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.
Losing is a hard pill to swallow in any sport. So it’s crucial to accept defeat, remain positive, and move on to the next challenge. But kids don’t have this ability. For most, losing a game can be very disheartening. Coaches and parents have to step into these situations to recover kids’ self-confidence, teach them how to overcome defeat, and motivate them for the next game.
Listen to Your Child
After the game, take a moment to listen to your child. Allow them to retell the game and get angry if they need to, but only to an extent. Let them tell their story and expose their feelings to you.
But be attentive to what they say and how they say it. If the child is disrespectful to the official, teammates, or the coach, interrupt them and don’t pass up the opportunity to correct their behavior. The same goes if they start to break or hit things in their fit of range.
Help Them Understand Their Feelings
Getting angry, sad, disappointed, or frustrated is normal after a loss. It’s as much part of sports as it is life, and your child needs to understand this. After they finish speaking, let them identify their emotions. Ask them:
- How do you feel at the moment?
- Why are you angry/sad/disappointed?
- What would change those feeling?
- How can you reach that sort of outcome?
Remaining calm and leading the conversation in this direction will help your child reasonably cope with their emotions. As they age, their coping mechanism will form. It will let them rationalize the problem to find a solution.
Praise Their Efforts
Praise your child no matter the outcome. If they are accustomed to hearing words of approval from you when they do well at practice, commend their effort even when the results aren’t favorable. Praise their hard work and level of commitment, and get them used to the fact.
Instead of saying, “Congratulations, you were the best player on the pitch,” say “I like the amount of effort you put to help your teammates today. Great job!” It signals the importance of teamwork over winning, and that you will always recognize and acknowledge hard work in spite of the result.
Don’t Criticize Their Efforts
Despite the loss, you have to remain supportive. Never criticize your child. If you reprimand their effort or performance, it can put them off of sport altogether. So, instead of using negative language like “You should have done better,” use assertive statements like “I think you have the ability to do better next time.”
Additionally, you should offer to help them practice their game as a sign of support. Showing a genuine interest to work with your child as a way of overcoming loss, directs their efforts towards a more constructive resolution.
Don’t Let Them Be a Sore Loser
Teach your child to be humble in defeat, and graceful in victory. Win or lose; your child has to know how to accept the result and remain kind in spite of it. Teach them to demonstrate compassion by shaking hands and saying “Good game, and thank you for playing” to each opponent after the game. Learning how to use fair play to show sportsmanship will help your child focus on playing the game for fun, and not for the result.
You do not learn about leadership in the classroom. And, you do not learn it on the field. But it isn’t inherent ability athletes are born with, and both coaches and parents should look to teach young athletes to become leaders. Here’s how to do it through youth sports.
- Personalities Change
If your young athlete isn’t a natural leader, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t teach them leadership skills. The personality changes over time, and the soft skills they learn now will come in handy once the perfect opportunity presents itself. All they might be looking for is a situation where they can come through for the team.
- Leadership Requires a Familiar Environment
Leadership in youth sports associates with kids’ self-confidence. And that relies on making decisions and taking on responsibility in a familiar environment. You can’t expect your athlete to become a leader if they have only started playing for a new team. It’s going to take some time.
- Ability Isn’t a Sign of Great Leaders
Coaches often select players with the best ability to lead the team. That’s a mistake. Talent alone can’t win over the hearts and minds of the team. Self-confidence, determination, communication, drive, and empathy on the other hand can.
- Encourage Athletes to Make Decisions Themselves
Decision-making is a critical leadership trait. But making the best decisions in every situation isn’t an inherent skill. It’s crucial to give young athletes enough space to learn this for themselves. It might not be the best decision the first time, nor the second time, but being a good leader means knowing how to learn from your mistakes.
- Provide Athletes with Decision-Making Opportunities
Being able to make decisions also involves having an opportunity to make such a decision. Youth club coaches should always try and provide each player with at least one chance to decide for the whole team.
For example, in football, you might allow the QB to do a play at the start of the match, and an RB at the end of the game. The experience will make their individual in-game decisions much more successful.
- Encourage Academic Achievement
Reading will foster creativity and imagination in people. A key trait among leaders who need to find a creative solution to a challenge and make the whole team see it as an opportunity. Encouraging young athletes to focus on academic achievements will increase their capacity to observe, learn and be creative in the sports field.
- Teach Young Athletes to Lead by Example
Athletes are inclined to follow leaders who show sportsmanship and integrity and are more agreeable, humble, and aware of the needs of others. And these soft skills can be taught among young athletes.
Encourage kids to lead by example. And as a coach or parent, you should do the same. Inspire these leadership qualities in young athletes by demonstrating them yourself at home or during practice. Kids look to adults for guidance, and if you become a good role model, you will be able to teach them almost anything.
- Encourage Perseverance
A good team captain knows when to quit, and when to give 120% to motivate his teammates to do the same. Perseverance is a critical leadership trait as it drives people via deeds rather than words. If a team sees there captain struggling to carry the whole team on his back, they are far more likely to look inwards to produce a performance that will help him out.
Contact us at League Network if you want to learn about how we encourage young athletes to become leaders in their teams.