By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD  |  @NutritionalaNat

Losing weight is a family affair. That’s right, even if only one person has weight to lose, research has shown that children have the most success losing weight when the entire family is involved. It’s important to remember that, especially since obesity rates have doubled in the last ten years. Take a look at these statistics:

  • More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • More than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity.
  • About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.

While these stats are sobering, there are definitely ways to reverse them. Losing weight successfully should involve the entire family, and these 5 tips will make losing weight as a family a reality.

Set a good example

A 2013 study  found that when parents model healthy behaviors, like eating right and exercising, children are more likely to follow suit. It sounds like common sense, but parents don’t always realize the impact that their behavior has on the child. Although you may think your child isn’t listening to you, they are watching, observing and mimicking your behavior. For the child and parents to lose weight together, it must be a joint effort of healthy eating and exercise from both parties. If the parent wants the child to stop drinking soda or cut back on sugary desserts, the parent needs to do the same.

Focus on Health, Not Weight

Focusing on weight as a number can be very difficult for the child and parent. Weight has a negative stigma associated with it, and numbers on a scale don’t always tell the whole story. The best way to approach weight loss as a family is to focus on eating right and being active in order to be healthy. When the entire family gets involved, it signifies that eating healthy foods is not part of a “diet”, but rather it’s about being strong, fit and healthy. If the entire family commits to making lifelong behavior changes, it demonstrates that this is not about short-term changes or quick solutions. Instead, it creates lifelong habits that will help build a happier, healthier family.

Eat protein

In general, children love carbohydrate-heavy foods, like mac & cheese, pizza, french fries and ice cream. A diet rich in refined carbohydrates has been linked to higher weights. Therefore, it’s really imperative for the family to start including protein at every meal. Make sure you do this as a family and don’t just force it on the child without modeling the behavior yourself (see tip #1). Here’s an example of a typical day of eating with protein included:

  • Breakfast: Low-sugar cereal with milk or yogurt smoothie
  • Lunch: Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with piece of fruit
  • Snack: Cheese stick with apple slices or carrots with 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • Dinner: Chicken stir fry or turkey burgers

Protein helps keep you feeling full long after a meal. Therefore, adding protein to meals will prevent you from overeating later in the day.

Stay active

This may also seem like a no-brainer, but both adults and children need to get exercise every day to maintain a healthy weight. Adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise, like a brisk walk, on all or most days. Children need to be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day, and it’s okay if that 60 minutes is spread throughout the course of the day. To encourage physical activity within the family, incorporate enjoyable indoor and outdoor activities into your daily routine. Jump rope, play basketball, walk the dog, visit batting cages, listen to music, take a martial arts class, listen to music and dance or play a game of tag in the year.  The best way to encourage physical activity is to limit TV and screen time to no more than one hour per day.

Involve your children

Losing weight doesn’t happen overnight–it requires planning. You must spend time and effort going grocery shopping and planning healthy meals. It’s vital to include children in this planning process. Bring children to the supermarket and let them pick out anything they want from the produce section. Challenge them to buy at least 3 different colored fruits and veggies. At home, have children help you search the internet or cookbooks for recipes using those ingredients. Lastly, involve children in the cooking process. Whereas adults think of cooking as work, children love to get involved in the kitchen. Have them help measure, stir, and mix ingredients to make a healthy dish. They are much more likely to try something healthy if they helped make it!

By Dominic Darcangelo

It’s important to maintain and improve strength and speed in-between seasons. By providing additional resistance, new training, and more difficult movements, an athlete is able to progress and be a more valuable asset moving into the quick-approaching season. The athletic movements below help improve core strength, power, and overall athletic ability and can all be achieved in the comfort of your own home.

Single Leg Squats

3 Sets of 10 For Each Leg

Start Position: Standing, one leg lifted slightly off the ground, but kept close to the planted foot.

Down Position: Squat so that the knee is at a 90º angle while keeping your planted foot stable and the lifted foot in a fixed position, hovering next to the planted foot. Finish by pushing back upwards to the start position. This movement will use core strength, as well as hamstring power, and looks to improve speed and agility.

Pushups: Inversion, Normal, Eversion @ Close, Standard, and Wide Stance

5 Sets of 3 For Each Stance – Movement from position to position should be smooth and consistent.

Start Position: Back should be flat, arms should be locked and hands should be inverted.

Down Position: The chest should come 2-3 inches from the ground before moving back towards the start position.

