Thursday, 29 April 2010

Childhood obesity – a weight off your mind.

Over the last ten years the colossal media publicity regarding the much debated topic of childhood obesity has seemed to die down somewhat, but the problem is not going away – if anything, it is getting worse. Recent figures from Canada suggest that 90% of pre schoolers are not getting the recommended 90 minutes of physical exercise they require each day. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles, the hectic pace of modern life etc all conspire to prevent us from ensuring that our kids have access to the amount of exercise they need. However a lot can be done, and we, at Little Kickers, feel it is our duty to help where we can.

Even the most proactive parents can struggle to motivate their children to get out and about. The lure of the Xbox is too much; Power Rangers is on TV, or the famous phrase “In a minute, Mum!” Trust me, this comes from my own personal experience. Now there is no excuse - summer has arrived. My official first day of summer is when my Dad’s legs come out in the o-so-very short shorts; admittedly my summer usually starts in February because of this! It was only today I was stood with my Dad wondering why the Frisbee appears larger the closer it gets….and then it hit me!

Apologies on the horrendous joke, we will move on. At Little Kickers we have the pleasure of teaching young kids football at weekly classes. Our experienced coaches deliver progressive and challenging sessions to aid learning and development of your children. Unfortunately, more often than not, we only get an hour a week with them. If we could, we would love to entertain them all week, but we feel we should allow you some time with them! We understand that Little Kickers has addictive qualities: our coaches, our games and the friends they make at the sessions, usually the hardest part of our sessions is trying to convince them that they need to go home!

Why not take Little Kickers with you? If you have a football, (if not we sell them on the website) why not find an hour during the busy week to go out and have a kick around. Some of my fondest memories as a child were kicking the ball as hard as I could at my Dad, he thought I was shooting; I was just waiting for the day he had to get out of the way from one of my shots. (If interested he moved when I was 13, on August 14th …true story!) I loved it, and I am sure your kids would too. Not only will it combat childhood obesity which, as mentioned, is an increasingly serious problem, but it will also compliment the skills they are learning at their Little Kickers sessions.

Unfortunately, the time we have available to spend with our kids is becoming more and more scarce as time goes by – the general stresses of modern life - work, chores, driving to and from activities etc, all conspire to prevent us from spending real quality time with our kids. I’m sure every parent reading this blog will have experienced their kids trying to copy what they do – pretending to speak on the phone or cook supper - after all, kids learn by example. Committing to taking just 30 minutes each day where you switch off the phone and tune out of the stresses of everyday life and focus 100% on playing physical games with your kids can have immeasurable benefits on their health (as well as your own!). It’s one thing taking them to activity classes so they can learn specific skills, but they are much more likely to view exercise as a routine part of their lives if they are doing it to mimic their parents.

There are a lot of things you can do; simply set up a target: a jumper, an empty flower pot etc. Compete against each other to see who can get nearest the target. Award points for the area the ball lands in. Why not play against each other? You will be amazed how competitive you get. Please be gentle with them, they are only young…performing celebratory dances after you have beaten them may damage their confidence somewhat! Encourage children to use both feet to kick with. Penalties are easy to set up, and siblings and parents can join in by going in goal, or help setting up obstacles. You’ll be amazed at how involved your children get in this type of game-playing.

With the holidays coming up, this is a perfect way to spend time with your child, doing what they really enjoy, leading by example and encouraging them to view sport as a normal, routine (but fun!) part of everyday life.

Friday, 9 April 2010

“It’s the taking part that counts!”

I hope you are all having a cracking time on your long awaited Easter break; I was incredibly egg-cited to have a few days off and loved soaking up the unexpected sun. Its funny how many people call in sick from work when the sun comes out, and if you are currently nursing the “flu” with a crisp cider in your short shorts then shame on you!

I do have a slight confession, on April 1st we released a blog upon the website saying that I would be unavailable for the coming weeks as I was busy rehearsing for the X Factor finals. Thank you for all your messages of support, including cousins that had even heard me in a karaoke competition…despite having the voice of an angel (hells angel), I am not in the finals of the X Factor, it was an April Fools.

I usually try and pick a topic that is currently in the news to talk about, and it’s hard to overlook the confusing nature of the election. Having tried to work out who is telling the truth, who’s wrong, who is right, and whose ideas make the most sense(!) I am fast approaching a voting technique that my mother uses to pick horses at the races, the funny sounding name, or the “Irishy sounding one.”

Along with the hysteria and confusion surrounding the election comes a big sporting weekend. With the Masters drawing to a close, will Tiger Woods come back with a bang? The Premiership has a set of exciting fixtures and with the season coming to the end points on the board is even more valuable. Also Wembley is playing host to the much loved FA Cup semi finals. And the magic and lottery of the Grand National. I have always followed the Grand National, the one day of the year where I think it is viewed as acceptable to have a little flutter.

With such great sporting occasions taking place, each individual team, player, coach or manager will want to be at their best. Of course winning is a great moment, and as I have previously stated in a previous blog, winning should be celebrated in style. Even more importantly, though, we do our utmost to make sure our children at Little Kickers, are enjoying every moment of simply playing and taking part. The old adage of ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ is usually uttered by a supportive mum after a disappointing defeat in a final, and mum is right!

Although it is disappointing to be on the losing side, positives can and should be taken purely form the experience. This is why at Little Kickers we aim to aid child development by getting the best out of our kids. Not only by improving their football skills, but also teaching them discipline, behaviour, socialising and other great attributes that build up our fantastic children’s personalities. We try and encourage our Little Kickers to improve every week, our coaches follow a program where sessions add progression steadily to aid improvement.

I have the luxury, in my role as Director of Coaching for Little Kickers, to go round and view a lot of the sessions we run around the country. My job is made even more enjoyable by being able to return to the same class, and see how the children have progressed. I am regularly stunned at the growth a lot of the kids achieve, both in Football terms and also in personality. The shy kids become more confident, the louder kids have learnt to listen, and the kid that was scared of kicking the football is now unstoppable!

If you are an existing member of Little Kickers then you will have your own tale of how your child has developed. And if you are not a member yet, why not consider giving your child the opportunity to learn, develop and make friends in this exciting arena that is Little Kickers?
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