Archive for the ‘life lessons’ Category

Changes ahead for youth football?

January 11, 2016

The new year could be bringing a new look to youth football around the country. Case in point: Somerville, Massachusetts, has announced its recreation department is changing the city’s youth football program from tackle to “non-contact” flag football for kids in first through eighth grade.

youth-football.jpg

Photo courtesy Grand Forks Park District

In an article published by boston.com, city officials cited concerns nationwide over increases in injuries for young players in contact football, as well as declining enrollment in the city’s contact program. The changes were announced this past week, to go into effect this summer.

“Particularly over the past few years, the rise in injuries among young people playing contact football, both in game situations and during regular practices, demonstrates a need for us to reevaluate the programs we offer to our youngest residents,” Jill Lathan, the city’s director of Recreation and Youth, said. “Somerville Recreation has a history of providing programs and opportunities for youth of all ages and interest levels, but we also have a commitment to keep our children safe while they have fun.”

Lathan also said the recreation department will continue to support those who want to continue to play in a contact football program, like Pop Warner, through its equipment rental program, but the city will not sponsor a tackle football program for young players.

“Interest and participation in flag football is increasing both in Somerville and nationwide, and we are excited to be able to offer the program here in Somerville that will teach youth the necessary skills if they do choose to participate in contact football at an older age,” Lathan said.

The city seems to be following recommendations made by Dr. Bennet Omalu, famously portrayed by Will Smith in the new movie, “Concussion,” who said in an op-ed piece in the New York Times last month that there should be a minimum age to play tackle football because children’s developing brains should be protected from concussions. While few believe that the minimum age will be set at 18, as Dr. Omalu suggests, this move by Somerville shows that municipalities are taking the threat of brain injuries seriously and are taking steps to try to keep players safer.

Attitudes sometimes need adjusting

June 22, 2015

As much as we focus on youth sports events and facilities, it’s good to, every once in a while, talk about the players themselves who participate in athletics, sometimes year-round.

Youth basketball

Photo Credit: Greater Cincinnati Sports Corporation

A recent article on theseason.gc.com by Tori Benavidez, a former softball player at Sam Houston State, now an associate softball coach there, brings that focus back to the players. The article puts a lot of the responsibility of developing and keeping players in the game at the feet of the coaches in her article, “Five Components of a Positive Culture.” Those include:

Attitude: A positive attitude, she says, helps the entire team grow. “Eventually those with a negative attitude will start standing out, and it will be your responsibility to correct this issue,” she says.

Mindset: “Athletes constantly go through ups and downs,” says Tori, “but those who are successful are the ones whose failures do not faze them.”

Reinforcement: Positive reinforcement, Tori says, should follow positive effort, while on the other hand, “negative reinforcement should always follow extreme habits that you want to eliminate from your team’s culture.”

Perseverance: Because in sports, most of the time you fail more than you succeed, Tori says it’s important to instill perseverance. “Perseverance makes a player a go-getter rather than someone who sits back and watches everything unfold,” she says. “Your culture should always consist of fighting, battling and giving it your all to achieve your stated goals.”

Passion: Finally, Tori says, if you have the luxury, choose players with passion. “Those passionate players will constantly give it their all, and you want that imitated in your culture.”

Those are attributes to follow not only in sports, but also in life. Great coaches instill those lessons that last a lifetime, both on and off the field and the courts.