Turf vs. Grass Fields

Turf vs. Grass Fields

Many things factor into how well a sport can be played. The equipment, the weather conditions, the type of field, are all factors. That’s why we wanted to discuss the difference between synthetic turf and natural grass field in youth sports and how each affects the way the youth players play the game.

The Benefits of Grass

Some would say that the main benefit of grass is that it’s natural and looks far better than synthetic turf. However, that’s mostly a matter of opinion. The more measurable benefits are certainly the facts that grass does not overheat, and it helps in improving the quality of the air the players breathe.

Unlike all synthetic grass, natural grass cannot overheat during the summer when there are more games, and the temperatures are much higher. When water runs through real grass, the moisture remains in it, which helps it stay cooler, something that is not the case with synthetic turf.

As for better air quality, grass, just like all other plants, breaks down pollutants from the air and produces oxygen. That’s useful for all of us anywhere, but it’s especially helpful if the field in question is in a larger city where pollution is on a much higher level than in other areas.

The Benefits of Turf

The main advantages of synthetic turfs or any type of artificial fields are the fact that they are easy to maintain and that they have a much longer life expectancy. It doesn’t matter how much playing happens on that turf; it is evident that this type of field lasts much longer than other types of fields, especially natural grass.

The synthetic grass used in turfs is not immune to problems as it’s not resistant to tears and rips that soccer shoes and other athletic equipment usually cause. However, these things still happen less often than with other fields. That’s also one of the main reasons why there’s less maintenance required in these fields. There is no mowing and watering to be done, and there’s no care and fertilizing needed as is the case with natural grass. There is only occasional rinsing and brushing.

Which is Better?

It’s not an easy question to answer all in all. It seems to depend on what you and the players require from the field and which benefits you feel are more desirable.

However, it’s also worth mentioning the injuries that can occur depending on the type of field the youth players are using. We’ve already written about it before, and it seems that all research points to the fact that artificial or synthetic turf can cause more injuries to players than natural grass can.

Now, for some, this might be enough of a reason not to use synthetic turf as the preferred type of fields on which the youth athletes are playing. However, it’s still evident that if we are going to care about the well-being of our children, we shouldn’t opt for turf instead of grass, even though there’s more maintenance involved.

What do you think?

How Youth Sports Can Help Ease Anxiety and Stress

How Youth Sports Can Help Ease Anxiety and Stress

If your child is suffering from stress and anxiety due to school or something else, you should consider getting them interested in sports. Even though there are fewer children playing sports now than before, you should work towards changing that but getting your children to participate in a youth sport of their choosing, or even more than one.

We say this because sports has scientifically been proven to help with anxiety and stress in both adults and children. Let’s take a look at how that works in youth sports and how your child can benefit.

It’s More Than Another Additional Activity

Physical activity should not be considered as a chore, even though some children might feel like that. Physical activity and sports, in general, are more beneficial than they are problematic. Even though your child might already have a lot to do every day, and by adding another ‘chore’ you both might feel like it would do harm, the reality is the exact opposite.

Playing sports will bring your child a lot. They will start leading a healthier lifestyle and will improve their social skills and cooperation. They will learn and gain a lot that will eventually benefit them in later life – competitiveness, ambition, and they will build character.

All of this is why your child should play sports even if that means that they will have a lot more to do every day. It will be stressful at first as those problems don’t go away overnight, but once they get into it, these practices and matches will ease their anxiety and stress.

What Do Sports Do for Our Bodies?

  • They stimulate the production of endorphins

Sports and other physical activities are essential when it comes to our endorphin production as they stimulate its production. Endorphin is, as you probably already know, responsible for our mood. Essentially, youth sports can help your child feel better and thus ease stress and other problems.

  • They promote socialization

It might seem like something that won’t work on stress and anxiety, but in reality more socializing can help your child in many ways. Children need socializing, the need to make bonds with other children, and they need friendship. The best way to get all of that is by playing team sports. That socialization will eventually relieve them of stress and anxiety with which they’ve been struggling before.

  • They lower depression levels and promote better sleep

Finally, it’s worth noting that there are a lot of studies that show that sports can help ease the symptoms of depression and can also promote improved sleep patterns. Sleep on its own is a great way to alleviate anxiety and stress, and when sports induce it, it’s even better.

The Bottom Line Once you consider all of this, it becomes quite evident that youth sports can benefit your child in more ways than you previously thought. It’s thus imperative to get your child to play sports if they are having problems with stress and anxiety. However, make sure you are not pushing them too hard because over-training can bring these problems back.

