Sports Participation | Cheerleading

This is the season for physicals.  Summer time is when teens are getting their sports clearance.  Normally, you either have physical risk factors or you don't.  For example, if you have a heart condition or severe asthma, you may be able to play, may not, or may need to be stabilized before I can clear your child to play sports.  There are several medical conditions which prohibit sports participation.  The following link reviews such conditions in detail, http://bit.ly/176mMsk.  However, medical clearance also needs to take emotional maturity into account.

This week, I made the recommendation for a tween to delay sports participation in Cheerleading until she was ready.  Children tend to feel invincible in their tween and teen years. They don't always realize that they need to develop personal responsibility for their bodies.  In sports, your body is your tool.  Sports participation requires the participant to be mature enough to care for herself, prevent injury, assume reasonable risks, and to be able to eliminate all unnecessary distractions. Unfortunately, she wasn't ready.  She had a history of several preventable injuries, mostly caused by her distractibility by friends. The child that gets injured due to distraction is more likely to get more severe injuries while in sports.
So what's the solution? Have open and honest conversations with your children about the importance of sports. Focus especially on the aspect of responsibility in sports. Especially with team sports, such as cheerleading, you're not only responsible for yourself, but also responsible for your teammates. If your child does not quite have the level of maturity and emotional responsibility that's required to participate in team sports, then wait until they are ready. Have them demonstrate to you over a period of time that they are mature enough and responsible enough to participate on a team. The delay will undoubtedly cause some heartbreak for your tween or teen.  However, it will save you and your child from injury and pain. Cheerleading and other sports participation is meant to help in the development, both physical and emotional, of your child, but only when he/she is ready.

Sports | Children in Fencing

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit an dear friend of mine.  We've been friends for almost 20 years.  Alex and I became friends when we were fencing in college.  He and his wife own the Peekskill Fencing Center in Peekskill, NY (http://www.peekskillfencing.com/)..  It's a lovely facility doing wonderful things for children. 

When I reminisce on fencing, I am filled with joyous memories.  Fencing was wonderful.  It gave me so much; confidence, camaraderie, friendship, physical activity, and so much more.  Little did I know that years later, the family would have a fencing club.  I am so proud of them for taking a chance to run a business and help children in the process.  It is difficult to be in business for oneself.  And they are succeeding, despite the current economy.  And after spending time at the Center with Alex, I can see why.  Children need to believe in themselves.  Fencing offers them that.  This small club does so in particular.

I had never really seen a child fence before.  A student of his came to practice.  It was amazing to see this 7 year old fence.  He had skill & grace.  He has much to learn in fencing & in life.  And it showed, in the best way ever.  He was a bit cocky before practice started.  He told me how easy it was.  This little boy further explained that he had already won a competition.  Then, practice started.  The layers peeled away.  Alex was gentle & a gentle and excellent teacher.  At the end of the short lesson, the little boy took off his mask.  His tired face revealed it all to me.  It wasn't easy; it was false bravado.  At 7 years old, he already has to keep up a front.  The amazing thing is that fencing is teaching him little by little to break down the protective wall and build a solid foundation within.  He doesn't even know it yet, but that is what he's doing.  And that is the gift of all sports for children - physical & psychological strengthening.  I never realized how important that was until that moment ... mask off & all.

The benefit of fencing is that small clubs all over the country offer the intimacy that other large sports may not.  They offer one on one attention.  Consider fencing for your child.  It offers so much.  It's cool.  And it's really, really fun!

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