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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.




5 Reasons To Keep Playing Sports

It’s quite common for lifelong sports fanatics to suddenly question whether there’s any point in playing team sports anymore. Here are five reasons why you absolutely should keep at it.

As life gets busier, academic demands increase and you gain more freedom to spend time with your friends, it’s only natural that you reassess how you manage your time. There are only so many hours in the day and you need to make sure you’re using yours effectively to get the most out of life. Many teenagers find themselves under a lot of pressure from school, friends, family and even work commitments. How can you do all of the things you need to do, without missing out on any of the things you want to do?

Sadly, many teenagers choose to give up the sports they have been involved with for years as a way of freeing up some extra time. Of those, many later regret the decision. So, if you’re currently wondering how you can free up more time, here are five reasons why quitting your sports team isn’t the answer:

1. It’s Good for Your Health

Your involvement with team sports is one of the things keeping you healthy. The time spent training each week, not to mention the hours spent running around on the field, are what help your body to stay in shape. You’re exercising whilst doing something you love, you’d have to be crazy to give that up. Even if you drop out of the team, you’ll need to replace the activity with other exercise to make sure you stay healthy, so it may not even buy you much in the way of free time. Your health is important and team sports are a great way to stay in shape.

2. It’s Not All About Your Future Employment

Many young people decide to give up playing sports when they realize they’re not going to make a career out of it. If it’s not going to be how you make a living, it can suddenly seem like a waste of time. But playing sports isn’t just a career opportunity, it can also be a lifelong hobby that you can enjoy with friends and family. You don’t need to quit the team just because you’re not planning on playing soccer full-time. It’s perfectly ok to play for fun – in fact, what better reason could there be to play a game other than that you love it?

3. It’ll Be Good for Your Resume

You might not be planning to take up basketball as a profession, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to help you out in your professional life. Playing team sports teaches players a lot of valuable skills and employers know that. When they see that you play regularly in a league, potential employers assume you’re a team player, a fast thinker and somebody who isn’t afraid to work hard. Having that on your resume could make all the difference between getting an interview and never hearing back. Isn’t it worth it for that alone?

4. It’s Fun

You know how much you’ve always loved sports? The adrenaline, the team spirit and the celebration when you score – it’s undeniable, sports are fun. Playing on a team allows you to enjoy all of these positives whilst having fun. Okay, not every game is fun. Some games you’ll twist your ankle, miss the goal or go home empty-handed. But even on those days, you’ll have had fun, let off steam and work as part of a team. You don’t need to give up this slice of fun to juggle your school work and social life.

5. Your Teammates Are Your People

The great thing about playing sports is that you have a ready-made group of friends for life. Your teammates are your people. They know you and support you. Of course, you can stay friends with these people when you leave the team, but it will never be quite the same.




For Athletes Time is Just a Number

Your parents are worried your increased interest in athletic pursuits will have a negative effect on your grades. You make the promise nothing like that will ever happen, but the nightly two-hour practices are eating into your homework time. What can you do to keep the promise to your parents?

You aren’t alone in this situation. The leap from childhood to the teenage years – includes a natural increase in the amount of homework you stash in your book bag. Around the same time in your life, you decide to ‘step up your game’ by trying out for stronger and more competitive athletic teams. You want to make the jump from the ‘recreational’ athlete to that of performing in the more competitive ‘select’ or ‘travel’ arena.

The twice-a-week recreational practice and once-a-week game schedule has now become a week filled with four practice days and two game days – or even a complete weekend of multiple tournament games. It’s tough to scrounge up enough time to finish your schoolwork, and when you do sit down and open a text book you find yourself so exhausted you can’t even concentrate.

Professional basketball coach Pat Riley once commented, “There are only two options regarding commitment. You’re either in or you’re out. There’s no such thing as life in-between.” This is exactly true of your life right now. This is where you must make a commitment to following some simple rules of time management. You have already decided you want to better yourself as an athlete by increasing your activity in a sport, but you cannot take this time from your study time.