Inversion Hand Placement: Stance – Close
Normal Hand Placement: Stance – Standard (Shoulder Width Apart)
Inversion Hand Placement: Stance – Wide
Inversion Hand Placement: Stance – Standard (Shoulder Width Apart)
Eversion Hand Placement: Stance – Wide

Core

Each movement should be performed for 25 repetitions before moving  on to the next exercise.

Ins and Outs

Start Position: Start with shoulders back, legs extended, hands firmly assisting with balancing.

End Position: Legs are pulled from the starting extended position to the chest while balancing, then extended back to start position.

Advanced Ins and Outs

Start Position: Hands are placed above head to reduce assisted balance. Helps engage core muscles.

End Position: Legs are pulled from the starting extended position to chest while balancing, then extended back to start position.

Froggies

Start Position: Arms should be extended straight to the sides and legs should be extended straight forward.

End Position: Legs are pulled to the chest and arms are wrapped around the legs. Return to start position.

Full Sit-Ups

Start Position: Start with your legs extended and arms at your side.

Move directly upward from the start position.

End Position: Reach and touch the opposite foot.

V-Ups

Start Position: Extended position

Finish Position: Bring arms and legs together while keeping each as straight as possible.

By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

Although “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”, the holiday season can be extremely stressful for parents with the gift lists, crowded stores and endless holiday shopping. That’s why we put together a quick and easy holiday gift guide for active kids. Not only will these suggestions provide you with some last-minute gifts to finally finish your shopping, but they will also keep your kids happy, moving and healthy in 2017.

S’ip by S’well

I have one of these water bottles, and I don’t know how I ever lived without it. Not only is it great for adults on the go, it’s also perfect for children to keep in their backpacks or gym bags. Since all schools and sports centers have water fountains, this is the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way to keep your kids hydrated all day long.

This S’ip by S’well is 15 ounces and uses authentic technology to keep beverages cold and hot longer than your average bottle. Made from BPA-free, double-walled stainless steel, the S’ip keeps drinks cold all day long. Plus, they come in cute designs, like the bicycle one listed above.

UNICEF Kid Power

The holiday season is a time of giving, which is why these UNICEF KID Power bands caught my eye. The premise is simple—purchase a UNICEF Kid Power Band, and Target will donates $10 to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. The band tracks your child’s movement and the more they move, the more Kid Power points they earn. Kid Power points are converted to funding by partners, parents and fans. UNICEF then uses the funding to deliver lifesaving packets of therapeutic food to severely malnourished children. Not only does the band get your kids moving, but it helps a child in need.

For more information on the UNICEF Kid Power program, visit www.unicefkidpower.org.

Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete

by Jill Castle MS RDN CDN

As a Dietitian, I certainly recognize that all young athletes have their own nutritional needs. But most kids are unaware of basic sports nutrition principles and they don’t eat properly to compete. Much of the food that kids eat actually slows them down, but the right nutrition can increase their energy, bolster their motivation and improve their performance. This book, written by a Registered Dietitian, teaches kids how to:

  • Tailor diets for training, competition, and even off-season
  • Find the best food options, whether at home or on the go
  • Understand where supplements, sports drinks, and performance-enhancing substances do–and don’t–fit in

Plus, the book includes recipes for young athletes. It’s a must-read for every active kid, ages eight through eighteen.

Gorilla Gym Kids Deluxe

This indoor gym includes a swing, plastic rings, trapeze bar, climbing ladder, and swinging rope. And you can install it in seconds right in your doorway without drilling, holes, bolts, or marks on your walls or door frames. Perfect for ages 3-12, this indoor gym can hold 300 pounds and allows kids to climb, swing and play all day in the comfort and safety of your home. It’s perfect for the cold winter, when kids are trapped indoors.

Receiver Gloves

Great for any young football player, these extra sticky and flexible Nike Receiver Gloves are very popular with young athletes. The palm provides a superior catching surface to help improve catchability from wild throws. The synthetic mesh on the backhand allows air in to keep hands cool and dry, and the adjustable wrist closure secures the gloves’ fit for ideal performance.

Nike Headbands

 

For the young female athlete who wants to avoid distraction while playing, these headbands are stylish and functional. The silicone interior holds hair in place during intense activity so that hair isn’t flopping in her face. And, she’ll love the variety of colors and styles in her pack of headbands that allow her to customize her personal style whether she’s in class or at team practice. 

A-Game Sports Gift Certificate

A-Game Sports offers first class instruction programs for kids of all ages in baseball, soccer, softball, lacrosse and even basketball. In addition to one on one and small group lessons, athletes of all skill levels (from beginners to seasoned players) can choose among the many sport-specific scheduled classes and instructional programs that A-GAME SPORTS has to offer all year round.

