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April 20, 2017
As parents, we always want to see our children excel in whatever they are doing whether it is in sports, school or other extracurricular activities; however, we also want to see our children learn and grow through their experiences.  It’s inevitable that your child will lose a game in their sporting career. It’s important to help them learn how to overcome defeat and turn it into a positive. When your child experiences defeat or failure in a sport, take time with them to go over some of these points to help them learn from it.
 

Highlight Things That Went Well
 
When a child experiences losing a game for the first time it can be hard on them. After each loss, it’s important to highlight things that went well for them individually and as a team. Point out specific moments where they made a good decision on the field or displayed good sportsmanship and determination. By emphasizing the positive aspects of the game, you can show how they have improved from previous games and steer them away from feelings of self-doubt.
 
Discuss What Didn’t Go Well
 
The goal is to try and stay positive but it is still good to discuss the negatives of the game and what led the team to a defeat that day.  (Although NEVER do this right after the game or even the same day!) In youth sports, it’s essential to help kids learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing can help you evaluate the errors. When discussing the parts of the game that didn’t go well, always follow up with how it could have been improved or what they can work on in practice next time. 
 
The Takeaways
 
When you have covered both the positives and negatives of the loss, end the discussion with your child about the major takeaways that they learned from the experience.  This will reaffirm that they connected with the discussion and help you understand how they perceive the experience.  Help them come up with ideas on how to resolve things that didn’t go well in the last game.  Do they need to practice more? Be more encouraging? Work on communication?
 
 
In the end, what matters most is that your child is having fun, being safe and learning to play the sport. Lessons learned on the field carry over into everyday life beyond childhood. Not every child on the field becomes a professional athlete, but learning to deal with frustration and defeat is a skill that can help kids off the field well into their adult lives.

 
March 14, 2017
“There’s no ‘I’ in team” is a popular phrase used to describe the importance of working together to achieve a goal. Teamwork can be a hard concept for kids to grasp initially, especially for children who are playing on their first youth sports team and aren’t used to having to share the ball. 
 
If kids don’t learn about the importance of teamwork at an early age, then it will be difficult for them to excel on future sports teams.  It is just as important to learn how to play with others as it is to work on individual skill development. The teams who focus on embracing the spirit of teamwork always end up having more fun and being more successful.    
 
Here are some tips to help teach your kids to become good team players:
 
Encouragement and Cheering
 
Having a positive environment among the team at both practices and games will help set the tone for how everyone works together.  The most important part of creating a positive environment is teaching the kids on the team to cheer for each other.  Not everyone on the team will make every play or be motivated every minute they’re on the field.  Just because a kid doesn’t make the goal, doesn’t mean that their effort shouldn’t be praised. Teaching your child to always encourage their teammates will help everyone gain confidence and work harder as a team.
 
Not Pointing Fingers
 
It can be difficult or even scary for kids to take ownership of their mistakes when things go the wrong way, but the earlier they learn how to admit their mistakes the easier it will be for them to continue to do it.  It’s important for children to accept that everyone makes mistakes and to learn that blaming other teammates isn’t the best way to handle the situation.  You should teach your child to focus on growing from their mistakes, instead of dwelling on their error.  Kids should view their mistakes as an opportunity to become even better at their sport.  Kids should also learn to not point out the mistakes of their team members.  Good teammates always take responsibilities for their own missteps and never criticize others.
 
Sharing
 
One of the hardest lessons for kids to learn when playing a team sport for the first time is how to share the ball.  Everyone wants to be the person who scores goals, but for a team to win it’s also necessary to have people who pass the ball and help create the opportunities for the team to score.  Teaching your child that every position on the court or field is equally important will help them to remember to share the ball with their teammates.
 
A child who encourages others, takes responsibility for their own mistakes and always remembers to share the ball will be valued by their teammates, coaches and parents.  Learning to be a good teammate will take kids further both on and off the field by creating good habits that will help them to be more confident, make friends and have fun. 
February 15, 2017
Sometimes the competitive nature of sports can bring out a negative side in players.  When this happens small actions or words can escalate into verbal or even physical abuse. 
 
Bullying is just as common on the field as it is on the playground.  Bullying can come from a child’s own teammates or players on competing teams. There are many forms of bullying in youth sports and it is crucial that parents, coaches and players are on the lookout for bullying so that it can be stopped immediately.
 
Bullying often starts as simple name calling or small pranks, but can quickly escalate to more severe taunting and even physical injury.  It can begin with one individual and spread to other teammates who gang up on the targeted child. 
 
If you feel your child is the victim of bullying, you can follow these steps to help stop the situation:
 

1. Talk to Your Child 
If your child has brought up bullying to you, take time to ask them questions and discuss the situation. By listening to your child, you can discover who the bully is and what bullying behavior is taking place.  Ask them what actions they have taken to deal with the bully and what steps they would like to follow in order to move forward.  The more you openly discuss what is going on with your child, the more they will be prepared the next time a bullying situation occurs.
 

