Why We Do What We Do

Parents please take a look through the resources we have compiled below which explains "why we do what we do".

There are links to websites, scholarly articles, online courses are more.

Educational Athletics

What is educational Athletics and why does this differ from club sports?

  • Interscholastic athletic competition is an extension of the classroom and an educational activity that provides outstanding opportunities to teach life lessons.
  • Through participation in such programs, young people learn values and skills that help prepare them for the future.
  • Leadership, goal setting, teamwork, decision making, perseverance, integrity, sacrifice, healthy competition and overcoming adversity are inherent in the interscholastic athletic framework and also support the academic mission of schools.
  • Student-athletes earn the privilege to participate by succeeding academically, and the resulting positive outcomes continue far beyond graduation.
  • These programs exist to prepare young men and women for the next level of life, not the next level of athletics.
  • Wins are achieved through athletics by developing successful athletes and teams, but more importantly, wins are achieved through the educational experience by developing successful and responsible students, leaders and community members.
  • The positive educational outcomes of interscholastic athletics do not happen by chance. They happen because teacher-coaches and school administration adopt an intentional and purposeful approach to the interscholastic athletic experience.

"The Case for High School Activities"

The NFHS (National Federations of State High Schools Associations) has put together "The Case for High School Activities"

This case study outlines advantages of participating in athletics and activities in school. The report is broken down into sections and links scholarly articles and studies that back up each section.

Key sections are;

Students who compete make higher grades and have better attendance

Participation yields positive results after HS

Participation helps attitudes towards school and minimize discipline problems.

Teach lessons that lead to better citizens

You can read the entire case study here;
Online Version / PDF

Additional Resource
CDC Paper: The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity and Academic Performance

Sport Specialization

There is increased growth in sports participation across the globe. Sports specialization patterns, which include year-round training, participation on multiple teams of the same sport, and focused participation in a single sport at a young age, are at high levels. The need for this type of early specialized training in young athletes is currently under debate.

Some of the arguments against sport specialization are:
Risk of overuse injury
Risk of burnout that leads to stopping the sport altogether
Specialization does not guarantee success

International schools believe in multi sport participation and allow this to happen by having 3 seasons which do not overlap

Myths of Sports Specialization

Myth 1: Most college athletes specialized in one sport as a child.
Myth 2: The only way for my child to be “good enough” is for her/him to focus specifically on one sport early in life.
Myth 3: Children need to play their sport year-round to avoid getting out of shape, which could lead to injury.
Myth 4: Kids who spend their time learning one sport as a child are more likely to stay active throughout their lives.
Myth 5: The only way to develop skills in a sport is to adopt that sport early and spend time training to be better in that specific sport.
Myth 6: The only way to learn to love a sport is to specialize early and focus on getting better in that sport.
To read the full article with explanations and footnotes click HERE

Scholarly Articles and Studies

Early Single-Sport Specialization: A Survey of 3090 High School, Collegiate, and Professional Athletes

Sports Specialization and Intensive Training in Young Athletes

Does Early Sports Specialization Increase Negative Outcomes and Reduce the Opportunity for Success in Young Athletes?

96% of players in the 2018 Super Bowl played multiple sports in high school.

Books by John O'Sullivan
both available on Amazon

Is It Wise to Specialize? What Every Parent Needs to Know About Early Sports Specialization and its Effect Upon Your Child’s Athletic Performance

Changing the Game: The Parent's Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes, and Giving Youth Sports Back to our Kids

Cutting from Teams at AIS

At AIS we run a competitive program and we do cut students. Cutting squads down to a manageable size is considered to be a necessary evil for most athletic programs. There’s an obvious argument that you have to limit the size of most teams because there just aren’t enough resources, equipment, playing time and coaches available to keep everyone on the squad who tries out.
At AIS we cut from the A team down to the B team down to the C team. We cut from Varsity down to Junior Varsity however, we rarely cut students from a team all together.
There is no guarantee that there is a place for every student who trys out for a team on the team that they would like to be on. Often there is space for a student on another team so they can stay actively involved in the athletics program.

HOW WE CUT students is important. We do not post a list on a wall and walk away. We know that getting cut is one of those major emotional setbacks for most athletes. It can be frustrating, depressing and a tremendous blow to their ego. We cut with class and courage and our coaches are available.

At the end of the tryouts the coach will hold a final team meeting and directly name those student athletes who have made the team.

Coaches do not hold individual sessions with each and every athlete who was cut explaining the situation to them in private but coaches are available after dismissing the team for students to come to them with any questions they may have.

Our coaches owe them courtesy, respect and, most of all, sensitivity. When asked they will help them handle their failure of not making the team by giving honest feedback about what they need to do to increase their chances of having a more successful tryout the next year.