Youth football programs lean on crowdfunding to afford Vicis’ high-tech helmet

Youth football programs lean on crowdfunding to afford Vicis’ high-tech helmet

Football is still America’s game in U.S. high schools, drawing more than a million athletes each year. But concerns over the lasting effects of concussions have caused youth participation in the sport to dip in recent years.

Vicis, a Seattle startup, wants to help preserve the game for younger athletes with a high-tech helmet that recently ranked first in Virginia Tech’s inaugural youth football helmet safety ratings.

But many youth programs are finding it difficult to pay the $495 price tag, sparking questions of fairness: should the safest helmet only be available to those who can afford it?

Five Seattle-area football programs announced that they would be using the Vicis helmet earlier this month, but several are from the region’s wealthiest areas, such as Bellevue and Mercer Island, Wash.

Just down the street from Vicis’ production facility in Seattle, the Ballard Jr. Football program launched a crowdfunding campaign that aims to raise $50,000 to pay for the helmets, which are designed to mitigate the forces thought to cause concussions. Neighborhood news site MyBallard first reported the fundraising effort, which has taken in more than $8,000 so far.

“We’re definitely not in the best position to pay for [the helmets] or fundraise for them in our community,” said Andrew Muller, the Ballard program’s league president.

Inequality in youth sports has been documented over the past several years, with some pointing to the high cost of youth sports as a reason for declining athletic participation. In Washington State, the governing athletics association recently approved an amendment intended to help low-income schools be more competitive in sports.

But protecting a teenager’s brain adds another layer to the debate.

Justin Pressley, head football coach at Volunteer High School in Church Hill, Tennessee, told GeekWire that the high price point is prohibitive for most teams.

“I actually really love the Vicis helmets. I would love for our kids to get a chance to wear them,” he said in an email. “If it’s truly the safest, it has to be affordable for everyone if they care about the sport of football.”

Pressley estimated that it would cost $30,000 to equip his youth team with Vicis helmets. For high school teams, the cost would be even higher, since older students need to buy the $950 Vicis ZERO1 helmet.

Nearly half of parents say they would sway their kids away from playing football due to concerns over concussions, according to a poll last year from NBC and The Wall Street Journal. Participation in high school football has declined 6.5 percent in the past decade as increasing research links the sport to brain disease.

Another crowdfunding effort in Boca Raton, Fla. aims to purchase Vicis helmets for schools in the area. The effort was spearheaded by Adam Levine, whose son Miles suffered a serious concussion last year during a football game. Several other individual players and teams have turned to websites like GoFundMe to raise money for the helmets.

Levine said that the players at his local school, who live in a wealthy area, are still “wearing the helmets that I wore when I was there.” Levine received more than $50,000 in support to help pay his son’s medical bills, but has only been able to raise $500 toward the new helmets.

“[The Vicis helmets are] really expensive,” he said. “No public school is spending that kind of money on helmets.”

The ZERO1 Youth helmet is more than double the price of the second-rated helmet in the Virginia Tech safety rankings, the Xenith Youth X2E+. But it’s also less expensive than the third-rated helmet, the Schutt Youth F7, which sells for $570.

The difference in performance between the top two helmets was stark: Xenith’s helmet came in 1.4 points behind Vicis’ on a 5-point scale, which measured the ability to reduce acceleration due to impact.

Vicis has raised $84 million since spinning out of the University of Washington in 2014. After only two years on the market, 28 NFL teams and 120 NCAA programs now use the company’s helmets.

But the startup’s long-term goal is to offer its products to younger athletes. Vicis first introduced the youth version of its ZERO1 last fall and will begin deliveries of the helmet in June. Vicis’ youth version is nearly half the cost of its ZERO1 adult helmet, which retails for $950.

Tony Titus, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Vicis, said the company has invested $20 million into research and development to create its helmets for youth and adult players.

“The thing we won’t ever sacrifice — and haven’t — is to put the money and the time in up front to design a really good product,” he said. “We want to make our product as accessible as possible, but not at the cost of performance. There’s always a challenge when you innovate that you don’t want to leave anybody behind.”

Vicis has group discounts for youth football programs that can reduce the cost of helmets by as much as 20 percent. It also offers financing programs and has partnered with FundMyTeam, a crowdfunding website for youth sports teams, to offer fundraising services at a reduced rate.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers participated in a $28.5 million funding round last year that coincided with the launch of the youth helmet. “We invested in VICIS because its commitment to player safety — specifically at the youth level — is one we wanted to support,” Rodgers said in a statement at the time.

For Muller, the Ballard football coach who is fundraising to purchase the Vicis helmets, the decision to go with Vicis was “a no-brainer.” Muller’s players have tested helmets for Vicis in the past and have even appeared as models in the company’s marketing.

