Tag Archives: Kids

Abel Belcher demonstrates the right way.

Health Corner | Helmet Safety

Buckle Up! Here’s Why You Should Go Head-First Into Bicycle Safety With Your Kiddo

By Angie Fenton | Photos by Adam Kleinert 

Less than five minutes after posting a photo of my toddler, Olive, on her new tricycle while haphazardly wearing her helmet on social media, I received three inbox messages essentially saying, “Your daughter’s helmet isn’t on correctly.”

Granted, we were in our carpeted living room and had only posted the photo for fun, but I took the messages seriously. Surely, I knew how to put a helmet on correctly…didn’t I? I mean, I’d only put it on for fun, but once we took her new trike outside, would she be protected?

Abel Belcher demonstrates the wrong way.

Abel Belcher demonstrates the wrong way.

Almost 400,000 children younger than 19 years of age are treated in U.S. emergency departments every year for bicycle-related injuries. In 2016, Norton Children’s Hospital had 22 bike versus motor vehicle injuries and 183 bike-related injuries.

Even if we were just tooling around in the driveway, I thought after learning the statistics, how can I keep my daughter safe?

First and foremost, said Sharon Rengers with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness, anyone riding a bicycle – or tricycle – regardless of age, needs to wear a helmet that meets safety standards. Look for ones that have the Consumer Product Safety Commission or American National Standards Institute stickers on them. I bought mine at Target brand-new. Speaking of which…

Sure, used clothes and toys are awesome and save money, but “kind of like car seats,” said Rengers, “they’re good for one crash. You can’t always tell if it’s been in a crash or not.”

Abel Belcher demonstrates the right way.

Abel Belcher demonstrates the right way.

So, if you are looking at used – which is NOT advised – look for cracks inside and outside the helmet and any evidence of a crash of any kind. “I personally would rather just get a new (helmet) instead of trusting that it’s not been damaged before,” said Rengers, and I agree. Safety first. Always.

When it comes to the proper fit, the helmet needs to sit level on the head. Put two fingers above the eyebrow; that’s where the front of the helmet should be sitting, said Rengers.

Then, be sure one strap is placed before the ear and one strap is behind it. After snapping the straps together, an adult should be able to fit only one finger below the chin. Ask your child to open his or her mouth as wide as they can; they should feel the snugness. But remember: “It’s really important that you have it level so you’re protecting all lobes of their brain,” Rengers advised.

My tot isn’t exactly going for a jaunt on her parent-steered bike, so does she really need a helmet beyond the factor that (let’s face it) she looks super cute?

“Yes,” said Rengers, emphatically, “you really need a helmet – even on the driveway, on the sidewalk in front of your house or any time.”

In addition to safety, what you’re also teaching is a pattern, Rengers explained. “It’s like wearing a seatbelt. You do it every time so when (kids) are big and on their own, they do it every time.”

If you want more information about bicycle helmet safety call Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness at 502.629.7358.

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Buck The Trend: Let Your Kids Play ALL The Sports

By Howie Lindsey

When you hear the word diversity what comes to mind?

Skin tones? Political opinions? Socio-economic class?

Let’s add another: Athletics.

And no, for this article we aren’t addressing the importance of racial or cultural diversity within athletics teams, but rather the need for athletes to experience diversity in training methods and sports as they mature.

In covering college athletics for more than a decade, there are few words that elicit such a negative response as this one: Specialization.

What is specialization? Specialization, specifically sport specialization, is the increasingly common trend of young athletes picking one particular sport and training for that sport year-round. A nine-year-old seems to be particularly good at throwing a baseball so they work on pitching for 10-20 hours per week for the next eight straight years. With the potential for millions of dollars in professional contracts on the line, it is tempting for parents to become hyper-focused on a particular sport or activity for their child. Personal trainers are hired, camps are hyper-focused and the young athlete’s trajectory as a collegiate star is set in steel much like a freight train on the track heading toward a particular destination.

Anecdotal – and scientific – evidence suggests that specialization may be a mistake. College coaches will tell you the same.

Dozens of coaches at the elite college level – coaches like Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino, soccer coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes, baseball coach Dan McDonnell – not only have a distaste for sport specialization, they seem to prefer athletes who don’t specialize.

Longtime NFL veterans Eric Wood (Buffalo Bills) and Breno Giacomini (Houston Texans) came to Louisville as two-sport high school stars, playing basketball each winter after football season was complete. Former Louisville stars Michael Bush and Brian Brohm played three sports in high school. Bush now has a single-digit handicap in golf and is a ridiculously good bowler.

Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng has been praised for his elite foot quickness for a 7-footer, and Dieng directly credits his youth as a soccer player.

Some of the best skill position players in Louisville’s current football program also ran track to increase speed and body-awareness. In women’s soccer and rowing, the top athletes are almost always multi-sport stars in high school.

And it’s not just Louisville coaches who prefer multi-sport athletes. At the professional level, we frequently hear pro coaches praise an athletes body awareness and balance, typically crediting participation in multiple sports other than their current profession.

How big of an issue is sport specialization? The NBA, led by NBA Vice President Kiki VanDeWeghe and NBA Director of Sports Medicine John DiFiori, published an op-ed in USA Today essentially encouraging kids to play something other than just basketball: “So what can we do about a youth sports culture that increasingly pressures boys and girls to play one sport year-round and causes parents to feel that their child will be left behind if they don’t go along? For starters, young athletes should … be exposed to multiple sports. …Avoid playing a single sport competitively year-round … and focus on skills development rather than structured competition.”

