How to Choose the Right Soccer Ball

All soccer balls might seem the same, but there are some major differences in the brands that you need to consider while buying the perfect one for your playing needs.Soccer, also known as football in some countries, is believed to be one of the most popular sports in the world. Watching professionals play this game is certainly fun. Many people are impressed by the skills and stamina involved in this game and decide to start playing. However, you need to know that professional are trained athletes who have the best coaching and gear. If you are thinking about starting to play soccer, the first thing to do is to choose an appropriate ball. Though it may seem that all balls are the same; they might differ in size, quality, and some other factors. Beginners might go for a particular ball by looking at its color and design, which is not a good way of choosing the perfect ball.

Tips on Choosing the Right Soccer Ball

Seasoned football professionals say that there are four factors in determining a good soccer ball: the type, size, the bladder and brand.

Type of Soccer Sport
You need to decide on the level of playing you would be opting for, that is outdoor playing or indoor playing. Outdoor balls are made as per professional soccer standards and the wear and tear they happen to go through. On the other hand, indoor soccer balls are manufactured to suit indoor conditions. For example, these balls are made in a way that they would bounce about 30% less than their outdoor counterparts. Besides, the covering of these balls is made up with a material that is quite similar to that of tennis balls.

Size of the Ball
Next comes soccer ball sizes, which is generally classified in three, four and five. The smallest-sized balls range from 23 to 24 inches, and are most suitable for children. As per standards, these are good choices for those below 8 years. Balls of size four are a little bigger than the previous ones and are most suitable for soccer enthusiasts between 8 to 12 years. Those which have international standards come in size five which is the biggest. These are appropriate for anyone above 12 years.

The Cover or Surface Type
The cover and bladder are two major parts of a soccer ball, which differ significantly in ball types. Traditionally, the surface of the ball is made out of materials namely the synthetic Polyurethane (PU), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), and rubber. Those made with rubber are most suitable for practice and daily playing. Those made up of Polyurethane are more durable and have good water resistance qualities. Soccer balls whose surface is manufactured using PVC material are light and more durable.

The Bladder Type
The bladder is the main material that keeps the ball inflated and in proper shape. It has a valve for filling air. Soccer balls made for practice are manufactured using a combination of butyl and rubber. They do hold air much better than latex ones, but are not light and have a heavy feel on the feet. Professional ones have bladders made with latex, which make the balls more responsive both with the feet and head. They are soft on the feet and maintain the shape of the ball for a long time.

Choosing the Brand
If you are just playing for the sake of exercise, you can simply go into a sports shop and choose a locally made brand. However, if you are thinking about serious matches and practice, there are few good options like Nike, Adidas, Puma, and Umbro. Those from Nike and Adidas are used in professional league sports. However, you will have to pay a decent price for a soccer ball from these world famous brands.

For better control, practice with a ball which is of the same size like the one that you are going to play a match with. While practicing for a match, use the complete gear, to get a feel of the game and increase interest. For better control of the ball, choose good quality soccer shoes which fit you well. Choosing a ball with FIFA Approved or FIFA Inspected logo will ensure utmost durability and quality.

Boxing Training Tips

360602-38429-32Trying to get even for the lost boxing bout last week? Read below to gain some vital tips to train with, which will help you achieve success.Ever since the beginning of time, men have been hitting each other with their fists. Boxing is the modern avatar of that prehistoric urge to fight, and that transformed it into a sport in which two boxers have a go against each other wearing boxing gloves, for a series of one to three minute rounds. Points are awarded for each legal blow that lands on the opponent, and a winner is declared based on who is left standing in the ring, or the boxer who has the most points. While it’s a physical and sometimes brutal contact sport, wherein blood is often seen in the ring. It is also sometimes called the sweet science because of the agility, grace, and speed required of boxers.

This article will offer tips and advice on becoming a competitive boxer. You will learn a few training techniques used by boxing coaches, including shadow boxing, jumping rope, and using a speed bag. We will also see the use of a heavy bag and medicine ball for training. If you are an amateur boxer looking for training tips and techniques, let this article show you the basics of this active sport.

