• Ask The Experts

    A Year’s Worth of Sports Wisdom Addressing Questions And Concerns From Parents And Children

    By New York Family

    For more than a year now, children (with the likely encouragement and help of their parents) have been writing to New York Family Sports with all sorts of interesting questions. Looking to the year ahead, we’ve gathered a sampling for your easy reference, but also to inspire more questions. Bring them on. (See sidebar for where to send them.)

    “Right before I step
    on the court I get cotton mouth, my knees start shaking and I’m frightened to
    get the ball. What can I do to boost my confidence before the game starts?”

    —Alan, Upper West Side

    “Every week I get calls from athletes who feel that they are
    lacking in self-confidence. There are many ways to help athletes, young and
    adult, to believe in themselves and in their physical abilities. Bedtime is a
    great time of the day to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Here is
    a simple technique:

    Before you go
    to sleep tonight, make a list of seven times in your life when you felt very
    comfortable and good about yourself. You can include a good grade, a great
    game, an award you won, succeeding at something that was difficult or working
    hard to master a task or to finish a difficult project. One of my patients
    loved to remind himself of how he felt when he learned to surf. As you prepare
    for sleep, spend a minute revisiting each of these experiences and
    accomplishments. When you are done, just let yourself relax, have a good night
    of sleep and maybe dream about some of your positive accomplishments. Do this for three weeks. Stacking your
    positive memories like this on a daily basis can help you to build your
    confidence. The next time you go out on the field or on the court, carry some
    of these thoughts with you and see if you start to feel more relaxed, confident
    and focused with this new frame of mind.”

    –Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., psychotherapist and the founder of StayInTheZone.com

    “We’ve had our kids
    in organized sports since they were 5. They play in top leagues. But, after all
    that, why do most kids drop out of sports?”

    –Jay and Linda, parents, Upper East Side

    “The simplest answer is painfully obvious: because they
    aren’t having fun. The more important question is this: What changes at the
    start of adolescence, and why is this a crucial transition period for the young
    athlete? As they progress into and through adolescence, teens discover the
    ability to make choices, engage in more complex social relationships, and start
    asking fundamental ‘Who am I?’ questions. For the emerging adolescent, who they
    associate with (and who they aspire to associate with) is a critical element of
    the definition of self. Sport can often insulate them from negative peer
    influence, but involvement in sport can also suffer as a result of these
    influences, particularly if the teen’s connection to athletics is compromised
    by obsessive parental involvement, weak motivation, lack of connection to their
    teammate/competitor social group, unsatisfactory experiences in practice or
    competition, and lack of strong coach/mentor relationships. If these emotional and intellectual
    challenges weren’t enough, children get taller, stronger, faster, and develop
    new agilities as they progress through adolescence. Their aptitudes for one
    sport or another may change, and they often rediscover themselves as athletes
    just as they are discovering new elements of personality and inclination. How
    do you keep kids involved in sports as they progress through adolescence? Keep
    it fun. Let them choose the activities they like. All too often adults will
    make choices for young athletes with the justification that they are doing what
    needs to be done for the child to be successful. If it isn’t fun, rewarding,
    and socially satisfying, young teens won’t want to do it. That said, parents
    shouldn’t merely check out. Teens still need strong coach/mentors and involved
    (but not obsessive) parents to steer them through the challenges of maturation
    rate, social isolation/confusion and the process of self-definition.”

    –Paul Weiss, Ph.D, Senior Program Director at Asphalt Green
    (asphaltgreen.org)

    “A lot of coaches say I’m at the age where
    I have to choose one sport and only play that sport from now on. But I like a
    lot of sports. What should I do?”
    —Alex, Tribeca

    “One of the great things about being a child is that you can
    explore many different activities and experiences. This is also true for
    sports. I know some children who have such a strong passion for a single sport
    that they are satisfied focusing their efforts on that sport. The risk of
    focusing heavily on one sport at an early age, however, is that some children
    may burn out and lose interest while they are missing out on other athletic
    opportunities and experiences. I believe at your age you should expose yourself
    to as many sports as possible for two reasons. First, you never know what other
    sports you might like unless you try them. Second, playing multiple sports
    allows you to develop a variety of muscle groups, which is important to your
    physical development. It is considerably more difficult to develop those muscles
    when you are older. Every so often you should ask yourself, “Why do I play
    sports?” The following three answers should be among your reasons; 1) to have
    fun, 2) to get better at it and 3) to be with friends. You will only get to be
    a child once.”

