Hockey for Kids

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Research has found that participating in sports can have a healthy developmental impact on young children. These activities can promote cooperative play, teamwork, and good sportsmanship while helping to refine gross motor skills. Sports can also help children get along with and become accepted by others, including peers, family members, teachers, and coaches. Plus, through positive feedback, group play builds self-esteem, helping your child realize that she’s a capable personal who is able to accomplish significant achievements. 
Many people would think that hockey is only for adults. Little do they realize that kids, even at such a young age, can play this challenging type of sport because they can benefit a lot from it. Just like in any other sport, hockey instills all the right values that the child needs to learn to be successful in life. Most people don’t realize it but sports that are being played by team such as hockey can bring about many advantages compared to those that are played by individuals. Primarily, the biggest advantage would be playing team sports such as hockey is that it is more fun since it involves so many personalities.
Other advantages may include:
•  Instilling discipline in kids. This is very important because once discipline has been taught to a child early on, facing life’s challenges and achieving success will be easier. Being a competitive sport, a child develops discipline when he or she needs to follow rules during the game. Aside from acknowledging what are the things that could and couldn’t be done while playing, discipline can be instilled when the child is forced to follow a strict schedule for practice games.
Developing social skills. Since most team sports encourage people to interact and get along with other members while playing the game, playing hockey helps teach kids to develop good social skills to win the respective game. It is one way of learning how to properly mingle with other people and respecting their individual personalities.
• Realizing the value of unity and cooperation. One of the major advantages of sports such as hockey is that it teaches each member the value of being one while playing the sport. Since everybody wants to win, all members will be forced to cooperate with one another to achieve a common goal of winning.
Improving levels of skills. As a team, the members are expected to rely on one another’s performances.
When playing team sports such as hockey, there is a possibility that the overall performance of the group will improve once they see each other’s desire to win.
Teaching patience. Aside from discipline, hockey also teaches children patience. Since it is hard to play the game, kids who play hockey need to develop patience to be good at it. They need patience when they are being coached and when they practice.

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Tae Kwon Do

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Activities like tae kwon do, kung fu, and aikido are a fun way for both boys and girls to achieve fitness and focus
The martial arts actually help teach self-discipline and socialization skills. In fact, many parents whose children have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) report great success with these programs because self-control and concentration are exactly the skills underdeveloped in ADHD kids.
A typical hour-long class begins and ends with a bow to the teacher, or master. After a warm-up, students practice the art’s particular skills, which may include kicks, punches, and blocks. Each requires concentration and strict attention.
Taekwondo is a total learning activity. Lessons are tailored to a child’s age and skill level. The child begins by practicing basic patterns and forms, board breaking, kicking, blocking, striking, and punching. These fundamental skills increase your child’s physical coordination, flexibility, balance, and mental acumen.
Taekwondo develops your child’s athletic abilities and self-awareness, and improves the child’s capabilities in self-defense. It emphasizes moral development as well. Children learn respect for themselves and others, heightened concentration, and increased self-discipline and self-restraint.
The self-discipline that develops as a result of learning and practicing the techniques usually carries over into other areas of the child’s life. School grades often improve as your child learns to focus on objectives and to work toward achievement. The self-discipline and self-resect which Taekwondo develops can provide your child with the skills and mindset necessary to resist peer pressure.
Progress is often marked by the belt system, which takes the beginner from a white belt through a variety of colors until black. Testing for each new level, generally every three months, is a good exercise in setting and achieving goals.
Children can start classes as early as 4 or 5 years old. In terms of physical fitness, coordination is developed as TaeKwonDo helps strenghten both sides of the body as the child learns to kick with both legs and block/punch with both arms.
Finding a good Martial Arts school is crucial and cannot be over emphasized.The quality in teaching ranges enormously from school to school. Finding the right school depends on the attitude of the child and even yourself as a parent. Do you want your child to be an Olympic Champion or just find an enjoyable sport that will develop them mentally and physically and see where this takes them? Do not settle on the first club that you go to, as there is a huge range of levels of teaching. Most importantly, your kid has to enjoy what he/she is doing and also learning in the correct way at the same time. Discuss the clubs policies with the teacher and you will get a good feel for how the club is run.
 

