In today's society, the subject of health, fitness, and healthy living pervades our everyday life. Billboards,TV commercials, radio ads...all scream their messages of 'health' in epic proportions. As parents we attempt to direct our family through this maze of information, guiding our young athletes to make nutritional and conditioning choices to benefit them in their athletic and intellectual endeavors. On the contrary, there are those parents who are new to such and could be inadvertently overlooking their importance.
The great John Wooden said..."your planning, preparation, practice, and performance - counts for everything. Winning or losing is a by-product, an aftereffect, of that effort." Proper warm-up, stretching, and strength-training is critical in the prevention of injury, however, many of our young athletes are taught incorrectly thus leaving them more susceptible. As parents we must seek out authorities if they aren't readily available to properly instruct our players, engraining these techniques into their training regimens.
Let's Get Started!
Begin with a slow jog or jump rope for 5-7 minutes. This allows the circulatory system to begin to supply all tissues within the body. Next, implement a soccer-specific warm-up (our coaches know gazillions!) then proceed to stretching all the major muscle groups.
As we all know, proper nutrition and hydration are essential for our athletes- but schedules often prevent ideal intake. Make sure your kiddos are getting lean protein in the morning. A sub sandwich 2 hours prior to practice, or a protein shake can be a difference maker. Follow practices and games with the same- refueling aids in the growth of lean muscle tissue.
Just Do It!
* Wear the proper quality equipment. If you don't know how to purchase or fit your athlete's gear, stop by Mac's- they are experts!
* Eat healthy meals. Do not skip meals! Avoid high fat, highly processed foods. Candy bars and fast food are no bueno!! Eat twice as many veggies as fruits.
* Maintain a healthy weight. Help your player understand that good nutrition and quality caloric intake is essential for optimal performance. The fuel drives the engine.
* Drink water. Younger athletes: 5-8 eight oz. glasses per day; teenagers: 8-10 per day.
* Take vitamins daily. A good multi-vitamin/minerals supplement twice per day can assist in pain reduction, healing, and scar tissue strengthening. Avoid creatine and "trendy" supplements- the research is not clear as to their beneficial and/or long-term side effects.
* Rest. Eight hours of sleep is ideal. Lack of sleep makes all of us cranky, fatigued, unfocused and decreases our performance.
Training up our children in the way they should go takes wisdom,time, money, patience, and a village...but I'm confident they will achieve their hearts desire--with a little help along the way.