Why Sleep is Crucial in Youth Sports

Why Sleep is Crucial in Youth Sports

The greatest athletes live for their sport. They are what they play, and they do everything in their power to be the best. Eating right, training hard, and getting enough sleep all play a major role in athletic performance. The amount and quality of sleep young athletes get are often crucial to their success because REM sleep allows both the mind and the body to replenish their energies. In sports, players often need to make split-second decisions, and their ability to do that declines with poor sleep.

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

The right fuel and hydration are the most important parts of recovery and training. Exercising depletes fluids, energy, and breaks down muscle. What athletes do before, during, and after exercise or competition determines how quickly their bodies will replenish nutrients and rebuild muscle. It helps them maintain accuracy, endurance, and speed. Research has also shown that stress hormones go up if we don’t get enough sleep, while the production of glycogen decreases. That’s why lack of sleep causes poor focus, low energy, and fatigue at game time, and it may slow the recovery afterward.

Physical Health

Sleep is essential for maintaining physical health. There’s a link between obesity and sleep deprivation, for example, because a lack of sleep will cause an imbalance in the hormones that control appetite. Sleep deprivation can also have metabolic effects, such as an increase in insulin resistance and blood sugar – factors that lead to type II diabetes. Proper sleep also affects the body’s ability to fight off illness and is required for a healthy immune system.

Mental Health

When it comes to children’s mental and emotional health, sleep is required for avoiding many negative mental effects. For example, exaggerated emotional responses to both negative and positive stimuli are associated with a lack of sleep. People typically become more irritable, and their ability to cope with stress gets decreased, which may result in more confrontational behavior. Sleep-deprived people are also less likely to engage in exercise and pursue other activities that they would usually enjoy. In some cases, lack of sleep may predispose people to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

Athletic Performance

For peak athletic performance, adequate sleep is crucial. Otherwise, young athletes won’t be able to replenish their energy, keep their minds sharp, causing them to perform sub-optimally. Besides accuracy and speed, sleep also influences reaction time, which are all necessary components to be successful in sports. Athletes may get less than eight hours of sleep per night due to several factors, such as frequent travel, pregame anxiety or excitement, and early morning training sessions.

Ways to Get More Sleep

When demands are high, due to academic responsibilities, practice, competition schedules, and travel, young athletes are exposed to a higher risk of sleep deprivation. Therefore, getting enough sleep becomes a priority.

  • Children and young athletes should know the positive effects of short naps (20-30 minutes) to supplement their inadequate sleep cycle.
  • Creating a relaxing routine before bed will support good-quality sleep by helping them to decompress and manage stress.
  • Help your child create a sleep schedule and stick to it.

Besides improving mental stamina and physical energy during practices and competitions, regular and quality sleep can improve skills that are specific to various sports. For example, it can improve shooting accuracy among basketball players or increase speed among football players. On the other hand, if your child athlete is experiencing decreased reaction time and a quicker onset of exhaustion, it may be due to poor sleeping habits or lack of a good night’s sleep.

Why Kids Quit Sports?

Why Kids Quit Sports?

In recent years, research has shown that children are leaving sports too early. According to a study done by the Aspen Institute, children quit playing sports by age 11 (on average). The increased number of children quitting sports at such an early age is contributing to the epidemic of physical inactivity. The epidemic has been getting increasingly worse over the past 30 years in the U.S. and is dubbed as a global public health problem by the World Health Organization.

Physical inactivity can lead to a wide range of health problems, such as:

  • Obesity and overweight problems during childhood and into adulthood
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

For kids, playing sports is one of the best ways to have fun and stay physically active. But what’s the problem? What are the reasons behind our children’s decisions to quit sports altogether?

  • Not Getting Playing Time

If a child is on a team but never gets a chance to play meaningful minutes, then the child is going to quit. The same goes for kids who get pulled out of the game after even the slightest mistake. Kids need and want to play, and it means a lot to them, not how famous their coach is or how good their team is. Parents and coaches who overemphasize winning at young ages are creating a negative culture that doesn’t allow kids to develop at their own natural pace. When coaches only let the best players play to catch a win, they drive many children out of sports – many of whom may be late bloomers.

  • It’s Not Fun Anymore

According to a 2014 study, youth athletes were asked why they play sports, and the majority answered that they played sports because it was fun. Youth athletes have fun when they are getting playing time, when being treated respectfully by teammates, parents, and coaches, and when they are trying their best. In the study, practicing with private trainers, playing tournaments, and winning weren’t included as characteristics of having fun.

