The benefits of youth sports Points Amateur sports used to mean varsity and JV teams in high school and college, but today more than thirty million kids play on a wide range of recreational and competitive or select teams at younger and younger ages. Parents want to encourage safe sports for their children, both on the field and off. Whether your athlete is a five-year-old beginner or the star of a varsity team, The Young Athlete provides guidance on everything from working with the coach to preventing and treating sports-related injuries. Jordan D. Metzl, M. D. co-founder and medical director of The Sports Medicine Institute for Young Athletes and one of America's premier pediatric sports physicians, explains: * How to keep your child athlete healthy in mind and body * How to deal with the coach and other parents and help your child handle team pressure * How to recognize and prevent injuries such as fractures, ligament tears, and repetitive stress injuries * How to recognize when your child is doing "too much" * How to judge the impact of daily physical practice on growing bodies The Young Athlete provides two kinds of guidelines. First, it helps both you and your child keep a sensible perspective on the benefits of organized sports and avoid a "win at all costs" mentality. Through personal advice and anecdotes from his medical practice, Dr. Metzl, a marathon runner, Ironman triathelete, and former college soccer player, helps parents evaluate real-life situations and decisions. He addresses the concerns of parents who have no experience in sports but want to encourage their children to achieve their utmost potential. Second, this book focuses on strategies that can help prevent injuries and promote health. Dr. Metzl tells you how to recognize the most common injuries and determine their degree of seriousness. He also discusses the nutritional needs of the developing athlete and the benefits of strength and preventive conditioning before and during the season. The Young Athlete is a comprehensive guide that will enable your young athlete to be the best that he or she can be, both on and off the field. Chapter 1 MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO (A SOUND MIND IN A SOUND BODY) Sports are for fun, but they also offer benefits and lessons that carry over into all aspects of life. When kids are asked why they play sports, here's what they say: * To have fun * To improve their skills * To learn new skills * To be with their friends * To make new friends * To succeed or win * To become physically fit Kids usually get the benefits they seek from sports and more. Kids need attention and respect (in that order), but they have few ways to get them. What is unique about sports is that they offer kids an arena where they can earn attention and respect by exerting their natural abilities. Kids are good at sports because sports are essentially about speed, strength, coordination, vision, creativity, and responsiveness-the necessary physical attributes are the attributes of youth. Given that athletics involves all aspects of the human being, it is not surprising that participants benefit in all of the areas they mention. According to researchers at the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, kids who participate in organized sports do better in school, have better interpersonal skills, are more team oriented, and are generally healthier. Participation in sports provides opportunities for leadership and socialization, as well as the development of skills for handling success and failure. Moreover, when playing games, children learn how rules work. They see how groups need rules to keep order, that the individual must accept the rules for the good of the group, that rules entail a consideration of the rights of others. They also learn about competition, but within a restricted and safe system where the consequences of losing are minimized. Benefits for girls have been of particular interest to researchers. The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports reports many developmental benefits of participating in youth sports for girls, including increased self-esteem and self-confidence, healthier body image, significant experiences of competency and success, as well as reduced risk of chronic disease. Furthermore, female athletes "do better academically and have lower school dropout rates than their nonathletic counterparts. " The Women's Sports Foundation lists many ways that sports specifically benefit female athletes. These include their being less likely to become pregnant as teenagers, less likely to begin smoking, more likely to quit smoking, more likely to do well in science, and more likely to graduate from high school and college than female nonathletes. Female athletes also take greater pride in their physical and social selves than their sedentary peers; they are more active physically as they age; they suffer less depression. There is also some evidence that recreational physical activity decreases a woman's chances of developing breast cancer and helps prevent osteoporosis. I am convinced that sports offer a unique arena in which children can successfully exert their talents. The arena is unique for two reasons. First, sports engage the child as a complete human being: all facets-not just physical, but also social, cognitive, and psychological-are engaged harmoniously in striving toward peak fulfillment. Second, sports involve youths working in an ongoing community composed of their peers as well as their peers' families. Sports, that is, offer children an exhilarating, satisfying, rewarding way to participate in a larger world not generally accessible to nonathletes. Ads by Google Sale On Luna Sports Clothing Save Up To 20% On Luna Sports Free Shipping On Orders Over $50! RealCyclist. com/LunaSportsClothing Fundraising