Outdoor Game Ideas for Kids Ages 1 to 4

Spending time outside is good for children, who need sunshine and exercise to grow properly. Games played outside, with room to move freely, help develop large muscle coordination and strength, according to Dr. Sean Brotherson, family science specialist at North Dakota State University. Young children benefit from at least two periods of outside play per day, the Mississippi State University Early Childhood Institute says. Adult supervision and instruction help small kids grasp the principles of simple games.
Small children can develop their creativity by intiating simple games such as “tag” or hide and seek,” according to Brotherson. Traditional outside games like “duck, duck, goose,” “ring-around-the-rosy” and “red light, green light” have few rules for young children to digest and develop large motor skills. Children under age 5 don’t have a good understanding of the concept of competition, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension explains, so it’s not necessary to declare a “winner.” Four-year-olds love games like “red light, green light” or “Mother, may I” because it gives them the chance to “sneak” when you’re not looking, which allows them to feel like rule-breakers and rebels without actually doing anything wrong. Nature walks or scavenger hunts for certain types of animals, bird or plants make children more observant of their environment and also serve as teaching opportunities about the world around them.
Even a 1-year-old can swing a plastic bat at a stationary “T” holding a plastic ball. Basketball hoops for tots also sit close to the ground, increasing the chance of a successful toss. Your child might outgrow a set made for very young children by age 3 or so; invest in a full-sized hoop once your child gets old enough to handle a larger ball. Attach the hoop low to the ground and move up as your child grows. Even a 1-year-old understands the concept of kicking a soccer ball, although he won’t understand the concept of kicking it into his own goal at first.
If you have trikes, big wheels or push toys and a few kids complaining that they’re bored, organize a race or rally course. A straight-line course works best for the really little ones, but for kids closer to 4, an obstacle course — with anything you have lying around, such as garbage cans, serving as the obstacles — makes for fun, especially if you time each kid with a stopwatch and record their times on a big piece of cardboard.
Team games like one-legged sack races, relay races where each team member carries a water balloon or other harmless object on a large spoon or on a kid’s shovel and then hands it off to the next team member, or other types of tag-team races might be hard for very young children to grasp, but 3- and 4-year-olds understand competition and enjoy being on a team. On a hot day, have kids toss water balloons to each other, with the last team with balloons left as the winner. Expect lots of deliberate misses and water splashes, which are more fun than winning to young kids.

The Strengths & Weaknesses of Soccer Players

The position at which a soccer player becomes a specialist can often be determined by his physical height and stature. However, this is not always the case. A player who is strong and powerful will have different strengths and weaknesses compared to a player shorter in stature but also fast and nimble on his feet. A winning soccer team usually will be made up of a group of players performing to their strengths.
An effective goalkeeper is agile and has quick reflexes. Goalkeepers are often tall to make it more difficult for an attacker to get the ball past them. They have the ability to jump high and stretch wide to stop shots and crosses. A goalkeeper’s ball-handling is often his weakness as he does not practice it as much as other players.
A defender must be skilled at tackling. There are three main types of tackles — the jockey, the block and the sliding tackle. Bad timing of a tackle could result in being sent off, giving away a penalty or letting a player through on goal. Some defenders are not skilled at shooting or dribbling past opponents, but there are players who are exceptions, such as Barcelona’s Dani Alves, an attacking defender.
The midfielders are the workhorses of the team. They are good at winning tackles and can shoot and dribble past players. They are specialists at neither. A midfielder’s main strengths are her ability to maintain possession of the ball and looking for passes that can start attacks. Different midfielders have different weaknesses. A central midfielder may lack pace, while a winger may be light and easily pushed off the ball.
The primary role of the attacker, or striker, is to score goals. An attacker must be an accomplished shooter, whether it with his foot or head. A cool head in front of the goal can lead to a high-percentage shot. Attackers have to be able to score from unlikely positions. Many strikers are selfish in front of the goal. This can be a weakness as they do not spot teammates with better opportunities to score.

