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  • The Importance of Failure and Encouraging Persistence in Kids

    Failure is the key to success. Seriously. We’ve all lived it. Small business owners have lived it. Parents have lived it. If we didn’t fall off the swings as a kid, we would have never understood the importance of hanging on. Actually, isn’t that the perfect metaphor for life? Just sayin’. Anyway, one of the toughest things to watch as a coach and parent is seeing a kid fail. Parents, especially, have the gut instinct kick in that says: “Go help!” But, as history shows, one of the best ways for kids to understand their achievements is to learn implicitly through failure. Did you “get it” the first time you attempted a somersault? Probably not. You probably failed. Gah! There’s that word again. It sounds so horrible. After all, if you get an “F” on your paper, that’s it. Adios. You’re toast. So why should we encourage kids to fail? It forces PERSISTENCE. It empowers TENACITY. It builds GRIT. It makes kids CONFIDENT. The look on a kid’s face the first time he successfully completes an obstacle course without any errors is PURE BLISS. That’s why we do this. That’s what NinjaZone is about. That is our ultimate objective. We LOVE to see our kids succeed. To be able to succeed, most will fail. This builds an ultimate drive and persistence in kids that is worth its weight in gold. Failure is vital to learning. The kid who really focuses learns more from his failures than his successes. Allowing kids to fail, take in feedback, and dust themselves off is imperative to ultimate success. Don’t let the lack of success bring your kids down. It’s building them up, and making them awesome people. After all, it worked for you, didn’t it?

  • Coaches are the Key to Unlocking Grit in Children

    As a parent, there’s always that recurring thought: “Am I doing it right?” Well, we all know the answer to that: there is no right and wrong! As kids get older, it becomes increasingly more difficult to try to wrangle them, and the best we can do is hope that the influences in their lives are guiding them in a ‘good’ direction. Everyone has their own idea of what a ‘good’ direction is, but I think that most of us can agree that we want our kids to grow up to be productive members of society, who are also kind and confident. The sad part? Parents can only do so much. We all have that one teacher. The one that, as kids, we thought was put on this Earth to torture us. Yeah, you’re picturing them, aren’t you? In many cases, that one teacher is also the one that had the heaviest influence on us as adults. Mr. Smith may have been a bear in class, but thanks to him, you now understand the importance of a strong handshake. The same goes for coaches. The coaches in our children’s lives are one of the biggest influences that they may ever encounter. Why is this? Think about it. Coach isn’t mom or dad. Coach isn’t brother or sister. Coach is not grading papers. Coach is there to challenge. To encourage. To nurture when necessary, and lay down the gauntlet when there is no other way out. COACH is instilling confidence. COACH is challenging these kids. COACH is a soft place to fall, if it was a bad day. Most importantly, COACH is there to remind our kids that they CAN DO IT. Parents can only do so much. Parents can love their kids through almost anything, but coaches—they’re a special kind human. They not only love kids through it, but they won’t allow kids to beat themselves up, and they are often the first person to high five our kids when they overcome a hurdle. Coaches are instilling grit in our kids, and we owe them one. Next time you see your child’s coach, thank them for what they do. They are a direct extension of the parents. Coaches, parents salute you.

  • NinjaZone: Long-Term Benefits for Kids

    The importance of “grit,” “determination,” and “work ethic” are all the rage right now in determining school success in children, a concept that is wholeheartedly understood and observed by thousands of coaches all over. It’s a fact that athletes with less natural ability, but high levels of work ethic surpass athletes with lots of natural ability but less grit. But how do we foster this important value in kids? Intrinsic motivation is key. Naturally children work hard on things they feel intrinsically motivated to achieve. They will work through setbacks and small failures to reach their goal, just like a toddler learning how to walk. No stickers or rewards are needed, a toddler simply wants to walk because they knows they can do it. That’s not to discount the important role of a supportive and enthusiastic caregiver, as that child knows he has support and is succeeding at doing hard work! Instead, the combination of intrinsic motivation and effective coaching helps children realize they can do things that seem improbable at first glance. Why NinjaZone? NinjaZone is perfectly suited to building these qualities in boys and we’ve seen it happen countless times. NinjaZone offers cool skills that boys want to learn. Quite simply, boys naturally want to flip, kick, and do “ninja” moves, especially after sitting for long periods of time at school, and doing paper/pencil tasks at school – something developmentally inappropriate for ideal learning. Achieving these tasks takes self-discipline and focus. Offering developmentally appropriate tasks in developmentally appropriate environments with trained coaches is what is best for kids, which is exactly what NinjaZone does on a daily basis. The NinjaZone program offers skills kids wants to learn, translating to individual improvement and success in many areas. Coaches have a specific plan for students, including skill development, the “NinjaZone pillars”, fun, and competition; making the NinjaZone curriculum intentional, and developmentally appropriate. Intentional programming means increased successes. Through many repetitions, interrupted by small failures, NinjaZone students learn many new skills. With NinjaZone, kids instantly know what success feels like, know when achieve a skill – and how great it feels! Trained coaches break down skills into smaller parts, providing encouragement and positive feedback, even when they haven’t yet mastered the skill. So, even when a student hasn’t mastered a particular skill yet, an expert is saying he’s on the right path to success, celebrating achievements big and small. There are not many places where young children can develop self-confidence and a strong work ethic, but NinjaZone is one of these places! NinjaZone has coaches reinforcing the belief that kids can do hard tasks and sequences, if they put their minds to it. The mastering of these tasks early translates into the ability to take on other hard life skills later in life, leading to real success, intrinsic motivation, and self-confidence creating good students with time management skills, self-control, and leadership skills, who aren’t afraid of hard work, able to defer gratification, and be good team members. These are all skills that will make them great leaders in both school and work, throughout life.

