Saturday August 18 2018
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The Perfect Sports Yard

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Have you noticed how pick-up sporting events always seem to take place at the same one or two neighborhood houses?

You know, the ones with the windowless brick/block house wall, the big flat yard and the ‘homerun’ shrubs. The yard where tree trunks naturally form first and second base and a trampled flower bed is the far end zone. The garage front with a basketball hoop; the driveway and garage door built for street hockey.

One of the keys to helping your young athlete improve is have him/her want to practice even when you’re not around. A backyard ‘sportsplex’ encourages this. Here’s what to look for if you’re buying a house or what to do if you already own one.

The number one all-time solitaire practice activity is throwing (kicking) a ball off a wall. The perfect wall is the high brick side of the house with few or no windows, and sitting next to a driveway. If you have windows, board ‘em up – it’s only the spare bedroom anyway.

The ultimate football landscape is the large, flat, grassy area otherwise known as the baseball, football, soccer, badminton, volleyball, lacrosse, and make-up-your-own game field. If you have one of these, you will be the king of the neighborhood. Try to ignore the bare spots and expect to see the neighbor kids often.

The number two landscape attribute is the big hill for sled riding, slip ‘n’ sliding, running up, running down and careening down uncontrollably on any wheeled toy. Going up and down hills builds leg strength.  Of course, it’s better if the hill doesn’t lead directly into the house.

Trees for climbing are a great element. Climbing develops strength, coordination, balance, and ingenuity. Rope swings and flagpoles aren’t bad substitutes. Jungle gyms, especially those with a horizontal ladder and any place to hang upside down, work as well as trees but don’t provide shade. A window in the house where a parent can keep on eye on the kids is also a good idea.

It’s hard to have a sportsplex that doesn’t include a height adjustable, portable basketball hoop in the driveway. The lower heights are great for young players (and for fathers dreaming of Shaq Daddy).

You won’t always be around when your kids want to practice, and backyard sports are a pressure-free, fun-filled way for kids to get exercise without having coaches constantly looking over their shoulders.

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