Posts from category "Train to Win"

Making Grades to Make the Team

Encouraging your athlete to be the next Michael Jordan or Mia Hamm is a great goal, but the reality is, not every student is drafted for college or the big leagues.

Should kids have to make good grades to make the team?

Sports can play an essential part of every young student's development when it comes to learning discipline and teamwork. Physical activity has been shown to contribute to academic and social success directly.

Sports teams, similar to schoolwork, demand participation, dedication, teamwork, and self-motivation.

As parents, we should encourage kids to find their own motivators and commit to their responsibilities. Sports can be a great way to teach children skills for life by tieing the privilege to play organized sports to grades.

Taking sports away as a punishment, by parents or schools, can teach student-athletes about consequence in the real world.Athletics and AcademicsThere have been many scientific studies between the correlation of better grades and sports participation as physical activity can directly impact mental abilities and emotional faculties.

During their school years (ages 8-17), a child’s mental and physical development is in full swing. Studies show there is a significant impact that physical activity has on grades. Exercise improves the oxygen flow to the brain, increasing neurotransmitters such as serotonin and endorphins.

Active kids show to be happier and healthier. Kids involved in physical activity have reduced levels of anxiety and stress and are less likely to become depressed.

Routine exercise promotes higher levels of concentration as well resulting in better memory, critical thinking, and overall learning. Student-athletes are less likely to become involved with substance abuse and more likely to pursue higher education.  

Academics may sometimes feel like a drag for your energetic students, but sports can help to motivate them to study. Organized sports can drive them to study harder to be allowed to stay on the field while they're in high school, helping to lay the foundation for studying in college as well.

The College Cut- Playing By NCAA Rules

If your student-athlete is considering playing a sport in college, they need good grades.

Athletic scholarships are an excellent motivator for studying, but because there are thousands of applicants each year, it is very competitive.

The NCAA implemented a “Make grades to Make the team” policy. At the university level, students must learn time management and prioritization, and the NCAA makes it clear that education comes first.

The academic standard of excellence that the NCAA expect participants to meet. They require their athletes to maintain a 2.3 GPA, and if these requirements are not met, coaches can't give them any playtime.

The NCAA will place a student-athlete on academic probation until they meet the minimum GPA requirements. At the college level, it may sound like a punishment, but it is to motivate the student-athletes to improve their grades and implement better study habits.

If you find that your child is performing poorly in their academics, encourage them to try out for a sports team. This could be the change needed to help motivate them to get an A on their upcoming exams.

Busting the Myth: “No Pain, No Gain”

No pain, no gain. It's a common expression that gets thrown around when growing up.

It's common to hear coaches and parents say, "no pain, no gain,” to their student-athletes during a game or workout.  The myth that if your muscles aren't experiencing pain, then you must not be working hard enough, is not true.

Exercising through the pain, once it is felt, can be thought as showing toughness and durability, when pain is actually the brain's way of telling your body to halt its activity and become aware of correcting the pain - not to keep going!

The body doesn't need to feel as if you destroyed it after a workout. Especially younger student-athletes when they first start to play sports and start lifting weights in the gym.

Young student-athletes need to be taught about their pain, and not to ignore it.

Pain: The Body’s Warning Signal

Pain isn't the only way to measure the success of a workout. Pain is the body warning the brain that something might be going wrong.

Professional trainers can help athletes push through the pain, demanding more of their body, but it doesn't mean your student-athlete should do the same.

The reality is, professional athletes are coached to know their limits, helping to avoid excess on joints and muscles to minimize the risk of serious injury.

Pain is not a challenge to your muscles.

Physical pain is a response our brains send to our bodies to cease activity and evaluate for injury. Even slight discomfort needs to be analyzed and assessed, not ignored.

There is a line between the right pain felt when working out to build muscles and suffering from an injury. If the sensation continues, or swelling occurs, seek medical help immediately. 

The Development of the Body versus Physical Strain

It's no secret, young kids have incredible amounts of energy and are very active compared to adults with desk jobs.

Regular exercise promotes bone growth and muscle development and can positively contribute to cognitive and mental health, which is vital for the developing, school age, athlete.

As student-athletes become introduced to competitive sports, typically between the ages of 8-13, training and technique can be hard on the body even at a young age.

Most sports demand a level of strength and technique training which if taught under a coach’s careful watch can bring safe pain during a gym session.

The developing young body is vulnerable to damage, yet feels better equipped to endure the pain due to their youth.

It's essential during workouts to use correct form when lifting weights and avoid bad habits, such as throwing around weights uncontrolled, to help prevent unwanted injuries.

Make sure your student-athletes are listening to their coaches and doctors when it comes to working out recommendations.

Be Sore, Not in Pain

You don’t have to experience pain to know you’ve reached your limit. When posture and technique become compromised due to fatigue, it’s time to give it a rest.

Talk to your student-athlete about listening to the body, the pain, and professionals about when to stop and when to keep on going.

Student-Athletes and Social Media

Student-Athletes and Social Media

There are two games to be played - the one on the field, and one online. Technology has changed the face of sports in the twenty-first century. With social media, engaging with fans is now easier than having to wave to them all as they sit from the stands.