One of the most physical and demanding sports in the world, boxing involves a varied training regime. It facilitates the boxer to build up his fitness, technique, footwork, and coordination required in the ring.

Aerobic / Anaerobic Exercises

Boxing, like most sports, is an aerobic sport which demands high endurance and fitness levels. This means that a major part of the boxer’s training regime consists of cardiovascular routines and aerobic exercises. Sit ups, press ups, pull ups, and star jumps form a vital part of training, helping to build up muscle and endurance so very important in the ring. Boxers normally go through a set routine of specific exercises after the training regime, so that their mobility, strength, and stamina are improved. Jogging and sprinting are recommended to build up the aerobic energy required in the ring.

Jump Rope Training

Jump rope training, also known as skipping, is one of the most popular training method and an essential part of a boxer’s training plan. Skipping improves agility, footwork, speed, and endurance. For jump rope training, boxers jump over the rope for several 3-minute ’rounds’, so that they get used to the stamina and endurance necessary in each round of a fight. There are three ways of using the skipping rope for training.

Running in Place

In this routine, the boxer runs on the spot, while moving the rope over his head and skipping over the rope. It is considered to be the best exercise for stamina and endurance building.

Crisscross Jump

The crisscross adds a more challenging dimension to the basic jump rope training. While doing a crisscross, the boxer crosses his arms (and the rope) as the rope passes down in front of the body, skipping through the loop that is formed, uncrossing his arms during the next skip.

Shadow Boxing

Shadowboxing is an essential part of a boxer’s training routine, permitting the boxer to prepare his muscles at the start of a training session, before they move on to more intense forms of exercise. In shadowboxing, the boxer works on his own and does not require a partner, often imaging a particular partner as a way to mentally prepare himself for a future fight. In this, the boxer practices in front of a mirror, throwing punches and getting into a fighting rhythm, and identifying techniques to be worked on during the rest of the session. There are mainly two styles: the short method and the long method. In the long method, the boxer shuffles his feet to rock his body backwards and forwards, while practicing straight shots and jabs. Instead, the short method is used to practice close range body shots. The boxer moves his body from left to right using a side-to-side motion, so that he can practice short punches.

Sparring with a Partner

While the bulk of a boxer’s training routine is done outside the ring, another training tip is sparring. Practiced in the ring, it is an important way to practice punches and defense techniques, as well as aiding in a boxer’s fitness and endurance levels. The purpose of sparring is for a boxer to work together on a routine, allowing him to improve or master certain techniques and not to fight and beat his sparring partner. While sparring, boxers use extra padding, special gloves, along with a protective headgear, to prevent the possibility of serious injury.

Bag Training

They employ bag training to improve their jabs and punches. It also improves anaerobic conditioning. This uses various kinds of bags to work on various types of attacks.

Double End Bag

Attached to the ceiling and floor, a double end bag is used to practice accurate jab and punch throwing on a moving target.

Speed Bag

The speed bag is full of air, and is the smallest type of bag which is fixed at the top to a rebound platform. The purpose of a speed bag is to facilitate the boxer in keeping his hands up in front of his face during a fight.

Body Simulation Bag

The body opponent bag is made of synthetic materials, and is shaped like a body usually placed on a fixed platform. This helps the boxer to practice his punches on a simulated human opponent.
Last but not the least, one of the most neglected, yet vital tip for boxing is a good balanced diet to stay in shape and keep up with the demands of the hardcore regime. Boxers need to eat well in order to maintain muscle strength and energy in the ring, and avoid feeling tired and sluggish part way through a fight. If you are serious about taking up boxing, it is a good idea to find yourself a trainer.

Table Tennis Rules

397400-513-51Table tennis is a very popular game that is played on a table, with a racket and a ball. It can be played between two players (singles) or even between 2 teams of two players each (doubles). The game originated in Great Britain in the 1800s, and is now a popular sport all around the globe. It is governed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) that was founded in 1926, which is also responsible for all aspects regarding international rules. The game was included in the Olympics in the year 1988, with the dominant forces being countries like China, South Korea, Japan, and Sweden. Here, we will talk about the important rules of table tennis, and how the game should actually be played.

