Tips To Improve Sports Performance

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb, please share your comments below…..

joggerFive Elements of a Successful Sports Training Plan

The football season has brought highlights, Heisman finalists, a National Playoff, power rankings, fantasy match-ups and games of the week. It also included commercials from the leading footwear and sports apparel companies. While the season has been marked with impressive upsets, the athletic commercials have had a similar message, all revolving around a common theme: buy their product and ‘train harder.’

Every athlete recognizes that training and preparation are part of sport. But with the level of competition rising and more athletes interested in making the team, earning more playing time, or taking their game to the next level, athletes recognize they must do more than train with their team. The commercials all show athletes sweating, sprinting, lifting and perfecting their skill, insinuating that training in their products makes you a winner. Their gear may very well make a difference, but it doesn’t replace training and preparation. Over the years, it’s been easy to embrace ‘Just do it’ as a call to action. But from a training perspective, the aspiring athlete is left wondering, ‘Just do what?’

Over the past 25 years, Athletic Republic’s training centers have helped more than one million athletes – get selected for a team, move off the bench and on to the field, earn a college scholarship, stand-out in the draft, make a professional or Olympic team, post a PR, or honor a New Year’s resolution. Throughout the training process, AR has documented each athlete’s progress and is now sharing five elements that will help aspiring athletes improve their training plans or better understand just what to do.

These elements are: increase speed, build power, improve stability, maintain an effective recovery approach, and all in a year-round approach to training.

1. Lead with speed. Speed is a defining attribute of athleticism, and developing it requires a focus on training. No longer considered a genetic gift, speed can be improved by training stride length, stride frequency, power output, symmetry, and stamina. Speed training should improve running mechanics and running economy while developing acceleration, top-end speed and endurance to help players create separation, close a gap, and play as well during the closing minutes as they do when the game started.

2. Power is not strength. Science says Power = Force x Velocity. In other words, being strong is only half the equation. The ability to produce more force more quickly than an opponent is what ultimately separates an athlete from the competition. To jump higher, accelerate quicker, deliver a crushing blow, or move at warp speed…the instant the ball is in play, the athlete needs power. The key is to combine a wide range of movement velocities, with a variety of age-appropriate loads, to safely expose muscles to training that will improve power at game speed.

3. Stability reduces the risk of injury. Agility hinges on an athlete’s ability to control his or her center of gravity in all situations, including making quicker cuts and turns, maneuvering in traffic and maintaining position during a double team. Stability means maintaining control of the body in all directions and in all situations. It’s developed by building strength through a progression of plyometric movements to improve foot-speed and balance while training the core and hip girdle for the safe transfer of power to the turf, dirt, floor, ice or water.

4. Remember recovery. Preparing for the next workout begins when an athlete completes the current workout. Fluid hydration and mobility exercises begin the process as range of motion is increased while the muscles are warm and supple. Compression helps flush lactate and soreness, while protein helps rebuild muscles. Getting enough sleep and sufficient rest are also critical elements on the recovery process.

5. Establish a year-round plan. In addition to training with the team or coach, the athlete needs to make time during the year for a “training season”. Dedicating time prior to the start of a season to build on athletic strengths and concentrate on areas that require improvement will improve game-day or race-day performance. For the teen athlete playing multiple sports, the parents serve as the Athletic Director of the household, managing and balancing practice schedules, transportation, events, meals, academics, and budget, as their athlete’s coaches typically do not work with one another to ensure the athlete’s year-round regiment is conducive to their development. For the Parent/AD the key is to focus on their athlete’s overall development and make sure to establish a big-picture plan that includes the dedicated time to improve speed, power, and stability. For the endurance athlete, establishing objectives for off-season, pre-season, and in-season training will raise their endurance base, build power, improve efficiency, reduce the risk of injury, and increase speed for better race-day performances.

Athletes from pee-wee to pro have incorporated these five elements into their training in order to gain a step on their competition and be in a better position to ‘Just Do It’.

