Football season is now in full swing. Whether your little athlete plays on a team or prefers to watch from the sidelines, you’ll want to encourage a positive attitude towards sports. We spoke with Andrew Luck, quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, to get his advice for keeping kids moving and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
Make sure it’s fun. “Even as a professional athlete, if it’s not fun, something is wrong,” Andrew says. He recommends letting your child play as many sports as she wants. “Diversity helps. Playing basketball helped me become a better football player.”
Emphasize the commitment. “My parents never forced me to play anything, but if I started a season of any sport, I had to finish it out,” he says.
Help your child prepare correctly. That means fueling up on the proper foods, getting enough sleep, and understanding what the body needs.
Practice, practice, practice! “I used to throw for hours with my dad after work,” Andrew says. “But on occasions where he didn’t have a lot of time, we’d just do five minutes. Even that helps.”
Andrew also gave us his tips for throwing the perfect spiral. Perfect the move yourself, and then teach your little one:
1. Grip the football correctly. Hold the ball so that your ring and little finger are across the laces and your thumb is underneath. Your thumb and index finger should make an “L” shape. Don’t grip the ball too tightly–you should hold the football firm, but it should still be moveable and comfortable in your palm. 2. Position your body. Face 90 degrees away from your target and turn your hips to the side you throw with. Keep your front shoulder pointed at your target. 3. Keep it by your ear as you prepare to throw. This will keep the ball at the proper height. 4. Release the ball with your fingertips. As the football leaves your hand, it should only touch your fingertips. The last part of your body to touch the football should be your index finger, giving it a nice spin. 5. Practice makes perfect. Play a game of catch with your child, and you’ll both get better through repetition.
Want to win a $15,000 grant for your school? Andrew has teamed up with Quaker Oats and Fuel Up to Play 60 for the Make Your Move video contest. Film and submit a video of students showcasing how they are active by November 27, and your school could win all sorts of great prizes! Check out the video below for more details.
The 2013 U.S. Open Tennis Tournament has finally come to an end, which means that the season is winding down and the players’ schedules lighten up. For the dads on the ATP tour, this means some added family time. Top ranked players James Blake of the United States, Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, and Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland share how they manage being a dad while playing, their most memorable moments with their kids on the tour, and their favorite things to do in New York during the grand slam. Turns out, even the tennis players who travel the world up to 42 weeks of the year value the same parts of parenting as you.
James Blake, dad to Riley, 1
What has your most memorable moment been with your daughter, Riley, on the tour?
JB: It’s every day. Every day is something new, it’s so much fun. The first time she walked was the day before I left for Atlanta and I couldn’t be happier that I was still home. I watched her walk across the basement floor and once she realized she could walk…just nonstop. I don’t think she’s stopped walking since then. It’s been a month and a half and I don’t think she’s stopped walking or running. And she’s started to mimic. So when I say “night night” she says “night night” back. Every day is so much fun.
What do you most look forward to doing with her now that you have officially retired from the game to spend more time with your family?
JB: I’m looking forward to being around and not even thinking about missing another milestone. I’m lucky to have that luxury, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
Lleyton Hewitt, dad to Mia, 7, Cruz, 4 and Ava, 2
What was your funniest or most memorable moment with your kids on tour?
LH: Some of the best moments are when I’m taking them on court after I’ve had a good win—that’s obviously pretty special. I’m fortunate enough that I have kids who are young enough in age that I can still be playing on the tour and they can understand what dad’s doing on tour. Travling a lot, your priorities change, obviously. It’s not so much about my schedule as much as it is about their schedule and what’s best for them.
Stanislas Wawrinka, dad to Alexia, 3
What’s your most special moment you’ve had when your daughter travels with you?
SW: The first time she came to see my warm-up match in Basel last year was great. She was really happy. It’s more important that when she’s on the tour, she’s really happy to be at Daddy’s work. I like to play with her at night and when I have days off.
Has she been to New York? What do you like to do with her around the city?
SW: Yes, last year she was here. She went to Central Park a lot. For a kid it’s not easy in New York—it’s a big city. It was not easy for us because I leave early in the morning and come back late. When I had a day off I went to Central Park with her to ride the horse carriage and she loved it! She said, “I want to do it with Daddy and Mommy!” It was a great memory.
Image: James Blake by Herbert Kratky/ Shutterstock.com
We know that your kid is a star on the soccer pitch. Or on the football field. Or on the basketball court. But even if an athletic scholarship doesn’t seem in the cards, keep him busy this fall sports season — and save yourself up to 50 percent off retail prices — with sporty gear from Shop Parents.