The game commences with a toss, and the winner gets to decided whether he would like to serve, receive the serve, or choose the side of play. The server holds the racket in one hand, and the ball in the palm of the other hand, which is known as his free hand, which needs to be higher than the table surface and behind the endline of the table. He needs to toss the ball up at least 6 inches, cannot spin it with his hand, and can only hit it on descent. The serve needs to be executed in such a manner that the ball is clearly visible to the umpire and opponent. The ball, after being hit, needs to bounce once on the server’s side and then once on the opponent’s side of the table. The server loses the point if the ball hits the net, or even brushes the net and falls out of the table. If it brushes the net and falls on the opponent’s side, the serve needs to be taken again. The serve changes to the other player after every 2 points in the game.
Rally and Points System

After the serve, every shot needs to be returned directly onto the opponent’s half of the table. It is alright if a shot brushes the net on the way to the other side. A player wins a point if his opponent cannot return his shot, or hits the ball in his own half into the net or out of the table. Also, a point is won a shot touches the edge of the table in the opponent’s half, but not the sides. A game of table tennis is made up of 11 points for a win. The player to reach 11 points with a difference of at least 2 points, wins the game. In case both players are tied at 10 a piece, each player serves once until one player has a lead of 2 points. A match can be a best of 5 or 7 games, depending on the particular tournament being played. Players change sides after every game, and if it’s a deciding game, then players change sides whenever one player reaches 5 points first. The ‘Expedite System’ rule comes into play in games where both players are playing too defensive, each rally gets prolonged, and after 10 minutes less than 18 points have been played. Under this system, the server needs to win the point before the opponent can make 13 consecutive returns, otherwise the point goes to the receiver, and this process continues for the rest of the match.

The rules for singles differ slightly from that of doubles. The serve can be taken from anywhere behind the table, and can bounce on any part on both sides of the table, meaning it need not be a diagonal serve. A game is won when a player reaches 11 points with a difference of at least 2 points. If scores are tied, then the first player to lead by 2 points wins the game. Sides change after every game and also when a player reaches 5 points in a deciding game. A match can be best of 5 or 7 games. The serve changes every 2 points, and then after every point when the game is tied at 10 each. Shots can be played on any part of the opponent’s half of the table, just like the serve. Singles is the ultimate test of stamina, agility, and reflexes.

The rules for doubles are tweaked just a little differently from the singles. The scoring of points is also the same as singles. There are only a couple of things that are different when it is a doubles match. First of all, the serving rules differ. There are 2 players on each side, and the serve has to be taken from the right side of the table. Each half of the table is divided into 2 more halves. The server has to strike the ball in such a way that the ball bounces first in his half of the table on the right side. The serve needs to be in a cross or diagonal direction. Meaning, the ball has to land on the opposite side of the table in the right half of the other team’s side, as the other team sees it. The serve still changes every 2 points, but each player from a team takes one serve each. Shots are taken by each player alternatively in a rally. This is the major difference from lawn tennis, where in a doubles match, any player can take a shot according to the situation. Also, after changing sides, the combination of players serving and receiving changes. For example, if player A was serving to player C, and player B was serving to player D, after the change, player A would serve to player D and player B would serve to player C. Besides these, all the other rules are the same as the singles game. In doubles, coordination of both partners between themselves plays an important role in possessing that winning edge over their opponents.

Table tennis was earlier played with a 38mm ball, but since the year 2000, the 40mm, 2.7 gram ball has been introduced. This was done to make the game a bit slower, and also for better audience viewing. The ball is mostly white in color, but sometimes also orange, depending on the color of the surface of the table. The table is 9ft long and 5ft wide, and its surface is 2½ft above the ground. It is divided into two equal halves by a net, which is 6 inches in height from the surface of the table. The table surface is mostly green in color, though it can also be blue or red too. The racket is made of laminated wood covered with rubber on both sides. One side usually has rubber meant for spin and the other to defend. The most common grips used around the world are the penhold grip and the shakehand grip. According to the ITTF norms, the rubber on one side should be red while the other side should be black. It can be of any shape and size, but needs to be flat on the surface and rigid. The racket is also known as a paddle or a bat, in some countries.
Important Terms Used

