Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Published Wednesday, August 31, 2016 with 10 comments

The Business of Sports

Youth sports is more than just athletic training, it’s life skills orientation, a rage, a culture and most of all it’s hope for anticipating players and parents. Unfortunately, for many coaches and pro-sports training clubs, youth sports is not more than a money minting business. Not that there’s anything wrong with business, but making business out of everything isn’t right either.

There are coaches who are willing to train your kids as early as 3-4 years of age. Think about it. Pro game training when they’ve barely mastered their fine motor skills.

Even more bothering is the fact that most coaches emphasize on making a career out of the game. You would rarely come across a coach who actually focuses on understanding the game, practicing team spirit, playing together, losing gracefully, learning to respect, and learning to share. And yet more scarier is, that coaches are making kids play these games for insanely longer durations. Some training clubs actually play for 10 months outright, which is more than what pros play for.

The happy-go-merry, carefree kid is now replaced by worn-out, tired victory-focused playing robot who plays with an expression-less face, who perhaps has played several games but enjoyed really few.

Even if for some practical purposes if this sports-career mayhem is justified, our league teams should be swarming with star players. And for the number of players that are getting this sort of training, we should have all-star teams competing. But when we do the math, it doesn’t match-up. Some of the most popular sports heroes come from an era where this insanity wasn’t going on, an era when people didn’t consider sports as their shortcut to a fancy, luxurious life and when people played for the love of the game.

So you sacrifice your kid’s childhood, expose her to the risk of concussions and injuries, and of course spend all that money in training, what if your child doesn’t end up in the premier league or national team? Do you at-least get refunds? Well, it is after all a business, isn’t it?

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Saturday, 20 August 2016

Published Saturday, August 20, 2016 with 2 comments

Youth Sports – The Bitter Truth

If your child is starting in youth sports or has been playing for some time now and you have all these fancies about youth sports, well, it’s time for reality check.

With our kids growing up in times as tough, we as parents need some hope to cling on to and youth sports seems readily promising. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but on whole the picture is not as rosy as it may seem. Here’s busting some myths and seeing the bitter truth.

It’s competitive, aggressive and ruthless

Unfortunately, yes. Youth sports is not as fun as you thought it might be, certainly not for your kid. In the kids’ world there are heroes and then there are losers. Then there’s bullying, peer pressure, competition and so much to deal with. And that’s the way it has to be because that’s how it is in grown-up life too. So your kid is learning some real life skills here. If you thought that the kid’s having fun while you are writing the checks, you might want to take a closer look in her life. Give your kid some credit for dealing with it all and standing tall.

Some coaches are biased and unfair

We all love to believe the reverse of this is true and your kids talent will be acknowledged. In reality, coaches do have their favorites and some coaches do make one child look better than the others. In an even worse scenario your kid’s coach might be so aggressive about winning that he might encourage kids to play unfair or cheat just to win. You need to be really alert, you wouldn’t want your kid to end up with such a training program.

Parents can be unfair too

For some parents too winning is more important than playing fair. Some parents are so obsessed with their child’s success in sports that they might put your kid down or least encourage their own kid to play to show your kid down. Some parents also go to the extent of shouting demeaning remarks that might really hurt your kid’s confidence. You’ll just have to make your child strong enough to go beyond such insults.  

All said, youth sports is still a great learning experience for kids. We just need to ensure to be grounded with our hopes and expectations and let the kid be a kid, even if it’s at the cost of competition. You’d be surprised what learning this brings to the kid when she’s an adult. Happy parenting and happy playing!
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Friday, 19 August 2016

Published Friday, August 19, 2016 with 2 comments

Tips for Successful Fundraising

Start of new school year means start of school sports teams which calls for one of the first big meetings between school Athletic Directors, coaches and parents, meeting for fundraising.

 Fundraising is perhaps the biggest challenge in youth sports and it is undoubtedly the most important aspect of it. Here are a few tips to help you get do organized fund raising and ensure lack of money doesn’t stop your little stars from shining bright.

