IMG Academy Announces 2022 Camp Pass and Camp Programming

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IMG Academy recently announced the launch of all 2022 sport camps and sport training as well as the 2022 Camp Pass, IMG Academy's most flexible booking option. The Camp Pass allows you to lock in the best camp rates while ensuring you have complete flexibility as you're planning for the new year. Purchase a pass, and select your camp dates at a later time. You can use the Pass towards any sports camp or training in 2022, including summer boarding and non-boarding camps. IMG is only offering a limited quantity of Camp Passes. Full details and information are available through this link.

In addition to releasing 2022 Camp Pass, IMG also announced the availability of all 2022 camp and training programming. With summer camps, holiday camps, spring training, and more all now available to be booked online and through our team of advisors, you can now start planning for your child's development earlier than ever. Lock in our lowest rates, secure a spot at one of our nine sport camps, and plan an unforgettable experience for your son or daughter.

Not only can you begin booking 2022 camps for 8-18 year olds, but adults can also start to plan out their camps as well, which are available for tennis, golf, and performance. IMG offers all-inclusive packages and promotions for families traveling together, including exclusive offers at Legacy Hotel, the most convenient accommodation option located just steps from the West Campus gates. Families of youth campers will receive promo codes for adult camps as well as for Legacy Hotel after booking a camp program.

It's an exciting time here at IMG Academy! The launch of camp programming in 2022 brings the opportunity for passionate individuals to join the IMG Academy family for their training and developmental needs. We have continued to fine tune our programming and look forward to working with past attendees and new campers alike. We hope you'll take advantage of the opportunity to get better at what you are passionate about!"

- Jason Elias, Associate Director of Athletics & Director of Camp Programming

 IMG Academy looks forward to offering a wide variety of camps and programming in 2022. Request more information from IMG Academy by clicking here.

 

Training vs. Competition: Why Going to a Sports Camp Should Fit into Your Schedule This Year

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Sponsored Post by IMG Academy.

Sports camps provide youth athletes a chance to take time away from their home court and focus on developing their individual fundamentals and pertinent off-court skills. Finding time to focus on honing your game and building confidence sans competition remains an important element in continued improvement, and thankfully sports camps allow for just that.

Have you been considering a sports camp in between leagues, seasons, or tournaments? Going to camp could very well be the time when a few intricate details come together to trigger immense growth, or it may be the time when nerves settle and motivation kicks in again. Think lifelong friends outside of sport; think gaining insight from coaches who may see the game differently than your private coach; think a time to accelerate ahead of the competition. And, keep thinking! Here's a parents' guide to selecting the best camp for your family:

1. BEING A NAME VS. BEING A NUMBER

This concern is completely warranted, both on and off the field or court. Oversight remains a major factor, and on-court ratios matter just as much as the security and supervision off the field. Sports camps may be available as day camps only, or sleepaway camps may be an option. Deciding on a sports camp with amenities from residence halls, sports fields, and dining all in one location alleviates much of the preliminary safety concerns.

Oftentimes, sports camps also offer a secure location, because coaches and mentors understand that safety, without a doubt, comes first. With oversight comes age-appropriate activities. 10 year olds and 17-18 year olds shouldn't be engaged in the same evening events or necessarily working out and learning the same mental aptitude training elements either. Understanding the on-court and post-training schedule will assist with making the right decision for your sports camp destination. When determining if a camp offers enough oversight, don't hesitate to understand whether campers are placed in one-two large groups, or if position-specific training takes place in additional small group and personalized sessions. 

"The IMG Academy campus gives us as parents, a great sense of reassurance, knowing that our children are in a safe, well-disciplined and stimulating environment which enhances their self-worth." 

- Arturo C., Parent of three IMG Academy student-athletes

2. WHAT'S COVERED AT CAMP

Sport training may be the answer coming to mind, but there's so much more to this question! Does the camp you're considering hold classroom analysis or video review sessions? Are there college recruiting education seminars and guidance? Do you repeat the same content from week to week, or is there a progressive curriculum model?

We know that sports are all about mental acuity, so ensuring that training other than simply sport is available may be the determining factor. Additionally, sometimes, it's more about the complete experience and less about sports - and that's perfectly okay! Mixing in extracurriculars is so important, especially if the break between camp and season remains quite limited. Some sports camps also offer off-campus evening trips or weekend activities, such as supervised travel to amusement parks, local attractions, beaches, and more!

"Our mission is to provide players the skills necessary to excel, the physical capabilities to perform, the mental approach to produce, and the lifestyle habits necessary to unleash their potential. The goal is simple - to help players of all ability levels reach their potential."

- Shell Dailey, head coach and director of IMG Academy girls basketball 

3. WHO ARE MY COACHES

Sports camps in the summer (May-August) tend to attract larger numbers than during the school year, but that doesn't mean coaching experience should differ. Understanding where coaches have competed or previously coached should be a must-know during your camp search. If the camp is held at a school (high school or college,) will your children be learning from those coaches, who have undergone rigorous training and examination, or are the coaches part-time or college staff?

