Out Work the Competition!!
Integrity in athletics goes beyond playing by the rules of the game or respecting a referee’s ruling. True athletic integrity requires athletes to remain competitive without seeking methods of advancement that lack morals and ethics. While the concept seems simple, it’s surprising how quickly athletes can find themselves trying to justify gray areas.
No Fake Outs
Let’s say your son’s football team is out of timeouts but in need of a quick moment to regroup. We all know how valuable a couple of minutes invested in getting a team back on the same page can be. So, how about encouraging a player to fake an injury to give his team just long enough to cover the new plan of attack? This is a gray area you will find parents, coaches and players on both sides of. However, it is clearly lacking in athletic integrity.
Bending the Rules
I recall watching a winter Olympics several years back where a gold medal speed skater became a hot topic of debate. Speed skaters are disqualified for outright pushing, shoving or bumping opponents. Critics claimed that the skater in question had mastered the art of “accidentally” clipping competitors while passing. In every competition he was in, his competitors consistently challenged these “accidents,” which often lost them the race. Maybe these were indeed accidents. The question that arose with fans and athletes on both sides of the fence was whether it was a competitive strategy if you make it look like an accident or a lack of athletic integrity.
Professional Athletes Set Poor Examples, Too
There is a long list of examples of collegiate and professional athletes showing a lack of athletic integrity. From inflate-gate to Derek Jeter pretending to be hit by a pitch and even professional basketball players who fake a foul when they know they aren’t going to make the shot. Children look up to these athletes, so you can see how easy it is for young and impressionable athletes to adopt an unhealthy mindset.
The Flipside of Athletic Integrity
On the flipside, there are shining examples of coaches and athletes whose integrity is to be modeled after. For example, when a high school volleyball player named Emmee Ashby admitted that she had touched a ball hit out of bounds, she did this even though it took the score from 23-22, in favor of her opponents. To further this shining example of athletic integrity, her coach praised her by recognizing “her commendable act of integrity and honesty in such a crucial junction of the match.”
A Slippery Slope
As you can see, athletic integrity can be a slippery slope we must not allow athletes to slide down. It is something we must instill in athletes at a young age and hold them accountable to, no matter how valuable an athlete they may be. Praise all acts of integrity from student athletes, and address the importance of sticking to a strong code of ethics should issues arise.
Integrity is winning a game or a match fair and square, winning a student election by running an ethical campaign or getting the promotion at work because you genuinely earned it. At Competitive Edge we work diligently to ensure integrity remains at the forefront of all of our programs.
Competitive Edge aims to develop the “complete athlete” using performance sports training in Woodbridge, VA and surrounding areas. Members are able to enhance their athletic performance and develop a competitive edge to excel in their desired sport.
There are similar combinations of words which have easily slipped out of almost every parent’s mouth. In this case, something along the lines of “You need to adjust your attitude,” or “I don’t like your attitude.” But have you ever really stopped to consider what skills are required to develop a positive attitude? When it comes to athletic performance, here’s what it entails.
Understanding That Attitude Is a Choice
Athletes each have good training days and not so good training days, games where they are on fire and ones where everything seems to go wrong. While it is easier to maintain a positive attitude when things are going as planned, it gets a bit trickier when your student or their team is having an off day. However, we’ve all met athletes and individuals of all ages who seem to have a positive attitude no matter what. What these stewards of optimism understand is that no matter the circumstances having a positive attitude is always a choice. When it comes to your student athlete, they need to understand that every competitive high and low is an opportunity to learn.
How Your Student Athlete Talks to Themselves Is Important
Let’s face it. Even if we don’t say the words aloud, we all talk to ourselves. Athletes who maintain a positive attitude don’t beat themselves up when they drop the ball, but instead use their words to build themselves up. They often do the same for their teammates. An excellent way to help your children develop positive self-talk is to remind them that if it’s not something they would say to a teammate, friend or loved one, they shouldn’t be saying it to themselves either.
How a Positive Attitude Helps Athletes Manage Anxiety and Emotions
Adopting a poor attitude is a slippery slope, which if not kept in check can compound anxiety and negative emotions. This is not only stressful for your student athlete, but, in almost every case, will negatively impact their performance. This often creates a destructive ripple effect throughout the team — we bet every parent or coach has experienced this firsthand. The more frustrated a player gets during the game the more their performance suffers. By developing a positive attitude, athletes can keep their head in the game. They can channel their energy towards their positive outlook opposed to their negative one and keep their head in the game once they master this skill.
Positivity Starts Well Before the Game
Developing a positive attitude isn’t often a skill taught in school. As sports psychology becomes a greater focus for athletes of all ages and performance levels, we must help our young athletes cultivate and strengthen this skill. One of the most effective methods includes visualization. This could include game-day visualization performed at home or even a guided visualization your Competitive Edge coach talks the entire team through. By visualizing the pursuit of excellence, your child will create pathways in their brain which support their goals and make them easier to achieve. In case you are wondering, sports isn’t the only thing your child can visualize.
