Focus: Sports can help kids hone skills beyond athleticism.

WHO: Hayes Bucco and Mikaila Blanski

WHERE: Excel Karate for Kids

WHEN: June 12, 2018

THE BACKSTORY: Kelly Muir, founder of Excel Karate for Kids, was kind enough to let us drop by her Bexley-area dojo during a beginner class.

Muir, a longtime martial arts practitioner and competitor, started the studio in 2005. “What I discovered was a real need for structured discipline in children,” she said. Muir said the curriculum (which she wrote about in a book, “Instructor Revolution”) promotes respect, honesty and allowing children to fail and grow. “By being honest with our children, we have empowered them,” she said. “They feel like they're more in control.”

She's a strong proponent of helping kids improve their focus through sports. “Martial arts is an activity that you have to be focused from the moment you arrive to the minute you leave, if it's done well,” Muir said.

Her classes include some students who have an ADHD diagnosis. The key for those children, she said, is to keep it simple and pick one goal at a time: “Small goals, big structure on a consistent basis. … It's a lot like parenting.” She's writing a new book, “The Coaching Pit,” to equip coaches with strategies they can use to help athletes improve their focus.

Read more about how sports can help with focus in “Attention-Getters” HERE.