These top 10 recommendations can serve as a guide for parents and student athletes. The whole family may benefit.
10. Establish a set bedtime. Teens need about nine hours of sleep each night, but only get an average of seven. Eliminate the opportunity for late night texting and gaming. Turn these devices off and put them away.
9. Eat breakfast. An engine doesn’t start on empty, neither should a student athlete. For early morning practices, pack a snack or mini-breakfast for on the way and a second snack to eat afterward.
8. Keep fueled. Provide eating opportunities frequently and make them substantial. Young athletes need at least 3,000 calories per day. Help athletes find time to eat before, during and after sports practices and competitions.
7. Choose foods wisely. Healthy, high-carb, low-fat snacks are good choices to have throughout the day.
6. Drink water throughout the day. Athletes should always hydrate regardless of the sport activity, where it is taking place (indoors or outdoors) or if the outside temperature is hot or cold.
5. Help manage time. Discipline and focus are qualities needed for high performance in sports and successful performance in academics. Help students learn to use time wisely throughout the day, to complete schoolwork before practice or competition whenever possible.
4. Teach relaxation. To reduce anxiety during competition, practice intentional exhaling. Help athletes recognize when to do a performance exhale during a game.
3. Support independence. Accepting personal responsibility for decisions and mistakes is important. Parents can help athletes by providing choices and supporting decision-making within clear boundaries.
2. Talk about the game afterward. Talk about it when the time is right. Parents should refrain from forcing the issue. Instead, offer the opportunity to listen now, later today, and tomorrow or later in the week.
1. Enjoy the game. Athletes need to love the sport they are playing. It is not all about winning. Repeated complaints of sickness at practice or game time, slow return following injury, anxiety, anger or sadness before, during or after the game and atypical behavior are warning signs for parents. Make sure your student athlete is enjoying the sporting experience.
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