  • How Physical Activity Will Help Children Perform Better In School

    We all want our children to perform at their personal best academically and in this world of constant screens and sedentary lifestyles, being on top of his physical game is a great way to ensure your child is topping his academic potential, too. One would assume that more studying and less time “playing” would help with academics, but the research suggests even if physical activity takes time away from academics, test scores go up. More time spent on physical activity is linked to no adverse effects on academic performance. Physical activity is good for the mind According to the CDC, “Researchers reported that participating in physical activity was positively related to outcomes including academic achievement, academic behaviors, and indicators of cognitive skills and attitudes, such as concentration, memory, self-esteem, and verbal skills.” Many parents would agree their main concerns with school center around grades, behavior, and self-esteem making it exciting to see such that enrollment in high quality physical activities can positively impact these factors. Wait, tell me more… Even though the link between physical activity and greater academic performance is clear, parents may be wondering, ‘why?’ How does physical activity help my child in the classroom? Specifically, it has been shown to have a great impact on cognition and learning. Charles Basch, PhD, explains, “Recent literature reviews on physical activity or physical fitness and cognition have all reached the same conclusion: physical activity (or aspects of physical fitness) favorably affects cognitive functioning.” In other words, getting active will actually help your child learn, help him grasp new concepts, and try new things. Furthermore, your child will perform better than he would have on standardized tests when he is more active. Wow, what else? In addition to cognition and test scores, being active helps improve attendance at school simply because your child will be healthier. Especially among children with asthma, it is shown that children who engage in regular physical activity have less absenteeism at school. Improved cognition, better best scores, and a lower number of sick days can all happen by getting your child more active!

  • Active Play and “Roughhousing” Makes Kids Smarter

    As the mother of two little ones, I’m keenly in tune to of the physical nature of boys. It’s a rare occurrence in my house if there isn’t running, jumping, tumbling, or tackling. I’ve often joked to friends that sitting on the floor in my home is an open invitation to start wrestling. But what can be done about it? Surely, we don’t want to encourage roughhousing – or do we? No more physical play in schools As a former teacher, I’m very aware of the current trend in schools regarding recess with the number of schools removing recess altogether, on the rise. Where recess is still present, a solid 77% of administrators report taking away recess as a form or punishment despite two-thirds reporting students are more focused in class following recess. Goodbye recess Despite the clear academic and behavioral benefits of active play, teachers and administrators are choosing to remove these opportunities during the school day to expend energy making it even more important for children, particularly boys, to have an opportunity to be active. In the 2009 Alliance for Childhood study on play, 89% of administrators cite recess and lunch as the most challenging of times for behavior, with play quickly turning too rough, yet is roughhousing really that bad? In the book The Art of Roughhousing Dr. Anthony DeBenedet and Dr. Lawrence Cohen argue that rough and tumble play is not only beneficial for children but it makes them smarter. Roughhousing makes kids smarter When a child engages in whole body, physical play, it stimulates the release of brain-derive neurotropic factor – or BDNF for short. This chemical promotes normal cognitive and emotional functioning of the brain, and acts as a natural antidepressant. The release of BDNF is at it’s peak during play where children are having to strategize their partner’s next move, use agility to navigate a situation, and use problem solving combined with physical exertion. “I don’t want anyone getting hurt…” Now, you may be thinking, “Won’t wrestling and roughhousing just lead to someone getting hurt? I don’t have time to take someone to the hospital!” The more children roughhouse, the more behaviorally flexible they become. They begin to learn what the acceptable boundaries of the situation are, how to properly approach interactions with others, and builds social skills such as turn taking and respect. So, what can I do? Children aren’t receiving as much active time during the school day as they used to, so when extracurricular activities are being selected be sure to choose classes and sports where children can use their whole body to engage in physical activity, NINJAZONE classes, for example, teaches agility, confidence, and respect, just as in many sports, but while allowing children to flip, kick, jump, and tumble at the same time. This combination of skill and impulse control combined with a whole body physical activity is the perfect way to exercise key skills. So, next time you witness your kids tackle each other playfully in the backyard, leap from log to log during your hike, or run, tumble, and slide across your kitchen floor, take solace in the fact that by allowing it to happen you’re making an impact on their social, emotional, and cognitive development. - Megan Noel, PhD