It’s inevitable that every athlete will have both good and bad days. It’s also inevitable that even the most optimistic athletes will have days when it’s more challenging to stay positive. While the goal is not 100 percent, it should be far more often than not.
Developing the athletic and life skill of positive thinking is a priority here at Competitive Edge and is worked into all of our programs. Reach out today to learn more about our unique approach to year-round training.
Competitive Edge aims to develop the “complete athlete” using performance sports training in Woodbridge, VA and surrounding areas. Members are able to enhance their athletic performance and develop a competitive edge to excel in their desired sport.
Perseverance is a skill every athlete must develop in order to succeed. This includes the perseverance to make it through a challenging game, to further develop their technique and to face the challenges of each season head-on. Perseverance is a transferable skillset that helps with time management, achieving long-term goals, and learning the invaluable lessons of life and sport’s inevitable mistakes and setbacks.
There Is Enough Time in the Day
Kids are busier than ever, meaning if they don’t master the art of time management, they will find themselves overcommitted and burnt out. In order to persevere, your student athlete must learn to make the most of their dedicated time commitments. For example, the hour and a half they have in between school and their Competitive Edge private golf lesson could be spent texting and browsing social media, or it could be dedicated to getting their homework done. Once practice is done, they will be happy their homework (or a sizeable chunk of it) is out of the way.
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Your student athlete may be passionate about their sports of choice, but their passion and natural talent will only get them so far. Throughout their athletic career, they will experience peaks and plateaus. Even during a peak, your student will have things they are training to improve upon. This could include consistency, performance anxiety and working with new teammates. During plateaus, maintaining motivation, confidence and their level of commitment will require perseverance.
Perseverance and Overcoming Mistakes and Setbacks
Developing perseverance is required to get your head back in the game after a fumble, fall or missed shot. Just like in all areas of life, if we allow a second or two to shade the rest of our performance, we might not recover. However, if we can brush it off and get our head back in the game, we can often overcome the momentary pause or lapse in judgement. While there is value in reviewing the mistake and strategizing ways to avoid it in the future, this is best saved for after the game.
The Art of Intention
As parents, coaches and trainers, our role is to do more than encourage kids to pursue their passions; we need to help them clearly define their intentions. This goes beyond goal setting, but, without a doubt, includes goal setting. When students are able to define why they love to do what they do, it is easier to prioritize year-round commitments and weed out the excess. If your student sets a clear and specific athletic intention first, it is easier to persevere, identify when a goal is achieved and know when it’s time to set a new goal.
As always, Competitive Edge is here to help students fine-tune their athletic skillsets. This goes beyond technique and extends to the mental stamina and long list of transferable life skills every athlete develops along the way. If your student wants to cross-train or invest in off-season training, reach out to Competitive Edge today to discuss their year-round options!
Competitive Edge sports camps aren’t just designed for kids who are avid athletes. We offer a supportive and at-your-own-pace multi-sport day camp that teaches students a variety of athletic and life skills. Two of the most valuable life skills our campers leave with are cooperation and teamwork.
Multi-Sport Equals Multiple Skill-Developing Opportunities
Our multi-sport camp offers soccer, basketball, baseball, football, tennis, swimming and free play. Each sport requires students to learn sport-specific strategies. These strategies vary, depending on the apparatus used, the number of athletes per game or team, and the level of experience. By offering a multi-sport camp, our campers develop more cooperation and teamwork skills than if they focus only on an individual sport. There is value in mastering sport-specific cooperation skills, but we also believe, the more the merrier!
Natural Talent Isn’t Required to Develop These Skills
Your student athlete need not have natural talent to develop or build upon their cooperation and teamwork skillset. It’s inevitable your child will enjoy one or two of these sports more than others, and they may have a couple that aren’t their strong suit. However, there is a misconception that you have to excel in something to develop new skills. Each and every member of the team will develop athletic and life skills simply by participating.
Sports Camp Provides a Diverse Training Opportunity
Since we are not an athletic team, we also provide our campers the opportunity to try positions they may not have the chance to practice or play while on a team with designated positions. This is empowering for students who want to try something new, and a valuable opportunity for skilled athletes to learn how to operate outside of their comfort zone. It also provides all students a greater respect for roles and positions.
The Value of a Cohesive Team
Our campers will have the opportunity to be part of many combinations of teams. They can watch and participate in teams that are skilled, but don’t communicate or work together well. On the flipside, they will watch and participate in teams with average skills, but who communicate and work together well. The teams that have mastered, or are at least better developed in cooperation and teamwork, often win.
Everyone on Your Team Has Value
Even if kids are only team members for one day of camp, they will learn to trust and work together as a team. It feels good to be part of a team, and every member of the team plays a valuable role. This is an essential lesson for kids to learn, and the younger the better. Your teammates will cheer them on when doing well and lift their spirits when they miss the mark.
We encourage parents to consider Competitive Edge day camp for students of all levels of athletic skill and interest. One of our main goals is to provide structured fun, a place to make new friends and a healthy way to spend their summer break. To learn more about our multi-sport camp or our baseball/softball camp, reach out to us today.