Summertime and the living is easy…unless you have a house full of children on summer vacation, that is. Ply them away from the PlayStation with these outdoor sports toys, currently up to half off on our e-retail site, Shop Parents:
Childhood ADHD tied to obesity decades later
Boys who are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in elementary school are more likely to grow up to be obese adults than those who don’t have the condition, a new study suggests. (via Reuters)
Newer whooping cough vaccine not as protective
A newer version of the whooping cough vaccine doesn’t protect kids as well as the original, which was phased out in the 1990s because of safety concerns, according to a new study. (via Reuters)
Home visiting programs are preschool in its earliest form
Through programs across the country, nurses, social workers or trained mentors offer support to new or expectant parents and impart skills to help them become better teachers for their children. (via Washington Post)
City closure of Cobble Hill preschool means kids are having ‘classes’ in parks, museums as parents fume
The Linden Tree Preschool is run by the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. The city closed it on May 9, saying it did not have permits for infants or toddlers. Since then, parents have taken their kids to the park and other field trips where teachers have been instructing the kids. (via NY Daily News)
USA Football health and safety survey shows few youth concussions
Fewer than 4 percent of youth players surveyed in a USA Football-sanctioned study suffered concussions in the 10 leagues examined. (via Fox News)
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Lambeth Hochwald, a writer for Parents magazine and Parents.com. She recently attended the National Football League (NFL) Youth Health and Safety Luncheon in New York City to learn more about how to prevent and treat concussions.
Concussions are, without a doubt, on the top 10 list of things parents worry about. This brain injury is caused by a blow to the head or the body from hitting another player, a hard surface (such as the ground), or a piece of equipment (such as a lacrosse stick or hockey puck).
With 38 million kids participating in sports each year in the U.S. and 3 million youth football players, the risk of a concussion isn’t rare. In fact, it’s been estimated that there are 1.6 to 3 million sports- and recreation-related concussions among children and adults every year.
Thankfully, our concussion awareness is evolving. Last year, 30 NFL teams hosted health and safety events for community members and the NFL has also partnered with organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to educate youth coaches, players, and parents on how to prevent, identify, and properly treat a concussion.
“We know that a concussion changes the brain’s electrochemical ‘software’ function,” said Gerard Gioia, Ph.D., division chief of neuropsychology at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “It produces physical, cognitive, and emotional signs and symptoms that can last hours, days, or even months.”
Here are seven things you need to know about concussions:
Know the signs. Concussions can lead to physical symptoms, including headache, fatigue, balance problems, vomiting, and drowsiness; cognitive symptoms, including memory and concentration issues; emotional symptoms, including irritability and sadness and sleep disturbances.
Know the risks.Bicycle accidents are the number one reason kids ages 19 and younger are treated for a concussion in the emergency room. In kids who are 10 and under, concussions tend to occur after a bicycle accident or a fall at the playground.
Know about helmets. Helmets don’t prevent concussions, but they do prevent severe brain injury and skull fractures. Make sure your child is wearing a helmet that meets U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards (the label inside should include the certification) and that fits properly. “A haircut can affect how a helmet will fit,” added speaker Scott Hallenbeck, executive director of USA Football.
Know that concussions are often an ‘invisible’ injury. Because more than 90 percent of sports-related concussions occur without losing consciousness, it’s up to coaches, teammates, parents, and onlookers to recognize what to do when a child has experienced this trauma.
Know the risky sports/positions. Head injury risks are higher in tackle football and soccer than in other sports. There are also certain positions on a team that can also raise risks. For example, your child is more likely to receive a concussion if she is a baseball catcher or a soccer and hockey goalie.
Know the CDC is on it. The CDC’s “Heads Up” awareness program and Facebook page provide ample information about concussions for health-care professionals, parents, and coaches. Concussion fact sheets are available as clipboard stickers, magnets, and posters for young athletes. These can be ordered in bulk for your child’s school.
Know that it’s imperative for your coach to be trained. The CDC offers online training for youth and high school coaches. Be sure your child’s coach is up-to-date on the latest concussion prevention and treatment information. Ask about his or her experience — your child is counting on you.
Parents should stay vigilant from the sidelines. If you suspect that a coach is continuing to keep a child on the field after an injury, speak up. Playing or practicing with concussion symptoms is dangerous and can lead to longer recovery and a delay in your child’s return to the sport. “Toughing it out” is unacceptable. As NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says, “It’s not cool to be tough when it comes to your head.”
While Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic often make it seem that way, tennis is not a simple game to master. I’ve been playing for years, and there are days when I still feel like a novice on the court (mixed in with some rare in-the-zone moments that make me dream of greater, all-too-unrealistic accomplishments). But it’s even more difficult for young kids. Tennis requires keen hand-eye coordination that tends not to kick in until much later (there’s a reason why Little League starts out with kindergartners hitting off a tee) and an ability to anticipate where a fast-moving yellow ball is going in time to strike it. Perhaps the biggest reason it’s challenging for preschoolers and early grade-schoolers, though, is that they tend to start playing it with Mom or Dad on a full-size court. That’s like asking a 5-year-old to shoot a basketball at a 10-foot-high hoop or to play baseball on a Major League field.
Fortunately, that’s changing. A few years ago, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) introduced 10 and Under Tennis, designed to help young kids be successful and get hooked on the game rather than become frustrated by it. As well as having them start with shorter junior racquets (as little as 19 inches vs. the full-size 27 to 28 inches), the program starts kids on smaller courts—36 by 18 feet, as opposed to the full-size 78 by 27 feet. It also has them begin hitting with low-compression balls that move slower and don’t bounce as high, so they’re easier to strike.
It makes a lot of sense. In fact, earlier this year the International Tennis Federation mandated that all 10-and-under tournaments must be played with slower balls and on downsized courts with smaller, lighter racquets. The move is controversial. Some parents of aspiring young players feel that since former American champions like Andre Agassi grew up playing on full-size courts and with full-size equipment, their kids should do the same. But Pat McEnroe, the USTA’s director of player development and a former top 30 player (and yes, the younger brother of John), believes otherwise. “Most of the best 8- to 11-year-olds I see have technical flaws in their games, and that’s due in large part because of the bounce of the ball. They’re not tall enough or strong enough to play with a regular ball on a full-size court yet,” he says. The new approach will help developing players acquire proper swing techniques and let them slowly advance to faster, higher-bouncing balls and bigger courts as they grow and improve. In the long run, he believes it will help produce more great U.S. players—a welcome possibility, given that America hasn’t produced a Grand Slam male champion in 9 years and that there are few top U.S. women players on the horizon once the great Serena Williams leaves the stage.
Chances are your priority is not to have your child wind up playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows one day. Rather, it’s that she has fun playing the game from the very first ball. These new developments should help make that possible. And if you’re looking for a great way to get her started, try this: USTA Free Tennis Play Days take place September 1 through October 6. It provides kids of all skill levels with the chance to experience tennis 101 in a social setting—and on a just-right court (the USTA has installed more than 3,000 youth-sized courts around the country). Visit youthtennis.com to find a participating tennis facility in your area. And bring your own (full-size) racquet: Adults are welcome to participate too.
Soccer fever is coming to the States again as the U.S. Women’s Team goes for the gold tomorrow against Japan. I recently had the chance to chat with one of the sport’s most famous players: retired superstar Mia Hamm. Goodyblogger and big soccer fan Taryn even managed to the crash the interview at our office for a pic with her hero (at right, with Mia). For her new project, the athlete and mom of three (5-year-old twins and a new baby boy) has teamed up with the Grain Foods Foundation to share her nutrition and fitness tips with families. Check out what she had to say:
What made you want to get involved with this project?
“I think being involved in something like this and sharing my experiences with families about eating healthy and the importance of grains and whole grains in your diet is a good thing. I’m four months postpartum, and I’m 40, so my body doesn’t respond as well as it used to. I could sit there and eat pasta all day long and not worry about it when I was younger, and now I really have to focus on making sure I set a good example for my kids. I make a lot of mistakes, too, and I’m constantly re-evaluating how I’m doing things and trying to be better every day, whether it’s as a mom or taking care of myself. This is a new stage of my life, and it’s been a big transition for me from pretty much working out for living every day to just trying to find ways to get myself where I want to be.”
Congratulations, by the way…you look great!
“I’ve got 15 to 20 more pounds to go so….”
Was losing weight harder the second time? Or was it the same?
“Second time is harder. I’m older, and I was dealing with postpartum injuries. I had a C-section, and I tried to start running way too soon. And my body was like, ‘No!’ so I had to stop. My daughter came by the other day, and she patted me on the stomach and was like, ‘Mom, your tummy is getting smaller.’ It’s so humbling.”
I think our readers will be happy to know that it’s hard for an Olympic champion as well.