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Sharing helpful information, special offers and fun ideas with the i9 Sports family
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! 
June 30, 2017
Coaching youth sports might seem like a big challenge but our approach to youth sports makes it simple for anyone to step off the sidelines and start coaching. For people who have never coached before, i9 Sports provides great resources such as detailed, age-appropriate practice plans, coaching guides, drills, and rule books. Using these tools, it’s easy to become a youth sports coach kids will remember for years to come!
 
Here are five coaching tips from the team at i9 Sports:
 
Keep It Fun
 
While we are committed to providing age appropriate instruction in an environment of healthy competition, the #1 goal of i9 Sports programs is for the kids to have fun.  Sports have changed over the years and have become overly aggressive in some leagues.  When a winning at all costs mentality takes over a team, the main reasons kids want to play sports such as exercise, meeting new teammates, and learning the game get pushed aside. From warm ups, to drills to game play, keep it fun. The more fun they are having, the more open they will be to learning and improving. (Our practice plans help too!)
 
Be Flexible
 
When working with kids, you will get a variety of skill levels on your team.  This means you will need to adjust your practices and games to make sure each individual player is learning and improving.  As your season progresses, you will learn more about your players and how they respond to your coaching. The younger the age group, the harder it might be for the players to comprehend a more structured practice and game plan.  Keep it simple.  Kids will be more responsive and have more fun when they can quickly catch on to a drill or learn a new skill easily.
 
Use Positive Reinforcement
 
Learning a new skill and a new game can be frustrating for kids, especially if it is the first time they are participating in a sport. Children haven’t learned the importance of practice yet and how it can take many tries to get something right.  If a child has a hard time learning a new skill, they can grow insecure about their abilities. This is where positive reinforcement plays a key role in the child’s development.  When you reinforce the good things the kids are doing, they will be not be as sensitive to feedback that you give them. 
 
Staying positive as the coach sets a good example to the rest of the team.  The more positive reinforcement you give the players, the more the kids will catch on and begin to give positive reinforcement to each other.  Encouraging children to cheer on their teammates when they do well or even if they are frustrated will help with team morale and individual self-esteem.
 
Teach Valuable Character Lessons
 
Everyone loves to win but that shouldn’t be the focus of youth sports.  Kids learn a lot more than just a set of ball skills to get around a defender or how to perfectly shoot the ball to score a goal.  Youth sports teaches kids lessons that builds their character.  Be a great coach by teaching your players about valuable life lessons such as good sportsmanship, teamwork, never giving up and setting goals. 
 
If you’re interested in coaching an i9 Sports youth league in your area, click here!
 

 
May 12, 2017
The summer months are fast approaching and with school out of session, youth sports leagues are a great way to keep your child active during the break.  Playing sports in the summer sunshine can be tons of fun, but it can also be dangerous.  High temperatures and sunny skies can lead to dehydration, sunburns and heat exhaustion.  Follow these tips to make sure that you and your child have a safe and stress-free game day:

Stay Hydrated
With the temperatures rising, it is crucial that you ensure your child hydrates properly before, during and after their games and practices.  It takes approximately 20 minutes for the water that you drink to properly hydrate your body, so make sure that your child has a glass of water prior to heading out to the field. An easy way to ensure your child drinks the right amount of water before playing outside is to give them one of the miniature 8 ounce water bottles sold at most major grocery stores.  Your child should also regularly hydrate the entire time they are playing, consuming roughly 5 ounces of water for every 15 to 20 minutes they’re outside.  Fruits like apples, watermelon and oranges are a great source of hydration in addition to being a tasty treat.  After the game your child should continue to hydrate, drinking water for up to two hours after playing sports.

Stay Protected
Your child is going to be spending at least 60 minutes outside playing team sports, which means you need to make sure their skin is well protected.  Choosing the right kind of sunscreen and applying it at appropriate intervals will help to prevent your child from getting a painful sunburn and protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays. When selecting sunscreen, be sure to choose a water-resistant broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15.  To allow the skin to fully absorb the sunscreen, you should apply the product 30 minutes before your child goes outside. Your sunscreen’s label should indicate how frequently you need to reapply your child’s sunscreen; if your child is working up a sweat on the field then they will need the sunscreen to be reapplied more frequently.  Adding a pair of sunglasses that offer UVA and UVB protection can help to add an extra layer of protection for the delicate skin around your child’s eyes, which can be more difficult to apply sunscreen to.

Stay Smart
Being well educated about the signs and symptoms of dehydration and heat exhaustion can help your child know when they need to take a break or get an adult. Teach your child what to look out for, and make sure they know it’s okay to stop playing if they aren’t feeling well.  If your child has nausea, leg cramps, a red face or pale clammy skin they may be suffering from heat stress.  If your child appears to be suffering from heat stress, immediately apply a cool towel to the skin and have them begin hydrating. If symptoms are severe, you may want to consult your pediatrician.

Having a plan in place to make sure your child is well hydrated, well protected and well informed will help you stay cool when it’s hot.  Taking a few moments to drink water, apply sunscreen and talk to your child about the signs and symptoms of heat stress can make a big difference in your child’s summer sports experience.