We are also focused on teaching kids to be better people and live healthy lifestyles. As part of this goal, we offer nutrition counseling services for you and your child. The

A-Game Sports nutritionist can speak with your child and work with you to setup a unique individual nutrition plan to reach all of your 2017 health goals.

**Mention this article and receive 20% OFF nutrition counseling services at A-GAME SPORTS! Offer valid until 1/15/17


Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and food and nutrition writer, specializing in sports nutrition and adolescent nutrition education. Natalie has worked with many prestigious organizations, such as Hospital for Special Surgery, the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council, NY Yankees Baseball Camps and NYC Charter Schools.  She has also written for many food and nutrition publications, such as Women’s Running, Spright, Toby Amidor Nutrition, The Active Times, SuperKids Nutrition and Food & Nutrition Magazine, and she has been quoted in Women’s Health Magazine and Men’s Health.

By Darin Feldman

The A-Game Sports Kings travel baseball teams completed their first seasons of competition and it’s hard to envision an outcome that could be much better.

Thanks to the hard work and commitment of our coaches, the dedication of the players to both team and self improvement, as well as the support from the parents who cheered on their kids each week, each team enjoyed amazing success!

Although the 9u team lost a tight game in the playoffs, the 3rd place regular season finish was noticed by many as a great feat for a team that had just started playing together for the first time this season. The kids showed amazing heart all season, never gave up in any game, and showed how to play baseball competitively and have fun at the same time.

There is no doubt that these kids will soon be able to accomplish what the A-Game Sports Kings 12u team did just 6 hours prior…

WON THE RBA 12U CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!!!!!

If finishing the regular season with a 9-3 record wasn’t enough success in and of itself, these kids and coaches weren’t settling for anything less than a championship. The talent on this team is great, but the chemistry is extraordinary! These were kids who had come together from various parts of Westchester County to play as a team for the first time this past September.

Photos courtesy of Jon Thaler

While we knew the ability to play was there, winning this championship went beyond anything we would have ever expected!

Thank you players. Thank you coaches. And thank you parents!

A-GAME SPORTS appreciates all of the support shown for the Kings travel baseball program and looks forward to its continued success and growth.

If you are interested in having your son be a part of an A-Game Sports Kings travel baseball team, contact us for more information.

By Mackenzie Heizer

For female softball pitchers the majority of power is in our legs and our hips. If you do not use your legs while you are pitching, you are giving up a great deal of your potential power. Using your legs more during pitching will increase your speed.

Here are some tips to reinforce the use of your legs while pitching.

  1. Your back leg should be finishing your pitch at the same time your arm finishes. Your arm should be coming down at the same time you are dragging or pushing off with your back leg.
  2. You should stand tall and not bend over at the stomach when you finish your pitch. Bending over can interfere with your ability to use your legs.
  3. “Walking Through” your pitch by taking a few extra steps at the beginning of your motion can encourage the use of your legs.
  4. Pitching from a longer distance than the mound can also encourage you to use your legs. Pitching from long distances requires more strength and more push in order for you to reach your target.

By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

As a Dietitian, I’m always bothered by the fact that kids menus consist of a bunch of fried foods and starchy pasta options. Restaurants are setting kids up to fail by not offering them any healthy options. But in the past few years, there’s been a trend in the fast food industry to care more about nutrition and health and offer healthier options for children.

The standard children’s meal at almost any fast food restaurant now gives the choice to add apple slices, yogurt or milk in place of soda and fries. Unfortunately, fast food options at places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King still include plenty of missteps. For instance, all three chains offers juices that are loaded with sugar and processed chicken nuggets, which are breaded and full of unnecessary additives. While these alternatives are lower in calories and include more nutrients than the original fried offerings, they are still not the best foods for kids to be eating several times a week.

With that being said, some fast food places are definitely getting it right. Knowing where to go for healthy food choices for kids is just as important as knowing what to order. Visit any of these five chains and look for these meal offerings to ensure that your child is getting the best ingredients and learning how to choose healthy options.

honeyandlime.co

Subway

Subway offers a Fresh Fit For Kids menu, which includes 4 varieties of mini sandwiches that come with apple slices and plain milk. I wouldn’t recommend the Roast Beef Sandwich because it’s a very fat meat with a high saturated fat content. Instead, opt for the Veggie Delite mini sub (just 285 calories with apple slices and a low-fat milk) or the Turkey Breast Mini Sub with a side of apples and a low-fat milk for a total of 315 calories. If your child isn’t a fan of milk, they can opt for water.