  •  Start with a budget. Count for extra expenses such as team outings, fun activities, contingencies, injuries etc. apart from counting for the obvious expenses like jerseys, training material, staff salaries, training aids, apparel, sports material, participation fee for several events, and other important costs including travelling and logistics.
  •  Make a team of parents, players and school staff volunteering for fundraising. List the activities the group will undertake for fundraising. For instance, it could be a series of activities planned on different days like car-wash, lemonade stalls, fun Olympics, neighborhood games etc. 
  •  Some parents prefer online fundraising to actually going out there. This is also a great option. You can create a Facebook page and ask parents and staff to invite over their friends. Organize fun FB, Instagram and other social media contests and you can charge a participation fee which will actually go into the sports fund. Or you could simply as friend to contribute online. 
  •  For some schools, asking parents a sports fee works best. This way the school gets the required fund and there is no taking a chance if the fund will be raised or not. If you choose this option, it would best to sit along with parents and decide upon feasible payment options. For instance, the whole budget could be divided into quarters and then split into the number of players. Each parent would pay a quarterly fee instead of paying up all at once. 

 While you know it needs to be done, you might want to make it a fun learning experience for kids as well. After all there’s so much more to learning in school than just academic education.
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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Published Wednesday, August 17, 2016 with 0 comment

Lesser Known Facts About Olympics

Rio Olympics is the hottest point of discussion wherever you go. While everyone’s discussing Olympic facts, here’s some really interesting for you – a list of Olympic sports you didn’t know existed (well, mostly). Most of these sports were just a part of either one Olympic or two and later got scrapped. Some of these sports still exist and can be seen in Rio Olympics 2016.

Never thought trampoline was any more serious than making America’s Favorite Home Video in the backyard? Well you better think again. Trampoline has been a part of the Olympics since Sydney Olympics 2000. It is judged pretty much on the same basis as gymnastics – technique and control. This sport will be seen in Rio Olympics too.

Solo synchronized swimming
Solo synchronized swimming is like a pool ballet. A solo swimmer performs pool ballet. The sport exited Olympics after Barcelona Olympics 1992. Although Rio does have something called team synchronized swimming.

Shooting – Live pigeon
Although 1900 Paris Olympics was the only Olympics that had this sport, it is quiet surprising how it even made it to the list. Athletes were supposed to shoot as many pigeons as possible. It was a bloody, filthy massacre of innocent birds. Thank God Live pigeon shooting is not a part of the Rio Olympics.

Tug of War
One of the oldest sport, tug of war has been popular in picnics and outdoor events with friends and family. Two teams pull a rope towards themselves away from each other, like snatching the rope from each other. The team that manages to pull the rope towards themselves beyond a certain point wins. Sadly Tug of War was popular in the Olympics only till the early 20th century and was discontinued after 1920.

Swimming Obstacle Course
For those of you who are trying to imagine the kind of obstacles swimming would have, here’s the fact weirder than you can imagine. In the Paris Olympics 1900 swimmers had to cross obstacles like boats, either crawl over them or swim underneath, climb poles and more in a 200m swim race. This sport was also discontinued.

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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Published Thursday, August 11, 2016 with 2 comments

Rio Olympics 2016: Must-know Facts

Rio Olympics are the talk of every circle, sports or non-sports. If you haven’t had much time catching up and feel lost in these Olympic conversations, here’s a quick fact list to help you come around.

  • The Russian controversy – Over 68 Russian Athletes along with other sports champions were banned from the Olympics after testing positive for drugs. The entire athletics and weightlifting teams have been banned, while there’s a partial ban on aquatics, canoeing and kayaking, cycling, modern pentathlon, rowing, sailing and wrestling.

  • Famous International champions you must know
    • Usain Bolt – This Jamaican is the world record holder 100 m and 200m. He has won gold six times in Olympics and is popularly known as the fastest man alive.
    • Shelly Ann Fraser – The Lady Usain Bolt. Well, not really because no one’s as fast as Usain, but the girl’s a champion in 100 m and is going for her 3rd straight gold in Olympics.
    • Neymar – Brazil’s soccer sensation is seen as the promising hero who will revive Brazil from the shock and embarrassment of it’s World Cup loss to Germany.
    • Caster Semenya – Remember the Caster Semenya controversy? The South African athlete was judged for her manly-appearance and was ordered to undergo gender test to prove she was a woman. The test showed a naturally high level of testosterone, allowing her to compete in the women’s category. If Caster does win, which she in all probability will, it is likely to bring her more controversy than acclaim. Sad though.
    • Novak Djokovic – This handsome Serbian has won not just trophies but hearts with his Tennis. He completed the Grand Slam by winning all four major Tennis championships across the globe. Winning an Olympic gold will give him Golden Slam, and make him immortal in Tennis with the likes of Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal.