  • The hand in which the racket is held is called the racket hand.
  • The hand that is not carrying the racket is called the free hand.
  • When a rally ends, it is known as a point.
  • A rally is the period from when the ball is served till the point is scored.
  • The player who strikes the ball first is called the server.
  • The player who is supposed to hit the ball second during a rally is called the receiver.
  • The person who conducts and controls the match is called the umpire.
  • A rally is a let, if for some reason or the other it does not end in a point.
    Useful Tips

    Here are just a few basic tips for your benefit. For the serve, a slow spinning serve is always better than a fast one. Usually, a fast serve is met with an even faster return or a smash. When in a defensive situation, a chop return is always the best. It nullifies the spin effect and also does not allow the opponent to smash or play and aggressive shot in his next chance. When an attacking chance presents itself, choose wisely between a smash shot and a topspin shot. Acquiring a good topspin shot in one’s armor is something that can enhance the game level to a great extent. During a game, besides starting with your own game plan, it is also very important to have studied your opponent’s game and tactics, and then alter your game accordingly. Playing towards your opponent’s weakness will give you that much-needed edge. And lastly, you will need to be trained by a professional coach if you are serious about this game, and are interested in pursuing it professionally or competitively.

Badminton Tips

Badminton is a sport played by two opposing players or two opposing pairs, with racquets. The sport is played in a rectangular court that is divided by a net, and the players score points by striking the shuttlecock to pass over the net into the opponents’ half of the court.

A badminton rally ends once the shuttlecock falls to the ground. The rule is that it can only be struck once by each side, over the net. The shuttlecock is a feathered projectile that is designed with unique aerodynamic properties that cause it to fly differently. The feathers create a higher drag and cause the shuttlecock to decelerate much more than a ball. Competitive badminton is always played indoors, because the flight of the shuttlecock is strongly affected by wind. As an Olympic sport, badminton has five competitive disciplines―men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. The sport demands aerobic stamina, strength, and speed. The technical aspect of the sport requires good motor coordination.

Since badminton involves stamina and agility, you need to warmup accordingly. You could begin with a jog or skipping, and once your pulse is raised, stretch the legs, back, and shoulders to prepare for the lunges. When choosing a racket, check the grip―small grips for small hands and large grips for large hands. Develop a relaxed grip with flexible wrist movements, to perfect forehand and backhand shots. A wobbly shuttle indicates poor quality or faulty dynamics, and should be returned or chucked away as soon as possible.

After playing a shot, try as much to return to central base position, to be more likely to reach all possible opposing shots. As badminton is a fast-paced and highly unpredictable game, you should be prepared to change direction anytime. Incorporate some strategies into the game, and the best game plan to follow is to discover your opponent’s weakness. Once you identify one or many of his or her weaknesses, play to it as much as possible! This sport requires stamina and agility, and thus, brisk walking and jogging are ideal for providing knee strength that is required during a fast-paced game.

Badminton requires constant thinking and planning. Make sure that every shot has a purpose, and keep an eye on as much of the court as possible. Just like in any other game, exercise or physical activity, make sure you round-off your game with a cool-down phase. You need to ensure that you finish as you began, probably with a gentle walk around the court. You could also adopt some light stretching exercises. When attempting to take up badminton as a sport, focus on the major muscle groups. Even if you wish to concentrate on some others, let your choice depend on how the previous game was.

When stretching for a warmup before a game, ensure that you hold your stretches for around 30 seconds. This ensures a really deep stretch. Badminton is like any other sport, and whether played ‘singles’ or ‘doubles’ or ‘mixed’, the game demands teamwork. You need to understand and apply all the rules to the game, even during the workout sessions. The game requires you to have a lot of stamina, and hence, you need to monitor your diet. A fiber-rich diet, with just the right amount of good fats and carbohydrates, will work wonders on your energy levels.

Once you take to the sport of badminton, you should not shift focus from the essentials of the game, and develop a game plan all your own! Badminton, played as a leisure activity, is a great exercise, and a fantastic way of spending quality time with family and friends. There are dedicated clubs everywhere that operate to teach the sport to children and those genuinely interested in the sport.