Common Sports Surgeries: How Orthopedics Help Sports And Fitness Related Injuries

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By Steve Barker

doctorSports stars commonly have orthopedic surgeries to fix injuries they receive during practice & games, like Oakland A’s catcher, Josh Phegley’s recent knee surgery. While most of us are aware of the importance of taking steps to avoid injury during physical activity, reading about these celebrity surgeries makes you wonder what sort of injuries sports stars (and us regular folk that just like to stay active) rely on surgeons at Orthopedic Associates to treat. There are a good number of injuries, but we’ve picked out a few of the most common to discuss the importance of orthopedics in helping with sports/fitness related injuries.

Common Injuries Sustained from Sports

Most injuries related to sports have something to do with joints, sprains, tears, and breaks, but do you know where? And what methods are commonly used to treat them?

Shoulder joint tear – About 20% of all sports injuries involve the shoulder, and that includes things like shoulder joint tears. Any of the three bones involved with the shoulder joint (scapula, clavicle, humerus) can become disturbed in such a way that injures the joint. One could sustain a severe fall which pulls the shoulder suddenly, or tear the joint while attempting a throwing motion incorrectly. The result is a typical one for joint problems: pain, reduced movement, and an overwhelming loss of strength in the joint. The treatment? Commonly, anti-inflammatory medicines, rest, and rehabilitative exercises can relieve symptoms. In other cases, though, a surgeon may have to perform an arthroscopic surgery to correct the issues within the shoulder, after which a period of rest and rehab will be necessary to regain full use of the joint.

Achilles tendon rupture – It’s the largest tendon in the body, so injury can occur in a number of ways. The actual structure of the tendon may become separated above the heel, but the tendon can also break away from the spot where it is connected to the heel bone. Ouch. It can be brought about in just about any sort of sport since a rupture of this nature can be induced from even simple actions like running. An achilles rupture can be treated by immobilizing the area with a cast (or something similar) and allowing the tendon to repair itself. Surgery can also suture the tendon back together, followed by a period of immobilization and then physical therapy.

joggerAnkle sprain – Almost everyone has seen one of these. The ligaments in the ankle are pushed too far and then tear apart. Perhaps you were walking on an uneven surface and fell? Or you were attempting a sports technique and twisted your foot? Sprains may even result from a blow to the foot. If the injury is minor enough, it can be treated at home with basic rest and application of ice. If it is a more severe injury, however, the type that causes intense pain and swelling, the doctor might need to intervene. They might have to do some X-Rays, and examine your ankle to assess the level of pain and range of motion. After this, the severity of the sprain will be graded. It could be a mild, grade 1 sprain, or it could be a very severe grade 3 sprain. The remedy? Most involve a combination of rest, compression, elevation of the ankle, and icing it down. If the injury is severe enough, you may also need to use crutches or an ankle brace for a period, and perhaps even undergo physical therapy.

Meniscus tear – One of the most common of all injuries to the knee. The cartilage in the knee, which serves to cushion it and keep it stable, can become torn through athletic activity. A bad squat, direct contact, and many other regular sports occurrences can bring about meniscus tears. Tears can limit mobility and should be treated correctly, depending on their size and location. Some meniscus tears can heal on their own. Others will need to be dealt with surgically. Knee arthroscopy is one of the most widely used procedures and involves trimming away damaged parts of the meniscus or suturing torn pieces back together. As with many procedures, therapy is often recommended afterwards to complete the healing process.

In Summary

Injuries happen, especially when engaging in strenuous physical activity! Thankfully, orthopedic procedures are an excellent way to correct many of the most common sports-related injuries. Orthopedics procedures are also a good option for treating joint injuries sustained through day-to-day activity. If you’ve experienced an injury, orthopedic consultation might be the way to begin your road to recovery.

American College Of Sports Medicine Installs New Officers

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Thank you to ACSM for supplying this article…..

womanweightsThe American College of Sports Medicine installed its officers for 2016-17 at the organization’s annual meeting in Boston, Mass. Lawrence A. Armstrong, Ph.D., FACSM, 2015-16 president, passed the gavel to Elizabeth A. Joy, MD, MPH, FACSM as the 59th president of ACSM. Dr. Joy is a physician practicing at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City.

In addition to serving as medical director for Community Health and Clinical Nutrition at Intermountain Healthcare, Dr. Joy practices family medicine and sports medicine at the Salt Lake LiVe Well Center, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. She has previously served as vice president, and on the Board of Trustees of ACSM, and was on the Board of Trustees for the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. She is on the editorial board for the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine and is an associate editor for Current Sports Medicine Reports.

Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, of Georgia State University was installed as president-elect. Holly Benjamin, M.D., FACSM, of University of Chicago and William Kraus, M.D., FACSM of Duke University’s School of Medicine were installed as vice presidents. A complete list of ACSM’s new officers and trustees can be viewed here.

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

Let’s Play Initiative To Award $35,000 In Sports Equipment Grants

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boyssportsLet’s Play (Dr Pepper Snapple Group) and Good Sports are encouraging schools and nonprofit organizations to submit photos of their old, worn-out sports equipment for the chance to win grants for brand-new gear.

Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, is teaming up with Good Sports to award $35,000 worth of new sports equipment to deserving organizations across the country through the Let’s Play Before and After Contest.

Now in its second year, the Let’s Play Before and After Contest is open for submissions through April 3, 2016. To participate in the contest, schools or nonprofits that serve youth and are in need of new sports equipment may upload a photo of their old, worn-out equipment to the Let’s Play Facebook page using the hashtag, #LetsPlayBeforeandAfter.

The organization’s name must be included in the submission as well as a short description of why new sports equipment is needed. At the end of the two-week submission period, entrants will be narrowed down to 10 finalists. Visitors to the Let’s Play Facebook page will be able to vote daily for one finalist from April 11 to April 17, 2016.

The organization with the most votes at the end of the voting period will receive a $20,000 grant of new sports equipment. Second place and third place will receive $10,000 and $5,000 sports equipment grants, respectively.

“There are so many organizations that struggle to sustain sports and active play programs because equipment runs its course and it’s often too expensive to replace. As part of our partnership with Good Sports, we are excited to offer the Let’s Play Before and After Contest as a way to get more kids back in the game each and every day,” said Vicki Draughn, vice president of corporate affairs at Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

Through its Let’s Play initiative, Dr Pepper Snapple has committed $3 million over three years to help Good Sports provide sports equipment to youth-serving organizations across the U.S.

Winners of the Let’s Play Before and After Contest will be officially notified by representatives from Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Good Sports following the conclusion of the contest on April 17, 2016. For full Official Rules, please visit http://www.letsplay.com/socialcontestrules.

Sports America Kids Month

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb, please share your comments below…..

boyssportsIn conjunction with June’s “Sports America Kids Month,” the Austin sports medicine team at Medicine in Motion presents compelling reasons for parents to encourage children to participate in summertime sports activities.

Held every year during the month of June, Sports America Kids Month encourages children to engage in a healthy lifestyle, including sports activities, during the summer months. To help encourage kids to become active, Austin sports medicine doctor and owner of Medicine in Motion Dr. Martha Pyron has established a free Saturday morning summer training camp for all ages and all athletic abilities.

“Physical activity is one component that is crucial to a healthy and happy body,” said Dr. Pyron. “Children should be encouraged to find a sport or physical activity that interests them. Not only will it make for healthier bodies, but the emotional and mental benefits are enormous too. Everyone who plays a sport can be a physical fitness winner!”

Playing one or more sports can help kids develop confidence, self-discipline, coordination, teamwork skills, and sportsmanship behavior. Perhaps most importantly, however, are the health and wellness benefits that come from the physical activity involved with playing sports. Recent data from organizations such as the National Association for Sport and Physical Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show the need for a stronger focus on health and wellness among American youth:

* One in three children are physically active on a daily basis.

* Over 80% of children do not participate in enough aerobic physical activity to meet standard youth guidelines.

* Children spend upwards of seven and a half hours a day watching TV, playing video games or on a computer.

* Reports from 2009-2010 shows approximately 12.5 million (16.9%) children are obese.

* Overweight children have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.

Childhood obesity is a serious issue with both short-term and long-term effects on health and wellness. Obese youth are more likely to have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Children who are obese are more likely to suffer from bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and psychological issues like poor self-esteem. Obese youth are likely to be obese as adult, which will put them at risk for adult health complications like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, various types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

For more information on Medicine in Motion’s Saturday training camps, contact them at 512-257-2500 or officemanager(at)medinmotion(dot)com.

