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Silicon Valley Eagles Blog

The Silicon Valley Eagles Soccer Academy blog is a great source of soccer coaching tips, parents and players improvement tips and advises, and updates on the soccer world news.

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Recent blog posts

b2ap3_thumbnail_coachbase123.jpgThere is a problem with participation in kid sport.

Unknown to many though is just how big the problem is. Right across the board, no matter the sport, the amount of children starting and staying active in sport is decreasing. The good news is that technology offers solutions that could help reverse the trend.

But first it’s important to understand just how serious this downward trend has become. The data, tabulated by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association and presented by the Wall Street Journal, says the numbers of kids aged 6 to 17 playing the four most-popular sports – baseball, football, basketball and soccer – declined from 2008 to 2012. Surprisingly it’s basketball that saw the largest drop off, losing 8.3 percent of participants over the study while soccer dropped 7.2 percent of its players, baseball 7.2 percent and football down 5.4 percent. These numbers become increasingly worrying when placed against the backdrop of a childhood obesity epidemic along with concerns over childhood bullying and the like.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_stressed-kid_web.jpgSports are competitive, and young players sometimes have a hard time dealing with the pressures of the game. Add in the demands of school, and you may end up with one stressed kid. Here are 10 tips for helping your child manage sports-induced stress.

1. Provide the Right Encouragement
To help your child manage stress, you must provide encouragement without adding pressure. Don’t push too hard, overreact to mistakes or losses, or make your child feel like sports is the most important thing. It’s not.

2. Watch Your Sideline Behavior
Are you yelling at coaches, refs and umpires? Your sideline behavior can greatly add to your child’s stress both on and off the field. Help your child by keeping it in check.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_133947695.jpgEven over the holidays, when your kids are training for sports, you want to provide them with the right foods to fuel their activities. You should also provide your child with the right foods to promote their growth. Certain nutrients are essential to achieve optimal growth; this helps their performance in sports and can help to promote their overall health. Here we consider which macro and micronutrients are vital for growing bodies and where these can be sourced in the diet.

Protein

All tissues in the body contain protein. From the bones and muscles to the organs, all require an adequate supply of dietary protein for growth. If we break a bone, tear a muscle or accidentally cut ourselves, protein is also required for wound healing. The amount of protein your child needs each day depends on their age. Teenage boys require more protein in their diet than girls; this is demonstrated in the table below, which is based on figures provided by the CDC.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_hidrasyon.jpgDid you know that young athletes are at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses than adults? This is because kids don’t sweat as much as and absorb heat faster than adults. Plus, kids tend not to want to drink water or other fluids while they’re exercising. Even though most pediatricians recommend that kids should drink half of their total body weight in ounces of water each day, we all know that, in reality, that is the exception rather than the rule.

With the summer camp and tournament season fast approaching and temperatures rising just in time for kids to be playing in hot – and often humid – weather all across the country, we are likely to see a rise in the number of heat-related illnesses, including dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, among young athletes. Making it worse? The proliferation of artificial turf fields, which can be nearly 86 degrees – yes, you read that right – hotter than natural grass fields.

What can you, the team manager, do to keep your team of young athletes hydrated, happy, and healthy through a weekend tournament or week-long camp?

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b2ap3_thumbnail_youth-sports.jpgLast week, I was invited to participate in the NFL Health + Safety Conference in New York City along with more than 40 other bloggers and writers. Sitting at a huge conference table at NFL headquarters, we heard from representatives of the NFL and USA Football about the success to-date of the Heads-Up Football program in reducing head injuries in youth football, as well as plans to expand the program in the coming year.

More interesting, however, was the subsequent discussion among the bloggers – parents of youth athletes from Kindergarten through college – about the role of parents in reducing sports injuries, especially concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). If you’re like most parents, you’re probably thinking, “What can I do? I’m not on the field. I’m not the one playing or coaching. And I’m not a doctor.”