2. Discuss Resolutions 
Often when a child is bullied, they are caught off guard and don’t know how to react. Thinking of a quick resolution or way to escape the situation can be challenging.  Prepare your child for these scenarios by discussing ways to react when approached by a bully. Practice role playing with your child so that they are prepared to stand up for themselves or their teammates.  
 

3. Meet with the Coach 
If you find out that your child is being bullied as part of a sports team, your first thought may be to talk to the child doing the bullying or that child’s parents.  This approach can lead the parents of the bully to act defensive.  Instead, talk to the coach of the team to see if they have witnessed the bullying behavior your child has described.  Once the coach is aware of the problem, they can speak to the child doing the bullying about their behavior and keep an eye out to prevent future incidents.  The coach can also act as an outside third party and inform the parents of the bully about their child’s behavior.  Speaking to the team coach helps to prevent conflicts between parents on the team.
 
Unfortunately, bullying and hazing have a long history in sports and can often be thought of as a tradition.  It’s very important that children learn about bullying and hazing now so that they can help combat any situations that might occur in the future. 
 
Before your child joins a team, teach them the importance of treating everyone with respect.  Being proactive and educating your child on the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior can be what leads your child to stand up against any bullying they encounter. At i9 Sports we teach weekly sportsmanship values including respect and teamwork. It’s important for children to learn these lessons which will help them as part of their team and in life.
 
 
January 30, 2017
Generations of families have passed down their knowledge and love of sports to their children for years.  Many parents introduce their children to sports at an early age in hopes that they will reap the physical and mental benefits of playing team sports. Yet in recent years, there has a been a decline in the number of children who are staying involved in youth sports.
 
According to a poll conducted by the National Alliance for Youth Sports (https://www.nays.org/) nearly 70 percent of kids in the US stop playing organized sports by the time they turn 13.  While children are often given more school work at this age and begin finding new interests and hobbies, the main reason kids quit sports is that they aren’t having fun anymore. 
 
Youth sports was once an activity almost every child participated in.  It was a chance for kids to meet new friends, exercise and have fun.  These days more and more kids are saying that youth sports aren’t enjoyable and they are starting to take their interests elsewhere.  At i9 Sports we make every effort to maintain an atmosphere that encourages teamwork and having a great time. Here’s a list of the top reasons why some kids aren’t having fun playing sports and what i9 Sports does to avoid these situations:
 
Too Competitive
 
What happened to the phrase, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game?”  Youth sports used to be about teaching kids the importance of exercise, teamwork and following the rules. Many kids join leagues where coaches are only putting their best players on the field.  When coaches base everything around winning and losing, it doesn’t teach kids that their individual effort matters.  The importance of practice and development gets left behind when coaches only give attention to their strongest players, and many children could become great players if they were given the proper coaching.  The coaches in i9 Sports leagues focus on helping every player do their best. With coaches who place an emphasis on making every child feel like an important part of the team, i9 Sports programs keep kids engaged and involved in sports.
 
Pushed to Specialize
 
In the past, kids would play multiple sports throughout the year.  Kids looked forward to each new sports season bringing fresh opportunities to meet friends and develop a relationship with a new coach.  Now children are being recommended at younger and younger ages to concentrate on only one sport.  High schools used to praise their four-sport athletes, but these days it’s difficult to get kids to enroll in even two sports.  Specializing in a sport, especially at a young age, can be very demanding.  Specializing in one sport usually means that kids must join travel teams to be able to play year-round.  Travel teams are a big expense for children and their families, and participating in a travel league can lead to an increased risk of injuries for the child and a feeling of being “burned out.” With our soccer, flag football, basketball, and baseball leagues, i9 Sports offers kids the opportunity to try a variety sports where they can build lasting friendships and learn new skills.
 
Pressure from Parents
 
When surveyed, many children stated that sports weren’t fun anymore because of the pressure they felt from their parents.  We have all seen parents scolding their children on the sidelines about their performance.  This kind of behavior can lead children to feel that their parents are more into the sport than they are.  When kids feel pressured to perform well they become afraid to take risks or make mistakes, which can stunt their development as a player.  The supportive environment in i9 Sports leagues is infectious and our teams’ parents always encourage and praise their children.  When kids are reminded that they’re doing a good job, they’re more likely to keep working hard to develop their talents and stay involved in sports.
 
No matter the age, kids should always have a good time with the sports or activities that they chose to be involved in. Our i9 Sports program directors work hard to create a fun environment for kids to participate in the sports they love to play while teaching the skills needed to be successful not just in the game but in life.