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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. 
May 03, 2017
What does it take to be a great sports role model? The easy answer might be looking at who has the biggest shoe deal or who is the start of the latest sport apparel commercial. But are those always the types of athletes you want your kids looking up to? Finding a role model in sports for your child to emulate and admire can be a challenge.
Despite the focus on shoes, money and contracts, there are still many athletes in sports making a positive difference in their communities and in the lives of people around the world. We’ll leave it to you to choose the right sport and person but here are a few traits to look for when looking for a great sports role model:   
Always Sets a Good Example
We’re focused on helping kids succeed in life through sports so you want a role model who behaves the right way on and off the field. Look for an athlete who is a leader of their teammates as well as in their local community. An athlete who sets a positive example is someone who doesn’t argue with the officials or other players and is respected throughout the game. Many athletes also use their influence and wealth to make a positive impact locally as well. There are pro athletes who volunteer at children’s hospitals or schools or even purchase homes for underprivileged families.
Sports are full of ups and downs (just like life). An athlete who is optimistic and positive is a great role model. Athletes who keep their heads up and stay determined when the results are going against them or athletes who still have something positive to say after a loss can be a great influence on your child. Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Athletes (and kids) who believe in optimism will go further in sports and in life.

Speaks Out and Respects Everyone
A great sports model uses their position of influence to speak up and defend others. These athletes stand up for the little guy and helps those in need. With bullying being a big topic lately among parents and kids, teaching kids to defend each other is important. Several famous athletes use their popularity to speak out about gender equality and promoting positive body image.
Great sports role models are out there for your kids. And they aren’t always just in the “big” sports like football or basketball. There are athletes in tennis, track, swimming and many other sports making a positive difference around the world. Share the stories of these role models with your child and encourage them to find their role model.

April 27, 2017
We are excited to share this post from our guest blogger, Sara Preston, a sophomore at Arizona State University.

Self-discipline, determination, teamwork and good sportsmanship are only a few of the valuable life skills that can be taught through sports. i9 Sports focuses on teaching kids these character traits as they stress in their mission statement, “To Help Kids Succeed in Life Through Sports”.
“Our mission statement is huge for me because I participated in sports growing up and they played a major role in my development as a person,” program director Aaron Abrams said. “The kids are learning so many life skills through sports that will hopefully, in the long run, strengthen our communities.”
The i9 Sports organization’s goal is to put the fun back into youth sports. Research has shown that the number one reason children quit their sport is because they simply stop enjoying it. i9 Sports provides age appropriate instruction so kids learn how to play the game while having fun.  There are no tryouts or drafts and players get a chance to try different positions to see what they like best.
Although the concept of winning and keeping score is part of the i9 Sports Experience, it isn’t the only focus.
“Our organization is built on strong values and creating a strong atmosphere of sportsmanship,” program director Anton Zimanek said. “We teach values that are more important than winning. We want kids involved in our program to learn the values of sports that other programs don’t focus on.”
The i9 Sports Experience is unique because it offers families an experience that’s not only fun, but convenient for parents.
“Our programs are held once per week which is a huge convenience and added bonus for busy, working class parents,” Abrams said.
Both practices and games are only held one day per week instead of having multiple days of the week that the parents and children have to commit to. This helps attract families since it makes it easier on them.
i9 Sports believes that participating in a sport must be about more than the rules of the game, who plays what position, and the final score.
“When youth of today have a positive interaction with sports they learn what it means to be a part of something bigger, something more than themselves, and small parts of a group can achieve great things,” Zimanek said.
i9 Sports offers youth sports leagues, camps and clinics for boys and girls ages 3 to 14. They offer different ranges of sports including their four core sports: flag football, soccer, basketball and baseball.
“This organization is affordable, convenient and FUN,” Abrams said. “It’s a developmental program in a family-like atmosphere.”

About Our Guest Blogger:
My name is Sara Preston. I was born and raised in Southern California, but currently reside in Tempe, Arizona. I am currently sophomore at Arizona State University studying Sports Journalism in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. I hope to use this degree to obtain a career with a professional sports team working within the social media department. At Arizona State University, I am also an active member of the fraternity Kappa Kappa Gamma. I have been a part of the Public Relations committee as well as the Special Events committee during my two years as a member. 

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.