  • Bring More Bucks to Gymnastics with NinjaZone

    Flips, tucks, cartwheels, handstands, somersaults: all things you think about when you hear the word “gymnastics”. And when you think about gymnastics, most of the time that also means thinking about leotards, ponytails, and smiling young girls. But not this time. Entrepreneur Casey Wright takes the foundations of gymnastics a step further, bridging the gap between ponytails and parkour with introduction of NinjaZone. NinjaZone is bringing the bucks – the paper kind via the human kind – to gymnastics clubs all over with the hottest movement to hit the mats since cheerleading. The NinjaZone movement is exploding across the country with supply barely keeping up with demand, as gym owners everywhere are discovering how to tap into the an entirely new revenue stream – little boys. Gymnastics has historically been a female dominated sport but with the addition of just one Ninja Zone class a day gym owners are seeing an increased revenue of $25,000 a year. Mic drop. Wright has licensed the NinjaZone curriculum to 130 gymnastics clubs in 42 states prior to 2016, with new gyms signing up daily. Those gyms that are coming on board are seeing their newly available NinjaZone class spots filling nearly as quickly as they become available. As local and national attention on NinjaZone continues to grow, now is the perfect time to take advantage of the amazing opportunity to be part of the team and get started in only 49 days. What are you waiting for?! If you don’t take act now your competition surely will. Beat them to the punch. Literally.

  • NinjaZone Develops Lasting Skills in a Fun Forum

    There are only so many sports children can get involved with at age three or four. Soccer? Check. T-ball? Been there, done that. Tumbling? Yawn. What parents really want is something that is FUN and something that will get their kids MOVING. NinjaZone to the rescue. NinjaZone provides a place for kids to move with bodies in cool ways and offers skills they want to learn! The curriculum and the space are both specifically designed for optimal skill development and individual success making NinjaZone not just fun, but rewarding, as well. NinjaZone students learn all sorts of physical skills such as flipping, tumbling, jumping, running, flexibility, and stamina but they also gain a number of valuable social and emotional skills as well. The following skills transcend the gym into everyday school/home/work situations: Listening skills Turn taking and sharing Self-control and learning to focus energy to achieve specific, positive, and useful goals Incremental progress and delayed gratification. Learning a skill little by little making small progress over time until the skill is accomplished. Being part of a team or community; Learning good citizenship Demonstrating pro-social behavior Students enrolled in NinjaZone classes have a forum to do cool things they want to do, while learning the important skills of perseverance, work ethic, and grit. These skills lead to more confidence, greater achievement and higher self-esteem, which then translates into success in school/life. NinjaZone coaches report their students tend to be good in school, good at time management, and leaders in school and later in life, at work. The combination of knowing what they are made of, not being afraid of hard work, deferred gratification being good team members are a recipe for success. So, what are you waiting for?