  • American champions you must know
    • Michael Phelps – This American champion swimmer has done America proud like none other. At 31, Phelps is the highest winner of Olympic medals, 22 in all including 18 gold. This is his last Olympic.
    • Simone Biles – This young American has already won 3 world championships and 4 US championships and she is just 19. There are very high expectations from Simone in Rio.
    • Ashton Eaton – Ashton is the winner of last Olympics gold medal and a popular contender at Rio. Ashton won with a lead of 300 points in his last race.
    • Serena Williams – After having won four Olympics already, Serena is in for her next two this time at Rio, one for singles and one for doubles with her sister Venus.
    • Katie Ledecky – Katie swims like a fish and is all out to fish gold at Rio. She is the world champion and Olympic winner already in freestyle swimming.
    • Justin Gatlin – Justin won his Olympic bronze at 34 after facing a 4-year ban for doping. He is America’s best bet against Usain Bolt.
    • Kerri Walsh Jennings – Kerri has won Olympic gold in beach volleyball not once, not twice but thrice already and is now up for her straight fourth.

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Friday, 5 August 2016

Published Friday, August 05, 2016 with 0 comment

Tips on Conducting Team Meetings with Parents

Team management goes way beyond just the game. An important aspect of the team is the parents who need to be kept in confidence, to ensure the game season goes on smoothly and successfully.

Some parents might be difficult, some might be obsessed with their kids’ victory, some might have a whole lot of suggestions of which not all can be implemented, some might be supportive too. But with this mix of parents, it sometimes becomes really taxing for the coach and athletic director to conduct team meetings. Without team meetings and proper communication, parents are left to their imagination of what’s going on in the sports coaching, and, that may not be healthy for the team.

To help you make meetings productive, informative and enjoyable for all concerned, here are a few tips.

Have an agenda
Every meeting should have an agenda. You can choose from – Planning for the upcoming game season, Performance review, Quarterly review and future steps, Introducing a communication protocol, or create an agenda that fits your meeting. Agenda ensures people come prepared or with a certain mind frame and it also adds seriousness to the meeting.

Make the meeting participative

Let parents participate and say openly what they want to say. By allowing parents to speak their minds out, you will not only help release the burden on their side, but you will also get a fair understanding of the groups’ thinking and mood in general. Have a healthy discussion. Tell them your plan and perspective. By encouraging participation, you will ensure understanding and support, get great ideas for team and get the confidence of parents, which will be very crucial for the team’s success.

Let parents know they are valued

Parents write the checks and call the shots where their kid takes her coaching. They obviously will have some anxiety in them regarding their kid’s coaching, after all there’s a future attached to it. So if parents sound a little too critical or demanding, you might try and settle the anxiety by explaining things to them. By telling parents to take a backseat, you will just add on to their nervousness. More so, parents can instill confidence and positivity at home that will help the child’s morale and her game. These are important inputs. Just let parents know their contribution is valued.

Assign roles

One of a great way to involve parents is to assign them roles. You will need all the help, especially if the team is travelling out for a tournament or for a game. Assign someone the in-charge of team discipline, some as the in-charge of food (just to ensure that the whole team is eating healthy), someone as the in-charge of logistics and so on.

For a team’s success, it is essential for both, parents and coaches, to understand and acknowledge that they are on the same side of the team. A team that has all positive and enthused players, committed coaches and supportive parents, is sure to succeed.

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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Published Tuesday, August 02, 2016 with 0 comment

Back to School: Tips for a Stress-free Transition

Summer break’s over and it’s back-to-school time. While there’s excitement of a new start, there’s also also fear and stress. A lot of parents worry about handling the transition.

Children often have mixed emotions about school year starting, it is the the parents who set in the mood for the kids. If parents show enthusiasm about school starting, kids start the school on a very positive note. If parents teach love and respect for learning, kids are keen to learn and school becomes this wonderful place where they get to learn different things, new things, exciting things and so on. If parents teach discipline, kids learn to behave themselves. So it is actually the attitude of parents that sets in the attitude for kids.

That said, parents need to be ready for school before children are. Here are a few tips to help parents get prepared for a great school year ahead.

One of the biggest concerns parents face is that the start of the school year means a whole lot of shopping, fee, sports enrollments and other associated financial commitments. These expenses can be quiet daunting for a month, but little savings throughout the year can help take the burden away. Create a school year account in which you save a minimal amount every month, which brings you to a healthy financial start to the school year.

Communication is vital. Communication between parents and school and communication amongst parents. Communication ensures parents are well informed, kids are up to date with their school work and good communication ensures parents are involved with the kids’ school and learning. This makes kids emotionally secure, confident and positive about learning.

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