There will always be some consequence to every decision you make, that’s why it’s important to think about them carefully. You know you have to get started on researching a social studies report, but the report isn’t due until next week. So, you log into the GroupMe chat set up with your friends. A quick ‘check-in’ results in eating up 45 minutes. Those minutes are lost. You cannot get them back. Using them to start your research would definitely lower the stress level affecting your school performance next week. By making such a simple adjustment, you have initiated a time management strategy. The mature decision not only helps you keep a promise to your parents, but it also lets you keep the even bigger promise to yourself. Besides, if you are productive you may also get those 5 minutes of chatting you promised yourself, but as a reward!

Successful coaches are the ones to make every minute of practice time matter. The same can be said of successful student-athletes. Develop a weekly and daily ‘quick assessment’ of all the school work you are facing. For example, you have a social studies report but still have 10 days before it is due. If this week is light on math and science homework, set up some extra time to start your project. If you let “light” homework weeks be too relaxed you will end up with all-nighter the next week. Take advantage of the natural balance in your homework and be as productive as you can.

There may be times when it may just seem impossible for you to fit everything into your life. If it comes down to a decision between your school work and athletics, there really isn’t a decision to make. Education is priority one. Let your coach know of your situation as soon as possible. Some coaches may tell you skipping practice will result in not starting or not playing the next game. The coach may not want to make such a harsh decision but he also must consider your teammates who are not missing a practice, particularly if there is a set of team rules, which cannot be ignored. However, most coaches are very understanding and if they see you are a hardworking student-athlete they will give you a chance to make it up to the team.

Young football players

Picking a New Sport

You’ve played soccer since preschool and were first at bat on the t-ball field. But, now you’re thinking of starting a new sport. How can you pick a new athletic activity? It’s not always easy – especially if you’ve been playing the same sport for years. Whether you’re looking for a change or want to add another activity to your roster, make selecting a new sport easier with a few simple steps!

Pick a Sport YOU like

It’s easy to get drawn into an activity because all of your friends are doing it. Consider it peer pressure – in a positive way. Joining a sport gives you benefits galore, including a healthier lifestyle and teaching you social skills (such as teamwork and sportsmanship). Sometimes it just takes a push from your friends to join in, get up and start a new sport. That said, if you honestly don’t want to play the sport, don’t do it. Considering a sport because your friends rave about how much fun they’re having can help the selection process, but considering a sport that you have no interest in only because your friends tell you to, isn’t the way to go.

Go To a Game, or a Few

You’ve been to your fair share of major league baseball games, but have you seen your local community team at play? If you’re considering joining the school or a rec center team, take some time to see a game or two. Doing this gives you a better idea when it comes to if you want to join the team or not. Introduce yourself to the coach while you’re there and discuss the possibility of joining in.

Talk to Your Parents

While talking to a coach can help your decision-making process, discussing the new sport with your parents gives you a point of view from the people who know you the best (even if it feels like they don’t). Ask for their input. If you don’t agree with what they say, talk to them about it. Maybe one of your parents played the sport in high school and knows you won’t like it or maybe they just know what you will and won’t like. Your parents can also help you to match your school, homework and after-school activity schedule with possible sports practice.

Make a List

Not sure at all what sport you want to play? Write a list of what you’re looking for or what skills you feel confident in. For example, if you’re a social person and prefer a team sport, tennis may not be for you. But, if you like being independent this type of sport might fit you. You probably won’t meet every point on your list. Try to match your potential pick with as many items on your list as possible. That’s okay if you miss a few points. But, if you’re missing all of them, it probably isn’t the best option.

Give It a Try

Sometimes the only way to make sure that you enjoy an activity is to do it. If you’re not 100 percent sure about a sport, sign up and give it a try anyway. You might find out that it’s your favorite activity or it might be a dud. In either case, you won’t be left wondering if you made the right or wrong decision. Imagining, talking about and thinking what it would be like to play the sport isn’t the same thing as playing it. Give yourself a chance (at least a few weeks of practice) to decide whether the sport is, or isn’t, the right fit.



How Can Sports Help You in School

School and sports. Do they seem like two completely different things? In one you’re running down a field, throwing a ball and getting active. In the other you’re sitting at a desk with your head in a book. If they seem like total opposites, they can be. That said, sports can actually help you in school. Here’s how.