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Tennis for Kids

tennis for kids

No sport other than tennis has ever been acclaimed from all disciplines as one that develops great benefits physically, mentally and emotionally.
Tennis is a sport for kids to learn early in life.  What parent wouldn’t want their children to get these benefits through their growing years? It’s not too late for adults and seniors too!  The human system can be trained and improved at any stage of life. Here’s the key… you must begin playing tennis now to get these benefits throughout your lifetime.   Tennis is truly the sport for a lifetime! 

Tennis is one of the most popular sports in the United States and the second most-played sport worldwide. Free or low-cost courts are available in nearly every community at schools and parks, and organized programs for kids are common throughout the country. All a child needs to get started is a racquet and some tennis balls. The cost of an introductory racquet and balls is extremely reasonable, making the starting expense of playing tennis among the lowest of any sport.

Tennis Can Be Individual – or a Great Team Sport!
Tennis can be an individual sport, and there are ample opportunities to develop at a kid’s own pace and participate in events with other kids of similar ability levels in most areas. These opportunities extend to competition and tournament play at national and even international events for those desiring individual challenges as they develop their skills.
Tennis is also a great team game, and most children have great experiences being part of a team. Kids like to be with their friends, and being on a team allows them to learn and play with their friends. Team practices and matches are beneficial in skill development and in learning how to compete in a team environment.
Kids also enjoy the simple activity of playing in the driveway or casually at parks and schools.
 
High School
• High school tennis for both boys and girls is one of the top-10 participation sports in the country.
• Every year, more than 370,000 high school players represent their schools as members of their high school teams.
• Roughly 15,000 of these players have the opportunity to play college varsity tennis. And more than 20,000 college players participate on teams at the club level through the USTA Tennis On Campus program, which is one of the fastest-growing programs for tennis players in the country.
At younger ages, kids can find formal and informal team opportunities at elementary schools, middle schools and as part of USTA Jr. Team Tennis leagues throughout the country.

Family Connection
• Tennis is one of the best games for the entire family.
• Parents can spend valuable and fun time on the courts with their children from a very young age all the way through the time their children have children of their own.
• Siblings often enjoy rallying with each other, as well.

Health Benefits
• Research shows that tennis is also one of the best and most enjoyable ways to become healthy and fit. The very nature of the game of serving, returning and rallying makes tennis an active sport with plenty of movement, starts, stops and direction changes.
• Tennis is a great cardiovascular activity, and the movements used on the court develop balance, agility and coordination.
• Mental focus is sharpened because decision-making and concentration is necessary every time a ball is hit. It is also one of the safest of all sports and has a very low rate of injury compared to other youth sports.
• A game of tennis can burn off 350 to 700 calories an hour. Compare that to washing the car which can burn off 100-230 calories per hour or walking which can burn off 150-420 calories per hour.

Parents can be great at introducing their children to the sport of tennis. You may not think of yourself as a coach, but there are several activities you can do with your child to get him or her started. The goal is to eventually get children to rally with you in the driveway, just like kicking a soccer ball or playing catch with the football, Frisbee or baseball in the backyard, or shooting a basketball in the driveway.
Some of these activities can be done with children ages 3-5 to give them a foundation for the moving, balancing, throwing, catching and tracking involved in playing tennis. All of these activities can be done at home with simple equipment.
You must be aware that, at ages 3-5, your child will have a very limited attention span. They may enjoy the activity for only a few minutes before moving on to something different. This is very common and acceptable, and these activities can be repeated often and in short duration.
Children will have different levels of success, so make sure to be positive, patient and encouraging and to reward their efforts. Your most important job is to make the game fun for both you and your child. They will model your behavior, so smile, have fun and be encouraging and positive in tone and body language.