Learning from coaches with various elements of experience, from local to international to college to the pro level, could make all the difference and provide alternative viewpoints rarely earned during the regular season. And, how about post-camp? Do the coaches analyze or review the campers or move onto the next week of campers? Receiving a piece of detailed evaluation on strengths and weaknesses just might be that take-home piece to ensure campers are retaining what they learned at their sleepaway camp.

"[IMG Academy] helped me mature as an athlete. The whole academy just sets you up for success. You have some of the best coaches in the country that are always willing to help you. They have been at the highest level, so you learn from the best."

- Blair Gavin, 2004 IMG Academy alumni, former MLS player, and current Phoenix Rising FC assistant coach

4. YOUR SCHEDULE VS. CAMP SCHEDULES

Scheduling camp can be tricky, especially when dealing with sports. Some camps may only offer select weeks of training while others may host year-round camps. Additional items to consider are camp durations, if you're able to start and leave at your convenience, and if programming varies depending on the time of year. Summer camps are crucial to development, but how about off-season training before the holidays - a time oftentimes overlooked when scheduling a sports camp. Having the flexibility of attending a sports camp and not having to alter your family's plans because of limited training makes the process that much better!

And, once you understand whether a camp program may be possible with your schedule, it's always a benefit to understand if programs are available in weekly or progressive platforms. Just like you wouldn't enjoy going through training for your job from week to week, so should a camper be able to build off of week 1 into following weeks should your camp of choice offer this option.

"It's amazing how much I have improved over just the last two weeks. My stick skills have gotten so much better. It's unbelievable."

- Hagan B., IMG Academy lacrosse summer camper

 

5. SPORTS DEVELOPMENT

As noted in #2, the camp curriculum remains a crucial factor when determining which sports camp to attend. But, not only should you review the progressive nature of camp and whether position-specific training is offered, but you may also be interested in knowing if off-field training appears in the curriculum. From mental conditioning, nutrition, and speed and movement to vision training and leadership - these items provide campers the opportunity to gain that differentiating factor that the competition may have otherwise overlooked.

Of course, eight hours on the court may lead to some serious results, but having sessions geared towards the intricacies of the game may truly make all the difference. Hand-eye coordination, mental toughness, vision and reaction, hydration, and even regeneration - all pertinent items that may be of-interest when researching that perfect sports camp fit for your family!

"In this day and age of travel and showcase baseball, there seems to be less of an emphasis on fundamental and skill development. Through extensive practice routines and drills, IMG Academy baseball camps take a comprehensive approach to develop the complete player."

- Dan Simonds, Director of IMG Academy baseball

 

Learn more about IMG Academy's sports camps by clicking this link.

 

Optimal Nutrition for Your Young Athlete

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Sponsored post. Written by IMG Academy.

 Sports conditioning doesn't only take place in the gym or on the field. Nutrition also plays a huge role and is so important that IMG Academy has nutrition experts on staff. Nutrition education is a significant focus within our boarding school and camp programs. As a parent to a young athlete, it is especially important that you make sure your child has a well-balanced diet because, not only do they require energy to perform at their sport as effectively as possible, but their bodies are also still growing and developing. So where do you start? 

Here are a few guidelines we recommend at our sports boarding school and sports camps

Day-to-day diet: It is important for developing young athletes to focus on incorporating a variety of foods into their diet to ensure they are meeting all of their nutritional needs. An easy goal to work towards - and to teach your child for when the time comes that they are responsible for their own diets - is to incorporate at least three or four different and brightly-colored foods into each meal. 

Ensure your child follows a consistent fueling routine, meaning they should be eating a well-balanced diet of lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits on a regular basis without skipping meals or snacks. Your child should have a snack or a meal every three to four hours, which breaks down to about three meals and two or three snacks per day. Not only will this help your child achieve optimal performance athletically, but it will also help to keep them sharp and focused in the classroom.

It's important to remember that your young athlete is still a normal kid, and they're going to want to eat "junk" food like soda, candy, or fried food. There's a time and a place for these types of food in moderation. Rather than absolutely forbid these foods from your child's diet, teach them to enjoy them occasionally and when the food won't impact their training or competition schedules.

Post-workout meals and snacks: Research has shown that muscles are the most sensitive to protein and carbohydrates 45 to 60 minutes after a workout, so this is a good time for a recovery snack or meal that includes quick digesting carbs, low-fat protein, and fluids. We want to refuel, repair, and rehydrate (Think the 3 R's) after physical activity.

If your athlete is going to a meal shortly after training, you can skip the snack and refuel with a well-balanced colorful plate of whole grains, low-fat protein, fruits, and vegetables.

Pre-Competition Snacks and Meals: First things first, don't do anything new on competition day! Routine is very important for getting into the right frame of mind and staying calm prior to a competition, and this includes food. You also don't want to introduce anything into your child's diet that they might not be accustomed to eating as it could cause some digestive issues that impact their performance.

The ideal timeframe for a pre-competition meal is three to four hours prior so that your child has time to digest the food. A third to half of the meal should be composed of carbohydrates, with the remainder being lean protein, fruit, and vegetables. The goal is to prepare a meal that is low in fat and fiber because these will slow digestion and could cause your child to experience an upset stomach at competition time.