For teenagers who need something a little more substantial, order the 6 inch version of these subs or the oven-roasted or rotisserie chicken subs. All come in under 250 calories and contain plenty of great lean protein.

Panera

panera.com

Panera’s kid’s menu motto is “At Panera, kids shouldn’t have to imagine what’s in their food.” With fresh ingredients that you can see, parents can feel good about ordering almost anything off the kids menu, including soups, salads, sandwiches and yogurt. Some great choices are the turkey chili, autumn squash soup, tomato soup, chicken noodle soup, any salad or a turkey sandwich. Each option is less than 300 calories and includes healthy protein or veggies. And, my favorite part is that all of these offering (minus the turkey sandwich) are available for adults. Panera doesn’t believe that kids should only choose from less nutritious junk foods.

Chipotle

Chipotle recently removed all antibiotics in their meats. and they are committed to serving whole ingredients that you can see and taste. While Chipotle’s portions are sometimes larger than necessary, they have some portion friendly options for children. Kid’s meal at Chipotle includes two small tacos with lean proteins like chicken or beans, brown rice, lots of veggie toppings, fruit and milk or water. The best option for kids is 2 hard tacos, filled with chicken, black beans, and veggies and a low-fat plain milk, which comes in under 500 calories. Definitely lay off the sour cream, cheese and chips to avoid unneeded calories.

Starbucks

starbucks.com

Hear me out—while Starbucks is known for sugar-laden drinks and pastries, it also offers some great healthy grab and go options. They don’t have a children’s menu, but they offer some great healthy sandwiches and breakfast options. For breakfast, you can pick up a delicious whole grain oatmeal with fresh fruit or a spinach, feta, and egg white wrap. Don’t think your kid will eat spinach? Try one of their yogurt and fruit cups. For lunch, there are plenty of sandwich options, like Turkey Pesto Panini or Chicken Artichoke on Ancient Grain Flatbread. When you’re in a bind and the only thing around is Starbucks, there are definitely healthy options for both adults and children.

Au Bon Pain

Au Bon Pain is another spot that doesn’t have a kid’s menu but has plenty of great nourishing options. Like Panera, Au Bon Pain offers plenty of healthy soups, salads and sandwiches. The best options for kids are the Harvest Turkey Wrap, the Veggie and Hummus Wrap, and Turkey and Swiss Sandwich. They also offer plenty of veggie-filled soup options, like 12 Vegetable, Southwest Tortilla and Turkey Chili.

With this list of healthy fast food options, you’ll never find yourself ordering chicken fingers and fries for your little one again!

By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

Between buying new school supplies and squeezing in last minute trips to the pool, the back to school routine is certainly hectic for any family. When September finally arrives, many kids and parents need time to readjust to the school schedule, and there isn’t much time to think about starting the school year on a healthy note. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead to create healthy habits for the rest of the school year. A-Game Sports has 7 easy tips for your family to start the school year off right.

  • Get enough sleep.

    via sheknows.com

    According to the National Sleep Foundation, children ages 6-13 need 9-11 hours of sleep per night. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems, such as ADHD, and cognitive problems that can cause learning problems in school. Skimping on sleep has also been associated with overeating, poor food choices and weight gain. To make sure your child gets enough sleep, set a consistent and realistic bedtime. Try to get everyone in bed within 30 minutes of the set time. Although this may be tough at first, everyone will adjust to this new routine in 2-4 weeks.

  • Eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially as kids head back to school. Research shows better nutrition — including consumption of healthy foods such as low-fat and fat-free dairy, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins — may lead to better performance in school. Protein rich breakfast options, like eggs and dairy products, will help them feel fuller longer and will keep their energy levels up throughout morning classes. Add a slice of cheese to omelets or create a fruit and yogurt smoothie to get your morning started off right.
  • Stay on top of fitness routines. For young athletes who slacked on their fitness routines over the summer, September is the time to get back into shape. Luckily, kids’ bodies bounce back rather quickly, and they should have no trouble getting back into the swing of things. Still, it’s important to stay active with the start of the new school year. (Check out the A-Game Sports programs here)
  • Pack healthy snacks for practice. Many athletes will be starting new sports, and it’s important to make sure they fuel properly. Choosing the right type of fuel is essential for athletic performance. Carbohydrates provide the best source of energy for workouts. I always suggest carbs that contain plenty of nutrients, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Here are some great suggestions to throw in your child’s backpack to give them energy that will last throughout practice:
    • Dry cereal; low-sugar brands like Barbara’s Puffins, Kix or Cheerios
    • Whole wheat crackers and a cheese stick
    • ½ peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread
    • Make your own trail mix by mixing together a ¼ cup of low-salt nuts, raisins, and ¼ cup of pretzels.
    • Apple, orange or banana. Fresh fruit is high in nutrients and they also have a high water content, which is great for hydration!
  • Hydration is so incredibly important for children.