  • How to Encourage Grit in Children

    Grit, meaning to have courage and resolve, be tenacious, and able to persevere through adversity is not only used to describe the toughest warriors and soldiers but has become the hottest term in child development today. Parents everywhere are trying to figure out how best to ensure their children are filled to the brim with grit. They all want the grittiest kid on the block and are looking to experts everywhere to show them the way. From Scholastic Books to CNN and everywhere in between grit has become the hottest new parenting trend to hit classrooms and sports fields in recent years. The Washington Post even goes so far as to say that grit is the key ingredient to success and happiness in children. But how can parents effectively teach grit? Well, they can’t exactly. Grit is intrinsic and cannot be achieved through traditional methods of a token economy. Working toward a reward, adding stickers to a chart, or getting a prize at the end of the game doesn’t achieve the personal meaning and significance needed to encourage grit. In order to grow strength of character, internal determination, and stamina parents should seek programs and instructors that embrace the following coaching methods. Through these methods children gain confidence, build on successes and failures, thus creating a heartier disposition that can power through difficult situations. 1. Start with a child’s interests. Parents should seek out activities and programs that their child wants to participate in. This seems like a no-brainer, but so often children are pushed into activities that their parents are interested in and not ones that actually interest the child. When a child is naturally interested in pursuing something, their internal motivation to succeed is higher. Piggybacking on these initial feelings of success and motivation can naturally begin to grow into persistence for difficult tasks. 2. Have a plan. In gymnastics, a trained coach, developed curriculum, and prepared environment are precursors to a successful student. Parents should be sure to select a program that is intentional in its curriculum. Having clear end goals and milestones will allow children to see what needs to be done in order to succeed. 3. Communicate goals clearly. It doesn’t simply end at the plan, instructors, teachers, and coaches must be able to clearly articulate what is necessary for success in order for children to succeed. Goals and objectives should be clear up front, with measurement milestones included. Children should be provided with clear instruction, repetitions of small successes, building to bigger goals and achievements. 4. Use rewarding language. Celebrating individual successes in children are important to growing their confidence. Programs should emphasize individual improvement and achieving personal best over the “winning” mentality. Also, instead of handing out generic praise, coaches should be specific, and make it personal to the child. Instead of stating “I really like how you did that!” something more precise, placing the achievement on the child is more beneficial. “You really got your leg up high during that kick. Nice job!” The child gets specific feedback and the focus of the praise less about pleasing someone else and more about achievement. While grit cannot be taught formally, it can be achieved though the right programs and instructors. Parents should talk with their child, attend an introductory class, and talk to other parents, if necessary before selecting a program.

  • 3 Benefits of Youth Agility Training

    Agility training was once thought to be exclusive to professional athletes, but over the years, those training styles have trickled down.  With the advent of high intensity workouts, CrossFit, etc, the advantages of youth agility training is becoming the forefront of a balanced athlete. In this article, we’ll talk about the top 3 benefits of Youth Agility Training. 1. Injury Prevention Athleticism can be measured in several ways, from strength and flexibility to agility and focus.  At a program like Ninja Zone we aim to provide the most well-rounded athlete as possible.  Agility is often an overlooked quality of today’s youth athletes, but along with flexibility, can be one of the most important factors in injury prevention.  Simply put, agile athletes are less likely to fall and know how to handle their bodies when they do. 2. Improved Multi-Planar Coordination This is basically the nuts and bolts of agility training.  Multi-Planar coordination involves movements that are more than 2 directional.  For example, jogging in a straight line is an example of a single plane exercise while a Ninja Zone Palm Spin is multi-planar.  Improving multi-planar coordination will allow young athletes to have more control over their bodies while either anchored to something like a mat, bar, or beam or if they are in free flight while tumbling or dismounting an apparatus. 3. Cross Sport Benefits No matter if your child aims to be a professional Ninja or a starting wide receiver, agility training is beneficial both inside the Ninja Sport and in other sports like football and baseball.  Most moves that require agility happen in 10 seconds or less, which means there is a tiny window of time when you either have the agility or you don’t.  Catching a football and immediately cutting in to avoid a defender is an example. Final Thoughts Agility is a skill that’s difficult to measure, which is why it is so often overlooked for direct training in youth sports.  It’s much more difficult to measure reaction time and intuition than it is to measure speed and strength, but agility could be the difference between a game winning catch or watching your opponents’ fans rushing the field.

  • Focused Energy: The Key to Productivity

    Something that we talk a lot about here at NinjaZone is the idea of Focused Energy.  As parents, we know better than most about the INSANE amount of energy that our little ones have.  But what if I told you that if we figured out a way to embrace that energy into productive mental and physical activities, that can set the foundation for a lifetime of personal growth and productivity?  What could you do if you had as much energy as your little boy? Focused Energy At NinjaZone, we embrace that energy and burn it off in a high energy workout that builds the bodies and minds of our young athletes. Through the Ninja Sport, we use techniques that teach kids how to take all of that built up energy and focus it like a laser on the task at hand, whether it’s a Ninja Kick or a school project. With their bodies tired, their minds are more receptive, attentive, and able to learn. Each class ends with the Ninja Mantra which reminds the students of our core Ninja Values of Focused Energy, Work Ethic, and Self Responsibility. It’s our goal to build relationships with our athletes, parents, and families that will allow the kids to take these lessons home and use them in all of the challenges that life will throw at them. NinjaZone is so much more than a way to wear out your kids for an hour, although that is definitely a perk! NinjaZone is about development. It’s about using the Ninja Sport and the ideas of goal setting, competition, and physical activity as tools to build more productive kids that will be able to succeed in life, just as much as in the gym. No NinjaZones in your area? Contact your local gymnastics club tell them to get with the program!

