Benefits of Team Sports

Getting kids to get up and move around can be really tough in this era where electronic gadgets magically magnetize kids to couches. One way to get kids up and moving is to add other kids to the mix. Then sprinkle in some exercise with a dose of healthy competition, and you’ve got a great recipe for getting your kids involved in a team sport. There are many benefits to kids participating in team sports, among them include social, physical and emotional aspects.

Most kids grow up believing the world revolves around them. And some parents believe that too. It’s wonderful that kids are able to feel the loving arms of the world embrace them, however there comes a point where they should probably learn that other people exist also. With team sports, especially when kids are young, everyone gets to participate. This allows each kid to see that everyone is a valuable member of the team and everybody gets a chance to have their turn. What’s more, this gives a chance for kids to celebrate other kids’ successes and to be happy for someone else when they do well because it benefits the whole team.

Another great reason to get involved in team sports is to introduce your child to another positive adult in their life. If your child’s coach has experience with children and is a positive role model, they would be someone you can easily trust with your child. This offers your child another adult they can talk to and interact with, further establishing trust with other people and gaining a possible mentor.

Anyone who has spent much time around children knows that attention span is not their greatest strength. However, to become adept at any given sport (as with many things in life) practice is imperative. The patience it takes to repeat the motions of athletics is a great lesson to a child. They can’t just give up after 2 or 3 times, they have to keep at it in order to get better. Whether it’s repeating the same drills over and over, or just getting to a daily or weekly practice, they will hopefully realize that their persistence will pay dividends in the long run.
An opportunity to practice your kid’s sport with them is also a great way to spend time together. This gives you a chance to get a little exercise yourself, as well as providing a venue for you to have teachable moments with your child in a loving and supportive manner.

Some real-life skills that children develop while participating in team sports include:

• Teamwork and cooperation
• Leadership
• Self esteem
• Goal setting and achieving
• Friendship
• Respect for other people and taking turns
• Sense of belonging to a group or team
• Physical coordination
• Shared experiences with their peers

Some hard lessons your child will become familiar with, and hopefully learn how to deal with in a constructive manner include learning how to be a good loser as well as a good winner, learning how to communicate with other people to achieve a common goal, and overcoming shyness in order to communicate and perform in front of and with others.

Some kids want to be the star of the show and maybe they need to learn how to share the spotlight; while some kids would rather hang back and fly under the radar, and could use some encouragement to let their star shine. With a mix of kids who all have different personalities, the hope is they will be able to observe and learn from each other.

The final benefit of organized team sports is for your kid to get out and have fun. Too often these days we hear about parents, coaches and even players who take games and matches too seriously and end up verbally or even physically assaulting a referee, coach or someone else in front of the impressionable children who are playing the game. This is unnecessary and unforgivable. Let the kids be kids and just have fun. Too much of their life will be spent in a competitive environment so let them play for fun as long as possible.


7 Tips for Smarter Winter Hiking

Winter hiking can be extraordinary. Cliff ledges where runoff has dripped turn into tiered icicles, the colorful wildlife stands out in stark contrast to the white surroundings, and the air is crisp, fresh, and cool. The views are stunning and the experience is invigorating. But, as with most wonderful experiences, it’s best to be prepared before walking out the door. Here are seven quick tips to help you have an enjoyable winter hike!

1. Bring a walking stick. You’ll most likely encounter patches of snow that are thick and a stick can come in handy assisting you through the rough spots, providing leverage for you to move through the snow. Poking areas of snow with your walking stick can also indicate how deep the snowdrift is or if there are any unexpected dips in the terrain. This can help prevent twisted ankles.

2. Waterproof boots are a must. Anyone who has spent time in snow is well aware that snow is wet. And plowing through snow all day will leave your shoes soaked through unless they’re waterproof. Feet safety is at the forefront of your hiking adventure: sore, cold, aching feet are a sure way to end a hiking experience in misery. Ensure your shoes are tall enough to keep snow from falling in from the top as well, hence why boots are recommended. And make sure your shoes have traction. You can attach steel crampons to your shoes to provided ultimate traction on treacherous and slippery slopes.