Medicine in Motion (MIM) specializes in providing top quality sports medicine in Austin, Texas, for athletic individuals of all ages and levels. The staff at MIM believes active bodies are healthy bodies, therefore it is the office’s goal to keep patients energetic and fit. To that end, MIM provides treatment of injuries and illnesses, including the use of physical rehabilitation; promotes healthy living with personal training and nutrition coaching; and offers comprehensive sports medicine evaluations to optimize health, activity level and sports performance. For more information or for questions regarding sports medicine in Austin, contact Medicine in Motion at 512-257-2500 or visit the website at http://www.medinmotion.com.

Youth Sports Safety Month

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This article is courtesy of PRWeb, please share your thoughts below…..

boyssportsIn conjunction with “Youth Sports Safety Month,” the Austin sports medicine team at Medicine in Motion has compiled five recommendations for teenagers who are interested in launching a fitness routine.

The average teenager’s schedule is filled by juggling school, work, post-high school plans, family life, dating, friends and studying. It doesn’t leave much time for physical fitness, but since one out of three kids in the United States is considered overweight or obese, health and wellness of teens is a topic that can’t be ignored. Not only will participating in fitness activities help teens maintain a healthy weight, it also combats stress and depression, boosts energy levels and builds confidence.

But getting teens on board the fitness train is only the first step – injury prevention education and preparation are also critical. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, more than 7.3 million high school students annually partake in physical fitness by participating in organized sports. And since, according to the Centers for Disease Control, high school athletics account for more than 2 million injuries annually, preventing traumatic injuries should be top of mind for all parents and active teens.

During April’s “Youth Sports Safety Month,” the Austin sports medicine team at Medicine in Motion has identified five essential habits that should be adopted by teenagers who are beginning to pursue a physically fit lifestyle:

1. Start small. All worthy accomplishments take time to achieve, and so does physical fitness. When teenagers begin, they shouldn’t expect massive results to happen overnight. Steady marked improvements are normal, however, when teens set reasonable goals and stick to their workout schedules. Setting smaller goals will allow participants to regularly meet and celebrate their achievements, reducing the likelihood of discouragement when larger goals aren’t rapidly attained.

2. Eat healthy. A lot of people, young and old, think that exercise is free pass to eat whatever they please. The most physically fit people know, however, that fitness is a whole body experience, including food consumption. People who start healthy eating habits in their teens are more likely to maintain those habits when they’re older, giving them a life-long fitness advantage. A few suggestions include: eat a daily healthy breakfast, cut down on processed foods, enjoy an endless amount of raw vegetables, consume lean proteins, and eat smaller meals five to six times per day.

3. Hydrate properly. The human body is, on average, made up of over 50% water. It’s an essential ingredient under normal circumstances, but when exercise and increased perspiration is involved, hydrating is even more crucial. Not only should a person drink water throughout their regular day, they should also stay reasonably hydrated during their workout. Remember that when thirst occurs, a person is already dehydrated, so keep a glass or bottle of water handy at all times.

4. Don’t skip on sleep. Teen bodies are still in flux, growing and changing – this requires a lot of sleep. When adding exercise into the mix, the body needs even more rest so it can properly repair and rebuild muscles. Teenagers should strive for at least eight hours of quality sleep every night.

5. Partner up. It’s easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed when tackling a new challenge like physical fitness, so find a friend, classmate or family member to join in the activity. Not only does the buddy system make the routines more enjoyable, partners have the advantage of being able to assist one another during difficult exercises and help each other maintain proper form to avoid injury.

Medicine in Motion (MIM) specializes in providing top quality sports medicine in Austin, Texas, for athletic individuals of all ages and levels. The staff at MIM believes active bodies are healthy bodies, therefore it is the office’s goal to keep patients energetic and fit. To that end, MIM provides treatment of injuries and illnesses, including the use of physical rehabilitation; promotes healthy living with personal training and nutrition coaching; and offers comprehensive sports medicine evaluations to optimize health, activity level and sports performance. For more information or for questions regarding sports medicine in Austin, contact Medicine in Motion at 512-257-2500 or visit the website at http://www.medinmotion.com.

Disabled Athletes Excel At World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Adventure Team Challenge

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newsTen teams of disabled and able-bodied athletes rafted the Colorado River, rode mountain bikes and hand cycles, and completed a ropes course at the September 12-14 Adventure Team Challenge from national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports.

