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Be a Great Team Parent

Tips for Parent Conduct, Team Trips, and Communication
Reprinted from Soccer America Youth Soccer Insider:
March 6, 2017
By Amy Whitley

Youth sports programs often can only run with the help of parent volunteers. Whether your role on the team is crucial (team manager) or mostly on the sidelines, it’s vital to keep sportsmanship and a helpful attitude front and center. Here’s how you can help!

Taking Charge of Team Communication

Take the burden off your (likely unpaid) team coach and volunteer to oversee team communication. It’s easier than ever to communicate with other team parents online and via phone, but start the season with a face-to-face team meeting. This is a great time to review expectations from other parent volunteers. Come prepared with information and schedules for:

• Team snack responsibilities and requirements: who brings what snacks and when?
• Transportation expectations: does everyone drive his or her own child, or will you carpool?
• End-of-season events such as a party or final meeting.

Most importantly, decide on a single method of communication for your team. Pick one communication app or website and stick to it. Gather every parent’s e-mail address and phone number if not already provided and give parents a heads-up how often you plan to communicate with them. Be mindful of privacy: choose a communication method every parent is comfortable with. For in-stance, some may not want to give their e-mail address, or others may not want to communicate via an online service. Apps and sites for team communications include TeamSnap, Closed Facebook Group, Teamer, Text Message List.

Planning for Games Away from Home

If your child is on a serious or competitive team, chances are, you’ll be traveling away from home for some games or tournaments. Plan as far in advance as possible, and use your communication method of choice to create carpools and to detail costs. Decide whether parents will be responsible for travel costs such as gas, food, and lodging individually or whether everyone will contribute to a travel fund.

If a hotel stay is part of your travel experience, try to stay at the same hotel chain each time to collect points in a hotel loyalty program. Many hotel brands also offer a discounted room rate if reservations are booked in larger blocks. Call hotels in advance to ask whether they offer this benefit. If so, block the rooms, and then request each family book individually. There’s no need to pay for all the rooms upfront.

Look for hotels that offer rooms with kitchenettes, which allow parents to store team snacks, keep water cold, and even make simple meals in the room. Always opt for a hotel with a complimentary breakfast and check what time it is served, in the case of early morning games. A laundry facility on hand is always helpful, and for after the game, a hotel pool is a fun attraction for the kids.

Dinner out can be a fun way to build community and bond as a team. However, group sizes can make restaurant visits hard. Call potential restaurants early in the day with an estimated head count and be sure to emphasize that it will be OK to split the group into several tables. This will ensure a shorter wait or avail-ability of seating. Ask for individual checks up front, and if kids are seated away from parents, instruct each parent to order for his or her child so wait staff won’t need to gather confusing orders from kids and checks are easier to split.

Ensuring Good Parent Conduct

All parents should work hard to instill good sportsmanship in their children, and of course a good attitude and positive conduct are crucial from mom and dad, too. Always make sure you’re cheering for your team, never cheering against the opponent, and that you leave any constructive criticism for your coach to dole out. Don’t instruct your child in any way during the game and only approach the player bench if instructed to do so.

Respect the referees as well and never engage in negative discussions or arguments with opposing parents. Instead, look for the common ground, which isn’t too hard to find: you’re all there for the same reason, to cheer on the kids and enjoy the sport. Remember that the kids are just kids and still learning. Save any conflicts or criticism for your coach until you can speak in private -- away from other players, your child, or other parents.

If a conflict does arise with another player or parent, do not engage. Walk away from an escalating situation or ask an official to intervene. If you see another adult who needs to curb his or her behavior, intervene as a group or with an official or coach.

At the end of the season, wrap up the year with a celebratory event or meeting to keep the goodwill flowing and to stay in touch with parents for future opportunities or teams. Recognize team success or achievements during your last event and consider rewarding young players with tools for their future success, such as balls or other gear, rather than with participation trophies.

Ask fellow parents whether you can save their contact information, or keep the communication app or service open so parents can continue to contact each other for support, additional events, or continued friendship.

(This article is re-published courtesy of FIX.com. Illustrations are also courtesy of FIX.com.)
(Amy Whitley is a travel writer, editor, and avid outdoorswoman living in Southern Oregon. Amy writes the NWKids column for OutdoorsNW Magazine, edits at Trekaroo.com, and founded the family travel site PitStopsForKids.com. She loves hiking, camping, and skiing with her three sons.)
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Game Day Checklist

Directions to the field.
Arrive at the time designated by coach (yes, we all have other obligations, but it's not fair to the other players to have your player arrive late).
Bring a chair to relax in while calmly watching the game.
Cheer for your child's team
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Code of Conduct

The Parent . . .
1. Does not coach the players (including their own child) from the sidelines during the game.
2. Respects the judgment of the referee and does not criticize officials.
3. Focuses on mastering soccer skills knowledge and, to some extent, game strategies.
4. Decreases the pressure on their child to win.
5. Believes that soccer's primary value is to allow youth the opportunity for self- development.
6. Understands the risks. A soccer game is full of mistakes. Playing soccer is a willingness to chance a failure.
7. Communicate with the coach and create a positive working relationship.
8. Controls negative emotions and thinks positively.
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Think food first: Refueling

Think food first: Refueling after training or games

Reprinted from Soccer America Youth Soccer Insider:
August 11, 2017

By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.

Here's another of those subjects that seems to make some people emotional -- why is it important for young athletes to refuel after exercise, when should this happen, and what drink/food is best?

The sports supplement industry has a massive foothold in this area, and for sure there are some great products available from highly reputable manufacturers. But I find that the two most important points are: sooner is better, and think food first.