As adults, we comprehend how frustrating it can be professionally to have a fellow team member who is anything but interested in working together as a cohesive team. While we can try our best to explain teamwork to our kids, it’s a skill that must be developed from firsthand experience. What better way to do that than by participating in team sports?
Everyone Has a Role to Play
Being part of a team sport doesn’t require you to be the star player, because every team member is a valuable piece of the puzzle. If one piece is missing, the picture just doesn’t look right. Even if your student plays a solo sport, they still learn team building skills along the way. For example, seemingly independent racecar drivers require a skilled pit crew to ensure they stay in the running. While the pit crew might not be driving the laps, no laps would be made without their invaluable skillset. Or gymnasts might compete solo, but they also have teammates all around. This means that one minute they are competing against someone from their gym, and the next — they are teammates. In other words, your student athlete need not be first string or an all-star to learn to function as part of a team.
While there are team-building opportunities in the classroom, most group projects require working together for only a day, week or, at most, a month. Even in PE, your teams are day-to-day. By participating in athletics, you become part of a group that works together for an entire season. This requires an initial phase, in which everyone gets to know one another and how to work together. Eventually, you learn one another’s strengths and weaknesses, and you build trust that your team will have your back.
Leadership Skills Can Be Developed From Within a Team
Coaches and student captains lead athletic teams. However, practice will require students to alternate running drills, leading stretches or assisting the coach as directed. A good coach will alternate leadership responsibilities during practice. While some students won’t be comfortable leading, others will rise to the occasion — and it’s not just the star players who make great leaders. Everyone has a valuable spot on the team.
The Downside of Hogging the Spotlight
Another life lesson that is best learned firsthand is the downside of hogging the spotlight. As student athletes excel, some will struggle to remain humble. We’ve all seen a movie where a star basketball player hogs the ball and upsets the rest of the team. Before they know it, their team falls apart and they have no one to back them up when they make a play. This is a tough lesson to learn and a difficult one for a proud parent to watch — but an invaluable learning opportunity.
At Competitive Edge we are dedicated to providing students with a balanced athletic experience. We personalize training while developing team-building skills. To learn more about our supportive approach to athletics, reach out to us today!
Summer is almost here, and what better way to keep your kids active and engaged than summer camp? Our summer camps are available for students ages six through thirteen, and groups are assigned by skill, strength and ability. Camp operates Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — with before- and after-hour care available for working parents. Sign your elementary and middle school students up for just one week or many!
Keep the Kids Unplugged, for at Least Part of the Day
Many kids today aren’t as eager to head outdoors and play like we did when we were young. Since you don’t want your kids plugged into their video games, social media or internet all day long, sign them up for summer camp. This way, you know they will remain active and have a healthy outlet for their energy.
Summer Camp Is an Excellent Way to Make New Friends
Some of Competitive Edge’s campers enroll in our week-long camp with their besties, but many sign up solo and make new friends once they arrive. Since most of our day-campers are local, many friendships last beyond their week at camp.
We Have Three Summer Options to Choose From
Our camps run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but working parents can choose before and after care for $10 per hour — or a flat rate of $100 per week.
All Sport Summer Camp: Students can hone their skills in soccer, basketball, baseball, football and tennis. There is also plenty of time for swimming and free play. The All Sport Camp is hosted at Competitive Edge. These one-week sessions are available June 19 through August 25 — no camp on July 4. Camps costs $200 per week and $150 the week of July 4.
Baseball Softball Summer Camp: Baseball summer camp is designed for students looking to improve their baseball or softball skills. We provide individual training and tips, as well as ample opportunity for skill-building field practice and drills. Transportation to and from Tyrel Field is included. Students return to Competitive Edge for bring-your-own lunch and an afternoon of fun games and free play. Fridays are pool days! The Baseball Softball Camp includes one-week sessions, or one-day sessions, running June 19 through August 25, but are closed the entire week of July 4. Camp costs $250 per week or $50 per day.
Sports Performance Summer Pass: The Summer Pass offers three months of unlimited sports performance training encompassing strength and power, speed and agility, mobility and flexibility (yoga) and endurance training. Athletes thirteen and older will be able to attend weight room sessions. In addition, sport specific training sessions are included in the Summer Pass (football, soccer, track and field, wrestling, lacrosse, basketball and more). Trainings will be held throughout the evenings Monday – Saturday. The Summer Pass can be paid monthly for $150 per month or $400 for the entire summer.
Sport Campers Don’t Have to Be Athletes
Not every student is athletically inclined, but that’s ok. We separate students into groups by age, skill, strength and ability. We break the day up into solo play and team activities. This provides kids with the opportunity to interact in fun and challenging new ways, as well as build essential life skills that come naturally with working together as part of a team.
Remember, you can sign your kids up for more than one week of Competitive Edge Summer Camp, and you can bounce back and forth between All Sport and Baseball/Softball Camp.
Don’t forget to take a look at our one-day camps and monthly clinics, too. Sign your kids up today!
We are proud and honored to announce that Competitive Edge Athletic Performance Center has been chosen as an American Small Business Champion by SCORE and Sam’s Club.