and Auctions We run fee-FREE auctions at events & supply Memorabilia at COST price! www. helpinghand. com. au Good Health Worldwide International Health & Medical Insurance For Expats Overseas www. GoodHealthWorldwide. com Physical Benefits Fitness. Kids who play sports develop general physical fitness in a way that's fun, and they establish lifelong habits for good health. This is particularly important at a time when obesity in the United States has reached epidemic proportions: the incidence of obesity has increased by more than 50 percent among America's children and teens since 1976 and continues to grow at a staggering rate! Stress relief. Sports allow kids to clear their minds of academic and social pressures, to literally run off the tension that's accumulated in their muscles. In the words of one patient, "If you play really hard, you feel better because playing takes your mind off things that bother you, and afterwards you can concentrate better. Most doctors recognize the positive mental effect of physical exertion, even though we're not sure exactly why this is so. I know that my ability to study in college and medical school was greatly enhanced when I ran during the day, and I'm not the only athlete to find this true. Many athletes get better grades in-season (theories posit the discipline and the need to manage time, along with an increased ability to concentrate). During exams, Duke University opens its gyms twenty-four hours a day to provide stress relief for its students. Mastery. Sports give kids a satisfying, enjoyable way to develop their own talents: through personal effort they get good at something they're interested in. Doing something well makes them feel good about themselves, but equally important, it teaches them about the process of how to improve and work more effectively. Learning a skill-to dribble left-handed, say, or to execute an effective second serve-entails a recognition that practice is essential and that improvement is incremental. The process of repetition teaches the athlete how to master a move and also how to experiment with different approaches to improve a skill. The feedback in sports is usually immediate and visible-does the ball go into the basket? -so that the athlete can change or repeat what she's doing and figure out how to get better. Not only that, the whole process of seeing practice lead to improvement gives kids a feeling of control, a feeling all too rare in their lives. Healthy habits. Because sports increase an awareness of one's body and how it responds to different stimuli and circumstances, sports help prevent drug and alcohol abuse. Most athletes value what their bodies can do and want to maintain those abilities. Being an athlete also gives kids an acceptable reason for telling their friends no to drugs, booze, and other high-risk, unhealthy behaviors. (Of course, not all athletes avoid drugs and alcohol. ) Ads by Google Why Meditation? 15 Minutes Of Meditation Each Day Will Dramatically Improve Your Life www. silvaultramindsystem. com How to Do Meditation? Easily Learn How to Meditate Download Free Meditation Audio www. SilvaLifeSystem. com Racing camels,horses,dogs improve performance, muscle tone increase work rate ,appetite, www. collovet. com. au Personal Benefits Valuing preparation. Sports help kids learn to distinguish between effort and ability. Sports increase self-discipline and the awareness of the value of preparation because kids can see the difference in their performance. Competitive athletes learn the importance of effort, being prepared (mentally and physically), and enlightened risk-taking. They see that raw physical talent is not always sufficient to win the game, but that preparation is essential. This includes mental preparation (staying focused) and physical fitness as well as practicing the plays with their teammates in team sports. They learn to evaluate risk versus reward. Another invaluable lesson is discovering that mistakes are part of learning; they signal that a particular approach is unsuccessful and you must try another. Kids also learn to deal productively with criticism as part of improvement and preparation. Resilience. Sports provide an unparalleled model for dealing with disappointment and misfortune. Young athletes learn to handle adversity, whether it's picking themselves up after losing a big game or not getting as many minutes as they wanted. They find ways to deal with losing and go on, because there's another big game next week or next year. They figure out what to do to get what they want for themselves. They put in extra time on fitness or work on specific weaknesses in their game (long-ball trapping, hitting to the opposite field, looking the ball into their hands). Athletes also learn to deal with the physical and psychological effects of injury. I broke my jaw playing soccer and missed most of the season my junior year in high school. I went through the classic stages of grief, from "This can't be true" to ultimate acceptance. Two months of sitting out, waiting to heal, and dealing with physical and emotional pain was devastating. There were times early on when I sat in my bed whimpering from pain. But as time went on and my jaw began to heal, I somehow began to realize what almost all athletes in pain realize: the only person who is going to help you is yourself. You find the limits of what you can ask of yourself and know that you will deliver. This learning to get the best out of yourself carries over into all aspects of life. People can find their internal drive through training and hard work, but adversity really brings it out. In my case, I came back with stronger resolve. In my senior year I became an all-district soccer player and was propelled toward a college soccer career. Attitude control. Older teens learn that a confident attitude