Jackie Barcal, head of nutrition at IMG Academy, suggests the following pre-game meal combinations:

  • Grilled chicken with sweet potatoes and cooked vegetables

  • Grilled shrimp with brown rice and pineapple and green beans

  • Eggs, chicken, or turkey sausage with whole grain toast and avocado or fruit

Post-Competition Snacks and Meals: Many athletes aren't interested in eating after a competition, and that's completely normal. Physical activity can suppress hunger, but you still want to ensure your child is replenishing lost fluids and nutrients. A great post-competition snack would be a fruit smoothie with an NSF Certified for Sportâ protein powder to support muscle recovery. The main components of this meal or snack should be carbohydrates, protein, and fluid.

At IMG Academy, we follow the three Rs of recovery:
         
Refuel with carbs.
   
      Rebuild with protein.
         
Rehydrate with fluids.

Jackie's suggested post-competition meal combinations are:

  • A fruit smoothie with 15-20 grams of protein

  • A turkey sandwich with pretzels, a glass of milk, and a side of fruit

  • Six to eight ounces of Greek yogurt topped with granola

  • Pre-packaged protein shakes or bars if something more transportable is ideal

Helping your child maintain a well-balanced diet year-round is critical towards their success both athletically and academically. The nutrition experts at IMG Academy's boarding school and sports camps are committed to guiding our young athletes to build the best dietary plans for their needs as both athletes and as students!

 

After a year of inactivity, it's time to get kids moving again

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As a result of COVID-19, most kids lost an entire year of social interaction and organized activities. Remote learning deprived kids of the chance to be around friends and peers at school. Cancelled sports left kids without a structured way to practice their sport--and get active with fellow players.

In 2020, 88% of parents saw COVID-19 as a major reason not to send their children to summer camp. Now, after a year spent being largely indoors and inactive, kids (and their parents) are experiencing harmful impacts to their physical, mental, and even emotional health.

As vaccines continue to roll out and COVID-related restrictions are lifted, this summer is the perfect time to get active again. Here are some of the benefits of enrolling your child in a summer camp this year.

Increased activity

The biggest benefit to sending your child to a summer sports camp is the physical activity. The CDC suggests that kids ages 6 to 17 get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. Summer camps provide the perfect opportunity to get your child active in a fun and rewarding way.

Not only are summer camps a good form of exercise for your child right now, they also lead to healthier lifestyles in the long term. Summer camps allow kids to develop a healthy lifelong foundation for exercising and staying fit. Some camps even offer nutritional classes that teach kids about the right foods to maintain great physical health. By starting kids off on the right track with health, it'll lead to more clean, active lifestyles through life.

Time outdoors

During the pandemic, the amount of time people spent staring at an electronic screen increased significantly. In fact, screen time for children and teenagers more than doubled during the pandemic, which means collectively, kids spent more time in front of a TV, computer, tablet, or phone than ever before in history.

Even prior to the pandemic, surveys have shown that Americans only spend 8% of their time outdoors. That's a low number, especially when considering the positive benefits being outdoors can have on overall wellbeing. Research shows that there's a strong connection between being in nature--and relishing lower levels of stress and anxiety.

After a significant amount of time spent indoors as a result of quarantine, kids need to get into nature now more than ever. The outdoors is also the most COVID-safe method of conducting a summer camp, as the CDC continues to encourage outdoor socializing to slow the spread of COVID.

Healthy minds

Just like time spent outdoors, exercising also improves mental health, lowering the risk of anxiety and depression. In a May 2020 survey, 56% of parents agreed that youth sports are important to the mental and emotional health of their child. After a long period in isolation, getting your kids back into sports really kickstarts that feeling of normalcy.

Playing sports also helps with overall mental development. Studies have also found that kids who play sports have better cognitive function and memory.

New friends

Adolescence is a critical time for kids to learn how to navigate different social situations. But COVID stopped the clock. 22% of parents reported that, as a result of the pandemic, they felt their children were behind where they should be in terms of socialization and communication. Not only were kids separated from their usual friends, they also missed the chance to make new friends.

After a year of not being able to interact with peers, it's crucial to get your kids back out there. Consider doing so at summer sports camp.

Fresh skills

Summer sports camps allow your kids to learn from people who are experts in their sport and know how to develop athletes at every level. Whether camp counselors and coaches are from the local high school or Division I sports programs, your child will learn from qualified and enthusiastic professionals.

Camp counselors can also serve as role models for impressionable, admiring kids--whether intentionally or inadvertently. You're responsible for shaping them into who they'll become, but some extra help from these camp instructors will just add more to your child's confidence and overall personality.

Responsibility

When you play a sport, you learn what hard work and practice can do. Attending a summer sports camp is a great way to get kids inspired--and to show them that hard work leads to measurable improvement. There's always a new skill to learn, or an old skill to improve on, and working towards a goal is a great way to teach your kids agency and responsibility.

Playing a sport also creates more structure in a child's everyday life. This helps them with their time management skills and teaches them valuable lessons about balancing different priorities. In turn, this keeps kids more organized and more focused.