3. Dress in layers. It will be cold. Very cold. Make certain your layers are warm and also waterproof, especially your outer jacket layer. While layering, be smart and check to see if you have decent flexibility and mobility in your layers prior to hitting the hiking trail. Being warm and bundled won’t help you if you’re an immobile statue.

4. Eat. A lot. You might not realize it while you’re trekking along, but having to fight through layers of snow burns more calories and exerts more energy than a standard hike. Fill your pack with more nutritious snacks than you typically would if you were going for a springtime stroll through the woods.

5. First Aid Kit. This is a pretty standard must have for a hiking adventure. You might hurt yourself. Be prepared.

6. GPS device. Things look different when covered in snow. You may have hiked the terrain a thousand times during the spring, but the land will look different and you can easily get lost or turned around on a familiar trail. If your GPS doubles as your cell phone, it’s good practice to keep it in a waterproof bag and turned off to conserve the battery, only turning it on when needed.

7. A sketch pad and camera. Okay, this may not be a NEED, but it sure is great to have with you! You will come across unique sights that you’ll only witness during the winter due to the weather conditions and documenting it for later can be worthwhile. Savor a wonderful view with your eyes first and foremost, then pull out your camera or sketching tools. Sitting for a moment to sketch a beautiful view can also help give your body a little break along the hiking trail.


Sporting Heroes: My All Time Top Ten

Sporting heroes come and go. Events such as the Olympics generate a new generation of iconic sporting greats. it’s not all about the big events that capture the imagination of the individual.

Here is a list of sporting legends from my lifetime. They have captured my imagination some more than others. Not all of them achieved their goals of winning at the highest tournaments in their respective disciplines.

The list is in no particular order but the first has to be my favourite and is still idolised by me on a daily basis.

David Hirst – As a youngster looking up at footballing icons, it wasn’t about the predatory skills of Gary Lineker or Ian Rush. There was a young striker with a left foot like an exocet missile. With power, pace and superb weaker right foot Hirst had all the attributes of a fine centre forward. Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to make him the most expensive signing in Britain with a £4.5 million bid in 1993. He was only capped for England on three occasions. Had it not been for injuries there would have been plenty more. Such was Hirst’s talent he is still fondly spoken about today. I will argue with any football fan about why he was massively underrated by those that never saw him play week in week out.

Andrew Flintoff – The England all rounder was a real crowd pleaser, especially when he found the car park with a huge six. His torment of the South African bowler Sean Pollock was brilliant in 2004. Flintoff’s performances in the 2005 home Ashes series lit up a nation desperate for some cricketing success. Whenever he stood at the crease or ran up to it, you always had that sense that something was going to happen. I imagine it was a terrifying prospect to face him. I hope to see another player of his calibre again wearing the “Three Lions” again.

Shane Warne – Simply brilliant, he terrified me as an England supporter. He was a cricketer like no other, he looked like he would make something happen every time he had the ball in his hands. He entertained cricket fans all over the World. Although he never managed a century with the bat but he made up for that with his legendary spin action. Players like Warne made the Ashes series special. I doubt cricket will ever see anyone of his ability for some time.

Sir Steve Redgrave – What can you say about a five time Olympic Gold Medalist? He literally caught the imagination of a whole nation. Millions screamed at the TV screens up and down the country as Sir Steve won race after race. I doubt I will ever see an achievement like his in my lifetime again. Rowing has forever a hero. Not many sports personalities have made grown men cry, Sir Steve did.

Nigel Mansall – It looked like Mansall was never going to win the World Championship. In the end he breezed it in 1992. The image of him winning the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1987 and of him giving the late Ayrton Senna a lift back to the pits is as iconic as you will get in World sport. Mansall thrilled millions as he battled around the World circuits against some formidable drivers in cars that were mechanically different to today’s platforms.

