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Archive for November, 2009

Shameka Christon og the NY Liberty WNBA teamEver wonder what the ladies of the WNBA do during their off-season? Why, they play basketball, of course! Except they play in the European league teams.

You can follow NY Liberty team players Shameka Christon, Essence Carson, Sidney Spencer, and more overseas as they play to help their European teams win. From Poland to Turkey, and France to Israel, these players can handle the ball anywhere on the map!

Check out this week’s overseas update here:

Categories : Basketball
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Our first gymnastics competition of the season is this weekend and that meant the biggest questions asked at the gym have been centered around hairstyles for the gymnastics meet, how to do them, what styling products to use, and the like.

While the hairstyle options go from a simple sleek ponytail to elaborate braided styles, we have found that having a relatively simple team hairstyle for the lower levels is really helpful. It helps build team unity, ensures a neat and pulled together look, and the girls end up looking so cute. The older girls tend to have their own favorite styles and since they understand the importance of having a hair style that not only looks good but also keeps their hair out of their face, we let them pick their own styles.

Some of the gymnastics hairstyles we have used over the years include:

Two French Braids for gymnastics meets

Two French Braids is a great style for girls with slightly thicker, wavy to curly hair. Their hair type takes well to the braiding and it will hold, especially with a little gel and hairspray help. If your daughter is growing out her bangs, French Braids are also a good option. The only hair type that I have found to be really hard to French Braid is straight, fine hair – it just doesn’t hold without a TON of product. (Video tutorial for French Braiding)

Spider web, pineapple, modified pineapple hairstyle for gymnastics meets

Styles that use the little tiny hair bands to hold smaller sections of hair and create a pattern are very popular at gymnastics meets. One of the reasons they work, is that they really help control short bangs, layered cuts and work on all lengths of hair. The photo on the left is called the Pineapple and is created by making a series of small ponytails on the front row, then splitting each pony into two sections and feeding them into the next square section.

The version on the right is called the “Modified Pineapple” and is much easier to create. Basically you part the hair like you are doing two standard ponytails. Then divide each side into six sections, criss crossing the entire ponytail into the next section of hair. Secure the back into a ponytail and curl the ends if desired.

Hairstyle for gymnastics or cheerleading competitions

The style we use for our younger teams is one we call “Stripes” – it is easier than it looks, can be put in the night before and looks so sharp when the whole team marches in with it. We also have the girls curl their ponytails in ringlets. It adds a nice touch and helps shorten the longer ponytails.

The girl in the photo above actually had hair well down the middle of her back and it was very thick. Her Mom is the curl queen and was able to wrap her curls so tight that not only did they look awesome, they shortened her ponytail to a much more manageable length for the routines.

The secret to curls that look like the ones above is to wrap them when the hair is damp, not wet. Use soft foam rollers – we like the small 5/8″ foam rollers then separate the hair into small sections and spray with a good spray gel then smooth as you roll them. Let the curls dry completely before removing them from the rollers and don’t mess with them. We always use the end papers with the hair rollers, too – although I found that in a pinch you can cut up a single ply paper towel and use that in place of the end papers – they really help create the best curls.

Cheer hairstyle with braided bangs

One style that is popular with the older girls (and many of the cheerleaders in our area) is just a simple angled French Braid at the front that goes to a ponytail in the back. This is the style I get to do on my own daughter’s hair this weekend. It is perfect for her since she has angled bangs that are long but not long enough to go back into a ponytail on their own. Once it is in the ponytail I will just touch up the ends with the curling iron and then rub a teensy bit of Moroccan Oil through the ponytail for a really nice sleek shine.

If you are looking for even more great gymnastics, cheerleading or just generally cute hairstyles for girls, I recommend checking out Shaunelle’s Hair – she literally has hundreds of photos of the styles she has done on her daughter’s hair. In addition to great pictures, she also has plenty of how-tos for different styles, tips and the most creative up dos ever. These hairstyles may look complicated, but its not like you are doing hair restoration surgery or something.

