TrueSport Resources

 The Career Impact of Playing Youth Sports
(6/20/2019)
 
 
   

The Career Impact of Playing Youth Sports


In youth sports


As parents, we all like to think we’re steering our children toward activities and opportunities that will help them lead happy, productive, and fulfilling lives. We encourage them to work hard, have integrity, take risks, show gratitude, be respectful, etc. But at some point, deep down, every parent realizes there are no guarantees. There’s no formula that ensures success, but there are definitely behaviors, activities, and opportunities that increase the chances your child will become a successful, ethical, and happy adult. According to recent research, participation in youth sports is one them.

A 2014 study by Kniffin, Wansink, and Shimizu examined how participation in high school sports correlated with a person’s behaviors and accomplishments later in life. Here are some of their findings:

Hiring Managers Preferentially Hire Student Athletes

Parents often look to youth sports to help their children develop leadership skills, self-confidence, and self-respect. According to the research from Kniffin and his colleagues, managers looking to hire people for entry-level jobs have the expectation former student athletes possess those skills and traits, which gives them a competitive advantage. They even looked at whether this advantage was specifically associated with sports, or whether participation in any organized activity provided the same advantage. Compared to former band and yearbook members, former student athletes were perceived by managers to have greater leadership skills, self-confidence, and self-respect.

Former Student Athletes Advance Faster

Certain lessons learned through sports help young workers advance in their careers. Youth sports expose kids to organizational leaders (coaches) early on, which research has shown to be an important component of learning leadership skills. Team sports also “reward group-level achievements and appear to facilitate the enforcement of group-serving behavior.” In other words, former student athletes are better team players in a career setting, and grow to become leaders 
who strive for the success of the team.

Former Student Athletes Have Higher Wages at 30 years old

Supporting prior research, a 2010 study by Betsey Stevenson showed participation in high school sports had a positive effect on the amount of education people attained, the likelihood of being employed as an adult, and the wages they earned. Stevenson’s work focused on the effect of Title IX on the success of women in the workforce, and two results of particular note were that 1) Higher wages only correlated with participation in high school sports, and not any other extracurricular activities, and 2) Title IX led to a substantial increase in the percentage of women who subsequently pursued traditionally male-dominated, higher-wage careers.

Former Student Athletes Are More Likely to Give Back

Another component of the study by Knifflin and his colleagues examined philanthropic behaviors of former student athletes 60 years after high school. They found that older men who participated in volunteer work or donated money to charitable causes were more likely to have participated in high school sports, and particularly, exhibited leadership traits in high school sports.

Overall, former student athletes earned more money, advanced to more senior career positions, and were more likely than non-athletes to volunteer and donate money as older adults.

It is important to note, the researchers referenced in this article acknowledged they could only show correlation, and not causation. They couldn’t answer whether the people who earned more, advanced further, and were more philanthropic achieved those outcomes because they participated in sport or if the traits that helped them succeed later in life also drew them to participate in sport in the first place.

Either way, participating in high school sports is a winning proposition!

References:
Kniffin, Kevin M., et al. “Sports at Work.” Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, vol. 22, no. 2, 2014, pp. 217–230., doi:10.1177/1548051814538099.
Stevenson, Betsey. “Beyond the Classroom: Using Title IX to Measure the Return to High School Sports.” 2010, doi:10.3386/w15728.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Take A Lap
(6/6/2019)
 
   

Take A Lap


Alternatives to Exercise as Punishment


For generations, using exercise as punishment in youth sports was the norm. The practice has even been romanticized, like in the movie Miracle where hockey players are forced to skate seemingly endless ‘suicide’ drills after a bad loss.

“Drop and give me 20.”

“Take a lap.”

“The losers of this drill have to do five extra sprints at the end of practice.”

But in a time when people already have enough trouble getting exercise, it’s a disservice to use exercise as punishment, which paints it as something negative instead of something that should be enjoyed.

In fact, using exercise as a disciplinary tool is considered corporal punishment and thereby illegal in more than half of U.S. states, several of which also have laws against withholding exercise (e.g., keeping kids from recess). The Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) has also made an official statement shunning the practice.  