In reality, there’s a lot that sports parents can do to make their child’s experience safer. Here are six ways you can ensure a better, safer youth sports experience for your child:

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Posted by on in Sports Parents

b2ap3_thumbnail_youth-football-concussions2.jpgOver the past few weeks, my Facebook news feed has lit up with news of friends’ children suffering concussions due to football, including these highlights:

“Just back from Children’s Hospital. Concussion. Out of football for 2 weeks!”

“Mild concussion. Sidelined for a week. Could have been worse.”

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Posted by on in Sports Parents

b2ap3_thumbnail_little-league.jpgFlying home from Spring Training a few weeks ago, our flight was packed with 7- and 8- year-old boys. Had they gone to see their beloved San Francisco Giants or Oakland A’s play up-close and get autographs? No. They were returning from a four-day baseball tournament where they played against other 7- and 8-year-olds from up and down the West Coast and neighboring states.

Bad enough that they had missed two days of school to play baseball against other kids their own age—I have to think there are plenty of other teams at their age-level within a short drive of their Bay Area town—but I couldn’t stop cringing as I listened to the coaches and parents talk about those other second- and third-graders:

“Did you see that first baseman? He SUCKED!”

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Posted by on in General Sports

b2ap3_thumbnail_8112a157bc8dfb9cab1fed897b0ae17a.jpgWebster defines simulation as “the act or process of pretending; feigning.”

For those not familiar with how the term applies to soccer, it can best be characterized as attempting to fool the referee into calling a foul in your team’s favor. Commonly called flopping or diving, it can occur anywhere on the field, but is usually attempted inside the 18 yard box outside the opponent’s goal because a foul called inside this area is awarded a penalty-kick (essentially a free goal).

There has been a lot of controversy over the last couple weeks in English football as Manchester United star Ashley Young earned a penalty kick two successive weekends and was clearly shown on instant replay to be diving both times. This has generated a lot of discussion on message boards and blogs across the Internet and lead to him being left out of the line-up last weekend. It got me to thinking – always dangerous – about whether this should be considered cheating. If so, should it be punishable by the governing body after the fact, i.e. even if the referee doesn’t spot it during the match, similar to the way the NFL hands out fines or suspensions for vicious hits.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_two-girls-brushing-teeth-300x147.jpgAlong with helping children learn how to read, how to talk and how to play well with others, parents are responsible for teaching their kids how to move.

The first step to walking is a parent holding a child’s arms up while they stumble along. That’s helping them learn how to move, as is supporting them on the monkey bars those first few times, showing them the difference between a run and a skip and moving that baseball bat so they’re holding on to the right end.

As children get older, we may think we’re done helping them learn how to move. They can walk, run and jump, after all, and we get busy. With packed solid days, sometimes (OK, most of the time) it’s impossible to even consider adding anything to the schedule.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_girls-soccer-sportsmanship.jpgChildren gain so much from participating in sports, like the opportunity to develop physical literacy and the chance to make lasting friendships. Playing sports can also help kids become better people as they grow up. My soccer teams have always been known for good sportsmanship. Through the years, coaches and parents from other teams have often told me that they like to play my teams, even when we beat them in competition, because my kids are basically “nice.” That says something.

What makes my players nice? In a nutshell, I coach them to play to win, but always honestly and fairly. Compete as athletes, train hard, and then win by using your superior skill, fitness and intelligence. Don’t compete with personal insults or dirty fouls or vulgar chants. We’re not about “winning at all costs.”

It’s about honoring everyone and learning what respect really means. Most people will agree that good sportsmanship means honoring everyone on the field of competition, including opponents, officials, parents, spectators and ourselves. However, not all kids learn this.

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Posted by on in General Sports

b2ap3_thumbnail_download_20160201-224600_1.jpgFall is here, which means school and extracurricular activities are here, too. One of the many sports popular during the fall is soccer. As with any sport, you can’t just show up for tryouts and expect to make the team, you’ve got to invest the time and effort necessary to show coaches that you have what it takes.