The American Small Business Championship (championship.score.org) awarded this title to 102 small businesses, two in every state and the District of Columbia, for their dedication to the success of their businesses. Each state winner will be awarded a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, an all-expense-paid trip to a training and networking event in Dallas, TX, SCORE mentoring and publicity throughout the year. Each Champion is also eligible for one of three $25,000 grand prizes.
We are honored to have been chosen for this award. When we began our business in 2016, our dream was to develop the complete athlete providing training, clinics, camps, community events that increase athletes’ enjoyment and appreciation for sports and fitness. We couldn’t have gotten this far without the support of our community. We’re often told this is exactly what our community needs, a place where youth can develop their athletic abilities and have coaches and mentors that encourage them to reach their potential in athletics and academics.
The prizes, training, publicity and SCORE mentoring we have been awarded will help us take our business to the next level, and better serve you, our customers. We look forward to attending the training event in Dallas, Texas, and will be sure to check back in and let you know how it goes.
With good sportsmanship, we must look beyond respecting our coach and teammates—but also to supporting our competitors. Win or lose, respecting your opponents both on and off the field, court, or competitive arena is a sign of good character.
Cheer Don’t Jeer
The energy in the room, or on the field, is part of what contributes to the adrenaline rush. While some athletes drown out the crowd, others thrive from the applauds and encouragement. As a good team player, you will be on the sidelines cheering your teammates on. While you cheer or give encouragement, avoid the temptation to boo, trash talk, or name call your competitors. This doesn’t just go for student athletes, but for parents and coaches too. This also goes beyond game day. It still counts if you are disrespectful in the car on the way home.
Reward Good Sportsmanship
If you type “good sportsmanship at the Olympics” into YouTube or your preferred search engine, you will find a series of stories and videos of professional athletes who went out of their way to help their opponents. From wrestlers who help their pinned opponent walk off the mat, to a coach who replaced an opposing skier’s broken ski, to cheering opponents on from the sidelines. Encourage athletes to reward excellent sportsmanship with an end of season award.
Actively Engage Your Opponents
Many athletic programs have a tradition of shaking hands before or after the game, both coaches, and athletes. Or even a tradition of helping up someone you knock down. This is a sign of sportsmanship and respect and a character trait that transfers off the court.
Ask any athlete, and they will tell you that many of their opponents were once one of their most trusted teammates. Or one of their greatest opponents transfers teams and becomes a teammate. Between moving to a new school district, changing divisions, or age groups—the same will occur for your student athletes. Always treat everyone with respect, and you will never worry about recovering from your less than desirable behavior.
Show Your Love Of The Game By Playing Fair And Square
We know how hard you work, and how invested you are in your team. Don’t let your hard work go to waste by intentionally breaking the rules, cheating, or demonstrating any other poor conduct. The integrity you show speaks volumes about your character, but also for your love of the game. What’s the fun of winning, if you can’t win fair and square? If a worthy contender scored the goal or won the game—watch in awe, and use it as motivation to train harder.
Nobody Loves A Poor Sport!
Parents and coaches must remember that student athletes won’t get things right every time. We must all be there to coach them through their areas of opportunity and cheer them on when they get it right. This is a life skill they need as an adult, so the sooner they develop it, the better!
Training at Competitive Edge goes beyond skill, but to being the best you can be—both on and off the court!
In our first installment of our Sports and Character series we discussed life lessons that can be learned while enjoying the playing of the game. One of the lessons that comes through in competitive sports is self-esteem.
We have covered a few ways to build confidence, but there are still dozens of ways your young athlete is working towards a positive self-esteem. Below are three areas that also help increase the confidence of your young athlete.
Winning a competition is a great feeling, but it is not the main objective for the young athlete. The main objective is personal improvement. Working toward a personal best is a way to bring confidence to the forefront. A loss of a game is not “losing” if your athlete gave their best.
Understanding how to work through disappointment is a crucial step in building confidence. When your athlete can let go of the disappointment, they can clearly see where they excelled and what areas need work without seeing the loss as a reflection of their self-worth.
Your athlete has the last word in how much effort they put into practice and games. Attending practices and games and keeping a good relationship with mentors and teammates are important parts of building confidence.
It is always a parent’s hope that the adults and other athletes around them will be respectful. However, not all young players’ interactions may include respect and other players may not be as mature in their behaviors. Guiding your child to show respect for the game, the rules and others – even when others are frustrating your athlete – leads to a self-respect that can be easily seen.
Visualize Self Worth
Visualization is not just one of the keys to a great game – it can encourage your athlete to be his or her best ally. Subconscious visualization is always happening, whether we realize it out not. Self-doubt and negative thoughts are always lurking in the background, waiting for a moment to take over. Visualizing success can help keep thoughts focused in a positive direction. Visualization can also help with organization and anxiety, two areas that can be confidence killers for anyone.
Building self-esteem through sports is an important part of your child’s development and can affect them in many other areas of life, even into adulthood. Your athlete’s ability to perform at their best in school, with their team and even in everyday chores or tasks is tied to their self-worth. Adults with good confidence levels tend to have less depression and are more aware of their physical wellness needs.
