutting players can have an adverse effect on the team.

Bouncing Back from Disappointment

Increasing Effort – When Anthony was initially cut in high school, was he disappointed? Yes, but he did not allow it to consume him. He continued to work on his skills. A six-inch growth spurt during the summer and a school transfer certainly helped put Anthony’s basketball skills in front of college recruiters, but had he given up would that have happened?

Keep Your Friends – As in the scenario of Alicia and Diane, there are going to be times when one friend makes it and another doesn’t. Don’t let resentment and disappointment ruin a friendship. And for the friend ‘making the team,’ make it a point to include your friend in outings and pick-up games.

Look Elsewhere – There may recreational leagues not affiliated with a school. This goes with getting better at the sport. Or, try another sport which is played at the same time. In the case of Diane, her running stamina for soccer may make her a candidate for the school cross country team.

Athletics Mirror Life

While getting cut may presently seem to be the most devastating event in a person’s life, it is merely a bump on the road toward becoming an adult. Taking time to reflect on what happened is going to be a natural occurrence, but in time you will grow from the experience. Refresh and reboot to a more positive future. Most importantly, never give up.

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Welcoming New Teammates

Roger has been on the same basketball team for five years. In that time, he has made several friends and has even attended the same school as most of his teammates. Roger’s comfortable situation is about to change. His father’s promotion at work requires the family to move to another city. Amongst other things, a family’s relocation has immediate impact on a child’s athletic life.

Parents ‘Checklist’

Relocating brings about sudden changes in a child’s life. A new neighborhood, a new school, and a new sports team are just few of the changes coming to mind. It is natural to check out the schools and neighborhoods before moving, but for parents with children in sports activities it is just as important to do the homework on the athletic organizations of their new surroundings. While the web is a wonderful starting point in gathering information about teams, leagues and competitiveness; parents should also make direct contact to gather the necessary information. When speaking with an official of a prospective athletic organization, ask for a contact list of other parents or coaches on the team.

Parents: do not hold back on the questions.

Ask specific questions about coaching expectations, any past conflicts or incidences which have occurred and the overall goal for the players of the team. Is the organization built on winning games or developing individuals through athletics. Ask what each person likes best about the organization and the overall experience for the children. Don’t stop there. Ask the real estate agent if there is a personal connection with the organization, and if they can set up a short question and answer period over the phone. All of this assists parents in making the proper decision.

The ‘New Kid’

When a youth player like Roger joins a new team, there will be a short awkward period for the new player as well as the ‘new’ coach and ‘new’ teammates. Coaches must take the first step by properly introducing the player to teammates. The coach could also take it one step further and meet with the new parents one-on-one prior to the first practice. A natural next step is for the coach to introduce the ‘new’ parents to the parents of the other players. These easy guidelines will get rid of the awkwardness much quicker.

Coaches and parents should encourage the players to actively involve the ‘new’ player. Kids tend to do this anyway, but there are ways to expedite the process. Take the first 15 minutes of practice for every player to introduce themselves. Adding a simple ‘elevator speech,’ having the current players talk about what they like to do or what they like most about the team or sport can bring a sense of comfort to incoming new players.

Be Yourself

For the new player ‘in town’, the biggest advice is to “Be Yourself.” Do not try to come in as a know-it-all or as someone determined to ‘beat out’ the star player. Listen to the coaches, participate in drills, and interact with teammates in a positive manner. It will not be long until new friendships are developing and the ‘new’ team aura disappears. That’s when the sports activity gets the desired results – to compete and enjoy what you’re doing.