Here are some tips to help set you up for success.

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_parent-soccer-eagles.jpgI’ve been coaching soccer for many years. I’ve instructed all kinds of players: the uninterested four-year-olds, the unusually talented 10-year-olds, and high school seniors doing their best impression of the Bad News Bears. The winning is always great, and there’s much to be learned from losing, but it’s nowhere near as satisfying as having a player tell you how much fun he’s had.

Especially for the younger players, I’ve always felt a responsibility to create fun and lasting memories…win, lose or draw. Along the way, I’ve been lucky to have tremendous support from the vast majority of parents who’ve trusted me to do the right thing.

But occasionally, coaches encounter troublemaker parents. This can ruin the fun for everybody: players, coaches, and entire teams and families.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_1st-tournament.jpgThe U8 team was formed a few months ago after a lengthy tryout process. A few practices were held during the summer to help the players get familiar with each other. Coaches even had a trainer work with them a couple times per week for the past three weeks in preparation for their first tournament. Coaches, parents and players were eager to participate in their first tournament as the “A” team from the club.

They lined up for their first game, and before you knew it they were down 3-0. Coaches were scrambling to change the formation, parents were screaming “boot it,” “run harder,” “get more aggressive,” and Soccer-Player_webplayers were terrified and wanted to stay on the bench. The team did not win a game the entire tournament, and everyone was wondering what exactly went wrong.

I can tell you from experience, especially at the younger ages, tournaments are for the team bonding experience and nothing more.

There are so many variables that affect results in tournament games that you will drive yourself crazy if you treat it as something anything more than a social event. But Coach, “We played them in the regular season last spring and only lost by a goal. They just beat us 5-0”.

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crying-footballer.jpg

Participating in a sport is supposed to be fun. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological 

Children taking part in competitive sports often feel stressed, but the cause of that stress may be surprising to some parents. Often, it isn’t the coaches or your children’s teammates that are causing the stress; it could be you — and you may not even know you’re doing it! Are you guilty of any of these stress-inducing behaviors? Avoid stressing your child out during sports activities by remembering these stressful behaviors parents engage in during games, practices or even around the house.Association estimates that 9 percent of all children use sports to help manage stress. For those children, sports can be fun, but for many children, sports can be extremely stressful.

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athlete-running.jpgIt’s late in the fourth quarter, the third period, stoppage time or even that last mile. That is when athletic trainers, strength and conditioning specialists and coaches find out if all of that investment of time and money in physical endurance training was worth it as they watch to see if their athletes will have enough left in the tank to finish. Often though, its not necessarily the muscles or physiological systems that shut down but rather the brain in an overprotective mode. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen think they have found the exact process that contributes to this sense of fatigue while engineers at the University of California – San Diego are piloting a wearable patch that can warn when an athlete is about to hit the wall.

In his 2007 book Brain Training for Runners, Matt Fitzgerald, long-time running columnist and author detailed the role of the brain in controlling physical endurance. Traditionally, fatigue used to be considered a breakdown of biochemical balances with the buildup of lactic acid or depletion of glycogen for fuel. However, research in the 1980s showed that this breakdown did not always occur and that athletes were still able to push through at the end of a game or race even though they should have been physically exhausted.

A new theory of the brain as a “central governor” emerged. Like a warning light in your car, the brain calculates the time to physical catastrophe or total exhaustion based on the current pace and feedback signals from the body. When it feels you won’t make it to your desired finish line, it begins to lower muscle output and sends messages to your conscious brain that its time to quit.

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Abounds Fruit1 200x200Practices are a good way to test what snacks work best for your child in regards to energy and performance. Just as the old adage goes for adult athletes, “Do not try anything new on race day;” this also can be applied to youth soccer players. Testing what food works well for pre/post practice can then be applied to pre/post games.