When: Sooner is better, especially if you’ll be playing again soon

Muscles require fuel to function properly, and after a training session or a game your muscles will need the right fuel to recover. It’s generally believed that in the first hour or two after exercise the muscles are most receptive to refueling. If you don’t properly refuel and recover it means that your performance in the next session will likely be less than what you want. Without proper refueling you can have all sorts of issues such as easy fatigue, poor strength, muscle cramps, or heat exhaustion. And you probably won’t play very well.

Let’s now say that you’re doing multiple sessions in one day, maybe 4 to 6 hours apart. I’m not a fan of this type of training or competition but I have a feeling it’ll be around for a while. If this is the case, then you’ll want to start refueling as soon as possible after the conclusion of your first session. I don’t think you have to obsess about starting to refuel the second your first session ends, but if possible it would be best to start in the first 20 minutes or so. This will allow you to finish the food or drink in enough time to have it digested in your stomach, and for the muscle recovery effects.

Examples would include: • Football two-a-days • Tournament play with more than one game in a day, such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball • Triathlete training with one session in the morning and another in the evening If you have more time between sessions then you have more flexibility in your recovery options. Muscle recovery definitely continues for several hours after exercise, it just seems to be most efficient in the first hour or two.

What: Think Food First

I mentioned in my article “Do's And Don'ts of Supplements for Young Athletes” that pretty much every nutritionist and sports scientist would recommend actual food rather than supplements for your performance nutritional needs and I would say that’s true for after-exercise recovery too. Muscles actually need carbs for recovery, so be cautious about high protein and low-carb products when it comes to post exercise recovery. Many sports nutritionists like a 3 to 1 ratio of carb grams to protein grams in your recovery food or drink.

A couple of years back I purchased Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, and in my opinion it remains one of the most sensible and science-based sports nutrition guides around. Here are some suggestions from her book about appropriate post-exercise foods:

  • Fruit smoothie (Greek yogurt + banana + berries) • Cereal + milk • Bagel + (decaf) latte • Pretzels + hummus • Baked potato + cottage cheese • Turkey sub • Pasta + meatballs

Clark also advises: “do not consume just protein, as in a protein shake or protein bar. Protein fills your stomach and helps build and repair muscles, but it does not refuel your muscles.”

My Favorite Post-Exercise 'Food': Chocolate Milk

Sure, you can buy fairly expensive engineered recovery drinks, bars, and powders but I’ve always been a big fan of good ol’ chocolate milk. Consider that a typical 8-ounce serving of chocolate milk contains about 26 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein (the 3 to 1 ratio), and actually tastes good. Who doesn’t like chocolate and milk? Drink up and play better!

Key Points: • Muscle recovery after exercise requires a combination of carbs and protein. • Muscle is believed to recover better if refueling starts in the first hour or two after exercise. • Start as soon as possible (ideally in the first 20 to 30 minutes) if you’ll be doing more than one training session or game in the same day. Sooner is better. • Think food first for recovery. Chocolate milk is an excellent choice for drink, as is a fruit smoothie, and several foods. If you prefer a sports drink or bar be sure to purchase from a highly reputable manufacturer.

(Dr. Dev K. Mishra, a Clinical Assistant Professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford University, is the creator of the SidelineSportsDoc.com online injury-management course, now a requirement for US Club Soccer coaches and staff members. Mishra writes about injury management at SidelineSportsDoc.com Blog.This article has previously appeared in the Youth Soccer Insider.)

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High School vs. Club: Three questions

High School vs. Club: Three questions for Brandon Silva
Reprinted from Soccer America Youth Soccer Insider:
November 18, 2016
By Mike Woitalla

The bashing of high school soccer reached new heights with the U.S. Soccer Federation launching a Development Academy for girls (in 2017) and technical director April Heinrichs recently stating that high school ball is "not a player development environment. In fact, it develops bad habits and complacency."

Brandon Silva coaches the girls varsity team at New Jersey’s Immaculate Heart Academy, which finished No. 1 in the 2014 NSCAA national rankings and won state championships in 2014 and 2015. Silva is also a club coach, with Torpedos SC in Wyckoff, New Jersey, and serves as the NSCAA New Jersey State Technical Director for Coaching Education and is an NSCAA National Staff Instructor. We had these three questions for Silva:

What criticism of high school soccer do you find particularly objectionable?
The generalization of the level of high school soccer. Club coaches are concerned about the drop-off with players when they play for their high school and I disagree with that.
I think this depends on what high school the player attends, the coaches at the particular high school (are the coaches educated?), and to be honest, if players want to play at whatever the highest level it is they want then they need to put in time on their own.

Are there any criticisms of high school soccer from U.S. Soccer and club soccer that you believe are legitimate -- and if so are there solutions to the issues they cite?
One of the criticisms is coaching education or lack thereof with high school coaches. The solution would be, for example in New Jersey, the NJSIAA mandates that all high school coaches must hold a NSCAA High School Diploma or USSF C license to be able to coach in high school.
I also think that the district in which the coach is employed should compensate the coach for this particular license.
I strongly feel that if coaching is supposed to be player-centered and not coach-centered, then why can't club coaches and high school coaches get on the same page considering we should all be out there to give the players a great experience? High school coaches make very little money for the hour to coach players at any level, so that tells you something right there. Club coaches have two/three teams at a time, so the motivation can be much different.

Have you encountered situations where a player at your high school thought she might be better off forgoing the high school season?
Yes, I have and because I value the total high school soccer experience, my staff and myself respected the players' decision to not play for their high school but very much disagreed with the decision.
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