How to Run on Tired Legs

If you want to perform well in your races, it’s always best to be well-rested. However, if your schedule includes a lot of practices, multiple sports or other obligations it may not be possible to always be in peak form when it’s time to perform. Having to run on tired legs isn’t conducive to setting personal bests, but you can adopt several strategies to make the best of the situation.
Before attempting to run on tired legs, you should make sure that it is fatigue you are experiencing, and not an injury. Because of the repetitive nature of running, runners are at risk for overuse injuries such as stress fractures, shin splints and runner’s knee. Such injuries can make it difficult to run, which may lead you to conclude that your muscles are simply tired. Running on injured legs can result in even worse injuries, so you should avoid doing so. If you’re not sure if your legs are injured, seek medical attention.
Electrolytes — such as sodium, calcium, and potassium — perform several functions relevant to running. These nutrients help conduct nerve signals through your body, facilitating muscular contractions. Additionally, electrolytes help generate cellular energy and metabolize glycogen, which is stored in your body, into usable energy. These energy-related functions can help you get the most out of your tired legs. The amount and type of electrolytes you’ll need varies with your particular running program; consult a nutritionist for accurate recommendations.
Warming up can also help you tap whatever energy you have left in your tired legs. Performing light cardiovascular exercises such as jumping jacks and squats, as well as stretching your leg muscles for ten minutes before you run can be sufficient for your needs. Such a warm-up will help your muscles contract more forcefully, encourage better blood flow and nutrient delivery to your muscles, and can discourage the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles. Perform stretches for the major muscle groups of your legs — the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.
Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of fuel, so consuming carb-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains can provide more energy for your tired legs. Protein helps promote muscle recovery, so it can support improved performance. Dairy products tend to be rich in protein and the electrolyte calcium as well. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all dietary plan, as dietary needs vary from person to person. Your coach, doctor or nutritionist can help you understand how much protein and carbohydrates you should be consuming. Your legs my be fatigued due to glycogen depletion; you can remedy this issue by refueling with nutrition bars, sports drinks and gels during runs.

Little League Baseball Rules About Uniforms

In the classic little league baseball film “The Bad News Bears,” a reluctant coach learns just before the season starts he has to come up with team uniforms. He comes through at the last minute with white and yellow jerseys sponsored by Chico’s Bail Bonds. In the real world, that sponsorship might stir some discussion, but Little League uniform rules are mostly concerned with an unified look and player safety.
According to the official Little League Rulebook, “Every member of the team must wear a conventional uniform which includes shirt, pants, stockings and cap. This may be a regular season uniform.” Typically, umpires will be lenient in terms of every member of the team matching exactly. However, as teams advance into postseason play, umpires reserve the right to disqualify any player wearing a uniform unlike his teammates.
The rulebook states that every team must provide at least six NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) approved batting helmets. All batters, runners and player-base coaches must wear helmets at all times. Players can bring their own batting helmets, but they must be NOCSAE approved with a warning label in sight. All players must wear an athletic supporter with a cup as well.
Catchers have to play in NOCSAE certified helmets, chest protectors and knee protectors. Chest protectors must cover the entire torso as high as the lower neck and as low as the abdomen. A throat guard, the type that dangles from the helmet, is also required. As of 2013, Little League catchers aren’t allowed to wear the two-piece style helmets worn by players at higher levels. Catcher’s cups must also be made of either metal, carbon fibre or plastic.
Due to safety risks, players can’t wear metal cleats. The Little League suggests rubber cleats, but any non-metal athletic shoes are technically legal. Once players move to a large field size (from 46 to 60 foot mounds and from 60 to 90 foot base paths), most leagues allow them to wear metal spikes.

Joints & Muscles Used in Volleyball

Even if you don’t play volleyball competitively, casual play in the backyard or on a beach requires athleticism. Jumping and running, as well as serving and spiking the ball, all require strong muscles and flexible joints. If you want to concentrate on building your volleyball muscles and on stretching to improve flexibility in the necessary joints, you’ll benefit from a program that focuses on full-body flexibility and strength.
You’ll do a lot of running and jumping during a game of volleyball. Flexible ankles help you to pivot and turn quickly without incurring an injury. Running also requires flexible and limber hips, knees and ankle joints to pick up your legs and put them down where you want them. When you crouch down to explode upward and spike the ball, those same lower body joints are called into action.
All the interaction with the volleyball itself requires some movement from your shoulder joint, whether you’re serving, setting, passing or spiking it. Your elbow joints lock or bend depending on which way you’re trying to hit the ball. The wrist joints play a part, too, flexing or bracing to serve, receive a serve, pass the ball to a team member or block a spike.
Your leg muscles are your foundation when you play volleyball. You’ll recruit all of them at one point or another during the game. Your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors are all essential for running, but they also play a vital part in quick, explosive jumps. Strong leg muscles give you the power you need to elevate your jumps for effective jump serves, setting, spiking and blocking.
Your upper body is where a lot of essential volleyball action happens. Your biceps and forearms engage to move your arms during any ball-hitting action like the serve or receiving, setting, passing and spiking. Your chest engages during forceful forward and upward arm movements. With the full range of motion your arms go through in a game, the fact that you engage your shoulder muscles is no surprise. They even work with your back muscles to keep your arms from moving back when blocking a ball. Strong back muscles, such as the scapular stabilizers around your shoulder blades, help with arm movement and stabilization, and the latissimus dorsi muscles, which run down your back from just below the shoulder blades to your waist, are useful for stabilizing in addition to moving your upper body.

What is the Black Stuff Under a Football Player’s Eyes?