Stopping Stress

Playing a sport can lower your stress level and reduce anxiety, according to the Institute of Medicine. Why is this important in school? Let’s say you have finals or a big test coming up. You probably feel a little stressed – at the very least. Right? Hitting the track for practice, getting into the weight room during training time or running around the soccer field regularly can help you to relax! The less stress you have, the more of your mind you can devote to your school work. Along with that, reducing general (or school) anxiety lets you calm down and focus.

Better Performance

Research may show a connection between being physically active and having better brain function. What do the scientists think? Some studies have found that intense physical activity helps children to actually think better. This may lead to increased test scores and overall better grades. Of course, physical activity alone isn’t the key to school success. Even though some research says that sports and stand-out school performance go hand-in-hand, other factors such as studying, focus, hard work and motivation are absolutely necessary to do well. This means that relying solely on your sport to give you an academic boost won’t do. But, it is possible that athletic activities can help do better in your classes.

A Healthier Body

A study of more than 1,900 fifth, seventh and ninth graders in California schools found that children and teens with a lower BMI (body mass index) had better standardized test scores in math, reading and language than those with higher BMIs. Since sports lead to healthier bodies, it’s possible that your athletic activities are leading to better school performance. What’s the concensus from the research? Lowering your BMI, through sports and other physical activity, not only helps your body, but also helps your brain.

Team Building

You already know ‘there’s no I in team’. You’re a good sport on the field, and that teaches you to do the same off the field too. Even though school isn’t exactly a team effort, you need social skills to navigate through your academic day. Why? There are times when your teacher may ask you to work on a group project, pair up with a friend or study with classmates. Your team experiences during sports practice and games can help you to get along with your study group, participate more fully and work together.

Learning Leadership

Whether you’re the team captain or not, sports can teach leadership. There are times when, at practice or during games, that you’ll need to help your teammates, call a play or take charge. You bring these leadership skills to school as well. This may translate into you taking a role in student council, heading a study group or feeling more comfortable presenting a project in class.

Sports can also help you in seemingly small ways at school. From the time management skills that you develop balancing practice and homework to the mindset that you have to succeed, sports give you abilities, ideas and knowledge that lead to school success!



Player Profile: Sue Bird


Sue Bird is arguably one of the best basketball players in the US right now. She is often considered one of the best point guards ever.  After 14 years of playing professional basketball, Bird continues to perform well for her team. Bird is set to represent Team USA in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. This will be her opportunity to earn a fourth consecutive gold medal in basketball.


She is 36 years old and 5 ft. 9in, and was born in Syosset, New York. She has been shooting hoops ever since she was a five-year-old spectator watching her big sister play in basketball games. Bird now wears a number 10 shirt to honor her sister’s birthday which is in October, the tenth month of the year. She credits her sister, Jennifer, for being the reason she plays basketball today.


Sure has been playing professional basketball for 14 years. She played basketball throughout high school and won a number of awards for the sport. While in college, Bird competed in a game against Notre Dame that has been dubbed ‘the best women’s basketball game ever played’.


She won gold medals at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics and is hoping to go on to do the same later this year in Rio. She plays for the Seattle Storm and represents her country at national events.


Speaking of why she started playing basketball, Bird told FIBA: “You just played because it was fun. You played because your friends rang your doorbell and said ‘hey, let’s go’ and you just went, you know. And from there, I started to join teams.” Bird is the most decorated athlete in FIBA history to play in world championships.


Diana Taurasi, author of her biography writes in Bird’s official website, “Even with all her remarkable accolades, Bird is still the kind, sweet, and thoughtful person we all know and love. She’s everybody’s favorite teammate, maintains a high appreciation for her fans and habitually gives back to the community from an authentic desire to make the world better. There’s something unmistakably genuine, honest, interesting and all-around fun about Bird.”


When asked by KidzWorld whether she had any tips for kids hoping to make a career out of playing basketball, Bird had the following words of wisdom to share: “If that’s your dream you have to really work hard for it, but always make sure you’re having fun. If it’s not fun, then you really have to re-think what you want to do. You always want to be able to smile at the end of the day and have fun out there. I guarantee that if you have fun while you’re playing, you’ll keep getting better.”