There are many more ways we can work with our youth to build their confidence. We hope to cover as many confidence builders as we can in our blogs. We invite you and your young athlete to train with us at Competitive Edge where we design our classes, clinics and summer camps to build self-worth and respect every day.
Youth athletes practice and compete for the love of the game, but they can learn some invaluable life lessons along the way. Whether your child participates in one sport or many, year-round or only during the season—the lessons they learn will last a lifetime.
Try, Try, Try Again!
Every athlete has room to improve, and their sport of choice challenges them to keep working. This includes improving upon overall skill and ability, their preferred position, or the secondary positions or competitive slots they need to be prepared to fill. Even if your student tries out a new sport for a solo season and it’s not a great fit, they walk away with a sense of accomplishment. Remember it’s not about perfection; it’s about commitment.
How To Preserve
Transitioning from one age group to the next, or from middle school to high school athletic programs, can be overwhelming. There is a lot that can go awry in the midst of a game, or when up against a fierce competitor. Athletes all have off days, and maybe even an off season. Throughout the highs and lows, athletes will learn the powerful skill of perseverance.
To Learn From Their Mistakes
It’s inevitable that every athlete will make a mistake. In the moment, the mistake may feel like the end of the world. Some mistakes may be so impactful that they will be remembered for years to come. However, athletes develop the skills to learn from their mistakes. The real win is when they pick themselves back up and get their head and heart back in the game.
How To Win And How To Lose
A love of athletics displays true sportsmanship, which celebrates the best teams and competitors. This means that you lose with grace and learn how you can do better next time. It means that you win with pride, but also with respect to your competition. It means that you accept the results because you appreciate the skill of a game won fair and square.
How To Work Independently And As A Team
Even team sports like football, basketball, and baseball require individual performance improvement and the ability to work as part of a cohesive team. This is a skill that students will carry with them to school, work, and personal relationships. They will learn the most talented individual is nothing without a team. They will also learn that the most cohesive team can win big by working together, even if they aren’t the most skilled in their league.
Time Management And Commitment
Joining an athletic team is a commitment that must be taken seriously. It is the time to unplug and focus solely on the task at hand. Students must be timely, follow instructions, and challenge themselves to improve. Also, they must learn to manage and balance homework and personal commitments, as well as prioritize their free-time.
These are just a handful of the invaluable life lessons that student-athletes will learn while participating in sports and extracurricular activities. As always, Competitive Edge is here to support young athletes at every stage of athletic development. Join us for off-season training, spring clinics, summer camps, targeted athletic development—and fun!
Whether your student participates in year-round or seasonal athletic programs, balancing their obligations to both school and sports can be challenging. The more kids in your family, the more extracurricular commitments. If you aren’t mindful, the entire family will feel the stress of keeping up with their demanding schedules.
Organization And Time Management
Delegate one family member to be the planner and organizer. They are responsible for creating a shared calendar that is color-coded for each family member and each area of obligation. This schedule should include daily/weekly practices, games, homework time, assignment reminders, tests, and deadlines for upcoming school projects. This will help you plan transportation and facilitate schedule changes. Don’t forget to include family time and downtime.
Many families use a white board or desk calendar but consider an electronic option that can be accessed and updated on-the-go.
Find Creative Ways To Maximize Time
Studies show student athletes and students who participate in extracurricular activities tend to have better grades. However, it’s challenging to find time to do homework, especially on game days. This means you must find creative ways to maximize time. Driving to and from practice is the perfect time to review notes, or siblings can do their homework while waiting for their brother’s or sister’s practice to wrap up. Middle school and high school students can explore their options in home periods and study hall.
Plan Ahead, But Don’t Overcommit
As a parent, you want to provide your kids with every opportunity to succeed. So, when you hear of an upcoming sports clinic, day camp, tryout for a new team, or competition, you are eager to sign them up. They are eager to sign up too!
Since many commitments are scheduled months in advance, by the time they arrive, their timing may be less than ideal. While it is important to plan ahead, you must also prioritize. This requires balancing growth opportunities with making sure your student never feels spread too thin.
Schedule Time Off
One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to take time off before your child is feeling overwhelmed. While you want to teach your child the importance of fulfilling commitments, you must also teach them the importance of balance and the need to occasionally say no.
- If they are sick or injured, scale back to give them the time they need to recover.
- If you notice homework is piling up or they are stressed about finals, take a day or two off from practice.
- If they are getting behind in a subject, explore your options for tutoring.
- Plan at least one fun activity a week with family and friends.
- Schedule a family vacation, even if you can only squeeze in a weekend getaway or day trip.
- So, they don’t overcommit and burn out, teach your kids the importance of setting boundaries and saying no.
- Try not to overschedule weekends and allow your students some time to sleep in—and be kids.
Last but not least, keep your eye out for whether your kids are still having fun. Sometimes, it is easy to sign your kids up for another season of baseball, basketball, or their extracurricular activity of choice, simply because they’ve been doing it forever. However, ask if they are still interested and keep an eye out for signs they are no longer interested.