    –Jeffrey Bernstein, founder and director of Simply Sports
    (simplysports.net)

    “People often say ‘swimming
    is the best exercise.’ So, is it?”
    —Penny, West Village

    “Many coaches consider it the best exercise for fitness
    purposes because there is much less impact than, for example, with running. But
    I have two cautions when asked ‘What’s the best exercise?’ The first is that
    swimming requires a pool and NYC pools are not easy to get to. My second
    caution, and this is more serious, is that swimming is a very technical
    activity. By that I mean swimming without the proper technique will be very
    stressful and will not produce the fitness benefits you are looking for. If
    your swimming technique is good—meaning if you can relax and swim for 20 to 30
    minutes without fatigue—then swimming is a great exercise. I will also say that
    the best fitness program is one that involves more than one sport. You should
    supplement swimming with a strength activity and a weight-bearing activity. One
    more thing: the truly best exercise activity is the one you will do regularly.”

    — Neil Cook is Head Multi-Sport Coach at Asphalt Green
    (asphaltgreen.org)

    “Field time in New
    York City is tough to come by. What little things can I do with a soccer ball
    inside my room to help my game?”
    —Dina, Stuyvesant Town

    “First of all, you should have two soccer balls, sizes 5 and
    1. The size 1 ball is handy to have around and great to improve technique. The
    following drills are great for coordination and ball control:

    *Tap on the ball with both feet using the sole of the foot.

    *Pass the ball from foot to foot using the inside part. Bend
    your knee a little and try to keep the ball in front of you.

    *Using the right foot only, push the ball forward softly,
    and pull it back using the sole of the foot. Also try with your left foot. When
    you feel comfortable with both feet, do a combination drill. (right and left).

    *Push the ball sideways with the outside of your right foot,
    then using the inside of the right foot pass the ball to the left foot. With your left foot do
    the same.

    *You can also always look for more drills online; do a
    Google search or watch a training video on dailymotion.com.”

    — Gustavo Palomino, director of coaching for Downtown
    United Soccer Club & Gotham Girls FC (dusc.net)

    “How can yoga
    possibly make me a better football player?”
    —Sal, Bay Ridge

    “Yoga makes every sport easier. Yoga is a style of exercise
    that combines movements for strength as well as flexibility while focusing on
    the breath. These movements are called postures, or ‘asanas.’ Moving the body
    in these various postures and linking the movement with the breath is what
    makes yoga different from other forms of exercise.

    With yoga, the movement of the body into a position is
    initiated by the breath. That means that the breath is where the mind brings
    its attention and the body follows the breath. In other aerobic activities like
    running and biking, as well as in sports like tennis and football, breathing
    increases naturally with the exertion on the body. Yoga can help sports and
    aerobic activities become increasingly ‘meditative’ when there is more
    awareness on the breath. The mind can begin to control the body and then the
    sport or aerobic activity can be easier. For a sports enthusiast and athlete,
    controlling the mind and the body can be the difference between an amateur and
    a professional.”

    — Stephanie
    Culen, founder of Boomerang Yoga (boomerangyoga.org)

    My parents are huge
    skiers. Every winter we go on a ski vacation. I want to snowboard. They say
    it’s too dangerous. Really? Which is more dangerous, snowboarding or skiing?”

    —Peyton, Battery Park City

    “Snow sports share many inherent risks and the incidence
    rate of injury is comparable, but there are different vulnerabilities. Snowboarding
    is a hybrid sport inspired by skiing, surfing and skateboarding. Snowboarders
    have a higher percentage of upper extremity injuries, while skiers have a
    higher percentage of lower extremity injuries. Because a snowboard necessitates
    both feet being fixed to the same object, a snowboarder will have a tendency to
    fall directly forward or backward, exposing the wrists, face, head and tailbone
    to injury. Skiers tend to fall to their sides, exposing them to injuries to the
    hip, knee and shoulder. It is imperative that, while enjoying snowboarding, you
    are conscious of your own ability. Keep in mind that just because you are a
    good skier, you may be a novice on a snowboard. Take a lesson from a qualified
    instructor. One of the most important skills snowboarding instructors will
    teach is how to fall correctly, thereby avoiding the most common situations
    that lead to injuries. To ensure safety, purchase the proper equipment such as
    a good helmet, wrist guards and possibly a tailbone pad.

    Finally, it would be wise to perform specific conditioning and workout
    routines so to not only perform better and prevent fatigue, but to help reduce
    the risk of injury on the slopes.”

    — Kim Caspare, founder of Body Architects, NYC


     Have A Question For A Sports Expert?

    If so, write us at [email protected]. Please put “sports question” in the
    subject line.