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Getting Past “I QUIT”

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quitOne of the hardest things for parents and coaches to hear kids say is “I QUIT” especially, when the athlete’s desire to quit is sudden. So, what’s a parent to do?

This is a situation I have found myself in a few times, but most recently with my youngest daughter and swimming. I am actually glad I didn’t post about this as we were going through it as it all makes much more sense now that we have gotten past “I Quit” – at least this time.

In September when the fall swim season started, my daughter was pretty excited. She felt like the girls in her group were all her friends and she called them her “Dream Team,” and this being her second full season on the team she also started with a sense of confidence and knowing what to expect. Because my son is also swimming but in a different group, Nat gets to play with her friend before each practice as A’s sister in also in the other group. The two girls were too much fun to watch as they played, chatted and basically used that time as a transition between school and swim. I felt so relieved and was sure this year would be smooth sailing as Nat had so much to look forward to each practice.

And then she got sick. That nasty, fever raging, energy draining, in hindsight-most-likely-flu thing that took absolutely everything out of her.

She was out of school for a week. The following week when she returned to school I recommended that she go to practice. She immediately said “no” and really resisted the idea. (Clue #1 missed.) She ended up going to practice but really didn’t have her energy back which meant swimming was really hard, which equaled “really not fun” for her. That weekend there was a swim meet and she started telling me how much she hated swimming, didn’t want to compete, and wanted to QUIT.  The day before the meet she said that in a way she wanted to compete, but in the same sentence still told me she wanted to quit.

For the next two weeks, any talk of swim became a battleground. She didn’t want to go and if she did, she wouldn’t put her head under water, wouldn’t do the whole workout, and generally was miserable. She would scream at me and tell me she hated swim; she would make excuses for not wanting to put her head under water; and she was generally grouchy. (Clue #2 missed.)

Finally after really stepping back, talking with her coaches, listening to what she had to say, I figured something out – she was still recovering from her illness and being the perfectionist child she is, she thought it was easier to quit than to get back in the water and rebuild her stamina.  After more discussions, we also realized that it wasn’t until last week that she was really back to 100% .

Last week my Nat returned. After a few days of talking, confidence boosting and some distractions from her coaches, she is back in the water, excited, confident, motivated and ready for her meet this weekend!!


1. Look at your child’s health. Has she been sick or is she getting sick? Is she dealing with an injury?

2. Have there been any changes or dramas at school or home?

3. Stop asking “how was practice?” A very wise coaching mentor told me this once and while it is hard to do, it is a habit parents MUST break! Instead, let your child direct the conversation.

4. Listen to your child away from the sport. Is your child interested in how her teammates are doing? Does she still consider herself part of the team? Does she give you clues as to what the root of the problem may be.

5. Communicate with her coach. With the right information, the coaches can help re-establish expectations, get your daughter involved and make your daughter find her spark again.

6. Take it one step at a time. Try setting intermediate goals and praising her for reaching them. For us, it was getting Nat back in the water – even if it meant all she did was kick or swim her strokes with her head out of the water.

7. Remove unnecessary stressors. If you daughter isn’t ready to compete or to play in the game yet, then sit one out. I do encourage going to cheer on teammates still as that serves its own positive purpose, too. If you need to reduce her practice times temporarily, then do so.

8. Remind her of her commitment. Organized sports usually have some sort of commitment attached to them. By saying you need to finish the season and then you may quit, gives her the time to reconnect with her sport and decide if it is what she wants to do, and it encourages positive work ethics, too. As in, you need to finish what you start.

9. Use distractions. For example, my daughter loves it when her coach plays the Skittles game. So one thing that helped get her back to the pool was a suggestion to stop at the store and buy her coach a bag of Skittles for practice. She was so focused on buying and delivering the Skittles that the swim issue was secondary. (More tips for keeping workouts fun)

10. Be positive!! Remember that your child is a child first and an athlete second. The sport does not define her success or worth as a person and it shouldn’t define yours either. Keep your eye on the BIG picture.

Categories : Coaching, Parenting
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