Confidence

Playing a sport infuses confidence, even for supporting players. If a child plays a sport well, that builds confidence. If a child experiences a bad game, but feels the support of their peers, that builds confidence, too. Even surrounding kids with other like-minded kids can build confidence--and a sense of security, too.

Fun (!)

Most importantly, summer sports camps allow kids to be kids: relaxed, having fun, and laughing.

Memories of carpools to and from camp with their best childhood friends will last forever. They'll think of the Gatorades you packed for them each morning, or how good that post-camp PB&J tasted. The smell of the gymnasium or the field where they ran their first relay race will float back to them at challenging moments, and they'll smile..and laugh.

As a final note, the CDC's most recent guidelines (at the time of publication) advises summer camps to encourage outdoor activities, social distancing, and vaccines for all attendees and camp staff. At US Sports Camps, we adhere to these guidelines and follow local protocols, too. As the CDC continues to update these guidelines, so will we, creating the safest and most beneficial camp experience for your kids.

Interested in learning more about US Sports Camps? We offer camps in 24 different sports. Explore your options and learn more about our mission at ussportscamps.com.

6 Ways to Choose the Best Sports Camp for Your Child

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Many children dream of an athletic career, even of one day making collegiate leagues and/or going pro. Whether your child imagines hitting a grand slam or scoring a touchdown on the last play of the game--or just loves playing a sport or three), there's no better way to help them develop and improve their skills than by enrolling them in a summer sports camp.

Summer sports camps are a great way for kids of all ages to have fun, make new friends, and improve their athletic prowess. They also offer opportunities for social and emotional growth.

But how do you choose a camp that's ideal for your child? Here are a few factors to keep in mind.

  1. Who are the coaches?

Your child will learn important lessons and develop solid sports techniques at camp. So it's important to consider who will be teaching them these new skills. Coaches play the biggest role in determining what kids will gain from camp; make sure the ones you pick are qualified, experienced, and above all, passionate.

Some camps advertise "celebrity coaches." If this matters to you, do your research to confirm whether those coaches will actually be in attendance, and what the level of camper interaction will be. Also, keep in mind that the involvement of a celebrity coach can add to camp pricing. Make sure you know exactly what you're getting in return.

At US Sports Camps, many of our fully involved camp instructors are head coaches, assistant coaches, or staff members at reputable collegiate athletic programs.These coaches have helped lead their teams to championships. It's our belief that by giving your child the opportunity to learn from an all-star coach, you're giving them the best chance to become an all-star, too. Enrolling in these programs can expose your child to a collegiate-level sports discipline and skills development, just like those of college players.

  1. What's the camper-to-staff ratio?

Aside from ensuring the camp you choose is run by the right people, you might also consider whether they're run by enough people. Camper-to-staff ratios are crucial to figuring out how beneficial a camp will be to your child. If there are too many campers for staff to give individual time to, your child won't get as much out of the camp as they should.

For children that want and need additional instruction, you want to find a low camper-to-staff ratio, so that your child gets more one-on-one time to address specific needs. If your sports camp's staff is overwhelmed by the number of campers, it's unlikely your child will get exclusive coaching.

At US Sports Camps, low camper-to-staff ratios are important, so we can prioritize giving each camper the opportunity to receive one-on-one help, develop their skills, and address any specific needs.

  1. How are the facilities?

Youth athletic camps are held at numerous locations across the country, including community athletic centers, high school gymnasiums, and even state-of-the-art facilities that train local, regional, and national champions.

At a base level, you will definitely want to make sure a camp has all of the amenities it needs to be beneficial to your child. But some camps have facilities with extra perks that are worth looking into, like state-of-the-art equipment that's used by top college athletes.

US Sports Camps is unique: many of our camps are held at university athletic facilities. Enrolling here ensures that your child will be practicing their sport in the same location as the college athletes they might dream of becoming some day. For our overnight camps, kids even get to sleep in the college dorms, giving them a fun and immersive experience.

What's more, our partnership with Nike grants us access to some of the most innovative, well-known sports facilities in the country.

  1. What are the camp reviews like?

There's no better indicator of a great sports camp than hearing about the experience from past campers. If the information is available, take a look at a camp's return rate to see what percentage of campers found the programs worthy and enjoyable enough to return the following year.

Sometimes, camp websites and brochures include testimonials from past attendees. Interested parents and kids can learn firsthand what a specific camp meant to a past summer athlete. These stories should give you a great idea of what your child will take away at the end of the program.

Along those same lines, talk to the people in your circle about what camps they're sending their kids to. There's no one you trust more than your friends, and it can be reassuring to know someone personally who had a positive experience at your chosen camp.

  1. How safe is the camp?

Safety can never be compromised. At a base level, find out if the camp you're checking out does background checks on all coaches and staff.

In 2021, you'll need to find out the COVID-19 precautions that are in place. Luckily, many of the camp sports take place outdoors, which limits COVID-19 contagion rates.

All US Sports Camps adhere to state and national COVID-19 protocols. Research what your state is doing to stay safe--and you can rest assured that our camps will follow suit.

