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Doug Werner (Fitness Expert and Coach): Delay Travel Teams Until Kids Are Teens

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Being the father of an athlete is a challenging yet rewarding role. At MomsTEAM we think sports dads deserve to be honored, not just on the third Sunday in June, but for an entire month. So we have designated June as National Sports Dads Month and invited some veteran sports dads to share their wisdom by responding to a series of questions (the same ones we asked sports moms in May).

We will post a new blog for every day of June, which we hope you will find interesting, empowering, and informative, and that you will share them with your family and friends.

Today we hear from sports fitness expert and author, Doug Werner:

MomsTEAM: Were you an athlete and what sports did you play as a youth (under 19)? Doug Werner with son Sevi

Werner: Yes, football, wrestling, basketball, baseball, track and golf.

MomsTEAM: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a sports dad?

Werner: Watching my child learn life lessons through sports, including the need to work hard (practice), to be fit and healthy (conditioning) and to be a good citizen (sportsmanship).

MomsTEAM: What lesson has your sports active child taught you?

Werner: The need to provide support and encouragement - win or lose - and whether I agree with their choice or not.

MomsTEAM: What is the most important lesson your child is learning from his/her sport?

Werner: The need to set and focus on goals and persevere despite good or bad results.

MomsTEAM: If you could "flip a switch" and change one thing about the culture of youth sports what would it be?

Werner: 'Travel' and 'Premier' programs should not start before the age of 13 or 14. Telling a 9 or 10 year old that they 'are not good enough' to make the cut is ridiculous! The reality is that children develop at vastly different rates and to 'rank' one above another at a young age only serves to discourage those who get cut and fool those who make the cut. 

MomsTEAM: Brag a little: what have you done to make sports better for kids? Please share.

Werner: I have been a rec basketball coach for the last 5 years for grades 2-5 and I am certified by the Positive Coaching Alliance. I take great pride in my ability to motivate and enthuse kids through 'positive reinforcement' during both practice and games. Nothing beats the grin of a kid when praised for a 'job well done' and few methods are as effective as a teaching tool. And, as a coach, it is much more rewarding to 'catch kids doing things right' instead of scolding kids for making mistakes.

Doug and Abby WernerDoug Werner is the author of Abbie Gets Fit, a children's book chronicling a true story about his nine year old daughter's fitness transformation after she asked her dad to help her get in shape to pass her school's fitness test (to which he responded, "Let's go take a walk!").  Doug is a 35-year veteran of the fitness industry and a recipient of that industry's Distinguished Service Award. He is currently a vice president of Healthtrax Fitness and Wellness in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Doug can be reached at doug@abbiegetsfit.com, or by visiting his website.