High in the rugged Gore Range northwest of Vail, Colorado, ten teams of disabled and able-bodied athletes rafted the Colorado River, rode mountain bikes and hand cycles, and completed a ropes course in pursuit of outdoor adventure. At the September 12-14 Adventure Team Challenge from national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports, disabilities proved to be no more than an inconvenience to participating athletes who successfully completed the three stage event.

Each participating team of five athletes included two with disabilities, one being a wheelchair user. Since 2007, the annual team event offers an inclusive adventure for disabled and able-bodied participants. The athletes with disabilities not only experience the excitement of outdoor sports, but also are a moving inspiration to other participants and to the public, who see that the disabled can meet challenges beyond anyone’s imagination.

The Challenge returned to the remote Rancho del Rio resort this year, following two years in the high desert near Grand Junction. Although many participants for the Challenge came from Colorado, other athletes traveled from Massachusetts, Virginia, Illinois, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, California and New Brunswick, Canada. Athlete disabilities included amputees, paralysis, blindness, post traumatic stress and other injuries, with several participants being injured veterans.

At the event’s conclusion, the Boulder, Colorado-based Berserkers managed to hold off the surging Bootleggers and claimed their second victory in as many years. The Bootleggers nearly overcame a 12 minute deficit on Sunday in a remarkable effort to deny the Berserkers of their championship, but fell one minute short.

Two other teams – the Green Machines and Purple Rain – tied in their timing between the two days of competition, arriving about 25 minutes after the top two teams. The last place Mercenaries completed the competition at more than two hours behind the top teams.

This year’s Challenge began with a Friday afternoon prologue at Rancho del Rio along the south bank of the Colorado River. On Saturday, teams were transported 1,600 vertical feet above Radium for a fast-paced downhill start on bicycles and hand cycles. Beginning at 8,550 feet above sea level on a sunny ridge overlooking the shadowy canyon, teams descended nearly six miles on a rocky dirt road at blinding speeds to the river crossing at 6,870 feet.

Following the descent, teams ascended a steep incline, than began a cross-country journey along confusing tracks and trails. By early afternoon, teams were descending again to the Colorado River, where waiting rafts guided them to their next challenge, a ropes course set on the granite bluffs overlooking Radium Hot Springs. Here, the paraplegic athletes were sent across the river on a high zip line before teams returned to camp.

On Sunday, teams began on rafts, stopping for check points along the Colorado River. At the Piney River, teams headed south, reaching an old homestead and another check point. Returning to the launching ramp at State Bridge, the teams climbed onto their waiting bicycles and hand cycles for the ride back to camp.

At Rancho del Rio, teams arrived to cheers. At the finish line, friends, family and staff welcomed the athletes to a well-deserved celebratory lunch.

The 2014 Adventure Team Challenge Colorado was supported through sponsorships and partnerships from Pearl Meyer & Partners, Benson Botsford LLC, Devens Recycling Center, Front Street Re, The Independence Fund, INTEGRATED Healthcare Strategies, Oregon Adaptive Sports and Timberline Tours. Additional support was provided by James Benson and George Puskar. Van Brinson, World T.E.A.M. Sports CEO and President, announced September 14 that the Challenge will return to Rancho del Rio in September, 2015.

– Courtesy of PRWeb

Prevention And Treatment Of Sports Injuries In Children

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By Lynn Lee

boyssportsOne of the most enjoyable things for parents is watching their kids participate in sports. Win or lose, competition can help children learn about themselves and what they are capable of, and this can be a rewarding process for parents to watch.

While a lot of fun and excitement can come from sports, there is one thing all parents dread: injuries. Whether it’s a scraped knee, twisted ankle, bad bruise or something worse, parents always hold their breath when they see their child hit the ground.

Although parents can try to prevent injuries, many are inevitable and impossible to anticipate. The best thing to do when a child gets hurt is to make sure the injury is treated properly.

Check out this list of ways to treat common injuries seen in kids:

Sprains and Bruises

With all the running around kids do while playing sports, falling down is often unavoidable. Because of this, sprains and bruises are common injuries with kids. Luckily, most can be treated at home using the RICE approach:

• Rest – Make sure your child takes some time off to let the injury heal completely.

