It’s a tricky question and an endless debate to which we
have an answer. An answer that won’t satisfy everyone, but after long research
and discussion, we believe it to be the only reasonable solution.
It’s Not as Simple as You Might Think
What’s more important in youth sports? Giving players equal
playing time or winning the game? More often than not, the two can’t go
together. You have to opt for one and sacrifice the other.
If you give everyone equal playing time, that inherently
means that the weak players will have to play as well. And that often results
in a lost game. However, if you don’t allow them to play and thus learn, how
are they to become better players?
On the other hand, if you focus on winning, many players
won’t get the chance to shine and learn. That will leave you with matches won,
but with a lot of disappointed children and parents.
So yes, it’s a tricky question to answer.
It Depends on the Age
Everyone wants to play the game, no matter the sport. That’s
especially true when it comes to children. If they don’t get the chance to play
in official matches, it will be like they never played at all, and they might
as well be sitting at home watching the game on TV.
When children play sports and join teams, they don’t want to
train merely. Training for them is a means to an end. They have to do it to get
better and finally get a chance to shine in an official match where there are
As youth sports are all about the children, We firmly believe that the children
should have the chance to do what they came here to do in the first place – play the game and have fun. Winning
the game comes in second place.
However, that’s not all. That should be the case for
children up until the age of fourteen and the high school years. At that point,
there needs to be a shift in the way of thinking.
Children at that point are no longer only children, they are
now real players, and as such, they need to earn their time on the field. At
that point, they prefer winning, and they want to keep getting better. Those
who don’t have nothing to look for on the field and don’t have to be there.
As you can see, the answer is not simple, and there can
never be a universal solution for everyone.
As long as kids are kids, they should have fun, and sports
are there to provide precisely that. At these stages of their development, they
should only have fun while developing their playing skills. The only way to do
that is for them to play the game.
When children get older, there should
be a gradual shift towards them earning their place in the game along with a
focus on winning the games. Nothing in life will come free, everything must be
learned and earned, and when your players are old enough, that’s precisely when
they should learn this simple truth. However, they should still have some fun
However, the modern times have brought upon us a whole different story. Kids today play with their phones, computers, and consoles, and most of that time involves sitting or lying down.
It was easier before in earlier times. Children used to play outside all the time, so the parents didn’t have to worry about their young athletes getting exercise and staying in shape.
Don’t get us wrong; you don’t have to push your child to their limits and not allowing them to have fun. But you should get them to exercise, or they’ll be completely unprepared when the next season starts.
The Best Kind of Conditioning
The off-season is the time for rest, but you still have to keep your young athlete in shape. The key during the off-season is to also full-body conditioning, no matter the sport your child plays.
Full-body conditioning exercises are vital because they build balance, agility, endurance, and coordination. Additionally, they are also strengthening the entire body.
Doing fewer exercises than usual can still be enough, and they will even allow the child to be ready when the season kicks in.
The Exercises to Use
- Split jacks are simple yet effective. One foot goes back and lowers into a lunge with the arms down. Then quickly jump up and switch to the same lunge with the other side. While jumping the arms should go up. The key is to do these in quick succession.
- Plank to low squats – your child certainly knows these already. Begin in the plank position and jump with the feet to a squat position, all the while keeping the hands in the same position. Then repeat the moves quickly for a short while.
- Mountain climbers are a useful type of full-body conditioning exercise. They are all about keeping the core tight and quickly switching the legs as if running horizontally.
- Pushups are also essential but require no explanation. The only thing most children forget is to breathe correctly by exhaling while going up and inhaling while going down.
- Speed skaters are tiring but effective. Start by moving to one side by stepping one foot behind the other and getting the legs crossed where the thighs are but getting them to be apart from each other with the feet. Then hop to the other side doing the same thing again. Keep doing these quickly; one after the other.
- Star jumps are also self-explanatory, but they need to be done right. When jumping, it’s vital to go as high as possible, and when squatting, the knees need to be in line with the feet and together with the bottom, parallel with the floor.
The Bottom Line
All in all, it’s not only important to stay active during the off-season but to do the right exercises as well. The explanations and exercises we gave above should be enough for your child to keep fit and ready when the new season kicks in. Furthermore, these exercises will prevent injuries as well.Contact the League Network if you would like to know more or find out about some additional exercises for your child.
This year, the NBA has suggested a change in the overall rules and guidelines for youth basketball. Among many changes, the most prominent ones are the exclusions of zone defense and 3-pointers.
The Changes – Are They Necessary?
The NBA argues that these changes will help with the development and enhance experiences for children. The current rules are more fit for adults, and many believe that children easily get discouraged from playing basketball as the games are long, the basket is high, and many shots are hard to accomplish, like the ubiquitous 3-pointers.
Many changes have been made, but all of them have been set to accommodate players according to their age, which is why the guidelines divide into four segments, ages 7 to 8, 9 to 11, 12 to 14, and grades 9 to 12.
For the first three segments, there are lower baskets as well as slightly smaller balls. Furthermore, neither group will play zone defense, and the 3-pointer shots will turn into regular 2 pointers. The opinions differ, and it doesn’t mean that everyone in the USA will implement the rules (the NBA and USA Basketball do not govern all youth tournaments in the country).
However, 3-pointers indeed are tougher for younger players, even high-schoolers. So, let’s see how prominent these shots are in youth basketball so you can decide for yourself whether or not they should exist.
The 3-Pointers in the Youth Basketball
Many youth sports have been losing in popularity in recent years, but 3-pointers in basketball have always been popular. However, their prevalence is high in adult basketball, which is not to say that they aren’t popular with kids as well. They indeed are, maybe even more so, however, they are not as prominent as they are in professional basketball because the children do not have the physical ability to shoot 3-pointers with relative ease as the adults do.