Paul Gascoigne – I can remember Italia 90 like it was yesterday. Hiding behind the sofa when Gary Lineker took his two penalties in the quarter finals against Cameroon. England had a Geordie Genius amongst its ranks. ‘Gazza’ was simply brilliant on the football pitch. In what was arguably one of the best World Cup tournaments off all time, it will always be remembered for Gazza’s tears. His goal against Scotland in Euro 96 was an absolute piece of brilliance. For me he had a role to play in France 98, Glenn Hoddle saw that differently and the rest is history.

Mo Farrah – Watching him winning the 5,000 and 10,000 meter Gold medal in the London 2012 Olympics was amazing. Farrah captured the nations attention with his likeable character, amazing athletic ability and his story for struggle and survival as a child. You can’t help but like the guy, there is no doubt he will win more medals for Britain over the next few years.

Dame Ellen MacArthur – Quite simply a sports person with unbelievable mental strength, skill and stamina. Anyone that can sail solo for any length of time is good. To do it around the World in terrifying and difficult conditions is simply remarkable. Dame MacCarthur has helped to raise the profile of sailing to a high level. That in itself is some achievement.

Jimmy White – The ‘Whirlwind’ was brilliant to watch around the snooker table. Many Sunday’s were spent at my Grandparents house watching the ‘Whirlwind’ clearing up the table in no time at all. The World Championship eluded him and White himself is probably still asking the question “How?” Jimmy and his fans will be haunted by that famous shot for ever.

Chris Waddle – He will always be remembered by the majority for the penalty miss in June 1990, Turin. For some of us he will be remembered because he was simply “Brilliant”. For the youngsters amongst you, Waddle wasn’t blessed with pace and that’s what is needed from a winger right? Not in Waddle’s case. He danced around defenders like they had lead in their boots. At Tottenham Hotspur he graced White Hart Lane. At Marseille he was idolised, supplying ball after ball to Jean Pierre-Papin. At Sheffield Wednesday he literally terrorised anyone that played against the Owls. His thunderbolt free-kick in the FA Cup Semi-Final in 1993 and his torture of West Ham in a 5-0 win back in 1995 are just some of the highlights of a football genius. Still playing today he would run rings around half of professional fullbacks. Waddle won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year in 1993.


Forging Friendships Through Sports

It is hard to deny the value of sports for a myriad of reasons. There are the obvious benefits such as exercise, calorie burning, muscle toning and endurance. There is also the added and equally beneficial element of forming friendships, some of which last over the course of a lifetime. It does not matter whether you congregate with the guys in the football helmets, under the basketball backboards or on the tennis courts. Coming into contact on a regular basis with those with whom you have some things in common is a valuable activity. The unity that is often displayed among teammates is wonderful and enriching.

On the other hand, the lack of such unity is sometimes disappointing and unattractive. Watching teammates place blame and bicker with one another is one of the uglier parts of the sporting world. For that reason, it deserves notice when you see a team where the players seem to have each others backs and their best interests at heart. While not condoning violence, it is refreshing to witness a teammate immediately come to the aid of one of their counterparts when they have been fouled with excessive force or malicious intent.

Starting at very young ages in youth soccer or pee-wee baseball or a variety of other sporting activities, it is great to see the camaraderie begin to develop and friendships to grow and deepen. Sometimes it is those very friendships that give young people strength as they go through difficult times and experience bouts of insecurity and the intermittent lack of confidence that tend to be a part of the growing up process. Knowing that someone is in your corner or that they are going through similar things and understand your feelings can make a world of difference to anyone, but perhaps especially to those in the midst of their growing years. Studies back this up.

While involvement in team sports naturally lends itself to being surrounded by more people who are potential friends, it has been proven that participation in sports of any kind gives one a great boost. Cyclists, for example, enjoy the benefits of being more physically fit along with the satisfaction of knowing they are involved in a sport which is popular with millions of other individuals.