At the end of the day, youth athletes are still kids. So, if taking more laps at the end of practice shouldn’t be used as punishment, what can be done to hold athletes accountable?
 
Alternative 1: Verbal Warning

Even if an athlete has a penchant for acting independently from the team, sometimes being called out in front of peers can be enough to create a positive behavior change.

Be wary, however, that drawing attention to misbehavior can feel like a reward to some kids, so consider carefully whether a one-on-one approach would be more effective than addressing them in front of the entire group.
 
Alternative 2: Academic and Non-Traditional Punishments

If coaching a school-sponsored team, research if school-related punishments, such as before or after school detention, can be handed out to youth athletes that violate their team or sport rules. In addition to being an effective punishment any student-athlete would want to avoid, it might further underscore the importance of acting in a mature manner in organized settings.

Instead of exercise as punishment, the United Kingdom’s education secretary once explained the value of alternate and equally undesirable punishments, such as “writing lines, picking up litter in playgrounds, weeding, tidying classrooms and removing graffiti,” that would not blacken an athlete’s view of exercise.

For athletes on non-school teams, this idea could transpose into cleaning up the playing field after practice, or writing an essay about their role on the team or why it’s important to keep a cool-head.

Alternative 3: Brief Removal

If an athlete’s transgression resulted from frustrations about a call or heated moment during a game, it’s the coach’s responsibility to step in and pull that player from the game for as long as it takes. Depending on their role on the team, the punishment might come with the added of weight of having to watch their teammates struggle without them.  

Not allowing them to re-enter until they have regained their composure also communicates that their behavior has no place in sports, no matter how frustrating the context. Explain that it’s the coach’s job to discuss issues with the referee or to point out dangerous play, not theirs.  
 
Alternative 4: League Action

If a misbehaving player’s infraction is something that is endangering other players, it may be time to have the league or conference get involved. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, the league might bar the player from playing for a game or more.

Often just making athletes aware that removal is a possibility, whether at the beginning of the season or when they start to act out, is enough to elicit a positive behavior change.
 
Alternative 5: Establish Expectations

The need for any disciplinary action can possibly be avoided before the season begins by firmly establishing behavioral expectations, such as always shaking opponent’s hands after the game, participating to the best of one’s abilities in drills, and never shouting at a ref. It’s also important to clearly define the punishment for such behavior.

Setting goals that all athletes and the team feel strongly about can also reinforce positive behavior.
In the end, it’s about creating an environment that athletes want to support and finding ways to create behavior change in a positive way.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 What You Need to Know About E-Cigarettes and Vaping
(5/30/2019)
 
   

What You Need to Know About E-Cigarettes and Vaping




After decades of declines in tobacco use by teenagers, vaping and the use of e-cigarettes is surging in high schools and middle schools nationwide. According to a November 2018 advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General, e-cigarette use increased 78% among high school seniors and 48% among middle school students from 2017 to 2018.

As they have before, parents, teachers, and coaches must once again help kids understand the risks and learn to reject nicotine and tobacco.
 
The Appeal

Vaping eliminates several of the barriers that discouraged kids from sampling and getting hooked on nicotine. There’s no lighter, or hot, harsh smoke to inhale. A single pen-sized Juul, which has an estimated 75% of the market, is also easy to conceal and contains the nicotine content of a pack of 20 cigarettes. Maybe most importantly for teens, it’s hard to detect because the vapor doesn’t linger on the user’s clothes or breath. The industry is also making vaping more appealing to kids by focusing on fruity and dessert flavors.
 
E-Cigarette Risks for Teens

Vaping doesn’t look, smell, taste, or linger the way conventional tobacco products do, and the sleek and clean design gives a false impression that e-cigarettes are safe.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, here are some of the reasons they are not.
Physical effects of nicotine:
Potent stimulant, increases blood pressure and heart rate, increases arterial stiffness.
Addictive:
Nicotine is physically addictive and young, developing minds are more susceptible to learning addictive behaviors.
Brain risks:
For the still-developing brain, nicotine can increase the likelihood for mood disorders, permanently reduce impulse control, and reduce cognitive abilities.
Greater tobacco and drug use:
There is no evidence to support the idea that e-cigarettes keep people from using burned or smokeless tobacco. While a small number of tobacco users have used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, far more new e-cigarette users subsequently start using conventional tobacco products.
 