Communication - Access to technology is changing the way we interact. Social media can be a bridge in communication and information when used correctly. It has never been so easy to connect with friends, businesses, and communities around the world. As a youth tournament organizer or parent, knowing your student-athletes audiences is the first step to knowing where to begin. Understanding the different types of audiences is essential to know what to post, and what not to display. What social media channels do student-athlete parents need to know about?

Facebook - Facebook is easy to navigate. With the Facebook Events Page option, you can organize and create information around specific games. This is a great way to get your community involved with upcoming tournaments. It's a place where everyone can share game day pictures, live streams, and recorded videos, with school recruiters, family members, and friends. Many parents use Facebook to access information that is hard to find offline such as spying on competitors. This can help student-athlete parents and coaches better prepare the players for the various tactics and gameplay the opponent will be using during the match.

Instagram - Instagram is one of the newer social media platforms which uses images to help tell the story of the game. Instagram is an excellent platform for young athletes. This platform is a great way to help followers and fans feel a part of the team and journey. Don't forget to use hashtags. Hashtags make the posts easily accessible and help athletes and fans to keep up with the action.

Twitter - This social platform makes it easy for people to keep up with live action events. Hashtags and short blurbs are perfect for the Twitter platform. Users can keep up with essential details and hype as they cheer on their team.

LinkedIn - You may not find many young athletes on LinkedIn, but that doesn't mean it isn't a great platform to build your student-athletes brand on. Creating professional connections and expanding your network can help your student-athlete you get in touch with a college recruiter, or find mentors.

Dedication - Having the right channels at your disposal is only the first step. It is important to know how to use social media effectively. As a youth tournament organizer or parent, be sure to post updated information about your event, both before and after, to keep the audience engaged.

Highlight the Game - Don't forget to post action shots and highlights from the game. Give shout outs throughout the game to other student-athletes and capture images of the coaches, team captains, and the crowd to show the whole story. Don’t let the game end when the whistle blows. Keep everyone updated with the post-game celebrations and tell the story from the student-athletes point of view. Until the next big event, keep your audiences engaged with pictures, videos, and live streams from the past tournaments and prepare them for the upcoming game. Social media is excellent for building a large fan base and can help athletes gain confidence and feel empowered both on and off the field. Spread the word and create a united sense of team excitement with social media today.

Concussions in Young Athletes (API)

Concussions in today’s sports world is a rising danger to athletes. While concussions have always been a part of sports, medical personnel did not know the extent of the dangers for a long time. A concussion is one of the most serious risks to young athletes and is seen in both individual and team sports. It can be caused by a direct blow to the head, the jerking of the head, or repeated mild blows to the head. The last of these is most commonly seen in sports such as football or boxing but can also be seen in many other scenarios. However, no matter how the concussion was received it is vital to treat as quickly as possible.

Who is at risk?

In simple terms, everyone. Young people are at more risk than adults as their brains are still forming, and the concussion might last longer in younger people for this reason. According to the Center for Disease Control over 173,000 people ages 0-19 go to the emergency room every year got a concussion. The majority of these concussions are from biking, football, playground injuries, basketball, and soccer. It is important to recognize that it is not just contact sports that can cause head injuries, but also individual sports and activities that your child may partake in every day such as climbing on the playground. Unfortunately, preventing concussions is nearly impossible to do completely but recognizing the signs and reacting appropriately may be just as important.

Warning signs

It is important for coaches, players, and parents to be aware of the warning signs of concussions. This is especially important for a head injury due to the fact that the person affected may not be thinking as clearly as they otherwise would. Part of the difficulty with identifying concussions, especially during sports, is that symptoms are not always prevalent immediately and could take up to a day to start visibly manifesting. Some of the major warning signs include but are not limited to:

  • Extended headaches
  • Light and Noise sensitivity
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness


The most important step if these symptoms are prevalent in a person after receiving a blow to the head is to take them out of the game. No sport is worth the risk of furthering a brain injury, especially in someone whose brain is still developing. If the symptoms continue or there is reasonable suspicion of a concussion it is essential that the person be evaluated by a professional for further instruction. There are a variety of things that the doctor may suggest including rest. While this might sound silly, it is important for the brain to rest, this means no bright screen, sensory overload, or high levels of cognitive activity. These activities may stretch out recovery time and worsen the condition. Every state, excluding Mississippi, has a return to play law, that directs how and when an athlete may return in the case of a head injury. This sets the guidelines for coaches and doctors to ensure that the player does not return too quickly and cause further damage.

In Professional Sports

While concussions were not always known to be as dangerous as they are, it is now evident that steps need to be taken to prevent them. Most professional sports leagues have taken it as their duty to protect the players from brain injury by putting in place certain rules. In basketball and football the players with a suspected brain injury are required to immediately leave the field and pass a concussion test before returning to the play. FIFA World Cup soccer has put in place rules since the series of 68 concussions in the 2014 world cup. These rules include the ability to pass concussion tests and be evaluated by multiple doctors. While this is not full proof, and the player is not required to be taken off the field immediately it is a step in the right direction. If professional athletes are not allowed to play through a concussion, our young athletes should certainly not push themselves to do so.  