  1. When and how should I book?

It's always best to book your child for a sports camp as early as possible, when sign-ups first become available. This year, it is even more important to enroll right away, since most camps will be limiting their capacity due to COVID-19. After over a year of canceled youth sports and lots of time spent inside, parents are going to be more eager than ever to enroll their kids in camp. If you wait too long, the perfect camp for your child might fill up.

There's a lot to consider before signing your child up for a camp. At the very least, you want to make sure the camp looks like fun--and offers your child a chance to make new friends and get active.

In addition to providing a fun way to exercise, US Sports Camps has a reputation for providing kids with an unmatched sports camp experience. We give kids the opportunity to improve their skills by learning from some of the best coaches and players in the country. By attending a US Sports Camp, your child will walk away with an unforgettable experience, new friends, and a set of skills that will change their game.

Interested in learning more about US Sports Camps? We offer camps in 24 different sports. Explore your options and learn more about our mission at ussportscamps.com.

The Journey from Childhood to Professional Sports

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Sponsored post. Written by IMG Academy

From the Williams sisters to Tiger Woods to Kobe Bryant, there are many professional athletes that started training from a young age. The story may vary as to whether they showed talent from an early age or their parent simply began teaching them, but the stories certainly make us wonder if our child could be next. But, what does the track from childhood athlete to professional sports icon look like?

Early Childhood: Some children show athletic talent at a young age so encouraging and helping to develop that talent right away is key. If your child shows skill in a particular sport, sign them up for a children's league. If your child shows athletic prowess but perhaps not for a specific sport, introduce them to as many sports as you can to identify their talents and preferences. Young children are also the most likely to follow the example an adult sets for them, so, if you're active in a particular sport, there's a likely chance they'll follow in your steps. The key at this young age is to identify and begin encouraging athletic talent without applying pressure that may discourage your child from sports.

Pre-Adolescence: Make sure sports are still an enjoyable activity for your child should they continue playing as a pre-teen. You may also want to begin taking steps to gently aid your child in becoming a better overall athlete. If your child decides they want to try a different sport, let them. They may just want a break, or they may feel like another activity is a better fit. If you force them to continue with the sport they began with, they may begin to resent playing and eventually quit altogether. Continue to sign them up for sports leagues, and consider taking them to professional sporting events, so they can see pros playing their sports firsthand. IMG Academy Director of Girls Basketball and Head Coach Shell Dailey explains, "When the child athlete comes to you and says they want to pursue the sport further, then it is time to invest. It's time to invest your time and resources. You seek to find the best professionals that can help them. It now becomes their dream and not yours." 

Early Adolescence: By this time your child may have reached an age where they can play their sport as a part of their school's team, or more competitive, local leagues for their sport may now also be an option. Sports boarding schools and sports camps, such as overnight basketball camps, are also a great way for your child to gain more experience in their sport and to receive instruction from elite coaches and trainers. It is also important at this age for your child to begin to hone in on their sport-related mental toughness, and specialized programs, such as academies and camps, will provide this necessary focus. Enrolling your child in more advanced sports programs may also be the first step towards their collegiate athletics career.

High School: If your child continues to show progress in their sport and has a passion for the game, this time is incredibly valuable and may be the turning point in their career. Research NCAA recruiting rules and requirements with your child, and start developing a plan. Continued enrollment in sports academies and camps is also recommended. Ensure your child is also keeping up with their academics, as this will be a factor in their acceptance to their college of choice. Some athletes have made their professional debut at this stage, but don't expect this route. It is wise to anticipate a collegiate career as the next step and to then adapt accordingly should circumstances change.

College: By this stage, your child's success is mostly dependent on the individual and their coaches. But, you can still support them by watching their competitions and supporting them emotionally. The coaches and other members of your child's athletics administration will guide them through the collegiate process as well as the next stage should professional sports be an option. If your child doesn't want to play professional sports or does not possess the ability to continue moving forward in their sport, that's certainly okay too! You've supported them through an entire childhood of playing sports and helped them achieve a level that many other children may never reach.

A Word of Caution: It is important to remember why you are encouraging your child to excel in a sport. Do they show a genuine talent and enthusiasm for it? Or, are you doing it for yourself in an effort to realize a potentially unfulfilled ambition from your own childhood? Be aware of your child's feelings toward the sport, and make sure they aren't experiencing burnout or feeling too much pressure - they are still a child and should ultimately enjoy this stage of their life. Coach Dailey adds, "Over the years, I've definitely seen young athletes experience 'burn out' but it doesn't last long if you allow them to express their feelings. Also, let them know that it's okay for them to feel this way and that it's normal. As a coach, you just coach and support them through each step."

Many parents dream of their child becoming the next phenomenon in sports, and many parents are able to help their child reach their goal of becoming a professional athlete. Parents play a role by encouraging their child, signing them up for sports leagues, sports academies, and camps, such as overnight camps, and by being a sounding board and a source of emotional support.

 

Helping Young Athletes Deal with a Fear of Failure

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Sponsored post. Written by IMG Academy

When most parents think about their kids playing sports, they probably envision themselves cheering their child on to victory and celebrating their achievements. But for most young athletes, there will also be setbacks and losses, and your child is probably more sensitive to this possibility than you are. It is important to make sure our children have a healthy attitude about both winning and losing when it comes to playing sports, but we also don't want their attitude towards losing to lead to a fear of failing.