    See More Related Articles

    Ask The Experts

    A Year’s Worth of Sports Wisdom Addressing Questions And Concerns From Parents And Children

    By New York Family

    For more than a year now, children (with the likely encouragement and help of their parents) have been writing to New York Family Sports with all sorts of interesting questions. Looking to the year ahead, we’ve gathered a sampling for your easy reference, but also to inspire more questions. Bring them on. (See sidebar for where to send them.)

    “Right before I step
    on the court I get cotton mouth, my knees start shaking and I’m frightened to
    get the ball. What can I do to boost my confidence before the game starts?”

    —Alan, Upper West Side

    “Every week I get calls from athletes who feel that they are
    lacking in self-confidence. There are many ways to help athletes, young and
    adult, to believe in themselves and in their physical abilities. Bedtime is a
    great time of the day to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Here is
    a simple technique:

    Before you go
    to sleep tonight, make a list of seven times in your life when you felt very
    comfortable and good about yourself. You can include a good grade, a great
    game, an award you won, succeeding at something that was difficult or working
    hard to master a task or to finish a difficult project. One of my patients
    loved to remind himself of how he felt when he learned to surf. As you prepare
    for sleep, spend a minute revisiting each of these experiences and
    accomplishments. When you are done, just let yourself relax, have a good night
    of sleep and maybe dream about some of your positive accomplishments. Do this for three weeks. Stacking your
    positive memories like this on a daily basis can help you to build your
    confidence. The next time you go out on the field or on the court, carry some
    of these thoughts with you and see if you start to feel more relaxed, confident
    and focused with this new frame of mind.”

    –Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., psychotherapist and the founder of StayInTheZone.com

    “We’ve had our kids
    in organized sports since they were 5. They play in top leagues. But, after all
    that, why do most kids drop out of sports?”

    –Jay and Linda, parents, Upper East Side

    “The simplest answer is painfully obvious: because they
    aren’t having fun. The more important question is this: What changes at the
    start of adolescence, and why is this a crucial transition period for the young
    athlete? As they progress into and through adolescence, teens discover the
    ability to make choices, engage in more complex social relationships, and start
    asking fundamental ‘Who am I?’ questions. For the emerging adolescent, who they
    associate with (and who they aspire to associate with) is a critical element of
    the definition of self. Sport can often insulate them from negative peer
    influence, but involvement in sport can also suffer as a result of these
    influences, particularly if the teen’s connection to athletics is compromised
    by obsessive parental involvement, weak motivation, lack of connection to their
    teammate/competitor social group, unsatisfactory experiences in practice or
    competition, and lack of strong coach/mentor relationships. If these emotional and intellectual
    challenges weren’t enough, children get taller, stronger, faster, and develop
    new agilities as they progress through adolescence. Their aptitudes for one
    sport or another may change, and they often rediscover themselves as athletes
    just as they are discovering new elements of personality and inclination. How
    do you keep kids involved in sports as they progress through adolescence? Keep
    it fun. Let them choose the activities they like. All too often adults will
    make choices for young athletes with the justification that they are doing what
    needs to be done for the child to be successful. If it isn’t fun, rewarding,
    and socially satisfying, young teens won’t want to do it. That said, parents
    shouldn’t merely check out. Teens still need strong coach/mentors and involved
    (but not obsessive) parents to steer them through the challenges of maturation
    rate, social isolation/confusion and the process of self-definition.”

    –Paul Weiss, Ph.D, Senior Program Director at Asphalt Green
    (asphaltgreen.org)

    “A lot of coaches say I’m at the age where
    I have to choose one sport and only play that sport from now on. But I like a
    lot of sports. What should I do?”
    —Alex, Tribeca

    “One of the great things about being a child is that you can
    explore many different activities and experiences. This is also true for
    sports. I know some children who have such a strong passion for a single sport
    that they are satisfied focusing their efforts on that sport. The risk of
    focusing heavily on one sport at an early age, however, is that some children
    may burn out and lose interest while they are missing out on other athletic
    opportunities and experiences. I believe at your age you should expose yourself
    to as many sports as possible for two reasons. First, you never know what other
    sports you might like unless you try them. Second, playing multiple sports
    allows you to develop a variety of muscle groups, which is important to your
    physical development. It is considerably more difficult to develop those muscles
    when you are older. Every so often you should ask yourself, “Why do I play
    sports?” The following three answers should be among your reasons; 1) to have
    fun, 2) to get better at it and 3) to be with friends. You will only get to be
    a child once.”