Coaches do not have to justify their decision. However, we want to help them understand what they need to work on to get better. Let them know what their specific weaknesses are and encourage them to go out and work on them. Empathize with them about how painful it is to get left off a team, and encourage them to constructively harness their disappointment into motivation and positive action. Inspire them to keep trying, to never give up.

Kindness, sensitivity and the minimal amount of extra effort and time that we take with the students that get cut can make all the difference in their athletic career tomorrow.

“Getting cut” is just an integral part of life. It’s one kind of failure or setback and life is filled with plenty of them. In fact, to be successful your job is to learn how to effectively how to handle failing or being cut.

When your child gets cut from a team....

There is nothing quite as emotionally excruciating and heartbreaking as watching your own child suffer through the process of getting cut from a team that they had their heart set on making.

It could be that you’ve watched them practice over the years to improve in their sport. You saw how hard they worked to prepare for the tryouts. You know how desperate they were to make this team. You even shared their dream. You encouraged them to try hard and keep going despite minor setbacks, injuries and frustrations all along the way.

His head was down and his shoulders slumped under the weight of what was obviously a crushing disappointment. It was in that moment, even before you knew exactly what had happened that you had that protective and primal urge to throttle the coach for causing your child this pain. Through crocodile tears and half sobs he relates to you the heart breaking experience

He was the only one of his friends who hadn’t made the team! The ONLY one! He was totally devastated and had all he could do to keep it together around his buddies. And now he’s standing in front of you broken and crying and all you can think about is how you can possibly take away all this pain and make the coach suffer.

What should you do when your child gets cut? What should you do when they come home with a broken heart? If only there was an easy solution to help them immediately feel better like there is with any other bump, scrape or cut. You put on antiseptic ointment and a band aid, wipe the tears away, give them a hug and everyone feels better. Unfortunately this kind of cut isn’t so easily or quickly healed.

How you as a parent handle this painful experience with your child can help him/her begin to put it into perspective and grow from it.

Do’s & Don't’s

LISTEN – Listen carefully to what your child has to say about his/her experience. Try to understand exactly what happened to them from their perspective. In order to do this you must remain silent inside while they share with you the events that led up to their getting cut. Gather as much accurate information from them as possible.

DON’T ASSUME ANYTHING – Remember, your child is reporting from a very emotional place. When they say that the coach did or said “such & such” to them do not automatically assume that this is what exactly happened. They may not be such an accurate reporter at this time. At some point you may need to directly consult with the coach to understand his/her perspective.

LET YOUR CHILD HAVE HIS/HER FEELINGS – One of the hardest things for a parent to do is to watch your child suffer. The natural, knee jerk reaction in this situation is to race in and try to make your child feel better immediately. Try to contain yourself. They are disappointed for a very good reason. They had their heart set on a goal and they failed to make it. Disappointment, discouragement, sadness, anger and other feelings all come with this package. Don’t rush in to save your child from these emotions. In fact, your child needs to experience these sometimes uncomfortable feelings in order to constructively work through the experience and put it behind them.

BE EMPATHIC – So instead of trying to make your child feel better, just reflect back your understanding of the difficult feelings that they are going through. Let them know that you can see their upset, disappointment, sadness, anger, frustration, etc. Really try to step inside their shoes and feel what they’re feeling, from their perspective. Empathy is the main thing that a child needs from a parent when that boy or girl is really hurting. Empathy is what they need when they’re dealing with strong emotions. Immediately after getting cut, when they are still very raw emotionally they might not be able to use your advice, suggestions or words of wisdom. What they will be able to make very good use of is your empathy. Being empathic oftentimes means that you don’t even need to say very much. You can let a child know non-verbally that you understand how they feel by how you interact with, look at and hold him/her.

DON’T LET YOUR OWN FEELINGS STEAL THE STAGE FROM YOUR SON/DAUGHTER – Keep in mind that everything about your child’s sport is for them, and NOT for you. If they have a disappointment it belongs to them. It’s not yours. They were cut and let down, not you. Do not distract your child from their disappointment with your own feelings and issues. I know this goes without saying but don’t get upset with them because they were cut. Do not blame them. It’s not their fault.

SAVE YOUR CRITIQUE OF THEIR EFFORTS UNTIL AFTER THEY’VE BECOME ADULTS – The very last thing a disappointed athlete needs to hear when they’re in the midst of strong emotions generated by being cut is a parent’s criticism about their lack of training, efforts, practice time, etc. This kind of information, even if accurate will not be at all helpful to the child-athlete. It’s really a timing thing here. What they need from you is your love, support and emotional sensitivity, not your “helpful suggestions” about all the things that they didn’t do right. It goes without saying that at all times you want to try to stay in your role as the parent and not confuse what you say and do with the coaching role.