As always, let the Competitive Edge team know how we can help your students achieve their athletic goals!
Many kids find a sport they love in elementary school, and by the time they reach middle school, they are exceptionally skilled. However, not all kids are interested in sports until they reach middle school, or maybe your preteen has burnt out on a previous extracurricular activity and wants to give a new athletic program a try. But is it too late to start a new sport in middle school?
It’s Not About Comparison
If your student athlete is excited about trying a new sport, that should be the top priority. Not every team member or solo athlete will be an all-star, college athlete, or go on to the pros. Instead of comparing how hard they have to work to catch up, focus on why they are drawn to a sport. Often, students are drawn to a sport because they have natural ability or they love the strategy of the game. Maybe their BFFs are on the team.
However, if they have a natural talent for the sport or their previous athletic training can complement their new sport, they might just be an all-star. Just look at how many college and pro football players are plucked from basketball or rugby.
The Skills They Develop Extend Beyond Their Sport Of Choice
Sports aren’t just played to win. Whether participating in a team sport, such as soccer or baseball, or an individual sport, like golf or dance, the skills developed go well beyond the training and competition.
- Improved overall physical fitness
- Learning to work as a team
- How to move forward after setbacks
- Confidence and self-discipline
- How to focus and be mentally resilient
- And much more!
It’s Never Too Late
Parents and coaches must be mindful of the messages we send to our youth. While it is natural to want to see our children succeed, the ultimate goal is to see them at their best, even if they are not the best. With the average middle school student between the ages of 11 and 13 years old, they still have their whole lives ahead of them. So, it’s not too late to try something new!
Also, remember that our kids are more resilient than we are and more open to change and learning new things. Every year, semester, or trimester, they have new teachers, coaches, and new subjects of study. When it comes to trying a new sport, let your student start where they are and support their athletic aspirations by investing in on- and off-season training designed to give them a Competitive Edge. Let us know how we can assist!
As a parent, you are still wrapping your head around the fact your child is already in middle school and that high school is right around the corner—but it’s time to start seriously thinking about college. Even if you have been saving for college for years, you and your student athlete may not yet be thinking about where they want to go to college, what they want to major in, or how to attract the attention of a collegiate recruiter. However, right now is the best time to give your student a Competitive Edge! Youth athletics has grown so much that colleges have begun scouting student athletes in middle school.
Not All College Sports Recruiters Travel
Sports like basketball, baseball, and football have the highest recruiting travel budgets, so if your child is in an alternate sport, you must take a proactive approach to attracting the attention of college recruiters. Also, remember, travel budgets are higher for boy’s sports than girl’s sports. Either way, you can’t expect recruiters to find you.
Leverage the Internet to Connect with Scouts
Even if your student-athlete has not decided if they want to play the sport they love in college, it won’t hurt to make a few connections. Your hometown coaches have a few collegiate contacts, but you never want to put all your eggs in one basket. Not to worry, because you can easily leverage the Internet to create the connections you need:
- Create a comprehensive list of colleges that have the sports program you desire—be sure not to rule out small colleges or schools that don’t make the headlines.
- If you haven’t done so already, record your student’s games and practices—and learn how to edit their performance into short clips that highlight their skills.
- Identify a few recruiters, scouts, and coaches you want to engage with, and send them a direct email, using video. Touch base if you haven’t heard back in a week or two, and keep the dialogue going.
- Look for sports-specific social media boards and networking groups you can post stats and videos to—or create a YouTube page, website, or Facebook page to post and promote your student athlete on.
Enroll Your Student in Athletic Programs with The Coaches You Are Targeting
Check to see what day, week, or summer programs you can enroll your student in over the next few years, which will be hosted by the college or coach whose attention you are trying to attract. This is not only an excellent way to highlight your student’s technical skills firsthand, but it also allows them to view their sportsmanship, teamwork, and personality. Sometimes, these aspects are the determining factors in recruiting one athlete over another!
Last but not least, you must define your priorities. Is your goal to obtain a scholarship? Play in a Division I school? Alternatively, simply to allow your student athlete to pursue their passion for sports for as long as possible?
Competitive Edge provides athlete assessments and training profiles that can be used to send to colleges or recruiters. You can also inquire about video services if you need game footage recorded or edited. As always, Competitive Edge is here to help develop your athlete’s technical, mental, and physical skills, but it’s up to you to make sure they get noticed!
Ask any Olympic athlete or professional in their sport of choice, and they will all tell you their mental approach to their performance is at least as important as their physical skills. Winning the mental game must be approached with the same dedication as your sport-specific training. This is why many coaches are incorporating visualization, meditation, and other mental prep techniques into training.
Visualization And Sports Psychology
Visualization is one of many techniques used by sports psychologists, who specialize in the connection between mindset and performance. They study biomechanics, physiology, kinesiology, and psychology. In other words, they specialize in how a success-driven mindset will improve a player’s performance, and how a negative or fearful mindset will damage performance.
