Importance of the Off Season

Off-season training isn’t just for athletes with hopes of one day playing on college teams, or those competing at a high level. UW Health Sports Performance coach Alison Regal explains that most youth athletes can benefit – although how they approach it and the benefits they gain will be different depending on their age.

To figure out what’s best, it is helpful to understand the different developmental stages.

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Youth Sports and Athletic Development

As parents, we’ve likely experienced those moments of doubt – are we doing enough to help our kids succeed? And one area where that’s prevalent is youth sports. It’s a billion-dollar business in the U.S. Kids as young as 7 are in training camps, traveling the state (sometimes the country) on competitive teams, and parents often feel like if kids haven’t been training before the age of 9, there’s no point to trying a new sport because they’ll be too far behind.

But there’s another well-known stat – by the age of 13, approximately 70% of kids in the U.S. stop playing organized sports because it’s no longer fun.

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How Much Activity is Too Much?

You know your family’s schedules are busy – sports, school, after-school, music lessons, play dates. Sometimes it can feel as though quality family time involves driving between activities. And what about those kids who enjoy being active – playing soccer, hockey and lacrosse? Or maybe it’s swimming, tennis and baseball? How much is too much?

Dave Knight, manager of UW Health’s Sports Performance Program, offers a relatively simple formula based on a child’s age and grade.

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How a sport psychologist can help youth athletes

Young athletes can be hard on themselves and each other. A missed pass, a dropped ball, a slow swim time can lead to feelings of “I’m not good enough” and that they let their coach, teammates and even parents down.

While no athlete is immune to anxiety, teens seem to be particularly vulnerable to the effects. The pressure they put on themselves can be intense, and unfortunately they’re not necessarily able to manage it. And it can ultimately affect their performance.

UW Health sport psychologist Shilagh Mirgain, PhD, explains that anxiety causes us to think less clearly, have slower reaction times, tense our muscles and even be less willing to take risks. All of which can affect an athlete’s performance during the game.

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Keeping Kids on the Court

Keeping Kids on the CourtWisconsin basketball has captivated the state over the past few years. The Badgers have enjoyed deep runs in the NCAA tournament, culminating with back to back final four appearances in 2014 and 2015. It is not just college players and fans that love basketball. By age 9, and through age 17, basketball is one of the most popular competitive sport played by boys and girls. A survey done through the United States Tennis Association from 2006-2010 found that 40% of adolescent boys and 25% of adolescent girls play competitive hoops.

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