• Ice – Until the swelling goes down, apply ice to the injury for 10 to 20 minutes every few hours.

• Compression – Wearing an elastic compression during the first 24 to 36 hours can help reduce swelling.

• Elevation – Keep the injury above heart level for 2 to 3 hours a day. This may require sitting or lying down.

girlsoccerChildren can also wear a protective brace while the injury heals to help ensure they don’t further injure themselves. Additionally, anti-inflammatories that contain ibuprofen like Advil or Motrin or medication with acetaminophen like Tylenol can be used to reduce pain or swelling.

Cuts

Even if kids aren’t playing sports, they still always seem to find ways to end up with cuts and scrapes, so knowing how to treat these is essential.

• Clean the Cut – For small cuts or scrapes, rinsing with cold water will remove dirt and debris from the cut, and something stronger like hydrogen peroxide is unnecessary. If a cut is deep, or if a child is cut by a dirty object, using hydrogen peroxide can be beneficial.

• Stop the Bleeding – Small cuts usually stop bleeding on their own. If a cut is a little deeper, apply firm pressure to the area with a clean cloth or gauze. Don’t remove the pressure to check and see if the cut has stopped bleeding; this can cause it to start again.

• Cover the Cut – After the wound has been cleaned and the bleeding has stopped, the abrasion should be covered. Use a bandage or gauze and tape, depending on the size of the cut, to cover the area.

When to Get Help

Sprains and cuts seem to be part of life when you have kids. What most parents fear, though, is the thought of something more serious happening to their child. Sometimes, it is immediately clear whether or not a child needs medical attention. In situations where a cut is more than ¼ inch deep, is jagged or looks like it may need stiches, calling or seeing a doctor is the best thing to do. Another way to know when to seek medical attention is to gauge your child’s level of pain. If some time passes and the pain hasn’t subsided, an injury may be worse than it appears on the surface. If you aren’t sure whether or not your child needs medical attention, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and head to the doctor.

– This article was contributed by Miami Children’s Hospital, a leading children’s hospital that is renowned for excellence in pediatric medical care from birth to adolescence. With leading physicians in South Florida, Miami Children’s hospital offers expertise in orthopedic sports medicine to help patients recover from injuries.

Rough And Tumble: Why Kids Need To Be Involved With Sports

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By Katherine Smith

boyssportsI have to start out by admitting to a little bias. I grew up rough and tumble. There were no contact sports that I didn’t try. Any type of ball and any size field was provocation enough to make a friend, and invent a game. Though I knew kids who had fallen and broken an arm or twisted an ankle, the thought of personal injury never really crossed my mind as a serious possibility. I was well-trained and very lucky.

That admission aside, I still believe it is vital that kids be allowed, encouraged, and maybe even cajoled into taking up a sporting activity. Sports offer too many benefits to be ignored. Not only should kids be encouraged to try a sport, they should try several. Different sports offer different benefits at different stages of physical development.

While more experienced young athletes may enjoy a few innings of hardball, younger kids just starting out will benefit more from slow-pitch softball. It is easy to look online and find the right equipment at the right price for your kids, whatever the sport. Online resources make it easy to locate specific equipment that is well suited to your kid’s size and abilities. There are almost no barriers to entry. Countless baseball diamonds, football and soccer fields, basketball and tennis courts are waiting for the arrival of your kids.

Here are a few reasons why you should help them get there:

Athletes Are More Durable

girlsoccerCounterintuitively, one of the best reasons to get your kids into rough and tumble sports is that it makes them more durable and less accident prone. In contact sports such as wrestling, football, and marshal arts, one of the first things a student learns is how to fall. That is because over the course of her training, there will be a lot of falling and being thrown. No one will last very long in a sport if they have not mastered the art of falling without getting hurt.

Athletes are also highly motivated to stay healthy. You don’t get to be in the lineup if you are in a cast. The kids that learn how to fall early, are far less likely to do so. When they do, it is far less likely to result in injury. It all comes down to learning how to control one’s body. Few things outside of sports and a good coach can do that job better.

Athletes Learn Teamwork

We are both physical and social creatures. Team sports teach us how to make the most of both those aspects of our humanity. Harmonious society is not a natural thing. Kids are lousy at it. There is nothing more selfish in all the universe as a newborn babe. We have to learn to recognize and respect the needs and wants of other people. It is not easy and takes a long time.

