Summer camp with multiethnic school kids drawing words on a pavement outdoor floor as a symbol of recreation and fun education with a group of children working as a team for learning success.

Preparing for the 1st Camp

A family preparing to send a child to a ‘first ever’ summer camp will likely experience a lot of emotional peaks and valleys. For parents and children alike, there will be rushes of excitement and maybe even a twinge of uncertainty. Something new naturally creates a mixed bag of emotions. Once those timid thoughts are conquered by all the ‘positives’ a child is about to be a part of  camp, it’s time to get everything in order to make it a pleasant success.

It’s About the Children

Parents may have fond memories about summer camps they attended and may naturally want their children to attend the same camp. It may seem like a great idea, but it’s best to include the child in the overall decision of which camp they would like to attend.

Focusing on the current main interest of a child is a great place to start. Is it athletics? Is it academics? Is it drama? There are several camp options available for today’s youth. Giving the child a feeling of ‘ownership’ is a fantastic start to making the camp experience very rewarding.

Prepare the Child for Success

Verify with camp counselors what the child needs to bring to camp, what forms need to be signed (including any Legal Disclaimer or Health Form) prior to camp attendance. As for what the child brings or wears, ask specifics. Taking a child shopping for new sneakers and T-shirts may accelerate the excitement level of a child, but doing so when the camp suggest slightly worn clothes due to the nature of the camp (football, field hockey, e.g.) may turn out to be wasting money.

If camp activities are mainly outdoors a must-bring list should include:

  1. Sunscreen/sunblock
  2. Loose-fit clothing
  3. Proper footwear
  4. Change of socks/T-shirts

Other possible questions to ask:

  1. How are the children grouped? Age? Skill level?
  2. What steps are taken by the camp counselors to address discipline concerns?
  3. How does the camp address a discouraged first-time camper?

Timeliness

Parents need to arrive at drop-off/pick-up sites ahead of time. If there is a traffic tie-up, etc. have the camp phone number available to relay such a reason for a delay. Also, make certain the camp can easily access parents in the event of a child accident or illness.

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Benefits of Attending a Day Camp

Getting into the sports camp scene may seem to be a daunting task upon first glance. A parent wants a child’s camp to be a positive experience for the child (as well as for the parents). No matter the age group, the day camp alternative can be an excellent choice.

Weighing the Advantages

Enjoying the Experience (with limits)

A great reason to choose the day camp option, is the fact the child returns home in the evening. The opportunity to have your children step out of their normal routine of familiar surroundings and friends is provided without the uneasiness of the children having to sleep in a room with others they have just met. The anxiety levels for young athletes will already increase, given the fact they are going to be competing among strangers (at least until the new acquaintances become new friends). Not having to continually impress their new companions in the off-hours of camp allows for a reduction of those anxiety levels by the time the day campers reach their homes.

For the older participants (ages 12+), the day camp experience has the added attraction of being home in time to make arrangements for evening gatherings with friends from school or the neighborhood. Parents with children in this age range should pay particular attention to make sure the camp chosen caters to a broad spectrum of age ranges and skill levels. Camps offering topnotch coaching and advanced training methods are an important criteria for teens to consider.

New Learning with New Friends

Everyone needs to see change as a positive! A main reason for attending an athletic-based camp is to learn new skills. The fundamentals in sports rarely change, but different coaches teach those fundamentals in their own ways. Campers are going to be in a new and different atmosphere, an atmosphere of learning. They will be next to other campers there for the same reason. It creates an opportunity to share the new experiences and creates a natural ‘bonding’ forming new friendships between campers

Throwing Away the Safety Net

Figuratively, of course. Introductions of new ideas, renewed fundamentals – all among new friends – invigorates the athletic senses. It creates the opportunity for a child to go the extra step, to become a bit more of a risk taker. This lends to accelerating the learning process while also bringing a newfound enjoyment for the camp athletes.

Advantages for Parents

Allowing Children to ‘Spread their Wings’– without entirely losing control.

