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Sharing helpful information, special offers and fun ideas with the i9 Sports family
October 03, 2017

It’s finally time for your child’s first soccer season.  Everyone behaves a little differently when starting a new sport. Some kids are excited, some are nervous and some might even be scared!  No matter how your child is feeling before they step foot onto the field for the first time, here are some ways you can help prepare them for their first youth soccer league season.
 
Buying Soccer Equipment
 
When you sign up for an i9 Sports league, you will receive an i9 Sports jersey (included in the registration fee). In addition to the jersey, you’ll need to purchase some equipment for your child to be properly outfitted for soccer.  Your child will need sneakers or rubber soled cleats, socks and shin guards. You can purchase shorts or athletic pants for your child or you can choose to order the official i9 Sports shorts which complement the jersey. Practice and game soccer balls will be provided; however, if you want to purchase a soccer ball for your child to practice with at home, make sure you purchase the correct size ball for them to use.  If they are between the ages of 3-9, then a size 3 ball is age appropriate for them. If they are between the ages of 9 and up, then a size 4 ball is the correct size.
 
Teach Them the Basics
 
Even though your child will receive more detailed, age-appropriate instruction from their coach, it always helps to give them a general idea of the sport before their first practice. Going over the basics of dribbling and passing in advance will give them a head start for their first practice.  Explaining to children about teamwork and sharing can also be beneficial before the season starts, so children understand the importance of working together on the field as a team.
 
Teach Good Daily Habits
 
Teaching children about sufficient rest, good nutrition and daily exercise will help them as they grow older to develop healthy habits they’ll maintain through their adult lives.  Talk to your child about getting the proper amount of sleep for their body to recover, especially before and after game day.  Educate them on proper nutrition and making healthy food choices so they are properly fueled for each practice and game.
 
Have Fun
 
Above all else, encourage your child to have fun! Kids and parents can get distracted by issues such as winning or losing, how many goals were scored or who is passing who the ball.  Youth sports should be about fun and learning. Make sure that you’re always encouraging your child, as well as other players to keep the atmosphere positive and upbeat.  
 
If you are interested in signing your son or daughter up for an i9 Sports soccer league in your area, click here

September 05, 2017
When children start playing sports, it's exciting to see them develop their skills and understanding of the game. At the same time, kids may lose confidence if they don't learn as fast as someone else or they are scared to try for fear of making a mistake. As youth sports professionals, we know this is all part of the experience and we strive to instill not just a love of the sport in our young athletes, but confidence in their abilities as well. No matter the skill level, confidence is something that can make all the difference on the court or playing field and requires practice. Here are some tips to help your child develop self-confidence that will help them throughout life.

Let Kids Make Mistakes
 
It can be hard to let a child make a mistake, especially if you can help prevent it. But sometimes letting children make that mistake can be a great learning lesson.  When kids make mistakes, they can learn on their own how to fix the problem by trying a new technique or practicing more.  If kids do not make mistakes, they may never experience a valuable learning opportunity or build confidence in their skills.  
 
Constructive Criticism
 
Even when your child makes a mistake on the field or on the court, they may not understand what went wrong or even why it was wrong. This is where constructive criticism is key. Help your child understand what’s going wrong, but do it in a positive way. No one likes to be criticized, even a young child. Negative feedback can be particularly difficult for younger kids.
 
Provide constructive criticism to your child by using descriptive language that explains the mistake and offers suggestions for how to correct it. Recognizing your child’s effort helps frame the discussion in a more positive way. And remember... the number one goal of playing sports is to have fun!
 
Set Goals
 
One of the best ways to help a child develop confidence in sports is to encourage them to set goals.  If a child is struggling to make free throws in basketball, start small and work with them to set a goal to make two in a row.  When they achieve that, change the goal to five in a row. It might be hard for them at first because they won’t make two in a row right away, but using positive reinforcement will help bolster their confidence.  With a goal in mind, they will see their progress easier.   
 
Helping children build confidence in themselves at the early stages of learning a sport is crucial in their development.  When children have confidence in what they are doing, they are more willing to try new things, take more risks and grow as athletes and people.  No matter their skill level, building confidence can always be improved.  Support from parents and youth sports leaders is crucial for building confidence in children. 
August 08, 2017

A groundbreaking study from Boston University released on July 25, 2017, found chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, linked to repeated head trauma in nearly every brain donated, even in high school football players.

For CEO of i9 Sports Brian Sanders, this research further underscores the importance and growth of youth flag football leagues and drives the mission of i9 Sports to ensure parents of athletes high school-aged and under understand the alternatives to tackle football.

Lindsay Kalter of the Boston Herald spoke with Brian on what this means for programs like i9 Sports and how to keep injuries from becoming normal or accepted in youth athletics.

 

July 12, 2017
With the growth of hyper-competitiveness in youth sports, a big question that has arisen is whether kids should specialize in one sport or play multiple sports. A recent study released by Tracking Football analyzed the 2017 NFL Draft first-round picks and how many sports they played in high school and gives us some data on the topic.
 
The study found that 30 of the 32 players picked in the first round of the NFL draft were multi-sport athletes in high school.  Within that study, 20 of the top 32 NFL draftees played two sports in high school, and 14 of the 32 played three sports in high school.  While there were still two draft picks of the 32 in the first round that did not play multiple sports in high school, the data shows that the overwhelming amount of the top football players in the nation picked were well-rounded athletically.
 
With all the extra resources that are available for athletes such as individual lessons and travel teams, sports have become more competitive even at the youngest age levels. Specializing in a sport can help an athlete understand that sport more in-depth and enhance specific skills. However, the benefits of multiple sports outweigh the advantages of specialization.
 
Exposure
When young athletes are exposed to multiple sports, they learn a variety of motor skills and knowledge that they can use and intertwine between the different sports.  When younger athletes play multiple sports, it gives them the chance to discover their favorites. Even if a child gets frustrated in a sport in which they aren’t the best, it teaches them the importance of practice and the value of working hard for improvement.
 
Fewer Injuries
Playing one sport can take a toll on an athlete both mentally and physically.  When playing one sport year-round it doesn’t offer an athlete the rest that is available between seasons of different sports.  When you are going through the same motions and workouts continuously, it can lead to overuse of muscles and create chronic injury problems.
 
Playing one sport can be mentally draining as well.  It can put a lot of pressure on young athletes and cause a lot of stress from the lofty expectations that come with the continuous involvement and training.
 
Less Burnout
If there are not many choices for different sports leagues or teams to join, playing one sport can mean being on the team with the same people every day and going to the same fields or courts every day.  Athletes who begin to play one sport early in their athletic careers often grow tired of being in the same routine continuously for years.  Playing different sports gives children the opportunity to meet new friends and teammates and have a change of venue. Burning out from a sport can lead to losing the excitement and interest in sports.
 
Mental Growth
Cross-training allows children to learn different skills and problem-solving techniques from each sport.  This knowledge not only helps them be well-rounded on the field, but it also transitions into their lives off the field. Through playing sports, children can develop traits like leadership, self-confidence and a goal-oriented mindset that will continue to help them in their personal lives, at school and even in their careers.
 
At i9 Sports we offer multiple sports year-round with age-appropriate instruction for each age level.  Click here to find a program in your area!