That sentiment distilled in its simplest form? Diversity is best.

Medicine agrees. In a paper published in 2013 in the Sports Health discipline in the National Library of Medicine, a group of five doctors led by Neeru Jayanthi concluded: “For most sports, there is no evidence that intense training and specialization before puberty are necessary to achieve elite status.”

Further, that study found “Risks of early sports specialization include higher rates of injury, increased psychological stress, and quitting sports at a young age.”

There are certainly many examples of child prodigies who become superstar pros – golfers like Tiger Woods and Ricky Fowler, dozens of tennis stars, figure skaters and, of course, gymnastics.

But a 2007 study of 4,000 Olympic athletes found that the average starting age in their chosen sport was 11.5 years old. That’s after some American families have made the decision to forgo all other sports and concentrate on one particular sport.

A study of 708 minor league professional baseball players showed that although their mean starting age was 6 years old, the players’ mean age of specializing in baseball was 15 years. The majority (52 percent) didn’t concentrate on baseball full time until the age of 17.

As a parent, you can take two things from all this:

1. Your fifth-grader can pick up a new sport tomorrow and still be an Olympian.

2. To be a success at the college or professional level, you do not need to play one sport year-round throughout high school.

the-final-say-feature-image

A Letter to My Children About Playing the Game

By Zach McCrite

In my last column, among other things, you learned that my wife, Brittany, and I are expecting another child in July, exactly two years after the birth of our first child – a baby girl named Remington (as time goes on you’ll continue to learn more about the lovable, yet sometimes delirious band of misfits known as the McCrites).

I reiterate that point because I want to do something that I’ve always promised myself I’d do when I became a dad: tell my kids what kind of parent I am going to strive to be while they participate in team sports.

I never had the notion of making it public, of course. But, I figured, why not? I’ve spent most of the last 15 years coaching girls volleyball, specifically ages 14 to 18, to varying degrees of success.

And since I’ve become a parent myself, I’ve come to know the unconditional love of which parents speak.

It’s that merging of “coach” and “parent” that makes me want to let my children know, up front, exactly what kind of parent I’m going to strive to be as they hit the teenage years.

(DISCLAIMER: This is in no way meant to be some referendum on how you should parent your child. Hopefully, you knew that already. This is a letter to my kids, made public only to create healthy dialogue.)

Here we go.

Dear Remi and Kid-To-Be-Named-Later, As I write this, I’m in the upstairs office (that now doubles as a playroom, of course) while your mother is downstairs carrying Kid-To-Be-Named-Later in her belly and cleaning in between Remi’s requests for milk and crackers and more Paw Patrol on the TV.

Before we know it, both of you are going to be playing team sports of some sort. Maybe basketball or volleyball or football or soccer or cheerleading. Hopefully all of them!

As you’ll find out, competition will increase with time. I don’t mean “the talent of opposing teams” (although, that will surge, too), but I mean competition between you and your teammates for playing time, especially in high school.

When this happens (and given the combined lack of athletic ability of your parents, you’re fighting an uphill battle), I want you to know that I promise to listen when things don’t go as you expect. I promise to be there every step of the way. I promise to be your vent. 

And, I also promise to mold you into the young adult that will confront these situations head on. That’s right, you. Not me.

You see, I was a coach once upon a time. Luckily, I was blessed with hundreds of parents who either accepted my coaching style and the role their child received on the team or made sure their kids were the ones who met with the staff if there were any displeasure.

But there were a small number of parents that wanted to get involved themselves. When they did, sometimes it went well. Sometimes it didn’t. Either way, almost always, the child never felt truly comfortable again. Why?

Because, when the parents got involved, If the meeting didn’t produce the results they liked, the parents became angry and vented to their child about how they shouldn’t listen to the coach anymore, which can kill a team’s chances at true success. They also vented to parents of other teammates which, eventually, the kid heard about at school. If the meeting went well, the child felt like any extra playing time was not truly earned.

Either way, the parents always meant well. It was just unforeseen consequences conceived from unconditional love for their child.

So, with that as a backdrop, I’m letting you know up front, when it comes to playing time, I will not be talking directly to your coach.

One of the main purposes of high school is to help train you to be a functioning (and hopefully successful) adult. There’s no better way help you learn how to become an adult than to put you in tough, real life, adult situations.

Sports provide great preparation for real life. Example: Eventually, you are going to get thrown out onto a basketball court and the ball is going to hit you in the face because, well, you probably weren’t quite prepared. But sometimes, you have to be put in the situation a couple of times to know how to react down the road. Each time you’re out there will prepare you better for future adversity.

The same holds true for real life, adult situations like having to have a tough conversation with someone. You may not be truly ready that first time you want to speak to a coach about your playing time, but it will be a learning experience for when you might have to have a real-life, uncomfortable conversation, perhaps in a work environment with your boss.

In the meantime, I hope you are grateful that you are both healthy and able to enjoy team sports, especially after your mother and I have experienced seeing one of our children suffer from congenital heart failure and undergo open heart surgery as a four-month-old. I, too, will remember to be grateful for such moments. Some kids, sadly, aren’t as fortunate.

I also hope to teach you that being a good teammate will make your mother and me more proud than any other sports-related accomplishment you’ll have.

I promise to laugh with you after funny moments, to mourn with you when losses feel like death (they’re not) and give you all the advice you could ever want (and probably more) about how to have an adult conversation with a coach about how to earn more playing time.

But I won’t be getting involved directly with your coach. Please know that it’s only because I love you so much.

Forever,

Dad