Specialty day camps allow campers to discover themselves on and off the field, in a surrounding they are familiar with. Your camper will have the freedom to explore and end their days dreaming of the goals they scored, baskets made or aces served against other campers they may see during their regular season. Nothing beats seeing the smile on your campers face after a fun-filled day of camp!

Less Worries and Concerns

The hours of day camp may alleviate a lot of the hustle and clock-watching parents must endure. At least for a few days, parents do not have to be a summer fun guide, scheduling events to occupy a child’s day. A daily drop off and pick up may provide a bit of stress reduction for parents.

New Conversation at the Dinner Table

A new daily experience for a child creates additional questions for parents to ask. The interaction can be both verbal and physical. Let the child explain and demonstrate what was learned at camp. This will also allow parents to see the child’s level of interest for the camp and can assist in determining if additional camp attendance is welcomed by the child.

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Sports and Child Development

Your child is growing and building new skills every day. Even though sports seem mostly physical, they also include other areas of development. More specifically, all of the areas of development – cognitive, social, and emotional. Understanding the connection between what your child is doing right now, can do, will do, and might not do for a while, and athletic types of activities can help to make the most of your child’s sporting experience. Learning about the sequence of child development, major milestones, and what to expect (and when) in terms of team play gives you the power to pick a sport that suits your child’s needs and abilities. So, what’s going on with your awesome athlete’s development? Check out the milestone markers that may directly affect what and how your child plays!

Preschoolers

It seems like your cute little baby just learned how to walk. And now you want to put them onto the soccer field? What? That’s right, kids as young as the preschool years are ready to start a sport. This doesn’t mean that your 3-year-old is passing the ball and scoring goals ala David Beckham. But, your sporty toddler can begin with basic activities that teach teamwork, listening/paying attention, balance and coordination. Look for these sports-related developmental milestones during the 3- to 5-year period:

Motor development. Your child is developing the abilities to:

  • Run
  • Kick a ball
  • Hop
  • Stand on one foot (for a few seconds)
  • Throw a ball (overhand, at this point)
  • Swing a bat (hitting a ball off of a tee)

Cognitive development. Your preschooler is building skills to:

  • Understand the concept of time (before the game, during the game, after the game)
  • Count up to 10
  • Follow up to a three-part command
  • Recall stories or some information that the child is told verbally
  • Participate in pretend play
  • Understand and follow rules (this is still emerging)

Social/emotional development. The milestones during the preschool years include:

  • Cooperating with others
  • Sharing
  • Taking turns
  • Resolving conflicts (this skill is only starting to emerge – the child may need adult help with this one)
  • Act independently
  • Show empathy

Kindergarteners and Young Elementary School-Aged Children

During the next few years your child is refining those preschool-period milestones. While you shouldn’t expect your young athlete to have a full grasp of sharing and turn-taking during the preschool years, as an older grade schooler you can. These budding abilities, along with developing empathy and resolving conflicts, help your child to better understand teamwork and good sportsmanship concepts.

Your child is also now able to follow a longer list of directions (in other words, more than three steps) and understands that rules are rules. During this period, kids are able to start learning about the more sophisticated rules of game play and follow a coach’s instruction.

As your sporting child is learning more about how the game is played, they’re also developing complex physical skills. Instead of stumbling often or missing the ball most of the time, your child is better able to aim and coordinate movements. This may show up as your child goes from hitting a ball off of a tee to hitting one with a bat, finally getting the ball into the basket or when they are able to move up to a new level/league.

Older Children

By the time your child is nearing the end of elementary school or starting middle school, they’re completely able to follow the sport’s rules. Young athletes, at this age, also have the ability to listen attentively to a coach, follow directions and demonstrate good sportsmanship.

When it comes to physical development, older kids are tackling complex motor tasks, building strength and improving flexibility. At this point your child may be developmentally ready for a travel team or league that provides a more competitive environment. Keep in mind, your player is still a child. They may understand that no one wins all of the time, but they won’t like losing. Your child may still stomp off the field or break out in tears when they don’t get a win.