Role Models in Sports

Are Professional Athletes Really Good Role Models?

Whether we like it or not, professional athletes are role models to a lot of young kids. Who we identify as a role model reflects certain values of a society.

In the past two decades, sports have taken a larger role in entertainment, education, and careers. Sports have become an integral part of American culture. As a result, professional athletes have been put in the spotlight. With great skills and talents, athletes merit great respect.  However, does sporting ability automatically qualify someone as a role model?

What Makes A Good Role Model?

Sports promote health, giving kids an opportunity to be active and social. It has been shown that children who exercise perform better in their academics and social relationships.  Kids are especially sensitive to how adults are promoting health and social relationships. They look to adults for model behavior.

Because we want our kids to live a healthy life and because we know lessons learned in sports can be applied throughout life we would like to assume that an athlete would be a great role model.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Traits of a good role model

  • A good role model is enthusiastic. They enjoy their sport and are excited about being a role model. A good athletic role model is also a good sport, showing values of sportsmanship and humility. They make a commitment to behaving responsibly, in a way that shows their personal integrity.
  • They have an altruistic mission. A good role model is active in their community. They use their position of influence to have a positive effect.
  • A good athlete promotes health and displays it. They show they can have fun while balancing a nutritious and tough training lifestyle.
  • They encourage a healthy relationship between education and physical activity.

Social Media and Sports-

Keeping Kids in the Game

“Take me out to the ball game. Take me out to the crowd.”

Everyone knows the tune. Baseball is a national pastime. The Super Bowl is a nationwide holiday. And who doesn’t love filling out a bracket for the NCAA basketball tournament?

Media keeps every viewer involved and excited for sports. It is especially exciting for young athletes to see professionals on television, skillfully mastering their sports. Athletes have a great influence on what kids take in as values, how they feel about education, their training objectives and even their career goals. For some kids it may feel as though they are watching a real life superhero on TV, capable of incredible feats.

Girls and the Media

While there are a lot of people who might be role models for girls, an athletic role model may be just what our girls need.   Girls participate in sports as much as boys until age 13, but then drop out at twice the rate of boys, studies find. Watching someone like Abby Wambach or Serena Williams perform at a high level may help them to stay in sports even on a club level.

But even for those who don’t stay in sports, an athletic role model may be helpful to a young girl.  Social media can be damaging to the image of the female body, causing stigma and lowered confidence, especially found in high school girls. Athletes model healthy exercise and healthy eating without the goal being to be skinny.  Female athlete may be able to help combat the image that much of social media portrays by showing what it truly means to be healthy.

Having female athletes portrayed in a positive, healthy way has shown to be helping keep girls in sports. Self esteem and body positivity is important to young women as they are trying to grow and identify themselves. Self-esteem, which influences so much else in adolescence, increases with sports participation—teens who participate in two or more sports have a 10 percent higher score on self-esteem than teens who don’t play any sports.

Girls now are in critical need of positive representation in the media, and seem to be finding it in athletes.

Athletes worthy of role model status

Eli and Peyton Manning - The two giants of football. The Manning brothers are famously known for their Super Bowl rings. Using their names and money, they help support children’s hospitals. They have donated and raised money for children’s hospitals and clinics, continuing to serve the community.

Mia Hamm - One of the greatest female soccer players of all time but also one of the most respectable athletes of all time. She remains relevant, even after retiring, continuing to promote health and sportsmanship. In addition to her success in sports, Hamm has given to the community. She started a foundation for bone marrow, seeking to promote awareness and raise funds for families in need of a transplant. She also encourages girls to stay in sports!

Steve Nash - While Steve is famous now, he was not always so. Nash had to work hard to achieve his dreams and continues to remain humble after realizing his goals. He has started his own charity to aid children.

Robbie Rogers - A professional soccer player who has played on the US National Team. He was the first active “out” player, becoming an admirable role model for the LGBTQ youth and all children. Rogers remains true to himself and is a great example of what is really means to be brave.

Serena Williams - A great role model for women everywhere. Her incredible drive has propelled her to be 18 time Grand Slam Champion in tennis. She has worked hard for her goals and encourages other young women to do the same. Along with her tennis career, Williams is an actress, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, fashion mogul, equipment spokeswoman, philanthropist, and part owner of the NFL's Miami Dolphins.

Serena is also human and has recently shown the human side in her outburst at the US Open.  She is a good example of role models are only part of the formula to guiding our children. When we know that our children look up to certain people and we take an active role in that part of their lives we can use behavior as an example. 

Sports are an important social and educational aspect of student athletes’ lives. Professional athletes are adults they will look to for exemplary behavior, on and off the field. Sports are important, introducing necessary values into their development. Guiding those values with healthy role models is important.  Looking up to athletes is only natural. As with anything, what matters are the values they are being exposed to and internalizing? Identifying positive role models who exhibit model behavior is important for any growing youth.

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