Monthly Archives: January 2015

Children and teenagers are under a lot of pressure these days. Not only are they expected to get great academic results, many colleges, universities and employers are demanding evidence of extra-curricular activities or work experience too. Simply getting good grades at GCSE level isn't enough.

Some young people are already part of a sports team or have a part-time job that they can point to for that evidence, but what about the ones that aren't naturally outgoing or sporty? Sports Leaders have launched the Give More. Become More. campaign to help those people (as well as the natural athletes) to gain confidence and valuable life experience. The Sports Leaders awards for children and qualifications for teenagers and adults are designed in a way which means that you don't need to be sporty to get something out of them. The courses teach leadership skills, communication, time management and more. Many of the people who take a Sports Leaders qualification do go on to find a love for sports, but even those who decide sport is not for them benefit from the qualifications in other ways.

We have been working with Sports Leaders, and have been approved to offer the Playmaker and Young Leaders awards, as well as the Day Certificate in Sport Leadership. We're working on becoming an approved assessment centre for the Level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications. The Level 3 qualification is particularly noteworthy because it is worth UCAS points, so it is ideal for those who are interested in sports coaching and want a little extra to add to their UCAS application form to make their university applications stand out.

We'll be starting our first Playmaker and Young Leader courses soon. If you would like to enroll your child on one of the courses, or you are a teenager or adult interested in one of the qualifications, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Getting children involved with sport from an early age is a great thing from a health perspective and also helps them to develop the balance, coordination and agility that they will need if they want to compete at a higher level when they get older.

Unfortunately, many young children end up having short sporting careers because they burn out and lose interest, or, worse, suffer a debilitating injury. As a parent, if you want your child to achieve their sporting potential there are several things that you should be mindful of:

Don't specialise at a young age

There will be plenty of time for your child to hone their skills in one specific sport as a teenager. Children get bored easily, and the sport that your child has a talent for right now may not be a lifelong passion. Even if it is, they may not grow up to have the ideal body type for it. Let them have fun, experiment and find the things they love.

Pushing a child to play a sport that they do not like could put them off sports as a young adult, or for the rest of their lives.

Don't over emphasize winning

Children are generally incredibly perceptive. Even if you tell them that "It's the taking part that counts" if you criticize the referee, reward victory more enthusiastically than you do less successful performances and act in a competitive manner around other parents your child will pick up on this.

Encourage good sportsmanship in both victory and defeat, and remember that the most important question is not "How did you do?", but rather "Did you have fun?"

Teach the importance of a good warm up

Young children are usually more flexible and less injury prone than adults but an athletic training regimen will take a toll on any child. Teach them the importance of taking warm up drills seriously, and if their coach does not use skill-specific movement drills in the warm up, or does not have a systematic warm up at all, consider taking your child to another club.

Take complaints seriously

Young children may lack the vocabulary to explain that something hurts or that they are chronically fatigued. If your child loses enthusiasm for a sport do not dismiss their behaviour as laziness or childish whims. Talk to them and try to find out if they have a concern that they are having trouble articulating.

Make time for rest

Rest, both physical and mental, is important. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep and that they are given the chance to broaden their horizons and develop hobbies outside of sport. This will help to prevent burn out and give them a chance to build up a circle of friends at the same time. Children are not miniature adults, and expecting them to train as if they are is not good for their social or emotional development.

Use the right safety equipment

According to Dawn Comstock, PhD, Principle Investigator at The Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, injury rates are higher in competition than in practice, but because young athletes spend so much time training the likelihood that an injury will occur in training is just as high, in real terms, as it is for competition. The sheer amount of time spent training increases the injury risk greatly and yet it is all too common for young athletes to use substandard safety equipment in day to day training, or even fail to use things like mouth guards altogether. This pits them at unnecessary risk of injury. Make sure that your child has the right equipment for the sport they are playing, that the equipment fits well, is comfortable and is in a good state of repair. If there is a culture of not wearing protective gear at their club, talk to the coach about changing that culture.

Educate yourself

The more you know about your child's sport and about physiology in general the better you will be able to help your child. This doesn't mean that you should try to do the job of your child's coach, but if you have some understanding of the sport you will be able to reinforce his messages and help your child take care of themselves.

Stop Sports Injuries is a charity that works to educate parents and coaches about overuse injuries and the other injuries that tend to occur in youth sports. The charity provides codes of practice and educational materials for parents and coaches, and maintains a list of clubs and sports leagues around the world that are committed to protecting the health of young athletes. Origin Sports has made that commitment, as have some of the clubs that we work with. Talk to your child's coach about injury prevention and how you can work together to ensure each child on the team has a long and healthy sporting career.