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Sharing helpful information, special offers and fun ideas with the i9 Sports family
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.
January 12, 2017
Learning through sports can come from beyond the field of play. A number of great sports books are out there that teach key values for your kids. For kids who don’t like reading, books by a famous athlete or about a sport they love can help inspire them to keep turning the pages. 
Below are a few sports-related books that cover all reading levels and offer positive stories for your child. 

The Contract by Derek Jeter
Written for a reading level of grades 3 to 7, The Contract by Derek Jeter talks about his love for the game of baseball and his realization of the importance of giving 100% on and off the field.  In order to let Derek continue playing baseball, his parents write a contract to make sure he puts in just as much hard work in the classroom as he does on the baseball field.
Throw Like a Girl by Jennie Finch
Jennie Finch, a professional softball player and two-time Olympian, writes her first book that reaches out to young girls.  Throw Like a Girl, targeted to ages 10 and older, teaches girls how to dream big and believe in themselves.  
It’s a great sports-related coming-of-age book that offers valuable advice for young girls.  Finch tells her story of growing up as a girl playing sports and how she built self-confidence that helped her throughout challenges she faced.
The Boy Who Never Gave Up by Anthony Curcio
Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry’s inspirational story is told in a 24-page picture book written for kids in grades K-5. Curry’s experience as a young boy who is constantly told he is too short and too small to play basketball who pushes to fulfill his dream to be a professional basketball player will inspire your child. The Boy Who Never Gave Up is a great human triumph story that teaches the valuable lessons of hard work and determination.  Children will also like the easy read and fun illustrations.
Winners Never Quit by Mia Hamm
Women’s soccer star Mia Hamm shares her life story of growing up and learning that winning and losing aren’t everything.  In the story Winners Never Quit, Hamm quits when things aren’t going her way, but quickly realizes that winning isn’t what matters most and that she just wants to play and be a part of a team with her friends. This 32-page picture book targeted to boys and girls in preschool to 2nd grade teaches important values of overcoming frustration and teamwork.
All four books offer a different perspective from some of the nation’s most famous athletes.  These inspiring stories will offer your kids relatable experiences to their own lives. Do your kids have any other favorite sports books? Share them with us on social media
December 29, 2016
The fast-paced environment of sports and the excitement that surrounds each game can make it challenging for parents to sit back and refrain from coaching their children from the sidelines.  We’ve all seen the parents who want to tell their child how to play the game, but this can be confusing for kids sometimes. A positive attitude from parents on the sideline creates a positive environment for children and gives them a fun experience. Here are three reasons to keep cheering separate from coaching when supporting your kids on the field.
#1 It Causes Confusion
When parents offer coaching advice from the sidelines, it may be the opposite of what the coach wants from the player. These mixed messages can confuse and frustrate kids. Who should they listen to and when should they listen to you or to their coach? This can be challenging for a young child playing their first sport.
#2 Instructions Can Be Wrong
Coaches in i9 Sports leagues are provided with coaching and practice plans to ensure proper instruction for each child in every sport. Our coaches volunteer their time to teach the skills of the game as well as good sportsmanship and teamwork. Parents attempting to coach from the sidelines may send incorrect instructions and hinder their child’s development.
#3 It’s Not Fun for the Kids
Sideline instruction from parents often comes with good intentions, but it can create an unpleasant environment for young athletes. Kids grow tired and frustrated trying to satisfy their coaches and their parents at the same time, especially if the messages from each person are different. Our goal in every sport we offer is to make sure the kids are having fun and learning so they continue to live healthy active lifestyles and use the skills they acquire to help them later in life.  
It can be difficult to find the perfect medium between being a cheerleader for your child and being a sideline coach, but it can make all the difference in their experience with a youth sports program.  By being more of a cheerleader, your child will won’t be confused on which instructions to follow, will learn the right way to play the sport and (most importantly) will have more fun.
To help promote a great i9 Sports atmosphere for everyone, we ask parents to take the i9 Sports Parental Pledge.  We ask adults to take this pledge before their child plays in an i9 Sports league to promote a positive atmosphere and make sure the children have the best experience possible.