    via momstream.com

    Kids have a greater body surface area for their body weight than adults, so they gain heat faster from the environment and feel hotter quicker. They need to drink very frequently during exercise, and cold water is the perfect refresher. A good rule of thumb is that children need about 4 ounces (or ½ cup) of water for every 20 minutes of play. Make sure you teach your children about the importance of hydration, or they might just forget to drink all together! Pack a reusable water bottle in your child’s backpack, so they can fill it up at a school water fountain.

  • Prioritize family dinners. How often do you sit down for an hour with your family without phones or television? Probably not too often. Starting the school year on a healthy note is not just about healthy eating and exercise; it’s also a time to consider your child’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Studies have shown that regular family dinners are associated with lowering high risk teenage behaviors, like smoking, binge drinking, violence and school problems. Also, eating dinner as a family decreases children’s stress levels and encourages positive family relationships that can create stronger connections away from the table.
  • Limit screen time. According to recent research, 8-10 year-olds spend nearly 8 hours a day with different media, and older children and teens spend more than 11 hours per day. Sound alarming? The American Academy of Physicians suggests limiting entertainment “screen time” to two hours a day for children ages 3-18. And, for 2-year-olds and younger, none at all. Some research suggests that screen time is associated with childhood obesity, irregular sleep patternsand behavioral issues. To help cut down the screen time, parents can model effective media behavior by keeping their own screen time to a minimum. Take an active role in children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values. Make a media use plan, including mealtime and bedtime curfews for media devices. Screens should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms.

By following any or all of these tips, your family will start the school year out on a healthy note. Try implementing just 1 or 2 tips at first, and as they become part of your routine, add more. Before you know it, these healthy habits will become part of your family’s regular routine.

By Dom Darcangelo

There are a thousand different ways to get a perfect grip on the lacrosse stick. You can go with the classic lower-half wrap with the butt-end, or step up your game with a little crossing and a big tape knob on the end.

Much of what goes into taping your stick is your overall comfort with where your hands are when you’re passing and shooting. The pocket of the stick, the taping of the shaft, the head and shaft themselves– it all comes down to what feels the most comfortable.

I personally go with a big knob of tape on the butt-end about a half-inch up from the end of the shaft. This allows for the stick to feel a little shorter in my hands without exposing any potential area to be checked when wearing my gloves.

  1. I start with some pieces to cover the end of the shaft.
  2. From there, I put down a base and then build up the knob to about 3 centimeters in height and about 2 centimeters of an inch in width. This allows for the maximum grip between my fingers and in my palm when cranking back for a shot.
  3. From here, I like to start a twist up the shaft and end with three loops. These points work perfectly for a reference when catching, as well as for my bottom hand when I faceoff.
  4. I finish up with 2 loops right below the throat of the head. This gives me something to hold on to when losing the bottom hand and blowing past defenders behind the net.

The finished product works well for my game. I’d highly recommend trying out a couple different styles to find your preference.

By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

Imagine this scenario. Your young athlete did the work all summer long. Practice, hitting the gym, followed by more practice. They feel great going into try-outs, but they are too nervous and rushed to eat breakfast that morning. Afterwards, when you ask how try-outs went, they explain that they lacked energy and felt lightheaded during the try-out. The worse case scenario is that they don’t make the cut, but how could that happen after a summer of preparation? Well, there may be a missing link in their performance—fueling.

How The Body Gets Energy

Although practice and training are vital components of an athlete’s life, the energy to perform isn’t based on athletic ability alone. Energy comes from eating calories, specifically carbohydrates. When we eat carbs, our body stores them as something called glycogen. During exercise, glycogen is the first source of quick fuel providing energy for about 15-20 minutes. Once the glycogen is used up, the body begins to burn any dietary carbs that are floating around in the blood stream.

What Happens If You Don’t Eat?