Studies by the Journal of Sports Behavior indicated that children who did not participate in sports reported more feelings of loneliness and isolation than those who were involved in some type of sport. For this reason along with many others, making sports a part of one’s life is a good idea.


Improve Sports Performance With Mind Training

Although many individuals feel that physical skill is the main factor in sports performance, the brain is also an important factor. While physical skill and talent are both important, the mind is one of the greatest tools available. After all, the brain regulates heart rate, breathing and more. This means that the incredible brain plays a huge role in an athlete’s performance as well.

Since physical skill is an important part of successful performance for athletes, they spend a lot of time training the body. However, many forget that the mind also needs to be trained for peak performance. If the body is not properly trained, it leads to poor performance. In the same manner, poor performance can be the result of failing to train the mind. The mind can be the key to success or failure when it comes to sports performance.

Many coaches know a whole lot about increasing peak performance by training the body. However, many don’t know how to train the mind for the mental toughness required to perform well. Coaches that want to improve their athlete’s performance can learn how to train the mind of an athlete by getting their coaching certification. Mental Strength Coaching Certification is available, training coaches how they can train the mind of athletes to perform better in their sport of choice.

If you doubt that good athletic performance includes the mind, consider a few examples. Performance anxiety occurs in the mind and can seriously reduce performance. Some athletes have a tough time relaxing when under pressure, which can hurt their performance in their sport. Performance is just as much about the mind as it is the body.

Taking the course for Mental Strength Coaching Certification offers coaches the ability to understand the role of the mind in an athlete’s performance. It also offers instruction on how to help athletes train their mind for success by helping them to manage their performance anxiety before a game or competition. The course teaches coaches how to train athletes how to set and achieve goals, increase confidence, recover from injuries and more. It even offers insight on helpful imagery and visualization exercises that can help athletes reach their peak performance.

The mind of an athlete cannot be ignored if that athlete is going to achieve success. When coaches train the physical body of an athlete, they must also focus on training the athlete’s mind as well. By training both the mind and the body, the athlete is given the tools needed to achieve peak sports performance.


What Is The Best Sports Training for Kids?

If you are considering to introduce your child to athletics and sports, you should first study your options and the different choices available for undergoing your kid through sports training. Depending on your child’s capacity prior to training, you can either choose from live, online, or DVD sports training. There are circumstances when it would be beneficial to go for a certain type of training while disregarding the others, while in some cases, a combination of the different types of training available would be called for to optimize the benefits that could be gained.

The following are the kinds of sports training that will help your child not only in the development of athletic capacity but also in strengthening physical stamina, defining body build, and increasing resistance to stress. Of course, the degree to which these benefits are attained will largely depend on the type of training chosen and the intensity and focus by which such training is undertaken.

Live Sports Training

As its very name indicates, this type of sports training is undertaken in the presence of a sports coach or trainer. This kind of training is highly recommended if the sports skill set of your child is in the elementary or beginner’s level. The cost incurred in this type of training will be dependent on the number of participant’s. Generally speaking, if you opt for your child to participate in group sessions or programs where there are a lot of participant’s, you will spend less for the training than if you prefer to register your kid for a one-on-one session with a trainer.

Especially so for beginners, the advantage with live training sessions is that the trainer can immediately correct whatever errors in performance a young or beginning athlete may commit. This is particularly not true with other mediums for sports training.

Online Sports Training

The availability of the internet combined with other relevant technologies has also made possible the viability of online sports training. There are a number of websites that offer paid access to those who are interested to avail of such trainings and the cost varies depending on the program and the customization of the training chosen by a participant. Various sports are also available in this training medium. This kind of training will be beneficial for a child only if prior live training has been undertaken and basic sports skills has already been developed. On the other hand, this can be taken as an adjunct to a current live training to enhance or accelerate the development of sports skills.