  • The Power of Little Words

    You learn more from losing than winning. You learn how to keep going. – Morgan Wooten Words Are Powerful Often the words that have the most power are little tiny words.  But, why, me, I,  and no often pack a bigger punch than much longer words.  How and when we use these little words creates a lasting impact. One of my favorite little words is,  “yet”.   When my kids come to me and complain that they don’t know their math facts, when my daughter complains that her spelling word list is just too hard, when my son complains that he can’t get his lay-up.  I try to encourage them to add a tiny little word to that sentence.  Yet.  You don’t know your math facts, yet.  Your spelling list isn’t easy, yet.  You don’t have your lay-up, yet. Inserting Effort Changes Outcomes Adding one tiny word to the end of the sentence opens up possibility to insert effort and make a change. It allows my kids to realize that with a little more work they can and will be capable of changing their current situation.  Those three tiny letters instantly changes their reality and puts them back in control. Life comes at as fast and hard but,  if we take a moment to frame the problem in a way that allows for possibility … make room for the yet … then the impossible becomes possible.  Reminding my kids that they are powerful, not perfect, is my daily mission.  I want empower them to know that hard work will change outcomes and that the effort doesn’t produce results overnight. Perseverance, dedication, and hard work make a difference … if we allow room for it.  The next time your kids are struggling or feeling defeated use the power of a little word and see what a difference it can make. This TedTalk says it all.

  • The 6 Character Pillars of NinjaZone

    NinjaZone’s mission is to build the character and athletic foundation of a child through sport. NinjaZone has a Character Pillar that is integral to the curriculum. NinjaZone values a community of good people raising great kids. Strong people. People that believe in teaching their children to work hard, play hard, and make a difference. The NinjaZone curriculum, and Ninja Sport itself, teaches kids what sports should - healthy FUN, work, passion, exercise, social skills, and commitment. But… NinjaZone has had the opportunity by starting fresh to be created  by experts that are real parents with real goals and realistic expectations, and  not coaches or parents driven by themselves or their own child’s successes. Your money is valuable, and being financially responsible is important to you. Your time is even more valuable. Your children are with us for only a short time, and we want you to feel good about the quality of time we’ve provided them. NinjaZone has thought this out and is driven by this educational foundation. The NinjaZone curriculum has 2 pillars – Character and Athletic. The most important, the mental or Educational Pillar, has 6 points. 1. Focused Energy – Energy that is focused equals success. Period. Imagine what you could do with more energy? Our kids have it, and we typically don’t embrace it. The simple education of learning how to use that energy in a productive outlet that it is fun and healthy as a child, and is addictive in a POSITIVE way.  Similar to a runner’s “high”our children learn to crave the endorphins of activity and how it clears our brains to work at a higher level. 2. Confidence – NinjaZone recognizes that kids have unique barriers. We make it our mission to create a challenge that is appropriate to the child and the myriad of progressions  that our sport provides, enables us to do that. Skill progressions are broken down in such manor that each progression is a success! 3. Impulse Control – This applies to boys a bit more than girls, but is SO important in today’s parenting. We teach them to own the control over their actions & their decisions. We teach our young Ninjas that the control over their body is “their ninja power”. Their mind will ALWAYS be more powerful than their body. 4. Creed (Core Values) – We have a 10 point creed that instills self – responsibility, perseverance, mentorship, respect, and discipline. NinjaZone is another voice for strong values. Busy parents need to be able to trust the influences on their children's’ lives, and NinjaZone supports them. 5. Work Ethic – NinjaZone teaches our students that it’s OK to feel a bit ‘taxed. It’s OK if  your arms shake a bit, or you’re a little out of breath. NinjaZone teaches kids to see the value in doing things that aren’t easiest – but you do them because that’s what a real ninja does. Ninjas are good at hard stuff! Ninjas are good at trying new things.  Ninjas find success in working through adversity. 6. Self-Responsibility – NinjaZone knows the importance of making our kids independent. It’s our duty as adults to challenge our children to do tasks they are capable of. Many times it’s easier for US to just to do it ourselves. This teaches our kids nothing. The more capable they are the more opportunities life will present them. We are limiting our children’s growth if we are doing things they can be doing for themselves. Our job as parent’s is to surround our children with welcoming adults that value the same things we do! NinjaZone welcomes you. Click Here to find a NinjaZone Club near you!

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