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.

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.

How to Be an Effective Team Mom Without Hovering

How to Be an Effective Team Mom Without Hovering

Team moms are an essential part of the team, even though they’re not playing or coaching. However, many team moms go overboard and become something like a helicopter parent, which is not something that any reasonable parent would want to be.

If you want to avoid hovering and acting like a helicopter parent, there are some things that you need to know. The following tips will help you become a great team mom without the hovering and other annoying things.

Know the Game

The problem with many team moms is that they don’t know the game and that’s somewhat understandable. But there’s no need for you not to know the basics at least, and maybe the terminology used.

Knowing the game will get you respect from your child and other team members and it will also help you support your young athlete properly. However, that doesn’t mean that you should go overboard because children often feel embarrassed if their parents get too invested in the game and overreact to everything they’re doing.

Be All in but Let Others Have Responsibilities as Well

There’s no way for you to be a capable team mom if you don’t commit. You need to go all in and consider your job to be just that – a job.

However, you shouldn’t go too far, or you’ll appear to be a helicopter parent. To avoid that, you should delegate tasks to others. Find people to assist you with certain things like getting snacks, game films, etc.

Additionally, this will help you hover around less, and you’ll also be able to rest a bit and not tire yourself too much.

Be Ready for Injuries and Don’t Freak Out

Injuries happen in sports, and they are a fairly regular occurrence. If it happens to your child, you needn’t worry too much. Try to do your best to help them and don’t freak out. If you do, you will appear hovering, and you won’t be a capable team mom.

Make sure that it’s nothing serious, but do it calmly because doing it otherwise would be a disservice to everyone, both your child and you.

Relax and Enjoy Yourself

The underlying problem with the hovering and helicopter parenting is that the parents who are like that are usually very uptight and worried. There’s no reason to be like that. Everything would be much better if you were to relax and start enjoying the fact that you’re a team mom.

You’re there to help and have specific responsibilities, but you are also there to enjoy yourself. Sport is about fun, and it’s there to connect people as well. The sooner you realize that; the less this hovering thing will be a problem. It will disappear entirely.

With this and all the other tips we gave you, you’ll quickly become the most active team mom which a mom can be, and your child, as well as all the other children on the team, will love you for it.

Equal Playing Time for All vs. Winning a Game – Which is More Important?

Equal Playing Time for All vs. Winning a Game – Which is More Important?

It’s a tricky question and an endless debate to which we have an answer. An answer that won’t satisfy everyone, but after long research and discussion, we believe it to be the only reasonable solution.

It’s Not as Simple as You Might Think

What’s more important in youth sports? Giving players equal playing time or winning the game? More often than not, the two can’t go together. You have to opt for one and sacrifice the other.

If you give everyone equal playing time, that inherently means that the weak players will have to play as well. And that often results in a lost game. However, if you don’t allow them to play and thus learn, how are they to become better players?

On the other hand, if you focus on winning, many players won’t get the chance to shine and learn. That will leave you with matches won, but with a lot of disappointed children and parents.

So yes, it’s a tricky question to answer.

It Depends on the Age

Everyone wants to play the game, no matter the sport. That’s especially true when it comes to children. If they don’t get the chance to play in official matches, it will be like they never played at all, and they might as well be sitting at home watching the game on TV.

When children play sports and join teams, they don’t want to train merely. Training for them is a means to an end. They have to do it to get better and finally get a chance to shine in an official match where there are stakes involved.

As youth sports are all about the children, We firmly believe that the children should have the chance to do what they came here to do in the first place – play the game and have fun. Winning the game comes in second place.

However, that’s not all. That should be the case for children up until the age of fourteen and the high school years. At that point, there needs to be a shift in the way of thinking.

Children at that point are no longer only children, they are now real players, and as such, they need to earn their time on the field. At that point, they prefer winning, and they want to keep getting better. Those who don’t have nothing to look for on the field and don’t have to be there.

The Conclusion

As you can see, the answer is not simple, and there can never be a universal solution for everyone.

As long as kids are kids, they should have fun, and sports are there to provide precisely that. At these stages of their development, they should only have fun while developing their playing skills. The only way to do that is for them to play the game.

When children get older, there should be a gradual shift towards them earning their place in the game along with a focus on winning the games. Nothing in life will come free, everything must be learned and earned, and when your players are old enough, that’s precisely when they should learn this simple truth. However, they should still have some fun as well!

What Kind of Conditioning is Good for Players During the Off-Season?

What Kind of Conditioning is Good for Players During the Off-Season?

However, the modern times have brought upon us a whole different story. Kids today play with their phones, computers, and consoles, and most of that time involves sitting or lying down.

It was easier before in earlier times. Children used to play outside all the time, so the parents didn’t have to worry about their young athletes getting exercise and staying in shape.

Don’t get us wrong; you don’t have to push your child to their limits and not allowing them to have fun. But you should get them to exercise, or they’ll be completely unprepared when the next season starts.

The Best Kind of Conditioning

The off-season is the time for rest, but you still have to keep your young athlete in shape. The key during the off-season is to also full-body conditioning, no matter the sport your child plays.

Full-body conditioning exercises are vital because they build balance, agility, endurance, and coordination. Additionally, they are also strengthening the entire body.

Doing fewer exercises than usual can still be enough, and they will even allow the child to be ready when the season kicks in.

The Exercises to Use

  • Split jacks are simple yet effective. One foot goes back and lowers into a lunge with the arms down. Then quickly jump up and switch to the same lunge with the other side. While jumping the arms should go up. The key is to do these in quick succession.
  • Plank to low squats – your child certainly knows these already. Begin in the plank position and jump with the feet to a squat position, all the while keeping the hands in the same position. Then repeat the moves quickly for a short while.
  • Mountain climbers are a useful type of full-body conditioning exercise. They are all about keeping the core tight and quickly switching the legs as if running horizontally.
  • Pushups are also essential but require no explanation. The only thing most children forget is to breathe correctly by exhaling while going up and inhaling while going down.
  • Speed skaters are tiring but effective. Start by moving to one side by stepping one foot behind the other and getting the legs crossed where the thighs are but getting them to be apart from each other with the feet. Then hop to the other side doing the same thing again. Keep doing these quickly; one after the other.
  • Star jumps are also self-explanatory, but they need to be done right. When jumping, it’s vital to go as high as possible, and when squatting, the knees need to be in line with the feet and together with the bottom, parallel with the floor.

The Bottom Line

All in all, it’s not only important to stay active during the off-season but to do the right exercises as well. The explanations and exercises we gave above should be enough for your child to keep fit and ready when the new season kicks in. Furthermore, these exercises will prevent injuries as well.Contact the League Network if you would like to know more or find out about some additional exercises for your child.