Back to Sports

 I really thought that I had reached the end of the line when it came to sports for our boys this past year. The school year is so long, and both boys played baseball last fall, basketball in winter, and baseball again in the spring. They had fun, but both boys happened to be on teams with the worst records for their age groups in spring baseball … yikes! So the season felt longer than usual. We were all ready for a summer break.

As always, summer went by so quickly too. It was difficult enough to get geared up for school, nonetheless another sports season. I was late getting Christopher registered for his fall baseball. Jonathan was running for his new school, so we were excited for him to start his season but all a little nervous at the new undertaking.

Jonathan had his first cross country meet on Thursday, and it was amazing! There is nothing like the start of a race. The excitement is amazing. Approximately 170 competitors all starting at once. Check out the photo just before the start! (Isn’t that about what the troops looked like in Braveheart before the beginning of a battle?)

The_race_begins.jpg

Jonathan was a little nervous, and it was hot. Evidently it was just under the heat index max that they will even let students run. The race started downhill, which meant a lot of the kids went out too fast–Jonathan included. But we were so proud! And it doesn’t hurt that the entire race is over in under 20 minutes!

Christopher had the first game of his baseball season tonight, so it has felt like double duty this week. Got to love those 7:00 game times on a school night! The game was fun. Christopher’s team won in the last at bat –always a fun way to win!

So the sports bug has hit me again! It is always so much fun to watch and play. I’m sure around May you will hear me wishing it all to end again, but the Fall sports season has got me hooked for now!

I would love to hear how you manage sports, school, and church this time of year. I could use all the help I can get! How do you guys manage it all?

Real Life Solutions by Dr. Linda Mintle

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include "? for Dr. Mintle" on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share. 

Soccer

 

Q: My 8-year-old son is on a recreational soccer league. He loves to play sports but is a bad loser. After a game, he is irritable and upset. I don’t like how he talks about losing, but my husband says I am overreacting. Am I?

A: The number of children that participate in recreational sports has grown exponentially in recent years. However, we are seeing some disturbing trends — kids who are overly rewarded for mediocrity in order to prevent them from feeling bad to kids obsessed with winning.

A survey in Sports Illustrated for Kids asked its readers what they observed about their parents, coaches, and adults when they played sports. Seventy-four percent said they witnessed out-of-control adults at their games. The most common behaviors cited were parents yelling at officials and coaches and parents yelling at children.

Parents need to chill out and allow coaches to do their jobs. Unfortunately, when children see overly intense adults get angry, they learn the same behavior. Therefore, observe if the adults are exercising self-control at the games.

Another possibility relates to how your child feels about himself. Usually kids who are sore losers worry too much about what others think of them when they do not win. Or a child may feel that he is only accepted when he wins. Discuss the value of doing your best on that particular day over winning.

Additionally, some children easily are frustrated and need help winding down from a losing game. They do not know how to handle frustration, so they get angry. Parents who can talk about their own frustrations and disappointments when they lose model for their children how to accept losses.

Evaluate the messages you may be sending about the importance of winning; teach your child that his identity does not come from being a winner — character matters more; help your child deal with frustrations and losing in ways that are acceptable; and practice graceful losing. Winning is not always possible, and learning to lose gracefully is what builds character in a child.

Is your child a good sport? How have you taught your child good sportsmanship?

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons.

Sports Injury Prevention Tips

My boys love sports! They are both playing baseball right now, and my oldest also is running track for his school. But how much is too much? And how can I guard him against injuries. The following tips are provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to answer questions like these.

Injury Risks

All sports have a risk of injury. In general, the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of injury. 

JandC.jpgMost injuries occur to ligaments (connect bones together), tendons (connect muscles to bones) and muscles. Only about 5 percent of sports injuries involve broken bones. However, the areas where bones grow in children are at more risk of injury during the rapid phases of growth. In a growing child, point tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical provider even if minimal swelling or limitation in motion is appreciated. 

Most frequent sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments) and strains (injuries to muscles), caused when an abnormal stress is placed on tendons, joints, bones and muscle. As always, contact your pediatrician if you have additional questions or concerns. 

To reduce injury:

  • Wear the right gear.  Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear.  Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will protect them from performing more dangerous or risky activities.
  • Strengthen muscles.  Conditioning exercises before games and during practice strengthens muscles used in play.
  • Increase flexibility.  Stretching exercises before and after games or practice can increase flexibility.
  • Use the proper technique.  This should be reinforced during the playing season.
  • Take breaks.  Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
  • Play safe.  Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and body checking (ice hockey) should be enforced.
  • Stop the activity if there is pain.
  • Avoid heat injury by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing.