improves their performance, and that they have some control over their attitude. They learn to disregard comparative stats in preparing for an opponent and instead to adopt "attitude enhancers" such as visualization exercises, team or individual rituals, singing specific songs together, or having dinner as a team the night before the game. Some might call these superstitions, others, self-fulfilling prophecies, but they work. Leadership opportunities. Team sports offer kids a rare opportunity to serve as leaders. Kids can be in a position to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their various teammates and help to exploit their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. They can minimize conflicts among players. They can reinforce values-such as fair play, teamsmanship, hard work, mental preparation-by speaking up when appropriate and setting a good example. They can also take the initiative in arranging for team dress on game days (football players wear their jerseys to class, female basketball players wear their warm-up pants), organizing team dinners or team movie nights, and inviting teachers and administrators to their games. Identity and balance. Being part of a group is inordinately important to kids, and sports make kids feel like they belong, whether it's to the group of athletes in general or their team in particular. Sports also contribute to a teenager's sense of a stable identity with particular values. I'm a football player" is a very different statement than "I play football. " People are complicated, however; no individual is just one thing. It's better to encourage children-and adults-not to assume a single identity to the exclusion of all else. Time management. Young athletes learn to manage their time productively. They know they have to get their homework done, so they learn not to waste time (some of them even quit watching television and hanging out at the mall). They plan ahead, so that big school projects don't catch them by surprise. They even figure out they have to eat well and get a good night's sleep. Countless athletes, in school and the workplace, say that being an athlete taught them discipline that is invaluable in their lives on and off the field. Long-term thinking. Athletes learn the fundamental lesson of sacrificing immediate gratification for long-term gain. This is the basis for personal success as well as for civilization in general, and no lesson can be more valuable. Ads by Google Under New Ownership Local running/sk8/sport shop Students save 10% www. ontherunsports. com Masters Sport Management AISTS offers a Masters Degree in Sports Administration & Technology www. aists. rg Racing camels,horses,dogs improve performance, muscle tone increase work rate ,appetite, www. collovet. com. au Social benefits Sports are a social activity. Team sports are obviously done with other people, but even individual sports are often done as a team (tennis, golf, track). All sports, however, are intended to be performed in front of others, and the social ramifications are many. Here are some of them. Relationships with other kids. Athletes develop relationships with their teammates. For boys, sports are a primary, and unfortunately sometimes the sole, way of socializing with others. In many schools and communities, nonathletic males find it difficult to develop a social network at all. For girls, who according to the feminist theorist Carol Gilligan tend to define themselves through their relationships rather than their achievements, sports offer yet another way to make friends and create an alternate peer group. According to Mike Nerney, a consultant in substance abuse prevention and education, multiple peer groups are always a good idea for teens, who have an intense need for inclusion and belonging, but who can also be volatile, cruel to each other, and foment destructive behavior as a group. Having a refuge when relations go wrong with one group can alleviate a great deal of stress and offer an alternative for kids who feel uncomfortable or frightened by peers who engage in high-risk activities. Teamwork. On a team, kids learn about cooperation, camaraderie, give-and-take. They learn that while their natural position might be wide receiver, the team needs a cornerback, so they sacrifice their personal desires and play defense. They learn that you don't have to like someone in order to work together toward a common goal. They also discover that you can work for people you don't respect and still be productive, improve your skills, and have fun. A team is a natural environment in which to learn responsibility to others: you can't stay out carousing the night before a game; sometimes you need to pass up a party in order to show up and play well. Kids learn these lessons from their teammates and, most important, a coach who encourages the good of the team over the needs of an individual player. This attitude is sometimes rare in today's sports climate, where what's glorified is to "be the man. I think the earlier the message is instilled about the good of the larger whole, the better for kids in the long run. Diversity. Organized sports sponsored by clubs or youth leagues not affiliated with schools offer players an opportunity to meet a variety of kids from different backgrounds. Students from public, private, and parochial schools come together in a common enterprise, crossing socioeconomic and ethnic lines, so that over time all players broaden their sense of how other people live. The genuinely multicultural environment is of tremendous importance in our polarized society. Kids play on the same team, wear the same uniform, share the same objectives and experiences. Sports are a great equalizer: rich or poor, black, brown, or white, are irrelevant. What counts is talent and heart. Ads by Google Football Stats CG Real-time on-air graphics Statistical data scouting system www. wtvision. com Movie Trailers Preview the latest movie trailers for new ; upcoming movies. movies. 