Nurture Your Mindset

Training an athlete’s mindset is just as important as all of the physical workouts.  Scott Hojlo, CoachUp Nation goes as far to say, “I know that many professional athletes would support me in saying this; athletes should also be training their own mind, as it to plays an integral role into athletic dominance.”

Many athletes and coaches recognize that it is indeed important to nurture and assess your mental attitudes.  All of this can be done through consulting sports psychologists, mental skills coaches, and life coaches whose goal is to help athletes with whatever mental barriers that they may experience.  Mental coaching can be extremely helpful to:

  • build confidence
  • lower anxiety and stress levels
  • maintain composure and confidence levels
  • work on positive mental reinforcement
  • overcome fear of returning to a sport after an injury
  • improve mindset

Professional sports athletes utilize the services of mental coaches to help them master mental strategies to polish up their game.  It may not be necessary to hire a mental coaching professional, it might just be fruitful to be aware and have an understanding that a strong healthy mindset can only enhance your abilities.

For more details:  The Forgotten Side of Sports: The Mental Side

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The Wonders of American Youth Sports

Jim Taylor, Ph.D., shared on Psychology Today, some of the great things happening in youth sports in America.  Dr. Taylor has  50 years of experience in youth sports which includes his participation in Little League baseball, soccer and his main sport which was alpine ski racing.  Currently, he is a mental coach in youth sports.

There is a huge concern that youth sports has metamorphosed from a fun team activity with health benefits and life-long skill acquisition to being just about winning at all cost.  Sadly, there is some truth to the down-side of what he calls the “professionalization of youth sports”.  But in this article at the dawn of 2019, Dr. Taylor highlights the positives, so as unite all those involved in youth sports, to continue to hold onto all the good stuff.  Here are some notable positive mentions:

  • tremendous passion surrounding youth and sports
  • investment in practicing, whether it is for the joy of loving the sport, fine-tuning skills, or part of a regimen to attain a sports dream
  • young athletes dedicated to their chosen sport/s
  • parents who make financial and personal sacrifices to provide their children with opportunities to participate in sports, so that their child will learn valuable life lessons and/or pursue an athletic goal
  • coaches and others who dedicate their energy to sports and ingraining the same passion for sports in the next generation

Dr. Taylor ends with, “What I know for sure is that when you combine smart and passionate people with a shared vision, an openness to change, a culture of innovation, and a spirit of collaboration, good things will happen. And the real winners are our children.”


For more information:  What’s Right about Youth Sports in America

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Strengthen Your Hamstrings

Dr. Dev Mishra, Soccer America, shares how important it is to take care of the hamstrings.  Over the years, it has become apparent that the hamstrings play an important role in preventing injuries and affects overall athletic performance.

Hamstring injuries can keep you off the field for some time, so strengthening your hamstrings may help prevent but not completely avoid injuries.  Hamstring injuries may also have as high as a 30% reoccurrence rate. One particularly effective but tough exercise is the Nordic hamstring curl.


When your hamstrings are strong and healthy they are directly related to your sprint speed.  When they are injured they will keep you off the field.  So take care of them.  Here are some facts to keep in mind:

• Your hamstrings impact your overall athletic health.
• There is a correlation between strong hamstrings and a lower risk to the ACL, and improved sprint speed.
• Make sure you include a hamstring strengthening program in your normal strength and warmup routine.


For detailed information:  Take care of the mighty hamstring

Check out:  Future Stars Soccer Camp

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Some Good Soccer Reads to Start off 2019

A good way to start off the new year for soccer fans is a chance to relax with a good book on your favorite sport.  The 2018 Soccer World Cup added to the publishing boom for soccer books and World Soccer Talk shares their guide and here are some of their suggested good reads:

  1. How Soccer Explains The World by Franklin Foer.
  2. The Ball Is Round: A Global History Of Soccer by David Goldblatt.
  3. Football Against The Enemy by Simon Kuper
  4. Soccer In A Football World by David Wangerin
  5. The Beckham Experiment by Grant Wahl
  6. The World is a Ball: The Joy, Madness, and the Meaning of Soccer by John Doyle.

For details:  The Ultimate Guide To the Best Soccer Books

Check out:  Future Stars Soccer Camp

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Balance is More Important Than You May Realize

Why exactly is balance considered an important athletic skill?  How can it be improved?  Stack.com shares some very interesting insights.  Keep in mind that “balance refers to the ability to maintain equilibrium in relation to the force of gravity”.  There are two types of balance:

  • Static balance – the ability to maintain equilibrium while being still
  • Dynamic balance – the ability to maintain equilibrium while being in motion

Balance could be considered a foundational skill that other forms of movement develop from.  Balance is connected to other cornerstone basic movement skills like running, jumping, twisting, rotating, etc., which are all intrinsic to many sports skills.  Balance is intergral to sports skills, so when should you train young athletes?  Youth training expert Józef Drabik suggests balance training for:

  • Boys at 10-11 years of age
  • Girls at  ages 9-10 for girls

Most often children can continue developing balance throughout pre-adolescence into early adolescence. even though balance reaches maturity at around the ages of 12-14.

Before dashing into formalized balance training, consider simple activities that support the development of balance such as:

  • playing at the playground
  • riding a bike
  • roller skating
  • swimming
  • skiing
  • ice skating

And here are some forms of balance that you can train for:

  • Supporting balance
  • Rolling/Rotational/Falling Balance
  • Gliding/Sliding/Cutting Balance
  • Air balance

Incorporate activities that develop balancing skills in the early stages and as your child matures, do consider looking into ways to improve and strengthen balancing abilities.