Activities for Children 5 – 6 years old
Koosh ball pass
Stand with your child holding your racquets, and with one Koosh ball or beanbag. Try passing the Koosh ball back and forth from one racquet to the other. After several successful trials, move back so you have to make a gentle toss to get the Koosh ball from one racquet to the other. Add a challenge by tossing the Koosh ball low, high and even adding a creative catch, such as standing on one leg, between the legs, just above the ground, on one knee, etc. Let your child be creative with her catch. 
Bungee Jump
Have your child balance a ball on the strings of his racquet. While he is walking around, have him stop, drop the ball off the racquet, let it bounce and catch the ball back on the racquet. Kids may have to use their hands to trap the ball on the strings, but with practice they can just use the racquet face.
Roll Ball Tennis
Standing about 5 feet apart, roll the ball back and forth with your child. Each player will roll the ball with his or her racquet and stop it before rolling the ball back. See how many rolls and stops you can get in a row. As a variation, use your foot to stop the ball before rolling it back, or change the size of the ball. A larger ball, like a playground or soccer ball, is easier to track and stop.
One bounce – Two Bounce
Using a playground ball, toss the ball up in the air so your child can catch it after the bounce. To develop tracking skills, call out one, two or three and have your child catch the ball after the announced number of bounces. Make sure you toss it high enough to give your child time to move and catch, especially when using multiple bounces.
Throw Ball
Using a playground ball and a rope or string as a net, throw the ball back and forth with your child using two hands and a release from the side. The rotation will be similar as when hitting a forehand and backhand. You can allow multiple bounces if necessary. As your child improves at this activity, throw the ball on either side to create movement before catching the ball.
Racquet Quickness
Stand facing your child, with each of you balancing a racquet so that the head of the frame is on the ground and the handle is pointing up. At the count of three, switch places so that you catch your child’s racquet and he or she catches yours without letting the racquet fall on the ground. After several successful trials, move back a half step at a time and see how far you can go without letting the racquets drop.
Ball Drop
The parent faces his child and has a ball in both hands and arms extended at shoulder height. The parent drops one ball, and the child runs and catches the ball after one bounce. Move slightly back after each successful drop, bounce and catch.
Call My Name
This time the parent has one ball and the child is standing 6 feet in front of the parent and facing the same direction. (The child’s back is to the parent.) The parent tosses the ball up and calls out the name of the child. The child has to turn around and catch the ball after one bounce.

Activities for Children 7 and up
Rally with one or two bounces
The child will mini-rally with the parent over a line or low obstacle. This could be a string or rope tied between two chairs, a ladder or a portable net. Foam balls are best because they move slowly through the air and travel a limited distance. You can rally using one or two bounces.
Juggle Rally
Pair up with your child on either side of the net. The parent self rallies (tap up and bounce) the ball once and hits it over the net. The child does the same self rally (tap up and bounce) before hitting it over the net. This could be done with one, two or three self rallies and can be done on both the forehand and backhand sides.
Creative Rallies
Be creative with your rallies with your child. For example, you can both hit the ball high in the air, low and just over the net, standing on one foot, hitting all balls with two hands on the racquet, hitting with only one hand on the racquet or skipping to get into position for the hit. Keep the ball in play as song as possible.
Nerf Football Throw
Nerf footballs are softer, smaller and lighter and are excellent for developing the proper overhand serving motion. Throw the Nerf football back and forth with your child using the overhand throwing motion and try for a tight spiral after the release.

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Gymnastics for Kids

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Gymnastics is a lot of fun and provides kids and teenagers with great exercise. Although gymnastics is always popular, in the months following every Olympics, gymnastic studios see a big increase in interest. Kids watch the competition and get excited about trying out the sport. And who could blame them? Watching talented gymnasts do a series of floor exercises or master the various types of apparatus can be thrilling.

Getting Started
Gymnastics classes are offered for children of all ages, beginning with toddlers. For the little ones, “Tiny Tots Tumbling” is usually a fun filled experience aimed at letting kids learn a few of the basics. As they get a bit older, kids can participate in classes designed to enhance their skills. By the time that they are teenagers, kids who have been taking gymnastics classes for a number of years will likely be quite proficient. Classes for kids and teens are readily available and be easily found by doing a quick internet search. Simply go to your favorite search engine and type in “gymnastics class” along with the name of your town. You’ll be surprised at how many classes are available close to home.