Sports-Related Emotional Stress

The pressure to win can cause significant emotional stress for a child. Sadly, many coaches and parents consider winning the most important aspect of sports. Young athletes should be judged on effort, sportsmanship and hard work. They should be rewarded for trying hard and for improving their skills rather than punished or criticized for losing a game or competition.

For the AAP site and entire article, click here.

What are some things you have had to watch for as your children play sports?

 

March Madness

March Madness has officially struck at our home! My boys went crazy over the annual college basketball tourney this year. And this time I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Sportscrazy.jpgJonathan drew up a bracket in time for the selection show Sunday night and had me fill it out as the brackets were announced. He did this so he could go ahead and choose all his winners. He wanted to be ready to post when the online brackets were available. I believe we entered at least 12 different brackets online — and only one of those is truly mine! The boys both were anxious for the games to begin today so they could either brag … or make excuses about their picks! It is a great time to be on spring break. They probably will try to watch as many of the 16 games today as they possibly can.

We always try to balance sports with everything else. My wife will tell you that sports seem to be on the TV all the time. And we play plenty of them too. It’s just a matter of keeping things in proper perspective.

So tell me: Is there basketball fever at your home? I want to know if there are other parents of sports crazed kids out there. How do you handle it all?

And who did you pick to win? : )

 

Guard Against Sports Injuries

AAP banner.jpgIt’s that time of year again when the weather is getting warmer and kids are filling soccer fields and baseball diamonds for spring sports. Do you know how to prevent sports injuries in your kids? Here are some great tips brought to you by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Injury Risks
All sports have a risk of injury. In general, the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of injury.

Most injuries occur to ligaments (connect bones together), tendons (connect muscles to bones) and muscles. Only about 5 percent of sports injuries involve broken bones. However, the areas where bones grow in children are at more risk of injury during the rapid phases of growth. In a growing child, point tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical provider even if minimal swelling or limitation in motion is appreciated.

Most frequent sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments) and strains (injuries to muscles), caused when an abnormal stress is placed on tendons, joints, bones and muscle. As always, contact your pediatrician if you have additional questions or concerns.

To reduce injury:
•    Wear the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will protect them from performing more dangerous or risky activities.
•    Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises before games and during practice strengthens muscles used in play.
•    Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises before and after games or practice can increase flexibility.
•    Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season.
•    Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
•    Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and body checking (ice hockey) should be enforced.
•    Stop the activity if there is pain.
•    Avoid heat injury. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 pediatricians focused on the care of children. Check out their great Parenting Corner for the latest medical information for your child.

Are your kids playing a sport this spring?

Upward® Scores!

This time of year always makes me think of Upward Basketball. I have helped coach Upward  three years and love this organization for its sports philosophy and emphasis on teaching kids about Jesus. I thought you would enjoy these words from Upward’s founder and president, Caz McCaslin.

20_Upward-Logo-Blue.jpgWhat we do: Specifically designed for K5 through 6th grade boys and girls, Upward sport leagues provide a fun, positive atmosphere for children to grow in a sport they love while also learning about Jesus Christ.

Who we are: Upward Unlimited is
an international nonprofit children’s sports organization designed to
give children and their families a positive sports experience.
To
fulfill their mission, Upward partners with evangelical churches across
the country. By working with and training local churches, over half a
million children will participate in Upward this year.

How we operate: Giving
children the opportunity to learn and grow through participating in
games they love is one of the most rewarding aspects of conducting a
league. Unlike traditional sports programs, Upward programs are
structured so children participate in practices and games without
league standings. Characteristics such as sportsmanship, kindness, and
character are valued as winning qualities. Coaches primarily focus on
ministering to children and their families instead of game strategy.
Teams are arranged in a substitution system where all players are
allowed equal playing time and equal opportunity for improvement.

What we emphasize: To
further the “Every Child Is a Winner” philosophy, Upward coaches
encourage each player with a game-day star award following each game
that builds self-esteem and team spirit.
Coaches also are prepared with guides containing a Scripture
learning verse and devotions for practices and games. In addition, the
referee will lead all sports teams in prayer in the center of the field
or court at the beginning of each game. 

Upward offers basketball, cheerleading, soccer, flag football, and several camp options so find a church near you who offers one of our sports leagues.

Have you participated in an Upward league? Tell us about your experience!