    –Jeffrey Bernstein, founder and director of Simply Sports
    (simplysports.net)

    “People often say ‘swimming
    is the best exercise.’ So, is it?”
    —Penny, West Village

    “Many coaches consider it the best exercise for fitness
    purposes because there is much less impact than, for example, with running. But
    I have two cautions when asked ‘What’s the best exercise?’ The first is that
    swimming requires a pool and NYC pools are not easy to get to. My second
    caution, and this is more serious, is that swimming is a very technical
    activity. By that I mean swimming without the proper technique will be very
    stressful and will not produce the fitness benefits you are looking for. If
    your swimming technique is good—meaning if you can relax and swim for 20 to 30
    minutes without fatigue—then swimming is a great exercise. I will also say that
    the best fitness program is one that involves more than one sport. You should
    supplement swimming with a strength activity and a weight-bearing activity. One
    more thing: the truly best exercise activity is the one you will do regularly.”

    — Neil Cook is Head Multi-Sport Coach at Asphalt Green
    (asphaltgreen.org)

    “Field time in New
    York City is tough to come by. What little things can I do with a soccer ball
    inside my room to help my game?”
    —Dina, Stuyvesant Town

    “First of all, you should have two soccer balls, sizes 5 and
    1. The size 1 ball is handy to have around and great to improve technique. The
    following drills are great for coordination and ball control:

    *Tap on the ball with both feet using the sole of the foot.

    *Pass the ball from foot to foot using the inside part. Bend
    your knee a little and try to keep the ball in front of you.

    *Using the right foot only, push the ball forward softly,
    and pull it back using the sole of the foot. Also try with your left foot. When
    you feel comfortable with both feet, do a combination drill. (right and left).

    *Push the ball sideways with the outside of your right foot,
    then using the inside of the right foot pass the ball to the left foot. With your left foot do
    the same.

    *You can also always look for more drills online; do a
    Google search or watch a training video on dailymotion.com.”

    — Gustavo Palomino, director of coaching for Downtown
    United Soccer Club & Gotham Girls FC (dusc.net)

    “How can yoga
    possibly make me a better football player?”
    —Sal, Bay Ridge

    “Yoga makes every sport easier. Yoga is a style of exercise
    that combines movements for strength as well as flexibility while focusing on
    the breath. These movements are called postures, or ‘asanas.’ Moving the body
    in these various postures and linking the movement with the breath is what
    makes yoga different from other forms of exercise.

    With yoga, the movement of the body into a position is
    initiated by the breath. That means that the breath is where the mind brings
    its attention and the body follows the breath. In other aerobic activities like
    running and biking, as well as in sports like tennis and football, breathing
    increases naturally with the exertion on the body. Yoga can help sports and
    aerobic activities become increasingly ‘meditative’ when there is more
    awareness on the breath. The mind can begin to control the body and then the
    sport or aerobic activity can be easier. For a sports enthusiast and athlete,
    controlling the mind and the body can be the difference between an amateur and
    a professional.”

    — Stephanie
    Culen, founder of Boomerang Yoga (boomerangyoga.org)

    My parents are huge
    skiers. Every winter we go on a ski vacation. I want to snowboard. They say
    it’s too dangerous. Really? Which is more dangerous, snowboarding or skiing?”

    —Peyton, Battery Park City

    “Snow sports share many inherent risks and the incidence
    rate of injury is comparable, but there are different vulnerabilities. Snowboarding
    is a hybrid sport inspired by skiing, surfing and skateboarding. Snowboarders
    have a higher percentage of upper extremity injuries, while skiers have a
    higher percentage of lower extremity injuries. Because a snowboard necessitates
    both feet being fixed to the same object, a snowboarder will have a tendency to
    fall directly forward or backward, exposing the wrists, face, head and tailbone
    to injury. Skiers tend to fall to their sides, exposing them to injuries to the
    hip, knee and shoulder. It is imperative that, while enjoying snowboarding, you
    are conscious of your own ability. Keep in mind that just because you are a
    good skier, you may be a novice on a snowboard. Take a lesson from a qualified
    instructor. One of the most important skills snowboarding instructors will
    teach is how to fall correctly, thereby avoiding the most common situations
    that lead to injuries. To ensure safety, purchase the proper equipment such as
    a good helmet, wrist guards and possibly a tailbone pad.

    Finally, it would be wise to perform specific conditioning and workout
    routines so to not only perform better and prevent fatigue, but to help reduce
    the risk of injury on the slopes.”

    — Kim Caspare, founder of Body Architects, NYC


     Have A Question For A Sports Expert?

    If so, write us at [email protected]. Please put “sports question” in the
    subject line.

    See More Related Articles