So fall sports and school have started! This is a great time in your young athlete’s life. If you’re like my wife and I with busy work schedules and sports with multiple kids extra time is non-existent. For us, giving our young athlete everything they need to succeed in school and sport is very important. But getting this done can be challenging especially the younger the athlete. The parent motto of “picking and choosing your battles” is a common answer I get from parents when we make suggestions or checklists to help their young athlete succeed in school and sports.
The three things we preach the most is sleep, hydration and nutrition.
Sleep is so important, it is no longer summer time where kids can sleep late and veg. out on the couch if they stayed up late. (If you are a parent with a young athlete that trains with us you know that even summer time this is not acceptable) The start of school kids should be in bed as early as possible depending on when they get out of sports and their age 7:30 – 9:30pm. Sleep is imperative for mental and physical recovery, energy, performance, cognitive processing and attention span. Another thing to think about is younger kids especially K-3rd grade really can’t express themselves like an adult can. They won’t say” I’m exhausted mom do you think you can help me get my backpack ready and can I have a small coffee to get me thru school today”. In my house it’s a melt down, brotherly fist fight and getting to school as the bell rings. So be a stickler with bedtimes “choose that battle” and when it becomes routine it is easier and one less things to worry about.
We shoot for the following:
- k-4th grade 7:30
- 5-8th grade 8:30
- high school 9:30
Bedtime Tips: Have a normal routine to help wind your young athlete down and make the transition to bed easier. For 4th grade and under we always try to have TV and all electronic devices off 1 hour before bed. Another thing we do is having a healthy snack before bed. “Desert time” allows us to sit with our athlete for 5-10 minutes with no distractions talk about practice, school or what’s up for tomorrow. Glass of milk with some natural graham crackers or a key lime chobani yogurt are a hit at my house. Brush your teeth when you can with them and tuck them in. A routine like this helps them calm down from the day, gives them personal attention and healthy habits. By the time they are in 5th grade this is the norm for them.
Nutrition Tips: We have covered many nutrition topics in earlier posts so we won’t harp on this for too long. My biggest suggestions that we see the best results from are NEVER skip breakfast, after school/pre-practice snack or post-practice meals. You should have at least one other meal and snack in there somewhere as well.
Hydration Tips: This is another topic we have often covered how ever it is extremely important. Every meal and snack should have a small glass of water or milk. Send them to school with a water bottle that they can refill and check it when they come home to if they have been drinking it.
Start these tips little by little and in the summer time before school starts. Kids work best with daily routines instead of yo-yo up and down rules. A hydrated, fully fed and well rested young athlete does better at school, home and on the field!