For detailed information on balance training and exercises:  How to Develop Better Athletic Balance

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Shooting Drills to Work On

It almost always goes back to practice, practice, practice the fundamentals, staying the course and staying determined to improve. Consistent shooting practice develops better shooting habits.  Pro Skills Basketball has 5 shooting drills for you to work on and here are 2 of them for you to tryout:

1.  Dribble Form Shooting Drill – The purpose of the drill is to help players maintain their balance when making a basket after dribbling. This drill trains players to shoot off the dribble with the correct footwork while ensuring balance.

Create 3 lines with to an equal number of players with each player holding their own basketball.  Position each line to be a couple of steps outside of the 3-point line.”The drill starts with a triple threat stance. The players will bounce the ball at the same time and then step with their dominant foot. Each player will then gather the basketball by planting the non-dominant shooting foot which their pivot foot. Each player will shoot the basketball as they step through with their dominant shooting foot.”

2.  Chase Down Lay-up Drill – The purpose of this drill is to help players practice their layup skills at full speed while under pressure from a defender.

“The drill starts when the coach brings the offensive player out a few steps from one side of the court opposite the basket where he will make the layup. This is to give him a fast break advantage.The coach will signal the offensive and defensive players to sprint from the floor. The goal of the offensive player is to make a layup while the defensive player challenges the layup without fouling. After the make or miss, both the offensive and defensive players will join the end of the lines at the end of the floor.”

The right drills will eventually strengthen good shooting techniques.  Confidence in your shooting will enhance your overall work on the court.

For more information:  5 Shooting Drills to do During Basketball Workouts

Check out:  Future Stars Basketball Camp

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Stay Occupied While “Riding the Pine”

It happens to every player on the team, time to sit on the bench.  As parents, coaches and baseball enthusiasts, what is the best advice to give young players?   Travel Ball Parents has some good insights to share:

  • Preparation is a good place to start, let your player know in advance that time on the bench is inescapable and happens to everyone.
  • Spend this time improving their fielding or hitting.
  • Watch and observe what is happening during the game.
  • Learn from the players on the field.
  • Time on the bench affords them the opportunity to cheer on their team.

Watching and waiting are a huge part of baseball and life.  Valuable lessons are availed during both times, teach your children how not to waste these valuable learning moments.

For more details:  How To Make the Most of Time on the Bench

Check out:  Future Stars Baseball Camp

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Looking for a Youth Bat?

Considering a bat for your baseball player? Baseball Monkey shares some tips on how to get the bat that will best fit your young athlete.

  1. Know your child’s height.  Start with a 26-inch bat, if your child is between 3’ and 3’4”.  Another way, to get the right measure is have your child stand next to bat with their cleats on, the bat should reach, but not exceed their hip. If it reaches past their hip area, it will be too long to swing.
  2. Your child’s weight and height help determine the best bat choice.  Both measurements contribute to deciding what type of bat they should swing.  The little league bat size chart uses a combination of weight and height to determine the best bat choice. In general:
  • Children under 60 pounds should swing a bat between 26 and 29 inches long
  • Children weighing more than 70 pounds should swing a bat ranging from 28 to 32 inches long

Bat drop should also be a factor to look into.  “Bat weight is measured by the minus or drop weight. Drop weight is the difference between the length and weight of the bat, so a bat that is 30 inches long and has a drop weight of -10 will weigh 20 ounces. The bigger the drop weight is, the lighter the bat will weigh.”   Please note that there are regulations for high school and college baseball bats.

Keep in mind that your choice of bat weight and length does effect the physics of the swing. For instance, consider the following:

  •  If you have a long, light bat, you can swing it very fast, but it will not have much inertia behind it.
  •  If you swing a short, heavy bat, you will not have the fastest bat speed, but will have plenty of inertia.

Picking the right bat that will enhance your child’s baseball abilities will be a personal one. Use some of these tips to make the decision that is best for your child and their comfort.

For detailed information on bat drop: How to Choose a Bat

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Some Sports to Introduce to Your Child

Physical activity is a great way for children to channel their exuberant energy.  Child experts encourage sports playing for many reasons including personal discipline, team and leadership skill-building, fun and social engagement, physical activity, mental stimulation, and character development.  Care.com shares the top 20 sport choices and the benefits of each and here are some of them:

  1.  Soccer – helps kids develop their endurance and learn foot coordination
  2. Baseball/Softball/T-Ball -helps with hand-eye coordination and teaches kids to focus and pay attention
  3. Swimming – enhances breath control and attention to details like proper form
  4. Golf – develops depth perception and strategy
  5. Tennis – emphasizes quick thinking maintaining proper technique and develops arm strength and accuracy

Encourage your child to try multiple sports and avoid early single-sport specialization.  Playing a sport or other physical activities encourage lifelong physical fitness.

For details:  The Top 20 Sports for Kids

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Encourage Lifelong Fitness Early

Mayo Clinic staff share some insights for parents to think about when exposing children to sports.  Beyond the common reasons why parents want their children to play sports, Mayo Clinic recommends sports playing and kid-friendly physical activities as a gateway to lifelong fitness.

Introduce your children to physical activity, either with your own interests or experimenting with new activities or sports that your child seems naturally drawn to.  Here are some age appropriate activities for youngsters:

Ages 2-5

  • Running
  • Tumbling
  • Throwing
  • Catching
  • Swimming

Ages 6-9

  • T-ball, softball or baseball
  • Running
  • Soccer
  • Gymnastics
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Martial arts

As you introduce your child to different physical activities, be positive and encouraging.  Take note of your child’s enjoyment level and natural aptitudes as they try new activities and support them in the direction that they are most comfortable in.  Don’t forget that not all children are drawn to organized sports, be sure to encourage and promote physical activties be it an organized sport or other activities like hiking and biking.  Whatever choice your child makes, make it a point to find the time to support or participate with them in their physical activity of choice.

For details: Children and sports: Choices for all ages

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