Thursday, 31 December 2015

Published Thursday, December 31, 2015 with 12 comments

Help Sports Kids Stay Focused

Although it is extremely important that sports kids stay focused on the game but with so many distractions around it is just natural for a child’s mind to wander off. And it is a matter of great concern for parents and coaches who are deeply concerned about the child’s performance. Here are a few tips to help your kid stay focused on the game irrespective of the distractions.

Friends: One of the main causes of distraction for sports kids is their friends. If your child’s friends are not into professional sports and are spending time otherwise going out together and having fun while your child has to attend practice sessions, chances are that at some point the child might loose it for the game. In such a situation you must intelligently allocate time for game and play. Kids need time to themselves and with their friends to rejuvenate. Make a timetable and allocate breathing time for the child. This will help the child perform better in the game also.

Internet: Internet has become a vital part of the child’s growing up be it in studies or entertainment, although, Internet can be very addictive. Many children across the globe are suffering for ill effects of Internet addiction. You need to counsel your child for smart and safe use of the Internet. Make them responsible for how they use the Internet. Casually discuss Dos and Don’ts but do not put strict restrictions as this can have a boomerang effect or make your child rebel the rule.

Studies: Yes, however wrong it might sound to you but studies can be a distraction for the child’s game. Exams, projects, extra studies, homework, pressure to do better in academics; all this can be a distraction in pro sports. But studies are important too. Again, a well-planned timetable that allocates reasonable time to studies and provides for cushion of projects etc. can be of great help here.

Peer pressure: Many a times your child’s friends or classmates would try and distract her and the reason can be as silly as jealousy. Sports kids are popular and the popularity brings in as many friends as rivals. This is a part of growing up for the child and it’s not just a sports lesson but also a life lesson you might want to teach your kid: how to keep priorities right in life and how to not-compromise them.

Performance pressure: Just because a child plays good we set our expectations high. And because we keep our expectations high, the child gets nervous and cannot perform. This brings down the confidence and makes the child despise the game in extreme cases. There’s a thin line between motivating your child and putting performance pressure. We need to understand, differentiate and stay on the right side.

Game focus is not just the child’s onus. It’s as much on us too. Hope these points help. Tell us in the comments below if there’s something we missed out.
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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Published Thursday, December 03, 2015 with 14 comments

The Role Of Adults In Youth Sports

Adults play more than just the supportive role in youth sports. In fact both sides, the coach and parents, have a big influence on the performance of youth sports players. Winning or losing of the team is as much the coaches’ and parents’ responsibility as players themselves. To be able to do justice to the influence your role brings in, here is a list of things that both parents and coaches need to consider so their young stars shine brighter.

Inspire: You need to remember this is not just a game. Most of the teachings, words spoken and vocabulary used by adults actually influence the child’s overall personality. So make sure you speak out words that inspire the kids. The good old pep talk before the game works wonders for children.

Communicate: Technically, communication can happen only if there are two or more parties. So while talking to the kids is important, it is equally important to listen to them as well. Effective communication can solve half the issues the players might be facing. Moreover, seamless communication between the coach and parents is also as important as communication with the kids. If both parents and coach share child’s concern, issues faced by the child, child’s strength etc., the game will get to a whole different level.

Enjoy and let kids enjoy: In sports, especially in youth sports it is essential to enjoy the game. There’ll be times when the team loses, a player makes a silly mistake, star player does not perform well, and so many other things. With the kind of hard work that parents and coaches put in, their disappointment is obvious. But publically showing your disappointment will dishearten the players, bring down their morale and create unnecessary pressure on kids. At times it’s important to loosen up. Simply enjoy the game and teach children to do it too.

Work in sync with each other: Parents and coaches need to work in sync with each other and not against each other. This implies that parents should never override whatever the coach says and vice versa.

Youth-sports is a very delicate but important field. What the child learns will be her foundation for sports throughout life. The mental and physical development of the child in youth-sports determines the future of the player to a large extent. It also affects the overall personality of kids. Taking your role seriously in your child’s growth and games and being committed to the game brings in long term benefits to the child.
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Published Thursday, December 03, 2015 with 16 comments

Performance Anxiety In Youth Sports

Does your child play very well during training and practice matches, but tends to choke in the game? Do you feel that the child is over-anxious or nervous on the day of the game? If yes, your child is suffering from performance anxiety.

Performance anxiety is described as decline in athletic performance because of stress.

Players face extraordinary stress on the game day mainly due to two reasons:
  1. High expectations
  2. Fear of a large audience

Both of these are external reasons but the stress occurs due to the way the individual player perceives the situation. When you talk to a player facing performance anxiety, the way the player talks about her anxiety will clearly explain what she is going through and what exactly is causing the stress.

Having performance anxiety is normal given the pressure of competition and peers these days. But the child needs to know that every anxiety and fear needs to be discussed with an adult the child trusts like the coach or parent. These feelings, when controlled in time, can actually go on to improve the athletic performance of the child. Here are a few tips to control anxiety and stress in players of youth sports:
  • Understand the child is in stress: Coaches and parents need to read through the child’s mind. It is normal to have some stress or anxiety before the game. That is our mind’s mechanism to prepare for the game. But if the child is exceptionally quiet or behaving abnormal, talk to her. There might be signs of performance anxiety.
  • Give the team time to settle in: Bring in the players well ahead of time. Let them get a feel of the place and settle in. Get a worm-up done and then conduct some light fun team games to cheer up the kids. You might also ask the team to do some slow breathing exercises that will calm the mind.
  • Focus on the game, not on the result: A lot of players make a mental image of winning, holding the trophy, celebrating etc. This then creates a sort of silent pressure on the mind. Tell the kids to close their eyes and visualize the game, a sort of mental strategy of how they are going to play. This will change the whole attitude and bring back focus on the game.
  • Force a smile: Ask the team to smile even if they do not feel like it. Tell them to do it repeatedly till the kids break out into laughter.

Remember a little stress is necessary for good performance but it can soon snowball into a problem if not tackled in time.
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