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.

Turf vs. Grass Fields

Turf vs. Grass Fields

Many things factor into how well a sport can be played. The equipment, the weather conditions, the type of field, are all factors. That’s why we wanted to discuss the difference between synthetic turf and natural grass field in youth sports and how each affects the way the youth players play the game.

The Benefits of Grass

Some would say that the main benefit of grass is that it’s natural and looks far better than synthetic turf. However, that’s mostly a matter of opinion. The more measurable benefits are certainly the facts that grass does not overheat, and it helps in improving the quality of the air the players breathe.

Unlike all synthetic grass, natural grass cannot overheat during the summer when there are more games, and the temperatures are much higher. When water runs through real grass, the moisture remains in it, which helps it stay cooler, something that is not the case with synthetic turf.

As for better air quality, grass, just like all other plants, breaks down pollutants from the air and produces oxygen. That’s useful for all of us anywhere, but it’s especially helpful if the field in question is in a larger city where pollution is on a much higher level than in other areas.

The Benefits of Turf

The main advantages of synthetic turfs or any type of artificial fields are the fact that they are easy to maintain and that they have a much longer life expectancy. It doesn’t matter how much playing happens on that turf; it is evident that this type of field lasts much longer than other types of fields, especially natural grass.

The synthetic grass used in turfs is not immune to problems as it’s not resistant to tears and rips that soccer shoes and other athletic equipment usually cause. However, these things still happen less often than with other fields. That’s also one of the main reasons why there’s less maintenance required in these fields. There is no mowing and watering to be done, and there’s no care and fertilizing needed as is the case with natural grass. There is only occasional rinsing and brushing.

Which is Better?

It’s not an easy question to answer all in all. It seems to depend on what you and the players require from the field and which benefits you feel are more desirable.

However, it’s also worth mentioning the injuries that can occur depending on the type of field the youth players are using. We’ve already written about it before, and it seems that all research points to the fact that artificial or synthetic turf can cause more injuries to players than natural grass can.

Now, for some, this might be enough of a reason not to use synthetic turf as the preferred type of fields on which the youth athletes are playing. However, it’s still evident that if we are going to care about the well-being of our children, we shouldn’t opt for turf instead of grass, even though there’s more maintenance involved.

What do you think?

How Youth Sports Can Help Ease Anxiety and Stress

How Youth Sports Can Help Ease Anxiety and Stress

If your child is suffering from stress and anxiety due to school or something else, you should consider getting them interested in sports. Even though there are fewer children playing sports now than before, you should work towards changing that but getting your children to participate in a youth sport of their choosing, or even more than one.

We say this because sports has scientifically been proven to help with anxiety and stress in both adults and children. Let’s take a look at how that works in youth sports and how your child can benefit.

It’s More Than Another Additional Activity

Physical activity should not be considered as a chore, even though some children might feel like that. Physical activity and sports, in general, are more beneficial than they are problematic. Even though your child might already have a lot to do every day, and by adding another ‘chore’ you both might feel like it would do harm, the reality is the exact opposite.

Playing sports will bring your child a lot. They will start leading a healthier lifestyle and will improve their social skills and cooperation. They will learn and gain a lot that will eventually benefit them in later life – competitiveness, ambition, and they will build character.

All of this is why your child should play sports even if that means that they will have a lot more to do every day. It will be stressful at first as those problems don’t go away overnight, but once they get into it, these practices and matches will ease their anxiety and stress.

What Do Sports Do for Our Bodies?

  • They stimulate the production of endorphins

Sports and other physical activities are essential when it comes to our endorphin production as they stimulate its production. Endorphin is, as you probably already know, responsible for our mood. Essentially, youth sports can help your child feel better and thus ease stress and other problems.

  • They promote socialization

It might seem like something that won’t work on stress and anxiety, but in reality more socializing can help your child in many ways. Children need socializing, the need to make bonds with other children, and they need friendship. The best way to get all of that is by playing team sports. That socialization will eventually relieve them of stress and anxiety with which they’ve been struggling before.

  • They lower depression levels and promote better sleep

Finally, it’s worth noting that there are a lot of studies that show that sports can help ease the symptoms of depression and can also promote improved sleep patterns. Sleep on its own is a great way to alleviate anxiety and stress, and when sports induce it, it’s even better.

The Bottom Line Once you consider all of this, it becomes quite evident that youth sports can benefit your child in more ways than you previously thought. It’s thus imperative to get your child to play sports if they are having problems with stress and anxiety. However, make sure you are not pushing them too hard because over-training can bring these problems back.