Sports DVDs Training

Sports DVDs are readily available for all kinds of sports. The only difference between a training using sports DVDs and an online channel is that sports videos are already a fixed recording of instructions and demonstrations from a trainer, while an online training program may be revised at any moment depending on need or customization required by the trainee. As is true with online sports training program, your child will benefit best from using sports DVDs only if basic sports skills have already been mastered.

Trainer Credentials

For both live and online/video training programs, the credentials of trainers is an important factor to consider. It should be noted that credentials may have a direct bearing on the cost of the training program itself. For your child’s benefit, It would be best to choose a trainer that has an expertise in motivating young and beginning athletes.


Why Playing Outdoor Sports Should Be Mandatory For Kids

It’s really amazing what sports can do to a person’s life. Unfortunately, most kids today prefer to stay at home and pound away at their keyboards instead of playing outdoor sports. I loved playing sports as a kid and played games like soccer, volleyball, basketball and Shotokan till I was well into my teens. I just could not resist the feel of soft grass under my feet and cool breeze blowing into my face. Playing sports not only built my strength and stamina, but it also taught me some valuable lessons in life. I owe my impeccable immunity and robust health to my habit of playing sports. Here I list some of the reasons that make me feel sports should be mandatory for each kid:

1) Building Great Health And Stamina

Sports have no comparison when it comes to building health, stamina and immunity. The more you play, the healthier you get, it’s as simple as that. Playing sports everyday increases blood flow to all parts of the body and keeps fat away. The exhaustion from sports results in a good night’s sleep so the kids feel fresh and well rested in the morning. It has been shown that kids who play sport regularly fall sick less often than kids who don’t.

2) Sports Teaches Teamwork

Team games like basketball, soccer and baseball require the whole team to play in sync and be on the same page all the time. This induces the sense of team work among kids. In future whenever they are made part of a team, they can gel quickly with the team members and work towards a common goal effortlessly. If a kid is made captain of his team, he learns leadership abilities that can help him in his career.

3) Handling Peer Pressure

The kids can be very competitive. While playing with each other, they almost always strive to win. Giving his best under pressure and coming out on top can enable a kid to handle peer pressure better than the kids who do not play sports. Many kids do not perform well in school and colleges due to tremendous peer pressure and kids who play sport regularly can handle such competitions quite well.

4) Less Chances Of Falling In Bad Company

Kids who are engaged in sports every day and spend time with a closely knit group of peers have less chances of falling prey to unwanted company. This prevents the kids from straying into lives of crime or taking up drugs when they reach adolescence. This, in my eyes, is one of greatest benefits of letting kids take up sports.

5) Better Focus And Concentration

Most sports require constant focus throughout the game for someone to perform well. As kids play a sport more and more, they learn how to focus well and improve their game. This trait might come in handy when it comes to studies or other extra-curricular activities. In fact it is often observed that popular athletes are very focused and meticulous in whatever they do.

6) Breaking Religious Boundaries And Preventing Racism

Kids are just kids in their peers’ eyes. They do not know anything about religion, race or gender. Playing together as kids can drive away seeds of religious fanaticism and racism from their minds and instead fill them with love and respect for other people. These kids often grow up to be wonderful human beings.

7) Channeling Aggression And Emotions

Teenagers are full of different emotions. This is the time when the world around a person changes very fast and keeping up with the changes can leave him stressed, angry and confused. Sports offer a great way to channel whose emotions out of the system safely without any violent outbursts.

8) We Might Get A New Champion

Often we find that a kid is particularly talented at a sport. If he/she does not get the chance to play regularly, the talent will be wasted and the world will lose a potential champion. On the other hand, if the kid is allowed to play regularly, he/she can one day become a top player of that sport and become famous.

These are the main benefits of playing sports that I can think of at the moment. Any of these reasons should be good enough to coax your kid into playing an outdoor sport on a regular basis. Once they start liking the outdoors, they will never again want to miss the experience.