The next biggest thing that is going to help with preventing as many injuries as we can is how we recover from training sessions. Recovery is something that can be neglected initially because some kids think they are invincible and don't need to worry about it. But if we can educate our youth athletes to put as much effort into their recovery as they do into training, they will be much better off in the long run.
Warm downs offer different benefits to the warm up. It’s a time where athletes can come together and bond or chat as a group. As well as winding down from the workout, athletes can relax and socialise, whilst also recovering from the session. Investing in at least a 5min warm down session to unwind and recover, instils positive behaviours in youth athletes, which they will take with them on their sporting journey into adulthood. Common warm down examples include walking/slow jogging and static stretching/foam rolling post sessions.
First and foremost, kids know that fried chicken and Maccas is worse for them than a bowl of veggies. They don’t need us adults telling them what to eat, they need their parents and role models leading the way and setting an example with balanced nutritional patterns.
Dietary habits in our young athletes should prioritise excellent eating patterns to support health, normal growth and sporting demands, with an emphasis on a balanced intake of nutrient rich carbohydrates, high quality protein and sufficient dietary calcium, vitamin D and iron.
Supplement use should be avoided, with all necessary nutrients gained through a well-balanced daily diet.
Let's do some mythbusting. Here are some common myths around nutrition and how they are not quite accurate.
Sweat is the primary form of water and electrolyte loss in young athletes. Although, each youth is different in regards to the amount of fluid loss they may encounter when training and competing. Many factors influence this:
Genetics, level of acclimatisation, level of fitness, age/maturation
Intesnity, intermittent versus continuous, ambient (land versus water), sport modality
Humidity, Temperature, Solar Radiation, Clothing
A big point, especially leading into summer, is the external condition of temperature. Education and training on exertional heat illness risks and effective prevention and risk-reduction strategies (including practical preparation, offsetting measures and management and immediate response protocols) and policies should be regularly reinforced and emphasised to our kids, coaches and staff.
See below for 2 practical and simple methods to monitor and regulate hydration in your child, that you can start to implement in time for when the heat starts to rise.
Sleeping is the cheapest and best recovery strategy on the market. Not enough athletes and humans value the benefits of good quality and quantity sleep. Sleep is not all about how many hours you get a night, it’s also about the quality of that sleep. Research states that young athletes are at an increased risk of injury with insufficient sleep patterns. Added to this, sub optimal sleep can have negative effects on health, behaviour, attention, learning, and athletic performance.
Some practical takeaways we can start to instil in our children are listed below:
Adolescents need between 8.5-9.5hrs of sleep per night for optimal performance in life.
Good nutritional patterns can influence sleep quality and quantity.
Quality of sleep can be increased by:
Creating a peaceful environment: dark room, low temperature, minimal sound
No ‘screen time’ 60min before bed
Quantity of sleep can be increased by:
Sleep routine: Keep consistent bed times and wake times (where possible)
No caffeine in the PM