The basket is high and to achieve 3 points you have to be very far from the basket, which is a tough thing to accomplish when you’re young.
However, youth players do love basketball, and they usually try to emulate their role-models who are in most cases the big shots from the NBA. Since 3-pointers are ˝cool˝ in the eyes of children, they often try their best to perform them. It usually ends up as a waste of time because they sacrifice increasing their skills in other areas of the game.
Many would agree with this assessment, like one of the greatest NBA shooters of all time, Stephen Curry. He said: ¨My dad had the same kind of mentality of development as I got stronger and bigger. He wanted me to make sure I didn’t sacrifice form and mechanics just to be able to shoot an NBA three before I was ready.¨
For children, emulating their heroes is an excellent way to improve their skill, but when they attempt something that’s almost impossible for them at their age, they are wasting time that should be spent on the improvement of basketball skills in general.
We would love to hear your opinion, especially if you’re a parent or a coach, so comment below with your views on the matter.
Are you starting the healthy habit of running? Maybe you’re looking for ways to improve or add to your current regiment. Whatever the case, stretching before a run is crucial in preparing the muscles and the entire body for this strenuous activity. It will also reduce the risk of potential injuries.
Here, we offer you some useful stretches which you can perform before you begin every run.
1. Walking Lunges
Walking lunges are practically necessary before a run and are one of the best stretches you can do. That’s because they emulate the act of running itself, which means that all the muscles you’ll use while running, will warm up during these stretches.
How are they done? You stand with your feet joined, and you take a long step forward with one foot. You then bend the knee on this foot to 90 degrees and the other knee until it’s almost touching the floor. Remain like this for a few seconds then slowly rise and repeat the same thing with the other leg. You can make about 10 of these lunges.
2. Calf Raises
As the calves are under a lot of strain while you’re running, you can help them out a bit by stretching them a bit before a run.
How are they done? Start by standing on the edge of a stair, facing in. You need to stand on the balls of your feet while the rest of each foot is in the air, over the edge. You can also hold onto a stair rail to keep your balance if you need to. Now start by rising on your toes and then slowly lowering the feet until they come below the stair. Hold for a moment and then repeat the same thing several times. If you want, you can do this for each foot separately.
3. Side Stretches
Since side stitches are a common problem for runners, side stretches can be useful as you stretch the torso that’s affected from this type of pain. You can do these while standing, or you can do them while you’re performing the kneeling hip flexor stretch.
How are they done? First, you bring your arms up over the head, and you lean to one side then to the other, bending only the waist, all the while keeping your abdominals tight. You can take these stretches a step further by remaining in position while bending for a few seconds on each side.
4. Around the World Lunges
Once again, you can stretch all of the major muscles used while running with these stretches.
How are they done? First, one of your legs needs to be stationary, and then you lunge backward with the other foot. Then you make a side lunge, and you have to remain there for a moment. Now, return to the center and lunge forward with the same foot. Again, make a side lunge. When done, you need to make a curtsey lunge which is done by bringing the same leg behind the other one and then bending the knees (basically, like you’re attempting a bow or dip.) You need to repeat this pattern five times, and then you can switch the legs and do the same thing again.
If you are a regular runner, or you’ve only known pre-game stretches and are not familiar with the ones needed before running, these four will undoubtedly help you properly warm up all the necessary muscles used in the run.
As an athlete, a lot of sweat goes into your practice, but a lot of it ends up in your equipment. After a while, a mystery odor starts to form. As the smell worsens, you realize it’s coming from your sports bag. And when washing the bag doesn’t work, and you want to rule out throwing it away, the only option left is to get creative. To help you remove the smell, here are a few creative ways to freshen up your sports bag before your next practice.
- Use Baking Soda with a Few Drops of Essential Oil
Take out a coffee filter and put in a couple of tablespoons of baking soda. Carefully pour a few drops of essential oils and stir it into the filter. Baking soda reacts with the liquid so make sure you take your time. Then use a rubber band to seal off the filter, and put the DIY odor remover into your sports bag. Leave it overnight so the baking soda sachet can absorb the moisture and gives it a pleasant scent of lavender or cedar pine.
- Place a Few Tea Bags Inside
Put three tea sachets into the bag and leave them inside until your next practice. In a couple of days, the herbs inside the filter bag will release their scent and replace the odor in your sports bag. And you can use the same hack for your sneakers, too.
- Wipe It Down with Vodka
Vodka is a clear, odorless beverage with a very high percentage of alcohol. It works because when alcohol is applied to another type of moisture their chemicals mix and blend. As the alcohol evaporates when exposed to air, over time the odor will disappear leaving your sports bag odorless.
- Fill It Up with Dry Sheets
Toss a couple of dry cotton sheets into the sports bag to fill it up, and leave them inside for a couple of days. Because the sheets are dry, they will absorb the moisture left over from your sweaty equipment. Keep in mind though, while your bag will be free from smell, you need to wash the sheets.
- Toss in Some Lemon and Orange Peels
To remove the “mystery” smell from your bag, peel two oranges and two lemons and toss the peels into the sports bag. Leave it for a couple of days, then dispose of the peels and check the smell. Now, the bag has a fragrant citrus scent that you will enjoy.
- Freeze the Bag
Remove everything from the bag, place it into a ziplock bag, seal it and put it on a clear shelf in your freezer. Let it remain in the freezer for overnight or a couple of days. The subzero temperature will kill off any odor-causing bacteria, and leave your sports bag smelling much fresher than before.
- Fill the Sports Bag with Coffee
Put a pound of coffee in your sports bag and shake it for a couple of minutes. Leave the bag overnight, and then shake it again. After a couple of days, the coffee should have absorbed all the moisture. All you have to do then is use a vacuum to suck the leftover coffee from your bag.