Zionsville Times Sentinel

Commentary

September 4, 2013

Helping your young athlete excel

Football, soccer, volleyball, cheer … whatever your game, fall is an amazing time for athletes and spectators alike.

Along with this come the questions from parents about how to help care for their young athletes for longevity, injury prevention, and the highest level of performance possible. Here are some general guidelines to use to assist your young athlete.

Hydration

Water is the medium where all physiological processes occur. Anything less than complete hydration will hinder performance, increase the possibility for injury, and decrease tissue repair during rest. Use these general rules:

1. Drink as many ounces of water as weight in pounds. (100-lb. athlete = 100 oz. water/day)

2. Avoid foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fat.

3. Avoid use of drinks high in stimulants (caffeine, taurine, guarana).

4. Weigh in before and after activity to track water use. Replace every pound lost with 24 ounces of water or electrolyte drink.

Pre-activity fuel

Your athlete's pre-game/practice ritual should position him or her for excellence, and excellent performance begins with excellent fuel. Recommended times and amounts can vary from athlete to athlete. Have your athlete pay attention to his or her body and see what schedule and contents prep your athlete best.

1. Eat a healthy, balanced (carbs, protein, and fat) meal two to three hours prior to activity.

2. Eat nothing else until about 20 to 15 minutes before activity. If hungry before then, eat a light snack (yogurt with fruit or honey, peanut butter), and adjust meal time closer to activity next time.

3. Drink tons of water between meal and activity.

4. Fruit or gel shot (supplement) 20 to 15 minutes before activity.

5. No energy drinks. Average caffeine in an energy drink is 160 mg, which is a dangerous amount pre-activity.

6. Be well-hydrated walking into practice/game; hydration begins 24 hours before, so stay ahead!

See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.

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