3 Tips For Getting Into The Olympic Spirit



The Olympics will kick off in Rio on Friday August 5 2016 and continue for over two weeks. With the 2016 Olympic games approaching, it’s time to start thinking about how your team is going to get involved this year. While a trip to Rio may be off the cards, there are other ways you can celebrate these historic games.


International sporting competitions like the Olympics are a great way to encourage team bonding, sportsmanship and some healthy competition within your team. Your team will be inspired by the athletic performances on offer at the Olympics. The Olympics encourages people to watch sports, to talk about sports and generally become interested in sports. This can be great for team morale and provide a boost to your team members. So, to make the most of those two weeks of sporting fun, here are three tips for getting into the Olympic spirit:

Have an opening night party

The opening night celebration at the Olympics is a pretty big deal. The hosting countries usually spend a great deal of money on an entertaining and vibrant evening performance to be enjoyed around the world. You’ll get to see some of your favorite athletes and cheer on the US as athletes are introduced to the cheering crowds. Invite your team mates to watch the celebrations!

Hold a mini Olympics

You don’t need to leave the Olympics to the professionals, you can get your team involved too. Why not organize a mini Olympics event for your team to compete in? This could be a day long tournament with your neighboring teams, allowing the local community to get involved and support community sports. A general athletic competition solely for players from your team to get involved with could also be a valuable event. Selling tickets to the event and putting the money towards something new for a good cause could also serve as a fundraising event for your team.

Celebrate your sport

Whatever your sport might be, you should take this opportunity to celebrate it with your team. Invite the team to join you watching your favorite sports professionals compete for the medals. Nothing builds comradery quite like cramming in the club house and watching the games around a television. It’s also a great learning opportunity, after all, these competitors are the best in their field, what can your team learn from them?


How will you be celebrating the Olympics this year?


3 Great Ideas For Team Cooperation


Being a team is about much more than just shooting a few goals. To achieve perfection on the field, you’ll need to work hard to strengthen and maintain relationships off the field as well. After all, a team who plays together, stays together. If you’re looking for fun and engaging ways of encouraging team bonding, look no further. This list is all you need to build the perfect team:

  1. Community service

Few things leave a person feeling more content than chipping in, helping out and getting things done. If you want to teach the players to work hard, get along and have fun, community service is a great way to do so. There are lots of different things you can do to make a difference in your local area. From picking up litter in the local park to giving under 5’s their first taste of life on the field, there are plenty of things to choose from. Ask the team to submit ideas and give them the chance to vote on which activity they do.

  1. Forest Fun

The great outdoors is the perfect place to get to know each other better. Being out in nature can have a positive effect on your attitude and helps you unwind and sleep better at night. From a weekend camping and hiking in the mountains, to an afternoon of extreme den building in your local woods, there are plenty of different options for outdoor activities. What could be better than cooking dinner on a barbecue, toasting marshmallows around a campfire, and climbing trees?

  1. Helping Each Other

The best bonding activities don’t require big budgets, hours of planning, or a laminated itinerary. In fact, sometimes the best teamwork building activities come from the heart. Look out for and seize opportunities to help each other out as a team. Is there anything that could be done to make life easier for anyone on the team? If so, take the opportunity to work together and achieve this. The team could pull together to help repair storm damage at a team member’s home or work together to organize a welcome home party for a player recently discharged from the hospital. Although you can’t plan these things far in advance, it helps to be aware of what’s going on in the team to see how you can all help.

How do you make sure your team respects, cares for and supports each other?

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team is Inspiring a Generation

USWNT_CelebratesSynopsis: The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team took home the Women’s World Cup in 2015, and inspired a whole generation of young female soccer players at the same time.

One of the biggest sporting events this year has been the Women’s World Cup, hosted in Canada. The United States team took home the title after missing out in the last three editions of this competition. While the U.S. team looked a little bit shaky early in the tournament, they progressed nicely as the cup continued and finished the job with a dominating 5-2 win over Japan.

Women’s sports don’t receive the spotlight nearly as often as men’s sports, so it is always worth noting when a large event such as the World Cup captures the attention of the country. Not only is it exciting to watch these women perform at the top of their game, but it is also inspiring to a whole new generation of aspiring soccer players. Thanks to the performance put forward by the U.S. Women’s National Team, countless young girls will now be dreaming of becoming the next Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan.