Your Brain Doesn’t Know Your Visualizing
When an athlete closes their eyes, blocks out their distractions, and visualizes the performance they want to achieve, their brain doesn’t know the differences between visualization and physical achievement. The same memory centers in the brain are activated when your athlete visualizes their desired performance, creating success pathways.
Visualizing is also an excellent way for athletes to train for how they will respond to the unexpected, including how they will respond to an area of opportunity next time around.
Meditation For Performance Anxiety
If you have ever watched ice skating, gymnastics, and other sports with commentators—the difference between some athlete’s competitive performance and practice performance will be a major part of the conversation. Some athletes allow their nerves to get the best of them, while others outperform on game day—even if they are nervous. This same fact applies for every sport.
Athletes who struggle with the latter may benefit from game-day meditation. There are endless options of meditation techniques to choose from, but the goal is to channel nervous energy into performance-enhancing energy.
Getting Into The Flow
“The Flow” is a mental state that promotes optimal performance, both in practice and on game day. Your student athletes are busier than ever, meaning they must quickly shift gears from classroom to practice, from homework to game-day, and from teenager to athlete. Meditation and visualization can both be used to facilitate the transition from life to sport, with the ultimate goal of achieving flow with intention.
These techniques can be used for an endless array of performance goals, and can be done both individually or with your team. To encourage well-rounded training Competitive Edge incorporates visualization techniques into our curriculum. Take a look at our upcoming classes and clinics today!
Most teenage athletes will never make first string or the equivalent of, but they may love their sport, and become an invaluable member of their team. As a coach or parent, your goal is to encourage teens to always do their personal best, and to teach the importance of perseverance. Even young athletes can experience performance anxiety, so help build their confidence with the tips below.
Don’t Compare Your Athlete To Others
Yes, watching someone else’s technique can prove invaluable, but there is sometimes a fine line between education and comparison. Both coaches and parents must be mindful of comparing performance, as it can be damaging to your athlete’s self-esteem. It can also have the exact opposite effect on their performance. Instead, encourage them to do their best, and motivate them with positive reinforcement.
Good sportsmanship doesn’t just refer to how athletes interact with their team on game day, but how everyone from coaches, parents, and teammates interact every single day. Coaches and parents must model supportive and positive behaviors. For example, if a teammate drops the ball—don’t blame them, embrace them—because who hasn’t dropped the ball before? Encourage everyone to do their best, while providing constructive feedback and ongoing challenges. And yes, your athlete can be disappointed in their performance, but they must show respect to the team and competitors.
For The Love Of The Game
Your young athletes work hard. They put in long hours on the field, in the pool, on the court, and at Competitive Edge. However, why do they do it? Encourage your athletes to do it for the love of the game, art form, or sport they choose. Yes, we know how much they want to win, place, or achieve a personal best—but when winning becomes the only goal, the love for their talent can get lost amidst the pressure of expectation. Whether they steadily continue to improve or have an off day, focus more on why they have selected their sport of choice, and how much joy it brings them.
Support Your Athlete Year-Round
Sports are a commitment for coaches, parents, and student athletes alike. You child may play multiple sports or have a primary sport. Whichever it may be, you must support their athletic aspiration year-round. This goes beyond muscle memory and perfect technique, but to a whole-body approach to performance. This could include cross-training, off-season training, testing new equipment and gear, complementary services, and even upgrading to a diet that supports your growing athlete’s unique nutritional needs.
Last but not least, practice makes perfect—so make sure your athlete is on time for all practices, games, classes, and sports clinics.
We realize that weekday mornings are hectic. Getting everyone up and out the door on time is challenging enough, but we must also find enough time to squeeze in a well-balanced breakfast. Here are just a few reasons why a well-balanced breakfast is essential for providing your teen with a Competitive Edge!
Food Is Fuel
Food is something we all enjoy, but it is also the fuel your active teenager requires to maintain their energy and stamina. Also, food helps to provide their growing bodies with the nutrients required to keep up with their growth spurts. With the average 10 to 12-hour gap between dinner and your morning meal, our bodies wake up craving fluids and nutrients.
Jen Ochi of the Cleveland Clinic suggests that teenage athletes consume between 500 and 750 calories at breakfast. The dietary balance should be 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat.
Let’s face it, there simply may not be enough time to cook a well-balanced breakfast for you and your family every day—but you have plenty of easy and on-the-go breakfast options to choose from. Start off with 8 to 16 ounces of hydrating water after waking up, and mix and match the options below to achieve the appropriate caloric and nutrient intake.
- An unsweetened, unsalted mixture of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds
- Whole grain toast or bagel with cream cheese or peanut butter
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Hard boiled eggs
- Glass of milk
- String cheese
- Fresh fruit—oranges, apple slices, berries, and bananas are fast and easy
- Fresh or premade fruit and veggie smoothie with added protein powder
- Steel cut oats
- Low-sugar granola or granola bar
- Low-sugar breakfast bars
- Premade or frozen breakfast sandwich—yes, you can find some healthy ones to choose from
What To Limit In The Morning
Even if your teen doesn’t mind the breakfast options above, their preference may be to enjoy one of the many empty calorie/low-nutrient breakfasts foods marketed to this age group. This includes white bread, sugar-filled cereals, toaster treats, pastries, and nutrient-low breakfast bars. Don’t underestimate the importance of some morning indulgence; however, make sure these morning options are a small portion of their breakfast.