The black stuff frequently seen under the eyes of football players is known as eye black and dates to the 1942 Washington Redskins, according to a study conducted by Yale University. Fullback Andy Farkas was rumored to have come up with the idea of using grease under the eyes during football games. Ever since, youth, college and professional football players can be seen sporting eye black in a variety of ways.
Eye black, especially at the professional football level, is used as a competitive advantage, according to the University of New Hampshire’s Inquiry Journal. Eye back is believed to help reduce the glare caused by sun and stadium lighting. Players believe glare can reduce their athletic performance by reducing contrast between the football and the background of the stadium. The dark pigment of eye black is believed to absorb light. Eye black is commonly grease or black adhesive strips.
Many players use eye black as a form of personal expression, according to ESPN.com. Players have used eye black to reference bible passages, logos, home area codes and shout outs. For example, Ray Rice is known to wear a long strip of eye black across his face with the phrase R.I.P. 914 S.U.P.E. The R.I.P. is a memorial to his late cousin. His area code is 914 and S.U.P.E. stands for “spiritual uplifting people everywhere.”
Many players have been seen sporting eye black in patterns similar to those used by warriors in ancient Egypt. Players add a little extra eye black to their faces to create designs and markings, which often are aimed at intimidating opponents. Players might make triangular or tribal designs using the eye black.
The only scientific study to be conducted to date on the effectiveness of eye black was by Drs. Brian DeBroff and Patricia Pahk at the Yale University School of Medicine in 2003. This study was designed to test the benefits of eye black grease and eye black adhesive strips. The study compared eye black with clear petroleum jelly in respect to reducing sun glare and found that eye black grease slightly improved sun glare. Adhesive strips and petroleum jelly did nothing to help to reduce sun glare. Regardless of eye black’s effectiveness, many players say they wear eye black merely for looks. Laveranues Coles of the New York Jets says playing without eye black is like playing without a helmet or shoulder pads.

Football Footwork Drills

Good footwork is crucial to success in football. The ability to start quickly from a game stance, change direction quickly without losing balance and drop back to block or throw the ball depends on sure footwork. With high repetitions, footwork drills can also increase and develop physical fitness.
Players in any position can perform the Star Drill, which develops change of direction and running speed for a football player. Mark out a five-yard box with a center cone in the middle of the box. Place a speed ladder two yards outside the box that will serve as the finishing point. The player begins on the center cone and runs out to touch all four corner cones, returning to the center cone each time. Next the player runs out to the speed ladder and sprints through the ladder. The coach should emphasize players taking two steps out to the corner cones, staying low and performing quick and explosive changes of direction.
The Zigzag Run develops hip flexibility, body balance and body control. Place three to five football players in a straight line separated by three to five yards. The football player performing the drill carries a ball in both hands and zigzags through the players, planting his outside foot to change direction quickly. The runner should drop his hips upon change of direction and keep his eyes forward so he can see openings in the defense during a game. Progress this drill by having the standing players swipe at the ball to emphasize the runner carrying in both hands and keeping the ball secure.
The Stance and Start Drill develops the ability of a running back to start quickly and hit top speed from his stance. The drill begins with a running back taking his game stance. On the coach¡¯s command, the back pushes off his standing foot and sprints forward as quickly as possible. This drill is also performed with the running back firing forward to the left and right at 45-degree angles. Progress the drill by having the running back receive a handoff and accelerate through a hole in the offensive line to simulate a game situation.

How Do Heat Injuries Cause Kidney Failure?