“I love the game of football. I don’t want to see it go away,” he said. “But I also want to make sure that we’re doing everything possible to make sure our kids are playing the game as safely as possible.”

Vicis said it has sold thousands of the new youth helmets, but most programs won’t place helmet orders until June or July.

“Over time, as we achieve volume and cost savings, we are going to pass that along to make it more accessible,” said Titus.

3 Reasons Why Pre-Game Routines Are Important

3 Reasons Why Pre-Game Routines Are Important

It’s worth noting that the world’s best athletes have pre-game routines, and it’s been like that for as long as we can remember. But why is that the case? Do these routines play any significance in these athletes’ performance?

In this article, we will give you three compelling reasons which adequately explain why pre-game routines are essential for every athlete to have.

1.    They Are the Best Preparation Method

First and foremost, pre-game routines are the best preparation method an athlete can use. Why? Mostly because habits develop your abilities and skills, they essentially get you ready for the match ahead. An excellent pre-game routine will enable you to ascertain everything you know you can do essentially.

Routines do this by making sure that everything you have learned in practice will now be effectively performed in the game. You can develop these routines during practice and repeat them before a match, and that should be enough to get you truly ready for the game.

2.    They Build Confidence in Your Abilities

The only thing in a game that you can control is yourself. You can do nothing about the weather conditions or the knowledge of your opponents. You can barely even control how your team performs. The only thing that you can control is your playing and your ability.

Even when you’re a great player, you’ll still lose faith in yourself from time to time, which is where routines will come in handy. They enable a player to build their confidence and get them mentally ready for the game at hand.

3.    They Calm You Down

We all, as human beings, love routines. We like having some consistency about a lot of things in our lives. It calms us down because it reassures us that everything is alright. That all works on a deep psychological level and in an effort not to get too technical – routines are familiar, we know how they unfold and what will happen, and this certainty inherently breeds safety.

The same can be said for sports and pre-game routines. By repeating particular moves, we’ll naturally feel safer and thus more calm in that period when most athletes are under stress. The game that’s about to start won’t be a scary thing anymore once all the frequent moves, i.e., your routine, have been performed.

Build Your Perfect Routine

There’s no routine out there that can help you achieve what you want to achieve, but you can certainly build one for yourself.

Every player needs to take a look at what works best for them and develop that into a sequence of moves that will work as a pre-game routine.

If you are a coach, you should explain this to your players and get them to start developing their routines if they don’t have ones. Explain to them that the habit will end up being more than merely helpful. They might even lead them to have the best game of their lives. If you’re interested in more articles like this one, feel free to take a look at our blog, or contact us if you want to get more information.

Playing Favorites in Youth Sports

Playing Favorites in Youth Sports

It often happens in youth sports that the coach chooses to use the same players many times over. It leaves the parents of the kids not getting to play puzzled and sometimes angry.

Why is the coach not picking my child? Do they not like my child? Is my child not good at this sport? There are a lot of questions that naturally arise in such situations, and all of these are valid concerns. There can be a lot of reasons why a coach is choosing certain players and not others.

However, the reality is usually straightforward. The coach chooses specific players because they think those are the best players on the team and the coach wants their team to win.

Having Favorites – Is It Good?

For many, this is the clear case of a coach having favorites, and it can get very annoying for both the looked over players and their parents. In the end, the most important thing for both players and their parents is for the players to play the game. Winning matters, but playing is more important to most of those involved.

We at League Network believe that youth sports need to be more about playing and having fun and not about winning. Yes, winning does matter, but it can’t always come at the cost of most players having the chance to shine.

In youth sports, it’s essential for the children, especially in their pre-teen days, to have enough chances to learn and train – and they can’t do that unless they get the opportunity to play in matches.

So, mostly, having favorites cannot be a good thing, especially as it leads to coaches rarely using other players, which leads to resentment and a desire to stop playing the sport altogether.

What Can You Do?

If you’re a parent of a child not getting enough chances to play, the first thing that you should do is discuss this with the coach. Most coaches are reasonable, and they just got carried away with their desire to win. They will give your child a chance if you explain to them what’s going on.

However, sometimes coaches will not listen to reason, and they will remain firm in their stance to only choose their favorites as that’s the best way for them to win the game.

In such cases, the only thing that you can do is to get your child to practice more and try to become much better.

On the other hand, in some situations coaches have favorites because of their relationship with the parents – for example, the parents are their friends, or they are wealthy and support the school, and they demand their child to play. In such cases, it can even happen that the child is a terrible player, so such favoritism is bringing no one any good.

In these cases, the only thing that can be done is for a larger group of parents to confront the coach and try and convince him or her to turn over a different leaf and stop having favorites.

All in all, a conversation is always the best course of action when coaches are playing favorites.