A fear of failure doesn't just have psychological effects, but can even affect your child's performance by causing them to be more tentative. Athletes who are overwhelmed with thoughts of performing poorly are more likely to make those thoughts self-fulfilling because they are scared to take the necessary risks to play their sport optimally.

"Fear of failure has the ability to be a constant source of anxiety in an athlete's performance, and, in order to manage your fear as an athlete, it is important to identify the fears that are holding your performance back," Becca Thomas, IMG Academy Mental Conditioning Coach said.

While the trainers involved with IMG's sport camps focus on mental strength and conditioning with our student-athletes, it's good to start early with these skills. Here are a few things you can teach your child to help them have a healthy attitude about the possibility of losing or facing setbacks, and these lessons can be carried with them into adulthood when they enter the workforce:

Identify fear when it surfaces: The first step towards helping your child deal with a fear of failure is to help them identify it. If your child is showing signs of excessive nervousness before a competition or resistance to working on new skills, talk to them about how they are feeling and see if they can pinpoint what it is that is making them feel that way.

Identify the source of the fear: Is your child's fear the result of a feeling of unpreparedness? Are they going up against an opponent that is known for being especially challenging? Are they just experiencing general pre-competition jitters? In order to overcome an enemy - in this case, your child's fear - you must first identify it.

Learn to self-talk: Fears are often the result of overthinking and imagining the worst-case scenario. Teach your child how to utilize self-talk to identify fears they are having, identify their source, and by identifying the source, re-frame the fears into positive self-talk. If your child is fearful due to feeling unprepared, have them go over the things they did to prepare. If your child is fearful due to facing a challenging opponent, have them go over the unique strengths they possess.

Learn to visualize: Teach your child to visualize what it looks like when they play their sport perfectly. Have them list their positive attributes, such as their focus, their confidence, or their energy, and visualize using those attributes to successfully play their sport. This will help them to shake off pre-competition jitters and approach their sport with a clear head.

Shift focus: If your child is fearful of losing a competition, have them shift their focus to the possibility that they could be successful. Have them set small goals, such as getting two possessions within the first period of their basketball game, and focus on the small goals that lead up to the ending of the game, rather than just setting the broad goal of winning.

Lower the pressure: Many of us are guilty of holding ourselves to a high standard of perfection, and a child that goes into training and competitions with this attitude could carry an unhealthy obsession with perfectionism into adulthood and their career. Help your child understand that making mistakes from time to time is normal and expected, and teach them that instead of trying to perform perfectly, they should try to perform to the best of their abilities and use the mistakes that they make as a learning experience.

As parents of young athletes, it is important to help our children develop a healthy attitude towards losing and being imperfect. By having this attitude while playing sports in their youth, your child will go on to higher education, adulthood, and the workforce with realistic expectations about their own performance throughout life. At IMG Academy's sport camps, they not only work with athletes on physical performance but also on mental strength and conditioning.

Strategies to Help Your Child Prepare for Athletic Competitions

Sponsored post. Written by IMG Academy.

 

We all get nervous before high-pressure situations, and competition is definitely one of the most intense situations we will experience. Think back to when you were a kid playing sports and how nervous you got before a game or a meet. It's highly likely that your child is experiencing those same feelings. There are many ways you can help your young athlete prepare for athletic competitions, from sending them to IMG Academy, one of the best sports camps in the nation, to providing them with coping methods or just being someone they can vent to about their nervousness.

Here are some strategies for helping your child prepare for athletic competitions:

Get enough sleep: A good night's rest is always essential for optimal performance, no matter what age we are. And, children especially need a lot of sleep. Ensure your child gets to bed at an appropriate time before their competition, and even consider getting them on a regular sleep schedule so that their body becomes accustomed to their pre-game bedtime.

Eat a well-balanced meal: What your child should (or should not) eat before a competition may vary depending on what sport they play. Make sure they have a nutritionally-balanced meal, and be mindful of any diet recommendations that their coaches or trainers may have provided you with.

IMG Academy Nutrition Coach Emily Pace explains, "In order to play in your team's game, you must have your entire uniform. Without your uniform, you would not be able to help your team succeed. Your meals should include a lean protein, a whole grain carbohydrate and a vegetable to help you compete at your best. When athletes do not eat well-balanced meals, it will potentially interfere with their ability to perform well."

Teach your child stress-reducing techniques: Everyone is different, and the stress-reducing techniques that work for each individual will vary. Experiment with deep breathing, muscle relaxation, visualization, mindfulness, and positive self-talk. And, then encourage your child to use whichever combination of these techniques they find helps them get into the right state of mind to compete.

  • Deep breathing: Take a deep breath, hold it in for about five seconds, and then release slowly. Repeat five times (or however many times feels necessary.)
  • Muscle Relaxation: Contract a group of muscles tightly, hold for about five seconds, then release. Repeat five times, and then move on to another muscle group.
  • Visualization: Visualize serving the ball, making a shot, or finishing a race.
  • Mindfulness: Focus on the present moment instead of worrying about what has happened or what is to come.
  • Positive self-talk: Use positive statements. "I am prepared for this match" rather than "I am afraid of losing this match."