701panduan. com Malaysia Tour Packages Beach, Diving ; City Experience Affordable Rates. Contact Us Today! www. mvision. com. my Social benefits part 2 Relationships with adults. When coaches, parents, and kids see each other at practice and games week after week, year after year, the adults learn to admire and praise the kids' prowess and progress, even when kids are as young as third graders. This kind of attention helps youngsters learn to balance their own evaluation of their improving skills with the appraisal of others who are not blood relatives; they also begin the lifelong process of figuring out whom to listen to when they hear conflicting advice or assessments. In addition, for young athletes of all ages, attention from interested adults is not only flattering but also helps them overcome shyness and develop poise when talking to relative strangers in social situations. The ability to feel comfortable in a variety of social circumstances will be progressively more valuable in a world of multiple cultures and decreasing numbers of supportive communities. Sports give kids an opportunity to spend ongoing periods of time with an adult in a shared endeavor. Indeed, kids may spend more time with their coach than with any other adult in their lives, especially if they're on a school team or a club team that practices two or more times a week. Ideally this coach cares about them as whole beings rather than particular talents who can run for touchdowns or block opponents' shots. To thrive, kids need to be with adults who want them to do well in a variety of endeavors, who notice their improvements and hard work, who manifest sound values, and who don't pay attention to them solely because of their contributions to the win column. The coach-player relationship can be very strong, and even parentlike. Coaches of young athletes take on a tremendous responsibility to set a good example and treat their players respectfully. Thankfully, most coaches take this responsibility very seriously. Sometimes, the coach-player relationship can even be life-saving. A female coach of a varsity boys' team reported that one of her players came to her saying, "I need to talk to you. I found blood in my urine. " "Let me ask you something," the coach replied. "Have you been having unprotected sex? " "No, of course not. I can't believe you asked me that," he said. "Well, I need to know what direction to take you in. No matter what happened, you need to see a doctor. " The coach recalled, "This boy was very good looking and very popular. I knew what was going on. The doctor found he had picked up a venereal disease which could have made him infertile. The boy called me from the doctor's office to say thank you. " Participating in a community. Sports foster a sense of community: they give both participants and spectators the experience of belonging to something larger than themselves, the need for which seems to e hard-wired into the human brain. This is why kids love playing for their schools, why high school football games in small cities can draw tens of thousands of spectators week after week, and why adults identify with their college teams years after they have graduated. Playing for an institution or a community gives kids a chance to feel that they are making a genuine contribution to a larger group. Ads by Google Sports Stores Get all sort of sports equipments. Find list of sports stores here. www. 701panduan. com retire? After all the bills will yiu have enough to retire on? thisopneroad. com Smart Parents 7L Strategy Get Free e-zines, tips & secrets to happier family and brighter kids! www. SmartParents. com. my High and low Sports can actually change the physiology of athletes and fans. Physical exertion can raise the level of pheronemes and endorphins, brain chemicals that cause exhilaration. Exercise can also elevate the serum testosterone level, which makes the heart beat faster. Spectators can feel depressed when their team loses and elated when their team wins. They, too, undergo physiological changes when watching their team: fans of the winning team experience an increase in testosterone, whereas supporters of the losers undergo a decrease in testosterone. When playing for school or club teams, young athletes are afforded the opportunity to see how grownups and children treat one another and how this treatment has long-term consequences. They can see which adults care about kids, are willing to do their fair share and more, and take a stand for what they believe in. They see which parents are cooperative-pitching in to help with snacks, driving their kids' teammates to games, serving as team treasurer, volunteering to line the fields on cold, rainy mornings. They hear parents screaming at the officials and recognize which ones know the rules and which don't. They see who supports their own children and others, who bullies their children or the officials. They see parents who teach their children to assume they are always right, are better than the other players, and that someone else, anyone else, is always at fault if things go wrong. They also see how the kids in these families emulate or reject their parents' behavior. They think about how they will treat their own children and how they will behave with their friends as members of groups. One hockey father says, "Part of the benefit of sports is that children observe its complex social dynamic among coaches, parents, players, and officials. There's a wide range of ethics, such as the attitude toward authority. Do you try to abide by the spirit of the rules, get away with what you can, accept what an official says, or do you argue and yell at him, or