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.

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 to Help a Young Athlete Transition when You Relocate Midseason

How to Help a Young Athlete Transition when You Relocate Midseason

Moving is usually the hardest on children. They get used to the life they have and moving means starting everything over from scratch.

A move is especially tough on young athletes who have become very connected to their team.

So if you have to move abruptly and your child needs to transition to another team in the middle of the season, what are the things that you can do to help them? What can you do to guide them to transition effectively and efficiently?

Help the Child Learn and Adapt to the New Team

We are assuming that you’ve already talked to your child about the whole move and that they have learned to accept it and are starting to get back to regular life.

If all of that is said and done, the first thing that you should do is reassure your athlete that everything will be fine. Explain to them that nothing will change, they are still as good of a player as before and are now playing with different children. They don’t have to worry about being a mediocre player as they were already great before, and will continue to be so as long as they remain confident with their abilities.

Help your young athlete understand how everything works in the new team and what’s expected of them. Learn the protocols and procedures of the team together to help them get used to everything.

In the end, you can also have a long talk with the coach to see how everything works and if your child will fit in easily.

If or when something goes wrong and your child is having a problem in the team – not being accepted by others, or something similar – talk to them. Understand the problem and work together to overcome it.

Nothing Needs to Change

The thing about a move is that the child will get used to it if they try to meet new friends and get their life to what it used to be.

Children are very adaptable, and with a little encouragement and help from your end, they will get back to a life similar to the one they had before.

Encourage your child to be optimistic, to attempt to make new friends at school, but most importantly – try and become a real part of the new team.

Tell them to continue training and play as they did before. It will show to the team that they have a new player they can rely on. Very soon after, the entire team will want to befriend your child.

When your child starts feeling like part of that team, it will do wonders for their self-esteem and all other pieces of their life will fall into place quickly. When you look at it like that and try to help your child in the way we described, they will once again start having a great life. If you want to get more advice on these and similar issues, feel free to take a better look at our site.

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.