Have a routine: Going through the same routine before every competition can provide a sense of calm and keep stress in check. Prepare the same meal or snack prior to a game, keep uniforms and equipment in the same place, listen to the same songs on the way to the event, and so on. Routine is comforting and can also help your child get into the right state of mind to compete. Part of a good routine includes fueling.

"Athletes tell me all the time they have a hard time getting up for breakfast. As an athlete, breakfast must be included in your daily routine to begin fueling for performance," notes Coach Pace. 

Be prepared: Prepare for the unexpected by bringing backup uniforms, socks and underwear, snacks, equipment, and anything else you can think your child might need. They may need a dry change of clothes if it rains, or they may need a snack if their game is delayed, and they get hungry. You'll also improve at being prepared as your child continues to compete and you experience firsthand those unexpected situations.

Coach Pace adds, "Just like you prepare for practice, you should prepare to fuel yourself properly before, during and after competition. Basketball players must have their shoes to be successful at practice. Carrying your water bottle with you to school allows you to effectively hydrate throughout the entire day."   

Ask your child what level of interaction they want from you prior to a competition: Does your child want to talk about the impending competition with you? Or, would they rather be alone with their thoughts to prepare? Everyone gets ready for stressful situations differently, and our kids are no different. Well-meaning pep talks or advice prior to a competition could actually elevate your child's stress, so be mindful of how they react to your interactions with them prior to their game or meet.

Be supportive, but don't coach: If your child is okay with interaction from you prior to competing, make sure it's supportive interaction and not viewed as coaching. It is the job of your child's coach to do the coaching, and it is your job to be supportive and encouraging. Just make sure your child knows that you love them and that you're happy to be watching them play.

Have fun: Let's not forget that playing sports should be fun for your child, and it should be fun for you to watch them! If you are relaxed and excited on their game or meet days, your child's mood is likely to follow suit. 

It isn't solely your job as a parent to teach your kid how to prepare for competition, and that is why IMG Academy offers one of the best sports camps in the country, along with a boarding school program for eight sports. But, these skills do start at home, so it's good to know how to help your children be as prepared as possible for great mental and emotional health when they are competing!

Helping Young Athletes Plan for Life After Competitive Sports

Sponsored Post. Written by IMG Academy.

While the numbers are much higher for student-athletes who attend IMG Academy's elite boarding school, only about 7% of United States high school students who play sports go on to play a varsity sport in college, and less than 2% go on to play at NCAA Division I schools, according to 2016-2017 school year data from the High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations. As parents, we want to see our children succeed and achieve their dreams, but it is also important to be realistic and ensure our children are well rounded and prepared for careers that may not involve professional sports. Here are some ways you can do just that:

Encourage them to be a leader: Whether it's being the captain or co-captain of their sports team, taking on a leadership role in a club at school, joining student government, or being a leader in an organization outside of school, kids who have experience as leaders learn initiative, confidence, and organizational skills that transfer directly to college and later on to their jobs once they enter the workforce. Help your child explore the various ways in which they can take on leadership roles, and encourage them to pursue these opportunities. Even if they don't always achieve those roles, the process of campaigning for them will instill lifelong characteristics and skills that are also beneficial. They can even tie their leadership experience into their sport by coaching a team of athletes in a younger age group.

Encourage them to volunteer: While a lot of high schools have volunteer hours as a part of their graduation requirements, and many colleges require them for admission, you should encourage your child to do more than just the minimum amount of volunteering. If you are an active volunteer in your community, bring your child along when they are young so that they develop an appreciation for helping. By volunteering in their community, your child will meet people of various ages and from all walks of life. This experience will open their eyes to what the "real world" is really like while giving them the satisfaction of making a difference as well as an opportunity to explore other avenues they may enjoy. Volunteer opportunities are so varied, from manual labor to tutoring or fundraising, so your child will have a variety of experiences while building a very wide skill set.

Encourage them to have varied interests: If your child shows an interest in something outside of their sport, such as music, assembling or construction, technology, or something else, encourage them to explore it. A child who likes to building intricate items out of building blocks could grow up to be an architect; a child who likes to take apart and reassemble machinery could grow up to be an engineer. If you find a club or classes within your community that align with your child's interests, these could help them to explore those interests further and meet peers with similar interests.

Encourage them to get a job: As a parent, you may already want your child to get a job to help with saving for college or to purchase their own luxury items they may be wanting. But, getting a job when they're of age can also help lead them to a future career while also being beneficial when it's time to apply to colleges. 

Start planning for life after sports now: Help your child understand that they most likely will be pursuing a career that is not tied to playing sports after they graduate from college. Even if they do go on to play at a collegiate level, they will still need a game plan once they earn their degree. Erin Reifsteck, an assistant professor in the UNCG Department of Kinesiology, dealt with the dilemma of what to do once she completed her education at Saint Francis while playing field hockey. She used that dilemma to launch a program called Moving On!, which helps college athletes make a healthy adjustment to life after athletics. Reifsteck used a difficult transition to inspire her, setting a great example for student-athletes to follow. Your child can even consider exploring ways in which they can tie the sport they played into their future career, whether it's by pursuing an education in sports health or by becoming a sports journalist. 