A snack before a soccer practice or game should be something that isn’t heavy, but is enough to keep kids fueled. Try to fuel muscles 1-2 hours before an athletic event. Some kids will need two hours to digest before they play. This depends on the individual kid and timing of eating needs to be experimented with at practices. Also, a snack that travels well is best, since travel to and from games is commonplace. Make sure to avoid fatty foods, extra sweet foods, and caffeine. These cause spikes in blood sugar, and then sugar levels can drop quickly during performance. This will make kids feel sluggish.

- Here are some examples of good pre-practice and pre-game snacks:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_overloading-insport.jpgMy husband and I were thrilled when our 11-year-old daughter was selected for a Class I soccer team earlier this spring. It’s something she wanted and drove—she’s pretty headstrong—and we followed her lead. She loves soccer and wanted the greater challenge on the field. At the parent meeting, the coach clearly stated that once the calendar hit August 1st, it was serious soccer. From that date on, he expects the girls to be at every practice leading into the season. We were on board 100 percent.

Until our daughter’s good friend invited her to spend 10 days in Hawaii. In August. In the middle of the ‘serious’ practice season. I had been so careful to plan our family vacation in June to avoid our son’s July baseball commitments and our daughter’s August soccer commitments. I was the model, committed sports parent. And now I was faced with a dilemma. Do I deny my 11-year-old a wonderful experience that she would remember forever, in order to demonstrate our commitment to the new coach and protect her playing time for the entire season?

Whether it’s a vacation or another family, religious or school commitment, I’m sure many of you have been in my position. Striking the right balance between commitment to an athletic team – or multiple teams – and what’s right for your particular family is no easy task. But here are some guidelines to help reduce your family’s overall stress level and limit your child’s potential for physical injury and mental anxiety due to overuse and overscheduling.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_apple_XXSmall.jpgPractices are a good way to test what snacks work best for your child in regards to energy and performance. Just as the old adage goes for adult athletes, “Do not try anything new on race day;” this also can be applied to youth soccer players. Testing what food works well for pre/post practice can then be applied to pre/post games.
A snack before a soccer practice or game should be something that isn’t heavy, but is enough to keep kids fueled. Try to fuel muscles 1-2 hours before an athletic event. Some kids will need two hours to digest before they play. This depends on the individual kid and timing of eating needs to be experimented with at practices. Also, a snack that travels well is best, since travel to and from games is commonplace. Make sure to avoid fatty foods, extra sweet foods, and caffeine. These cause spikes in blood sugar, and then sugar levels can drop quickly during performance. This will make kids feel sluggish.

Here are some examples of good pre-practice and pre-game snacks:

Whole grain bread w/peanut butter
Cereal that is low in sugar
Low-fat cheese
Yogurt
Turkey or chicken
Fruit, such as: apples, bananas, pears, oranges
Post-soccer practice or post-soccer game snacks are something one needs immediately following the event. First thing is fluids. Some examples are water, chocolate milk or natural fruit juices. Sports drinks can be included as recommended fluids, as they aid in replacing electrolytes, but read the labels to make sure there is no caffeine. After fluids are replenished, youth athletes need a mixture of food that includes both carbohydrates and protein. Again, something fast and that travels easy is likely to be a good choice. This way, kids can eat something on the car ride home and they won’t be starving by the time they eat their next meal; which is not good for their blood sugar levels to dip too low.
Some good post game and practice snacks are:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_running-kids.jpgMost children enjoy running, and they get even more excited about running when they can run fast. Speed is a valuable aspect of being successful in any sport. Good running technique significantly affects how fast a child can run but does not always come naturally to a child. Coaches and parents can use drills, motivation and nutrition to increase a child’s speed.

Step 1

Tell the children to pretend they are answering two telephones, one on the outside of each hip, while running. This helps them focus on bringing their hands to their hip and then take the hand up to the same ear. Running using this technique can increase momentum from the arms and improve the children’s running times.

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