Team sports, for many kids, is one of the first real lessons in society. They learn to trust and share and sacrifice for something bigger than their own stats. They learn how to share both victory and defeat. They also learn that tribe is not limited to gender, ethnicity, or creed. Prejudices do not thrive in a team dynamic.

Athletics Provides Physical and Mental Challenge

boysoccerIt is a pitiable human being who lives his entire life without ever being pushed to his limits. How strong are you? If you do not push against a heavy weight, you will never know. How far can you run? How fast? For how long? Without physical challenge, you can never fully know yourself or your capabilities.

The same applies to mental challenges. Currently, chess is considered a sport. But all sports push us to solve problems rapidly. The mind and body have to work together in concert to shake the tackle or slide into Second. Whatever you are trying to accomplish, there is someone else who is trying just as hard to stop you. Learning how to meet the challenges in sports prepares us to meet those challenges in life.

Becoming rich and famous is no part of why sports is valuable. Becoming more durable, a better team player, and a more effective problem solver are, however, excellent reasons to size your kid for a new pair of cleats.

Getting Healthy Together: The Best Sports Activities For Family Fitness

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boygirlplayvectorIt is amazing how many sports fans enjoy their favorite pastime from a distance. Their only contact with sports is to watch it on TV from the comfort of a couch or recliner, while eating snacks with no nutritional value. In other words, an activity that requires the epitome of health and fitness is enjoyed by people doing everything to decrease their own health and fitness.

Don’t let this happen to you, or any other member of your family. There are other ways to enjoy your favorite sports:

Together
Actively
Inexpensively

Weekend golfing doesn’t really meet that criteria. It pushes the definition of doing something together. One person swings while everyone else watches. It is also slow and expensive. It is a hobby usually suited to a single person.

Chess is another excellent sport. And yes, it is a sport. Unfortunately, only two can play. It is turn-based, slow, and let’s face it, no one ever lost weight or became more fit playing chess. But don’t worry; there are plenty of sports that are both fun to watch and to do. Here are my top three:

Tennis

The only thing better than watching Wimbledon on Independence Day is getting out there and playing it… and the barbecue. Tennis is a fast-paced game with plenty of built-in breaks for catching one’s breath. It can be played and enjoyed at all skill levels. You need at least two players. But you can have up to four on the court at one time. Because balls have to constantly be retrieved, there is plenty of activity for those not playing at the time.

The only thing you need to get started is a tennis racket for each player, lots of tennis balls, and a tennis court on which to play. There are always tennis courts to be found, usually for free use. You can pay for time on the nicer ones for a small fee. Unlike golf, tennis can be played without cashing out an IRA. If you are an enthusiast wanting to outfit your own backyard with the latest tennis court equipment, check out the latest accessories online. Otherwise, if all you need are some rackets and a cool headband, any department store will do.

Basketball

basketballvectorThere is no category of people who do not enjoy basketball on some level. There is even a National Wheelchair Basketball Association. Yes, there are people who play basketball with no legs. Being shorter than 6’7” is not a barrier to entry. Men, women, girls, and boys of all ages, sizes, and skill level can find some variation of basketball that works for them.

It is usually played at a frenetic pace that challenges even the most fit among us. Even those little ones you can hardly keep up with during the day will be huffing and puffing after a few minutes of round ball. Once you play for a while, you will come to appreciate the mad skills of the ones who make it look easy on TV.

Hiking

If you have had enough of chasing balls on courts, put on the grippy shoes and go for a long walk. Hiking is a legitimate sport, though it doesn’t feature prominently on TV. That is because it is a sport that is only worth doing, not watching. There is no special equipment to buy or maintain. There is no particular place you have to do it. There is no wrong way to do it. The only advice I have to offer is don’t walk through a briar patch in short pants. Otherwise, just go for it. You can fly solo or bring the whole family, even the dog.

The great thing about all of these activities is that they are enjoyable when done together with people you love. They are very active and beneficial for health and fitness. And of course, their cheap. No investments in expensive equipment are required. No matter what sport you choose, it will help you appreciate it all the more when it is time to kick back and watch your favorite athlete.