3 Reasons Why Pre-Game Routines Are Important

3 Reasons Why Pre-Game Routines Are Important

It’s worth noting that the world’s best athletes have pre-game routines, and it’s been like that for as long as we can remember. But why is that the case? Do these routines play any significance in these athletes’ performance?

In this article, we will give you three compelling reasons which adequately explain why pre-game routines are essential for every athlete to have.

1.    They Are the Best Preparation Method

First and foremost, pre-game routines are the best preparation method an athlete can use. Why? Mostly because habits develop your abilities and skills, they essentially get you ready for the match ahead. An excellent pre-game routine will enable you to ascertain everything you know you can do essentially.

Routines do this by making sure that everything you have learned in practice will now be effectively performed in the game. You can develop these routines during practice and repeat them before a match, and that should be enough to get you truly ready for the game.

2.    They Build Confidence in Your Abilities

The only thing in a game that you can control is yourself. You can do nothing about the weather conditions or the knowledge of your opponents. You can barely even control how your team performs. The only thing that you can control is your playing and your ability.

Even when you’re a great player, you’ll still lose faith in yourself from time to time, which is where routines will come in handy. They enable a player to build their confidence and get them mentally ready for the game at hand.

3.    They Calm You Down

We all, as human beings, love routines. We like having some consistency about a lot of things in our lives. It calms us down because it reassures us that everything is alright. That all works on a deep psychological level and in an effort not to get too technical – routines are familiar, we know how they unfold and what will happen, and this certainty inherently breeds safety.

The same can be said for sports and pre-game routines. By repeating particular moves, we’ll naturally feel safer and thus more calm in that period when most athletes are under stress. The game that’s about to start won’t be a scary thing anymore once all the frequent moves, i.e., your routine, have been performed.

Build Your Perfect Routine

There’s no routine out there that can help you achieve what you want to achieve, but you can certainly build one for yourself.

Every player needs to take a look at what works best for them and develop that into a sequence of moves that will work as a pre-game routine.

If you are a coach, you should explain this to your players and get them to start developing their routines if they don’t have ones. Explain to them that the habit will end up being more than merely helpful. They might even lead them to have the best game of their lives. If you’re interested in more articles like this one, feel free to take a look at our blog, or contact us if you want to get more information.

Playing Favorites in Youth Sports

Playing Favorites in Youth Sports

It often happens in youth sports that the coach chooses to use the same players many times over. It leaves the parents of the kids not getting to play puzzled and sometimes angry.

Why is the coach not picking my child? Do they not like my child? Is my child not good at this sport? There are a lot of questions that naturally arise in such situations, and all of these are valid concerns. There can be a lot of reasons why a coach is choosing certain players and not others.

However, the reality is usually straightforward. The coach chooses specific players because they think those are the best players on the team and the coach wants their team to win.

Having Favorites – Is It Good?

For many, this is the clear case of a coach having favorites, and it can get very annoying for both the looked over players and their parents. In the end, the most important thing for both players and their parents is for the players to play the game. Winning matters, but playing is more important to most of those involved.

We at League Network believe that youth sports need to be more about playing and having fun and not about winning. Yes, winning does matter, but it can’t always come at the cost of most players having the chance to shine.

In youth sports, it’s essential for the children, especially in their pre-teen days, to have enough chances to learn and train – and they can’t do that unless they get the opportunity to play in matches.

So, mostly, having favorites cannot be a good thing, especially as it leads to coaches rarely using other players, which leads to resentment and a desire to stop playing the sport altogether.

What Can You Do?

If you’re a parent of a child not getting enough chances to play, the first thing that you should do is discuss this with the coach. Most coaches are reasonable, and they just got carried away with their desire to win. They will give your child a chance if you explain to them what’s going on.

However, sometimes coaches will not listen to reason, and they will remain firm in their stance to only choose their favorites as that’s the best way for them to win the game.

In such cases, the only thing that you can do is to get your child to practice more and try to become much better.

On the other hand, in some situations coaches have favorites because of their relationship with the parents – for example, the parents are their friends, or they are wealthy and support the school, and they demand their child to play. In such cases, it can even happen that the child is a terrible player, so such favoritism is bringing no one any good.

In these cases, the only thing that can be done is for a larger group of parents to confront the coach and try and convince him or her to turn over a different leaf and stop having favorites.

All in all, a conversation is always the best course of action when coaches are playing favorites.