  • Feeling Disrespected

Encouragement and respect are the traits of a great coach. Nobody likes to be disrespected by friends, family, colleagues, or even strangers. However, kids often get disrespected when making a mistake, such as missing a shot or making a bad pass. In that case, leaving sports is inevitable because a disrespectful coach can damage young athletes’ confidence.

  • Not Owning the Experience

Children don’t want their every move to be scrutinized or criticized by adults. It leads to loss of ownership of their experience, so they leave sports and pursue their other interests. If you were wondering why many kids like playing video games for so long, it’s because there’s no one standing there, criticizing their every move. Good coaching doesn’t take away children’s autonomy – kids should be allowed to make their own decisions. Otherwise, the enjoyment gets sucked out of sports.

  • Being Afraid to Make Mistakes

One of the main reasons that kids quit sports is because they get benched, yelled at, or criticized when they make mistakes. Players cannot develop in an environment where they fear mistakes and where they aren’t encouraged to try and fail. Failure is an important part of the entire development process. Parents and coaches who second-guess every action or decision players take or shout comments on the sideline create a culture that makes young players decide to step out of the game.

To become skillful and proficient, it takes years of practice. Coaches and parents shouldn’t expect young athletes to make the perfect decision and action every time or not to make mistakes. Otherwise, poor treatment and taking the fun out of it will make more and more kids get out of sports, contributing to the epidemic of physical inactivity in sports.

Do Youth Sports Help Kids in Academics?

Do Youth Sports Help Kids in Academics?

Many professionals in youth sports will tell you that sports are very beneficial for the kids’ grades and overall success in school.

However, is that really the case? Some people have their doubts, which is why we want to explain why those doubts are unfounded and unnecessary. Youth sports play a big part in helping children in academics, among many other areas where sports are also can have an impact on the lives of young people.

No Sports Without High Grades

As you probably already know, youth sports are part of the school’s program, and as such, they often have requirements which the children need to fulfill if they want to participate. One of these requirements is usually maintaining a certain grade point average.

Such a system ensures that children who want to participate in team sports need to do well in school before they even attempt to join the sports team of their choosing.

The motivation they get from this is hardly measurable, and it always provides additional benefits for the child, like improved focus and higher self-esteem. The latter is more than merely helpful because it’s a trait that children often lack today.

When playing youth sports, children’s self-esteem rises because they are surrounded by teammates who share their goals, and who often become their close friends. Such a positive social surrounding will always result in children having more will and motivation to do better in other areas of their lives – including academics.

The Coveted Scholarships

People who doubt the importance of sports in the realm of children’s academic success often forget about scholarships, which remain among the top benefits of playing youth sports.

Sports scholarships are numerous, and many talented kids have a good chance of winning them when they perform well in their sport.

What’s more, these scholarships are highly coveted for a compelling reason – they often give opportunities to young people who would otherwise be unable to afford them.

Any Problems?

In the end, it’s worth mentioning that the people who doubt these benefits often cite the fact that some children have it easier at school because the coaches and the parents put pressure on the teachers to give them a break so that they could focus more on their training.

This is an unfortunate fact, but it does occur from time to time. When this kind of behavior is allowed, this highly beneficial system loses. We need to work towards eliminating these cases because the children are missing out on the many valuable lessons. They are not just losing valuable school lessons, but they also fail to learn the importance of organization, time management, work ethic, and so much more.

They instead learn that powerful people can get away with anything in life, which is not something that the children should learn at all.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us at any time, and we’ll be happy to help.

How Important is Nutrition in Sports?

How Important is Nutrition in Sports?

Besides training long hours for their sport, a youth athlete’s body also develops quickly. To get everything needed for proper body development and to optimize their training, a healthy eating plan must be a regular component of an athlete’s workout regimen.

Benefits of Nutrition to Youth Athletes

Snack and meal planning are often pushed to the side because of hectic schedules (it takes extra time), but it has to be a priority. The benefits of a proper nutrition plan include:

  • Muscle healing and recovery
  • Strengthening of the immune system
  • Injury prevention
  • Decreased muscle soreness and tiredness
  • Increased focus and attention span
  • Improved energy levels

Youth Athletes and Their Nutritional Needs

Children who eat well-balanced, healthy meals will get the nutrients required to perform at their best in sports. But child athletes have higher energy requirements. Children and teenagers involved in strenuous endurance sports or all-day competitions that can involve a few hours of activity at a time may need to consume more food and fluids due to their increased demands.