DON’T ENGAGE IN COACH-BASHING WITH YOUR CHILD – The natural reaction when a child is cut from a team is to respond with hurt, anger and blame for the coach. He was blind as a bat, terribly biased, had a vendetta against my kid, or was just plain dumb as rocks. While some or all of these accusations may actually be true in your child’s case, going there with your child is not helpful and will teach them the wrong lessons about their failure. Remember, most coaches are human, they have their strengths and weaknesses, they all have their “blind spots,” they either volunteer their time or work for peanuts and unfortunately, the vast majority of them are not well trained. If you have a serious concern with how you think your child was dealt with during tryouts, don’t complain to your child about all that was wrong with the coach. Go instead to the coach and when you do, leave your strong emotions at home.

ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO TURN HIS/HER FAILURE INTO A POSITIVE LEARNING EXPERIENCE – No question that failing not only feels badly, but it flat out stinks. You want to help your child understand that these kinds of emotional setbacks can form the foundation for their later successes in life, both in and out of sports. Along these lines, teach them to view getting cut as providing them feedback on what their weaknesses are and on specifically what they need to work on to increase their chances of making the team the next year. What this entails is that you have to encourage your child, if they are old enough, (12 and up) to go ask the coach specifically what he/she thinks the athlete needs to work on to get better. (If you have a younger child then you can either accompany your child-athlete and ask the questions for them or meet with the coach alone .) Asking the coach for this kind of information is the athlete’s right. The very least that a coach can do for the cut athlete is to provide a clear and specific explanation of what weaknesses need to be strengthened in order to make that particular child a better candidate for next time. What is absolutely critical to keep in mind when you or your child approach the coach after having gotten cut is to do so in a non-emotional, non-confrontational manner. The attitude that you or your child must convey is one of needing the coach’s “help.” Now having said that, there will be a number of coaches who will be unable or unwilling to provide this kind of feedback. Furthermore some coaches will get defensive when asked for this information believing that the athlete or their parents are challenging their authority. Most reasonable, mature coaches will be happy to take the time to provide this kind of valuable feedback.

HELP YOUR CHILD UNDERSTAND THAT GETTING CUT DOES NOT MAKE HIM/HER A FAILURE – When kids (and even adults for that matter) fail, it’s always easy to fall into the trap of feeling like a failure. You want to help your child understand that failing is an integral part of the learning process. It is NOT a static thing. It does NOT define who you are as a person. And it’s not like there’s only one tryout ever and that this particular tryout determines a child’s success or failure in their sport or life. Certainly your child may actually feel this way right after they get cut but it’s your job to help them see otherwise. Failing is something that happens to us on the road to success. Failing does not define whether we are adequate or not. Failure is feedback and you can’t learn, grow or get better at anything without enough of this kind of feedback in your life.

ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO CONTINUE TO PURSUE HIS/HER DREAMS – Along these same lines, you want to teach your children that failing and disappointments are nothing more than bumps in the road. When they hit one, stumble and fall, their job is to get back up and keep plugging along. Encourage your child to fight through their disappointment, to not give up on their dream, and instead, to work even harder towards that goal. Your timing with this information is important. Your child will not be able to hear this message right away after getting cut. Give them ample enough time to feel sad and discouraged. Listen to them, be empathic and don’t take their feelings away. Perhaps later that night, the next day or even the next week or two you can begin to introduce the idea of and encouragement for continuing to go after that dream.

MODEL APPROPRIATE RESPONSES TO FAILURE – You can directly teach your child the healthy ways to respond to failure by how you interact with them around their experience of getting cut. Kids learn their most powerful lessons not so much from what we say as much as from how we say it and how we then act. Conduct yourself like an adult and provide your child with a powerful model for handling setbacks. When it’s appropriate, time-wise, share with your child some of your heartbreaking setbacks and what you did with them to turn them around. Let your child know that he/she is not alone in their disappointment and that it’s a common experience in life.

Information taken from;

Parent Resources

Image result for nfhs learning center logo

The NFHS (National Federations of State High Schools Associations) have developed a number of online educational courses for students, coaches, administrators and parents.

These courses have been taken almost 7 million times and can be started and stopped at any time.

All AIS coaches are mandated to take the Concussion course each year and are encouraged to take as many courses as possible.

There are a number of free courses for parents that you might be interested in including;

Positive Sport Parenting
Social Media
Sports Nutrition
Sudden Cardiac Arrest

The courses can be found at https://nfhslearn.com/courses and require a free registration before you can begin.

The Parent Seat
Please take a few minutes to watch this new video from the NFHS for parents called "The Parent Seat"