E-Cigarettes and Sport 


Nicotine is a powerful stimulant with a long association with sport, particularly baseball. However, according to a 2017 review study, athletes in football, ice hockey, wrestling, gymnastics, and skiing are increasingly using it as well. While appealing to many athletes, the ergogenic effect may be overestimated. It is also important for coaches and parents to know athletes reported using nicotine for alertness, weight loss, and preventing dry mouth.
 
What You Need to Know About E-Cigarettes and Vaping 

Though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans to restrict flavored e-cigarette products, they are currently easy to get. In the meantime, the Surgeon General and Centers for Disease Control recommend a number of ways parents, coaches, and healthcare providers can help address the problem, including the following.
Be a good example:
Quit personal tobacco use and establish tobacco-free rules for your home or sports facility.
Initiate the conversation:
Instead of waiting until a young athlete brings it up, use cues, like a person vaping nearby, to bring up the topic more naturally.
Learn so you can educate:
Learn what e-cigarettes look like and how they work, as well as the health risks of nicotine. Nearly two-thirds of Juul users age 14-24 do not know Juul always contains nicotine.
Repeat the message:
Just like practicing new sport skills, saying it once isn’t going to do it. Find new ways to communicate the message, like using a team approach and including conversations with a doctor, coaches, teachers, and athlete role models.

The good news is that even with the dramatic increase in vaping, four out of five high school students are NOT doing it. Nationwide efforts to reduce tobacco use have worked in the past. Parents, coaches, and teachers played a big role in those successes, and can do the same again.
TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Four Myths Parents Need to Know About Supplements
(5/23/2019)
 
   

Four Myths Parents Need to Know About Supplements



Dietary supplements are omnipresent in sports. When youth athletes see their professional idols or peers using supplements, they may feel supplementation is necessary to keep up with the competition. Since they are so readily available, it’s also easy for parents to think there’s no harm in letting athletes use them.

Unfortunately, the supplement industry is one of smoke and mirrors. Although they might seem appropriate for young athletes trying to stay healthy and competitive, there are many myths surrounding supplements that parents should be aware of before choosing to buy these products.
 
MYTH: A Supplement Found on Store Shelves is Safe

While you would think that a supplement sold in a health food store or pharmacy has been thoroughly vetted for safety and efficacy, that’s not the case due to how the U.S. supplement industry is regulated.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluates supplements in a post-market manner, meaning that all supplements can be sold until something is proven wrong with them. This is the opposite of how pharmaceuticals are regulated, as their effectiveness must first be proven in studies and clinical trials.
 
MYTH: Labels Tell You Exactly What’s in a Supplement

Post-market regulation also makes it possible for supplement labels to be extremely misrepresentative, as well as intentionally deceptive, about what is actually in a product.
Many supplement companies list ‘Proprietary Blend’ on the label, meaning they can hide any ingredients they want, including those prohibited in sports, under that name. Other companies list ingredients under scientific names, or even fake names, that you might not recognize as anything dangerous or illicit, even if you are careful about reading the label.

In other cases, supplements that aren’t meant to contain potent substances become contaminated as a result of being produced in the same setting as higher-risk supplements. The manufacturer may be unaware and the label won’t reflect the error, but consumers are still at risk when products don’t undergo pre-market analysis and certification.
 
MYTH: Natural Ingredients Mean a Supplement is Safe

Supplement companies often brand their products as being ‘all-natural’ or ‘organic,’ usually with a green ‘certified’ logo that provides a holistic vibe. However, there’s plenty of things in nature that can cause serious damage to the human body, and unfortunately these are sometimes found in supplements.

The classic example of this is ephedra, an ingredient from a plant of the same name, which was popular in weight-loss supplements. After the ingredient was tied to the deaths of several young athletes and an NFL player, as well as other severe side effects in many more people, the FDA banned the ingredient from being sold in supplements in 2004. However, products that contain ephedra extract are still legal.
 