A Great Game for Kids

Soccer is an incredibly popular sport among young people, and it is easy to see why. Kids love it because there are few rules – especially at the youth level. They can run around, kick the ball with their friends, and have a great time. Since soccer is a ‘hands-off’ game, kids aren’t held back by hand-eye coordination that hasn’t quite developed yet. They can jump into playing soccer basically as soon as they are old enough to play with a ball, and it is a game that can be played with very little equipment.

Fitness is a Top Priority

As a game based on running, soccer places a high level of importance on overall physical fitness. In order to succeed on the soccer field, girls need to be physically active. Even if they only play soccer during their early school years, the lessons they learn on fitness will be valuable as they move later on in life.

Focus on Teamwork

Soccer is one of the most team-oriented games that kids can play. Teamwork is vital on the soccer field, as no one can defeat the other team individually. Not only is it a great lesson for kids to have to rely on the help of their teammates in order to succeed, but working together with others is a good step toward developing social skills.

Although not all young athletes are going to grow up to play on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, it doesn’t make the dream any less exciting. For young girls who fell in love with the game of soccer this summer, signing up for a team and making new friends will be a great experience. Whether they play for just a year or two, or go all the way to college and beyond, the passion they feel for this game can be traced into the thrilling performance of their heroes wearing the Red, White, and Blue.


Olympic Swimmers Work Hard In and Out of the Water


Whether competing in the 50 meter Freestyle or the 10K Marathon, the preparation for Olympic swimmers is much more than just practicing in the water. Swimmers also must take part in strength and conditioning sessions, follow specific nutritional guidelines and be prepared mentally for competing against the world’s best in the sport.


Did You Say No Water?

Known to the elite swimmer as the dry land routine, this consists of conditioning sessions which are used by athletes of many sports. For instance, coaches will have their swimmers do plyometric box jumps to build a swimmer’s lower body. There are also specific exercises to improve a swimmer’s range of motion, and fighting the body’s fatigue factors. Weight training, running and drills which use a medicine ball are common among swimmers of all Olympic events.

The Black Line

It’s the thick black paint, located at the center of each pool lane, and it is something the Olympic swimmer calls the ‘life’ line. Practice after practice the swimmers (unless in the backstroke) will keep an eye on the black line as they complete lap after lap during typical three hour pool sessions. Not all this time is spent on a swimmer’s specialty event. A lot of it includes drills to work various aspects of the entire swimming performance. Drills will concentrate on a swimmer being able to increase hip movement, use of the core muscles and getting faster feet. Add a typical practice totaling six or more thousand kilometers (a few thousand less on ‘taper’ days) and it is easy to see why Olympic swimmers are among the fittest of any athletic participants.


Despite the much-ballyhooed ‘unhealthy’ diet of gold medalist Michael Phelps, swimming coaches and nutrition advisors steer Olympic swimmers to proper nutrition as part of overall training. Swimming at the elite level burns up a lot of calories, but it doesn’t mean the calorie replacement should include sugar-laden, fried or processed foods. Also, the jury is out regarding replacing ‘real’ food with specialized ‘sports foods.’ With real food, it is easy to figure the amount of protein, vitamins and nutrients are actually being absorbed by the swimmer’s body.

Swimmers Getting Older

U.S. Olympic swimmers have come a long way since a 13-year-old Donna de Varona was part of the women’s preliminary heats in the 4×100 relay. The average ages of men and women Olympic swimmers has increased over the past 60 years. A published report shows the average age of a male medalist in the 2012 Olympics was 26.2 years. This compares to the average age of 21.2 during the 1984 games. For U.S. women, the average ages of swimmers winning medals has not risen as drastically. In the ’84 Olympics, the average age was 18.4 years, compared to 21.4 years at the 2012 games. Better funding of Olympic athletes in the U.S., as well as more concentrated training efforts and better nutrition guidelines are believed to be valid reasons for athletes remaining active in Olympic swimming for a longer period of time.

Perhaps you have overlooked swimming for a while because it may not seem like a challenging sport, however at the beginning or Olympic level it is very physically demanding and competitive. If you haven’t done so, give it a chance you might be the next US Olympic swimmer …or diver.