Kelli Hinton is an IMG Academy College Counselor and works directly with student-athletes who are seeking to commit to their desired collegiate program. Hinton provided her perspective on planning for life after athletics as it relates to her experience at IMG.

"Life after sports doesn't always mean giving up your love for the game," she said. "Use the skills and life experiences obtained from being a part of this unique population to make yourself stand out when choosing the next step in life."

Student-athletes who attend IMG Academy's elite boarding school don't just receive training in their sport. They also experience a well-rounded education that includes both personal growth and social responsibility. Playing sports as a child creates a fantastic groundwork for a child's adulthood, but it is also important for a child's parents and the other authority figures in their lives to guide them to explore what their life will be like after their sports career ends.

How Do Skills Learned in Sports Translate to the Workplace?

Sponsored Post. Written by IMG Academy.

Playing sports as a child has both immediate and lifelong benefits, but did you know that the skills and habits that your child develops as a young athlete can carry over into their future career? Many successful employees played sports as kids, and the characteristics that they bring to the workplace can partly be attributed to their time as an athlete. Students at our sports school in Florida don't just learn the skills they need to be successful in their careers while they are in the classroom, but they also pick those skills up while playing their respective sports.

They are Team Players
Kids who play team sports learn how to work with others, often while in high-pressure situations. This atmosphere teaches them to be understanding of others, to think about how their actions will affect those around them, and to share responsibilities, victories, and defeats. Once in the workplace, these same individuals will take others' feelings and situations into account, think about the impact of their decisions on their coworkers, and delegate tasks. They also won't take all of the blame or credit when it comes to a failure or a success that involved their entire team.

Adults who played sports as kids are less likely to try to do everything themselves. They will ask for assistance when they need it, and they will also volunteer to pitch in when they see that their coworker might be in need. A workplace team that contains adults who played sports as kids will also be proficient with identifying each other's strengths and weaknesses and will delegate tasks accordingly.

They Communicate Well
Kids who play sports learn communication skills that may even be better than those of adults who didn't play sports. They understand that everyone on their team is working towards the same goal and that effectively communicating with their teammates is the best way to achieve that goal. The same applies in the workplace. Whether it's a specific project or just day-to-day operations, everyone is working towards similar goals or trying to accomplish similar tasks, and communicating with coworkers is the best way to complete those projects or tasks. By communicating well, everyone within a workplace will achieve success and do so with less stress and effort than they would without proper communication.

They Know How to Take Initiative
Kids who play sports learn that they sometimes need to make very fast, assured decisions in order for their team to be successful, and this trait carries over into the workplace as well. Many young adults who enter the workforce lack initiative because they have never been placed in situations where they are empowered to take it, but an adult who played sports as a child is likely to have a different attitude.

They are Self-Disciplined
In both team and individual sports, it is important for athletes to possess self-discipline in order to be successful. This trait could mean waking up early to practice, always putting in 100% effort during practices and competitions, or being mindful of sleep and diet and how they affect performance. This characteristic translates directly into the workplace when employees need to arrive at the office at a certain time, stay on task to complete a project, and take care of their overall health in order to be efficient and effective when they are at work.

They are Empowered Leaders
Kids who play sports develop a healthy understanding of the importance of leadership roles, and many of them take on leadership roles themselves within their teams. Being a leader is empowering and builds confidence - both of which are important in the workplace. An adult who played team sports as a kid will be respectful of those who are leading them, and they will be confident when opportunities arise for them to be a leader themselves. These adults are more likely to feel empowered to step up when they see a need for someone to take the lead, and they are also more likely to be cooperative when one of their coworkers takes initiative on a task.

Championship teams and successful businesses have several key things in common. A clear vision that is communicated from leadership; a commonality in purpose, which produces accountability between teammates and co-workers; and a commitment to consistency in playing their best, producing the best products or providing excellent customer service. It takes everyone in the organization to view their role and the roles of others as essential to the success of the team; from the C.E.O to the J .A .N. I. T. O .R . I know it is cliché', but "teamwork really does make the dream work."

-Charles P. Gooch, Head of Leadership

They are Coachable
An employee who played sports as a kid is more likely to take constructive criticism as a benefit rather than a critique. Adults who didn't experience coaching as children may interpret it as simply criticism. Adults who played sports will be open to their leaders' suggestions on how they can improve their work and what they can do to grow professionally. Coachable employees may even see valuable rewards, such as a promotion, and they may eventually have an opportunity to be leaders in the workplace as well.

The benefits of playing sports as a child are long-lasting, even as those kids grow up and enter the workforce as young adults. At IMG Academy, student-athletes at our sports school in Florida learn the skills they will need to be successful in the workplace both in the classroom and on the field.

Student-athletes who attend IMG Academy's elite boarding school don't just receive training in their sport. They also experience a well-rounded education that includes both personal growth and social responsibility. Playing sports as a child creates a fantastic groundwork for a child's adulthood, but it is also important for a child's parents and the other authority figures in their lives to guide them to explore what their life will be like after their sports career ends.