Setting Goals
For most kids, the goals of gymnastics classes should be fitness and fun. If a child displays a great deal of promise, the parents can consider hiring a professional coach to help take their ability to the next level. Be careful not to let your child’s enthusiasm for gymnastics become all-consuming. As with all sports, many kids participate, but very few will be blessed with both the talent and good fortune to take it to an Olympic level. Just let them have fun.

What’s Involved?
Gymnastics encompasses a variety of activities, which vary for boys and girls. Typically, men and boys perform on the horizontal bar, parallel bars, pommel horse, rings, vault, and floor exercises. Girls and women gymnasts do floor exercises and vault, as well as the balance beam and uneven bars. For both genders, gymnastics provides an overall body conditioning workout.

Benefits
In addition to enhancing physical fitness, participation in gymnastics gives kids body confidence and promotes self esteem. As children’s skills progress, they become increasingly confident in their physical abilities. This confidence often spills over into other areas of the child’s life, improving their performance in many areas. Kids and teens who are self confident are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, develop an eating disorder, or falter academically.

Quality Coaching
Whether your child is just beginning to enjoy gymnastics or has been working on improving their skills for a number of years, capable coaches are necessary. It is important that your child’s instructors take the time to teach kids to warm up and stretch muscles properly to avoid injury and to focus on overall conditioning rather than just mastering gymnastic moves. A good coach will also find the right balance between challenging the kids to strive for improvement while keeping the focus on fun. If you are considering gymnastics classes for your child, check with friends for recommendations. There is no better referral than a satisfied customer!

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Learning to Swim

Swimming

learning to swimWith over two-thirds of the Earth’s surface covered in water, one of the most important skills we can teach our children to help ensure their safety is to learn to swim. There is no particular age at which learning to swim is best, but when you feel it is time remember that this can often be a frustrating, scary experience for children, and it may be best to let the professionals teach this particular lesson. But aside from booking a course of swimming lessons, is there anything else a parent can do to help their child learn to swim? Pull out the old swim trunks because the answer is a resounding “yes”!

Do Your Homework
Swimming instructors undergo rigorous water safety and life saving training that makes them the best teachers of children learning to swim. Before deciding on an instructor, research a little bit and:

  • Ask friends and neighbors to recommend a teacher.
  • Inquire about lessons at your local pool or health club.
  • Visit the local swim team to see if the coaches provide lessons.
  • Avoid unqualified teachers, like members of a swim team who may not be certified.
  • Ask if an instructor has experience teaching children the same age as your child.
  • Ask to see an instructor’s certification if you feel something is amiss.

Get Kitted Out
Like many sports, swimming comes with its own kit and most of it is useful even for those just learning to swim. Consider investing in:

  • Sporty, supportive swimsuits that can withstand motion and activity.
  • Goggles to keep salt or chlorine out of the eyes.
  • A swim cap to protect hair and keep it safely tucked away.
  • Flip-flops or other sandals to avoid walking in stagnant water and shared showers.
  • Towels to keep the little ones warm when they exit the water, and for showering.
  • Specially formulated shampoo to remove salt or chlorine from the hair after swimming.
  • A waterproof bag to help keep all of the swimming gear in one place.

Practice Makes Perfect
Swimming lessons will usually take place once, or at most twice, per week. In the mean time, jump in with     your child so that they can practice their strokes!Always check the depth of the water before beginning your fun.

  • Always check the depth of the water before beginning your fun.
  • Never assume that water wings or other inflated accessories are enough to keep your child afloat without supervision.
  • Invest in noodles and kickboards to help your child practice floating and kicking.
  • Throw coins or water sticks into shallow water to help your child dive under.
  • Remind you child of what he/she learned at the last lesson. Practice the specific skill they were taught.
  • Bring little ones into deep water with you so that they become comfortable moving around.
  • Consider offering swimming related treats for successful water activities.

Be Your Child’s Biggest Cheerleader
Many children are timid around water and feel uncoordinated and out of place when they are learning to  swim. As a parent, perhaps the greatest gift you can give them at this time is your support. Never push a child to do things in the water that they are not comfortable with, and instead offer high praise when they complete a water-related task. If you feel your child is abnormally afraid of the water, speak with the instructor about your concerns.

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