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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
- Children and young
athletes should know the positive effects of short naps (20-30 minutes) to supplement their inadequate sleep
- 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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
- Strengthening of the
- Injury prevention
- Decreased muscle
soreness and tiredness
- Increased focus and
- 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
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
- 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,
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
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.