Your body needs fuel for basic functions, like keeping the brain working and the heart pumping. If you don’t eat enough and the body is lacking fuel, it will still make fuel by breaking down its own muscle and fat. For children who are constantly working to grow and get stronger, this breakdown of muscle can be detrimental. And, the process of making fuel from muscle is very inefficient and requires a ton of energy that will make them feel drained during a workout. Without food before a try-out, practice or game, a young athlete will feel tired, sluggish, lightheaded or nauseous.

The Right Type of Fuel

Choosing the right type of fuel is essential to performance. As mentioned earlier, carbohydrates provide the best source of energy for workouts. But, it’s important to choose the right type of carbohydrate. I always suggest carbs that contain plenty of nutrients, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But, the type of carb you eat depends on WHEN you eat. These simple tips on meal timing and composition will help any young athlete feel energized on their big day.

30-60 minutes before a workout:

Eat “simple carbs”. These types of carbs are digested quickly and will not cause an upset stomach. Examples of simple carbs are fruit, juice, white bread, low-fiber cereals, white crackers and pretzels. Although we often think of some of these foods as “bad”, they are necessary for athletes that need quick fuel. Try to keep these portions small (like the size of your fist) to avoid stomach distress and unneeded extra calories.

2-4 hours before a workout:

Eat “complex carbs”. These types of carbs take longer to digest and will provide extended energy for a long period of time. Mix the complex carbs with some protein and a little fat for a well-balanced meal. Examples of complex carbs are whole grains, vegetables, beans and legumes.

These are some well-balanced pre-exercise meal options that include a complex carb, some protein and a little bit of fat.

  • ½ Whole Wheat Bagel with Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Rice Cake with Turkey & Avocado
  • Tuna Salad Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread
  • Turkey in a Whole Wheat Wrap with Lettuce and Tomato
  • Vegetables & Hummus
  • Whole Grain Cereal with Milk
  • Whole Wheat Crackers & a Cheese stick
What About Hydration?

The one other thing that can really affect fueling and try-out performance is hydration. Children get hotter faster than adults because they have a greater body surface area for their body weight. That means they gain heat faster from the environment than adults. They need to drink very frequently during exercise and cold water is the perfect refresher. A good rule of thumb is that children need about 4 ounces (or ½ cup) of water for every 20 minutes of play.  Unfortunately, the thirst mechanism that lets the brain know it’s time to drink is usually inaccurate. Therefore, young athletes need to be taught about the importance of hydration, or they might just forget to drink all together. Fresh fruit is also high in water, and orange slice breaks before or during practice should be encouraged!

With all of the hard work your young athlete put in all summer long, don’t let them have a bad day because they missed out on good fuel. Follow these simple tips to make sure they secure a spot on the team!

By Shelley Whitaker, A-Game Sports Softball Instructor

Excellence is not derived from an act, but a habit. And a habit is developed from repetitive practice. Therefore, the best players practice the basic skills of their game every day. The best way to accomplish daily glove work is through the following sequence of “partner dailies.”

Line one person up on the first base line and have a partner stand about 8 feet in front of them with the ball. On the coach’s command of “down,” the player on the line assumes the infield fielding position (feet a little wider then shoulder-width apart, knees bent, weight on the balls of the feet, glove out in front).

  1. “Roll ’em” – the player with the ball rolls a slow grounder to the player on the line in the center of their body. The fielder uses good fielding technique (glove fingers out creating a triangle between their feet and glove, looking the ball into the glove, covering the ball with the throwing hand while staying low) and then flips the ball back to the partner. This continues for 10 rolls with the fielder staying “down” the entire time.
  2. “Go” – The player with the ball tosses a one hopper (using an underhand toss about 10 inches in front of the fielder) to the center of the fielder’s body. The fielder fields the ball using good technique and flips the ball back to their partner. (Repeat 10 times)
  3. “Toss ’em” – The player with the ball tosses a one hopper to the fielder’s glove side. The fielder fields it and flips it back to the tosser. (Repeat 10 times then do the same to the fielder’s backhand 10 times)
  4. “Back it Up” – The player with the ball moves back to a distance of about 40 feet. On “go” the tosser throws a slow roller toward the fielder. The fielder must charge the ball hard, field it and give an easy flip back to the tosser. (Repeat 10 times)
  5. “Pop Up” – At the same 40’ distance, the tosser throws a pop up to the fielder. The fielder moves under the ball, turns their body sideways so the glove shoulder is pointing back at the target, catches the ball on their glove shoulder and makes a good throw back to the tosser’s chest.

The focus of these drills is fundamentals – technique over speed. The fielder and partner switch after each portion of the sequence. Remember, repetition builds confidence and confidence is the key to success!