Heat injuries are a significant cause of kidney failure. Heat injuries are generally grouped into two categories–classical heat stroke and exertional heat stroke. Of the two types, exertional heat stroke is more commonly associated with kidney failure. In a 2004 issue of Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America, Dr. Lugo-Amador and his colleagues estimated that ¡°twenty five percent of patients who have exertional heat stroke will develop¡± kidney failure. Not every person who suffers a heat injury will go on to develop kidney failure, however. A combination of events must occur in the body for a heat injury to lead to kidney damage. According to Drs. Khosla and Guntupalli in their article, ¡°Heat-Related Illnesses,¡± published in the April 1999 issue of Critical Care Clinics, four separate issues contribute to the development of kidney failure.
The first factor is low blood pressure. In an attempt to cool itself when exposed to extreme heat, the body will increase the amount of sweat being produced. This leads to dehydration and can cause a drop in blood pressure.
The second event that often occurs during an exertional heat injury is the destruction of muscle cells, or thabdomyolysis. Dr. Brown describes this problem in his article entitled ¡°Exertional Rhabdomyolysis,¡± in the April 2004 edition of The Physician and Sports Medicine. When an athlete is exercising in a hot environment, the body¡¯s energy requirements increase and can exceed its ability to produce energy. When this happens, muscle cells are destroyed and the breakdown products from these cells enter the bloodstream. One of the breakdown products, known as myoglobin, is toxic to the tubules in the kidneys and can directly damage them.
Another problem that contributes to kidney failure when the body undergoes a heat injury is a complex series of events known as disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). Dr. Lugo-Amador describes this process in his 2004 article, ¡°Heat-related Illness.¡± High core body temperature can damage the lining of blood vessels, which can then cause the body¡¯s blood clotting mechanisms to malfunction. Initially this causes excessive blood clotting but eventually leads to abnormal bleeding and damages multiple organs, including the kidney.
The final kidney-damaging issue that arises during an exertional heat injury is decreased blood flow. According to Drs. Yarbrough and Vicario in their chapter entitled ¡°Heat Illness¡± in Rosen¡¯s Emergency Medicine, in an attempt to lower its core temperature during heat stress, the body will dilate the blood vessels closest to the skin in order to disperse as much heat as possible. Dilating these blood vessels can further drop blood pressure. In an attempt to maintain perfusion to vital organs, the body constricts some other blood vessels, including those which supply the kidneys. This can lead to a dangerous drop in blood supply to the kidneys, contributing to kidney failure.
When an athlete undergoes vigorous exercise in a hot climate, she can become the victim of exertional heat stroke. If the body sustains the four problems described as the result of this heat injury, it can be devastating, and kidney failure can result.

Does a Mouth Guard Help You in Basketball?

Basketball players are vulnerable to injury; they wear almost no protective equipment, and although the game is not about dominating your opponent with physical size and strength, there may be physical battles that take place within the course of a game that can end up with a player getting injured. Playing with a mouth guard can help protect a player from injury.
The most physical part of basketball usually occurs when players get involved in the rebounding battle. As players extend their arms to collect the rebound, their hands and elbows may hit an opponent directly in the mouth. One likely scenario occurs when a player has secured a rebound and swings the ball overhead as he comes down. The swinging of the arms can result in a direct shot to the face or mouth of an opponent. This can be a tooth-rattling hit that causes a major injury.
Most players who have played basketball for any length of time have been hit by an errant shot to the mouth. Wearing a mouth guard can give a player confidence that he won’t suffer a significant injury, enabling him to play the game with freedom and confidence.
When wearing a mouth guard, most players are worried about their front teeth, the upper teeth in particular. Instead of wearing a full mouth guard that covers both the upper and lower teeth, players may choose to wear a smaller mouth guard that protects only their upper teeth. This may be more comfortable, but it won’t protect the mouth, lips and gums from getting cut or prevent damage to lower teeth.
The cost of a mouth guard can range from $10 to $40 — a small cost compared to the fees associated with a fractured tooth. If a tooth gets broken or knocked out, it can cost as much as $2,000 per tooth for repair or replacement. The presence of a strong mouth guard can prevent serious injuries.

Touch Football Training Drills

Touch football is a high-paced and physically demanding sport played throughout the United States. Touch football allows the excitement of American football, with a reduced risk of injury compared with the full-contact version of the sport. Touch football training drills should work on the fundamental skills of the game such as passing, catching, defending and running with the ball. The fundamental skills are best learned in a fun and competitive environment.
This touch football training drill works on speed, agility and a quick change of direction. Mark a 5-yard box out using four cones, with a fifth cone placed in the center. Your touch football player starts on the center cone and runs to touch all four corner cones, sprinting back to the center cone each time. Teach your football player to keep a low center of gravity and shorten his steps on approach to allow for a quick change of direction. Time the players when they are doing this drill, and put them in races against each other to make it competitive. Keep scores on record, and revisit the drill to monitor improvements made by your football players throughout the season.
The Passing Skeleton touch football training drill allows the offensive and defensive football players to work on their passing game under game-like conditions. Begin the drill by having your wide receivers run routes unopposed and the quarterback throwing passes to them. Have the wide receivers run 10 to 20 repetitions of each passing route and catching a pass, working through all routes in the team playbook. Progress this drill to the wide receiver running a route while being covered by a defensive football player. The drill works up to a game-like situation, with the quarterback beginning each repetition from the 25-yard line. Four wide receivers run pass patterns, and four defensive football players play man-to-man coverage. The offensive team is awarded one point for each completed pass and 10 points for a touchdown. The defensive team is awarded one point for each incomplete pass and 10 points for an interception.
This touch football training drill teaches the skill of blocking, a crucial skill in touch football, where the defender only has to touch the runner to get credit for a tackle. Begin the drill by having your football player practice blocking technique. Progress the drill to a runner and blocker facing a defender inside a 10-yard box. The runner starts on one end of the box with the blocker two yards in front. The defender starts on the opposite end line. The blocking football player must block the defender and allow the runner a clear path to the goal line.