Teens

Physically your teen may be on par with an adult when it comes to game play. Teenage athletes often specialize in one specific sport and have an amazing ability to focus on training. But, that doesn’t mean all teens have chosen one standout athletic activity. The teen years are a time of experimentation and trying to sort identity out. This may mean that your child who once loved tennis now wants to try soccer or volleyball. It’s not that your teen is indecisive, lazy or being difficult. Instead, it’s more likely that they are trying out all of their options.

Keep in mind, developmental milestones aren’t set in stone. While the sequence is fairly predictable, some children meet milestones right on time and others may be early or late.

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Parent or Coach? What Happens When You’re Both?

Parental involvement is key at every level. At school. Obviously, at home. And, when it comes to sports, too. But, what happens when you move from the sidelines and onto the field? That’s right – you’re the coach and a parent at the same time. Not only are you rooting for your child, but you have a whole team of children to help, too. Understanding how this balancing act plays out on the field, and at home is all part of being both parent and coach.

Playing Favorites, or Not

It’s tempting to put your child first. That’s what you do all day. So it only makes sense that you keep going during the one hour you’re at practice or at a game. Right? You need to put the starters on the field, and your child is the natural choice. After all, you’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that they’re the best. Now you get to let them show it. The problem is, you’re looking at your child’s ability in a completely biased way. You see your child as perfect, even if they’re not. It’s totally understandable. That’s what parents do – they see their children as stars.

Now it’s time to take a step back. No one is saying that you bench your child just because you’re also the coach. It’s not a matter of going completely one way or the other. It’s a matter of being fair. This is a shining opportunity to teach your child a lesson, and act as a role model. That said, it’s completely possible that your child won’t understand when you put a teammate in the game. Instead of ignoring the situation, explain to your child that it’s your job to give everyone (this includes your child and everyone else on the team) a fair chance. This means no playing favorites, and it also means not doing the opposite. Assure your child that you won’t purposefully bench them just because you’re mom or dad.

Keeping the Team Separate

Your child doesn’t have your full attention when you’re playing the role of coach. It’s just a fact. You’ve got a group of kids to help, and that means focusing on each one of them. But, when you leave the field, or the court, or wherever else you’re playing, the attention needs to go back to your child. Leaving team talk at practice shows your child that you’re a parent first, and a coach second.

It’s perfectly okay to come home and tell the rest of the family about a game, or what a great job your child did. The important part here is to keep the focus on your child.

When Your Child Makes a Mistake

You haven’t been playing favorites, and are pretty proud of yourself. But, then it happens – your child makes a major mistake. There are three options when this happens. The first is to forget you’re on the field, go into mom or dad mode and shout something along the lines of, “You’re grounded”.  Okay, so that won’t work.

The second option is to flip back into mom or dad mode and rescue your child. Again, that won’t work either. The third option is to treat your child like you would any other team member. When another child storms off the field after missing a goal and screams, “That’s not fair!” at the player who stopped the ball, you talk to them about good sportsmanship. The same should go for your child, too.

Talking to Other Parents

Even if you’re the most equitable coach ever, some parents may still think you’re playing favorites. When your child plays for 31 minutes and their teammate only gets 30 minutes of game time, the teammate’s parent may say that you’re not being fair.

Create a set of fair play and fair treatment rules that you expect yourself and all of the team to follow. Explain these to the other parents, and invite them to ask questions, if they need to. Along with this, consider asking some of the other parents for their help. An assistant coach (or two) is always appreciated. And, with a few other moms or dads helping out, no one can say that you’re playing favorites.

Balancing your roles as parent and coach is a challenge. You want to be there for your child, but you also need to be there for all of the team. Yes, it can be stressful taking on both jobs at once. But, the rewards are worth it. Not only will you get to spend extra time with your child, but you get to act as a role model too!

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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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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.