complain about it? Another major element they encounter is the difference between teammates who are good at communicating and sharing versus those who are out to get what they can for themselves. This is a dichotomy adults face throughout life. Kids involved in sports have to consciously or subconsciously figure out where they fit into those various spectrums. " Participating for years on the same team not only improves the play, because the players learn each other's strengths and weaknesses and where they'll be on the field or court, but it gives kids a wider view of the world and the people in it. Ads by Google Discount Hydration Wide Selection Of Brands ; Products Free Delivery For Orders Over S$50! BestBuy-World. com/ Stem Cell Autism Therapy Patients are Seeing Results Today Don't wait for Treatment Learn more www. StemCellTreatmentNow. com Smart Parents 7L Strategy Get Free e-zines, tips & secrets to happier family and brighter kids! www. SmartParents. com. my Similarities of sports and arts Are the benefits of sports unique? Many have noted that the arts produce many of the same benefits as sports, for both participant and spectator. Sports entail all elements of human life-physical, emotional, cognitive, social-but in a simplified, orderly form. Sports boil life down to competition governed by agreed-upon rules. The opponents are known, the goals clear and quantifiable. Athletes practice the skills necessary to excel and gain a sense of control and mastery. Sports are a public performance, which fosters a sense of community among people-participants as well as spectators-who would otherwise be strangers. At their best, they produce a sense of exhilaration. The arts are the other significant leisure activity that distills life down to simpler forms. The arts simplify life by selecting and arranging certain elements to create a unified, expressive whole. They too are intended for an audience. The performing arts, dance in particular, have much in common with sports: they take place outside of everyday life, the activities are physical and demand practice, and performance can produce exhilaration and a sense of community. What makes sports different from the arts is that they demand a spontaneous response to surprise. A dance is choreographed; the dancers know what they are to do at every moment. A game has set plays, but the athletes must respond to what their opponents do, or to the unexpected bounce of the ball. The denouement of the game is uncertain, often until its final seconds. This combination of total human exertion with an environment that balances control, spontaneity, and uncertainty leads to the unique excitement and satisfaction of sports, for both athletes and spectators. * As with most spheres of human endeavor, the benefits of sports can easily turn into deficits. Moderation is, as the Greeks pointed out, the key to wisdom. Many in the athletic community worry that youth sports have become too serious, and that the win-at-all-costs mentality has become the reality today. Youth sports shouldn't be an obsession that excludes other areas of life (academics, the arts, community service, family life, religious training). Sports should be just one arena of many in which kids have a chance to express themselves and have fun. When winning is overvalued, the idea of sportsmanship and fair play disappears, as does concern for the whole child. When only a kid's athletic talent is important, her character development, her academic performance and needs, her long-term physical health, the development of her skills at other positions on a team are neglected. The pressure to be a winner may push some young athletes toward unsafe performance-enhancing drugs or body-building supplements. Furthermore, when winning is the prime value, the public nature of sports can turn sour. An athlete who is not playing well or makes a mistake may feel humiliation and shame because she knows everyone is watching. Being a member of a team can become destructive if the players turn arrogant and fall into an us-them mentality, seeing opponents as the enemy and treating their nonathletic peers as inferior or contemptible. Furthermore, if a teenager overidentifies as an athlete, he will be ignoring other interests at a time when he should be broadening rather than narrowing his horizons. College and professional sports have become corrupted by the win-at-all-costs mentality, and this corruption is intensified by big-money contracts for winning players, coaches, and organizations. Loyalty, camaraderie, sportsmanship, the joy of mastering skills- these values all too often disappear when "winning is the only thing. " If they remain uninfected by the toxins of winning at all costs and instead focus on effort and fair play, youth sports can be beautiful, exciting, and fun. They can provide kids with an extraordinary opportunity to express their talents and their character, to run around screaming and laughing with joy. The job of parents and coaches of young athletes is to maximize the benefits and minimize the deficits of youth sports by keeping a long-term perspective and helping kids do the same. Author Jordan D. Metzl, M. D. , is the medical director of the Sports Medicine Institute for Young Athletes at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. A Medical contributor to CBS News, he has published widely in the field of sports medicine and speaks regularly to medical and parent groups both in the United States and around the world. A former college soccer player, Dr. Metzl is a seventeen-time marathon runner and two-time Ironman triathlete. More Carol Shookhoff, Ph. D. , writes frequently on educational issues. She is the mother of a teenage soccer player who also plays basketball and lacrosse and runs track. More
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