At Competitive Edge, our goal is to provide athletes with the training, tips, and tools needed to improve speed, strength, stamina, and flexibility. The role that their daily diet plays in supporting these goals can’t be underestimated. Even if your teen doesn’t feel hungry first thing in the morning, pack a baggie with a mixture of the foods above for them to eat on their way to school.
Off-season training has plenty of physical benefits like injury prevention, maintaining or boosting your physical fitness level, improving your skills and agility and many more. Did you know that off-season training can help you psychologically, too? It’s not just your body that benefits from exercise. Your mind also gets a boost from physical exercise. Here are just a few of the psychological benefits of off-season training.
Keep your head in the game – It’s tempting after a long season of hard work to take some time off. And maybe a week turns into a month or two and before you know it your whole off-season was spent relaxing instead of keeping up your physical fitness to prepare for next season. While you should listen to your body and rest as you need to, don’t let that time off snowball into longer than you physically need. Taking too much time off not only opens you up for physical injury, it’s mentally tougher to get back into the game when you lose your physical fitness. Don’t get complacent in the off-season and you’ll feel more mentally and physically fit when your season starts back up again.
Stay focused on your goals – Taking too much time off is a slippery slope to relaxing too much and losing sight of your goals. When you’re consistently working, even during the off-season, your goals are at the forefront of your mind. They’re also going to be more realistically attainable if you’re maintaining your physical fitness during the off-season. Setting goals that are unattainable makes it very tough on you mentally, so staying fit and keeping those goals in reach is the best way to stay focused and achieve what you set out to accomplish.
Don’t lose your competitive edge – With complacency about goals comes lack of competitive spirit. If you’re not participating in team sports, you lose a bit of your competitive edge. Training, especially in a group, during the off-season can help you keep that competitive spirit alive within yourself and your teammates. Exercising together can help you all keep each other on your toes with a little healthy competition.
Combat depression – Exercise is healthy for your mind as well as your body. If your off-season happens to fall in the winter months, you might experience a little seasonal depression, which affects many people. Physical exercise produces endorphins which help boost your mood. The Mayo Clinic says that exercise also reduces immune system chemicals that can worsen depression and increases your body temperature, which may have calming effects. Off-season training can give you comraderie and social interaction, which can lift your spirits. You’ll keep your physical fitness level up, which can boost your confidence. It also gives you a healthy outlet for coping with daily stressors.
Learn more about all our on- and off-season training programs to find the one that’s right for you. We want to help improve your physical and mental fitness so that you can keep your head in the game and succeed.
If you do the same workout every time you hit the gym, things can start to get stale. (Burpees, again? Sigh.) And while your brain might get bored with the same routine, your muscles are also snoozing. Mixing up your routine, especially during the off-season, is a fun way to shake things up, keep you motivated and challenge your muscles.
Agility training helps you control the direction of your movements while having great control over your body. This type of training can benefit you in just about every sport. It increases your heartrate and improves your blood flow and can help with overall cardiovascular health. Agility training can also help you prevent injuries. You can have increased multi-planar coordination, which is a fancy term for improving the three ways you can move. The main ways your body can move are frontwards and backwards, side to side and rotationally and agility training helps with all three of these. It can also improve your focus, make you more aware of your movements and improve your mind and body connection.
Multi-planar movement helps with your balance, which will in turn help with your athletic performance and injury prevention. When you move your body in ways it is naturally meant to move, in all planes, you improve your natural sense of balance. Unlike most gym routines which occur in one plane of motion, agility training gives you workouts that improve the way your body is supposed to naturally move. Better balance means less chance of a fall or serious injury by losing your footing during your chosen sport.
Agility training will help with your overall physical fitness. You push through plateaus in fitness by changing your routine and challenging your muscles. Going outside of your usual sport and gym routine will help move you to the next level of physical fitness.
There are several different, simple agility drills you can add into your routine. Ladder drills are used to improve your coordination and your footwork. These quick drills are done on the balls of your feet at a fast pace, while maintaining form. Cone drills will help you improve changing direction, body awareness and coordination.
Not only will agility training help you be a better athlete, it’s fun! If you’ve ever watched kids playing on the playground at recess, a lot of their play is similar to the exercises you will do during agility training. Kids naturally want to move in all directions during play, like climbing, crawling, jumping and running. As adults, we tend to sit still for much of the day. Your body is made to move. Listen to it and you will improve your overall strength, health and happiness.
We offer agility training through our Sports Flex program. Sports Flex is designed to increase athletes’ flexibility while building strength. The exercise movements are centered on Yoga but combines strength, balance, flexibility, and rest to gain improved physical fitness. Sports Flex increases strength by toning and lengthening the muscles. Athletes will focus on relaxing their bodies and concentrated breathing to bring about mental clarity and stress control.