Besides getting enough calories, youth athletes need other nutrients to be at their peak form, such as:

  • Protein. Thanks to protein, muscle tissue is able to build and repair. Protein-rich foods include lean meat, fish, poultry, soy products, nuts, beans, and dairy products. However, too much protein can lead to calcium loss and dehydration.
  • Carbs. Carbohydrates provide energy for the body and are an important source of fuel for every young athlete. There is no need to eat a lot of carbs before a big game, but without them, children would be running on an “empty tank.” Carb-rich foods include brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain cereal and bread, and plenty of vegetables and fruits.
  • Vitamins and minerals. For athletes, iron and calcium and the two most important minerals. Iron helps carry oxygen throughout the body, and iron-rich foods include chicken, lean meat, salmon, tuna, fortified whole grains, eggs, leafy green vegetables, and dried fruits. Calcium helps our bones be strong to resist stress fractures and breaking. Some of the calcium-rich foods are cheese, yogurt, milk as well as leafy green vegetables.
  • Fluids. Dehydration can zap energy, coordination, and strength, so young athletes must drink enough fluids to prevent it. The feeling of thirst is not a reliable sign of one’s hydration status. Experts recommend that children should drink water (or other fluids) every 15-20 minutes during their physical activity.

On Game Day

On game days, it’s essential for young athletes to eat well. The game-day meal shouldn’t be much different from the one they would have eaten throughout their training. They can choose to eat healthy foods they believe will boost their performance and don’t cause stomach upset or other problems.

  • Three hours before a game – the meal should have enough carbs and protein, but must be low in fat and fiber because it can cause digestion problems.
  • ●        If children eat less than three hours before practice or game, they should consume a snack or lighter carb-rich meal that includes easy-to-digest foods like bread, crackers, fruit, and vegetable or fruit juice.
  • After the practice or game, kids should eat carbs within 30 minutes after activity and again two hours later. That’s when your kid’s body is replenishing energy stores and fluids as well as rebuilding muscle tissue, so it’s crucial that the post-event meal be a balance of protein, fat, and carbs.

When it comes to young athletes, eating for sports should be an extension of normal healthy eating for life. Young athletes should eat the right mix and amount of foods to support their increased level of activity. However, their nutrition regimen shouldn’t be too different from a regular, healthy diet.

How to Run a Tryout as a Coach

How to Run a Tryout as a Coach

Every coach aiming to be a great coach needs to learn how to run the tryouts properly. We know that this is essential knowledge, which is why we wanted to help you with some advice and tips that will enable you to run tryouts correctly.

A Good Plan Is a Necessity

No tryouts can be accomplished successfully unless you’ve prepared a plan for it. The method needs to include the athlete check-in but also a detailed overview of everything that you want to achieve with your players. These accomplishments should be comprehensive, meaning they need to include specific skills, team situations, physical testing, drills, and more.

The plan shouldn’t omit the staff, and it should include what everyone on the staff will be doing during the tryouts. No one should have too much to do, and all work needs to be separated according to the abilities of everyone on the staff.

When the plan is ready, you can conduct a session to see if it will all work well in practice.

You Need to Have all the Equipment Prepared

The equipment we are talking about is all the equipment used by you, the staff, and the players. Make a checklist of everything needed and go through it once all the things are collected, prepared, and ready.

Never forget to have a tryout evaluation form or at least a printed list of players to take notes on. The Forms need a clipboard as a basis, and you need pens and pencils to write on them.

Furthermore, all players should have name tags through which you can identify them and stay organized.

You should also keep a fully charged phone or an extra battery as you’ll have to use it for taking pictures and videos when you need and to keep track of the time.

In the end, never forget your whistle or water and snacks for both the players and the staff. You don’t want anyone getting dehydrated or spending energy on an empty stomach.

Don’t Forget Warm-Ups and Cool Downs

For some reason, warm-ups are often overlooked in tryouts, which is why you should make sure they are included. Every player needs to properly warm up their muscles as that will reduce the chance of injury.

Warm-ups are also useful for keeping athletes focused and for keeping them in the same area. They are also beneficial for you if you need time to talk to the parents.

As much as stretching matters before physical activities, they also matter immediately afterward. A cool down is a bit different from the warm-up as it should be a period where players are doing some more gentle stretches designed to get their heart rates back to normal.

The Bottom Line

If you can follow everything laid out here, you’ll have no problems while running tryouts. However, remember that everything needs to be done on time and according to schedule. Now all that’s left for you is to contact us if you happen to have some questions.