MYTH: Recalled or Proven Dangerous Products Can No Longer Be Bought

Unfortunately, after a supplement has been proven dangerous and recalled, it doesn’t magically disappear from the market.

Instead, it’s up to the retailer to pay attention to recall announcements and remove the product from their shelves. This means a dangerous product can stay on store shelves for years after the fact and that someone who has already bought said product would never know that it’s been recalled.
 
How to Decide If Supplements are Appropriate


While many people use supplements without adverse health consequences, it’s vital for consumers, and especially athletes who may be subject to anti-doping rules, to understand there is no such thing as a ‘no-risk’ supplement, only a ‘lower-risk’ supplement. In most cases, a healthy, balanced diet will get athletes the nutrients they need to stay fit and perform at their best. Some athletes may have specific nutrient deficiencies, but those should be diagnosed and treated in collaboration with your physician.

Before letting your athlete take any supplement, even one recommended by a physician, always do your due diligence by researching a supplement’s ingredients and manufacturer. For more information on these best practices and other helpful information about supplements, download the TrueSport Supplement Guide.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Clean and Healthy Competition: Why It Matters
(5/9/2019)
 
   

Clean and Healthy Competition: Why It Matters


In youth sports


Why do you and your kids love sports? Maybe it’s the pure joy that comes from playing alongside teammates united by a common goal. Maybe it’s the sense of wonder in what the human body can achieve through hard work and talent. Or maybe it’s the instinctive thrill of competition and the possibility of victory. Maybe it’s all of those things.

All these reasons, however, can be threatened by the same thing – cheating. And when cheating takes the form of doping, it not only threatens the value of sport, but more importantly, the health of the athlete.

With the competitive nature of youth sports escalating, the temptation to rise above the competition through the use of performance-enhancing drugs will also start occurring to athletes at a younger age. This, and the increasingly easy access to potent substances, is why coaches, parents, and youth sport role models must help shape an environment that prioritizes clean and healthy competition.

Promote a Level Playing Field

Using performance-enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage devalues the hard work and hours of training other athletes have invested in themselves and in their teammates.

According to the TrueSport Report released by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, “more than half of the general population agree that there are sports that are accepting of unethical behavior. In addition, more than one-third of children agree that some sports do a bad job of teaching the difference between right and wrong.”

But at every level of competition, athletes, coaches, officials, and parents can help create a culture of clean sport.

Whether it’s something as simple as faking a foul, or as serious as taking a performance-enhancing drug, young athletes need to know that no form of cheating is acceptable. Instead, help reinforce the concept that competing fair, with respect and integrity, is always more important than winning.

More specifically, you can help combat the ‘winning-at-all-costs’ culture by tracking teamwork, improvement, attitude, and resilience as closely as you do wins and losses. You can also communicate to athletes that failure is natural, and even preferred if the alternative is cheating.

Also keep in mind that young people often learn best from watching others, making it crucial that coaches, parents, and officials conduct themselves properly as an example of great sportsmanship for young athletes.

Keep Kids Healthy

It’s tempting for athletes of all ages to want to secure an edge over their competitors. But, there’s a difference between performing efficiently and taking a harmful shortcut with serious health consequences. Those potential consequences, both short-term and long-term, may not occur to a young athlete whose focus is on the immediate reward.

Help your athletes understand that there are serious health consequences associated with performance-enhancing drugs. Stimulants and anabolic agents, some of which end up illegally in supplements, are easily accessible on store shelves and online, especially those used for energy, muscle building, and weight loss. The effects may not always be immediate, but they can impact an athlete’s quality of life long after they stop playing sports.
 
To ensure your athletes are ready to perform at their best without dangerous substances, make sure they eat a well-balanced meal of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, while allowing themselves an adequate amount of recovery time between practices and big competitions.
___

Every young athlete deserves to have fun and compete in a fair game.

At the end of the day, competing clean and healthy is what matters. Any result aided by performance-enhancing drugs will rob young athletes, their teammates, opponents, coaches, and parents from celebrating a true victory.

It’s not too soon to start proactively cultivating a culture of clean and healthy performance that helps protect all athletes and sports from the physical and ethical effects of doping.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.