Young athletes play with an attitude that broadcasts invincibility. They kick, tumble, and dodge their way to a goal, paying no mind to potential broken bones or gashed knees. Their tenacity is admirable – and stressful for their sideline-bound parents! Kids who give their all on the field are often subject to the scrapes and breaks that come part and parcel with Injuries are nearly impossible to avoid in youth sports, but parents can take steps to lessen their frequency and severity. Here, I outline a few tips that may lessen the stress for parents and young athletes alike.
Establish an open and honest line of communication
Every parent knows that getting more than a monosyllable out of kid after school lets out can be difficult. Children – especially preteens – don’t always like to share information about what goes on in their daily lives. The lack of communication can be frustrating for all parents, but it’s downright worrisome for those of young athletes. Kids who do sports need to tell their coaches and parents when they feel pain; not doing so can lead to irreparable injury if the hurt is left unchecked and untreated. To circumvent this, parents should encourage open communication and build a healthy rapport with their children around the subject of sports.
Make warm-ups non-negotiable
Dance, football, swim: no matter your sport, warming up is a must. Athletes need to stretch and warm their muscles before they start practice, else they risk overtaxing their muscles and injuring themselves. Given that young athletes are still growing, skipping a warm-up routine can be even more damaging for kids than it might otherwise be for adults. Always enforce the warm-up, even if the team wants to leap into the game!
Make sure they’re getting adequate shut-eye
Every athlete needs a good night’s sleep to thrive. Without proper rest, the body’s stamina levels drop dramatically, thereby increasing the risk of on-field exhaustion or injury. Encourage your child to rest after game days and practices! They need the time to recover more than you might think.
Water, water, water
Every athlete knows that staying hydrated is vital to performance, especially during the summertime. Not drinking adequate amounts of water can ultimately lead to lessened performance, exhaustion, and even fainting. Make sure that you have water and electrolytes on-hand during sporting events to ensure that your child stays hydrated!
Underscore the importance of executing proper techniques
A young athlete is only as good as the techniques that they use. When it comes to sports, there is very little margin for error. A technical mistake in form or stance could do serious harm to a young athlete, so it’s vital that they learn and practice proper technique.
Every youth sports parents knows that you can’t show up to a soccer match or baseball game without a tub of snacks and drinks in tow. However, the unhealthy eats that tend to be on sale during sports season aren’t always the most nutritious option for an active child. When considering pre-, mid-, and post-activity snacks, avoid doling out candy, chips, crackers and other foods that are high in fats and sugars and lacking in necessary nutrients. Create snacks and quick meals that offer vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fluids. Snacks for young athletes provide necessary nutrients while still appealing to their craving for salty, sweet, and refreshing foods. Water and fresh fruit are great for half-time and after performances. However, parents can choose from a number of creative options that children will love. Remember, young athletes should always have a snack one to two hours before their activities!
Pre-Game Energy Boosters
Apple slices with nut butter offer protein, vitamins and fluid. Strawberry cheesecake roll-ups are simply low-fat or fat-free cream cheese spread on a tortilla and topped with sliced strawberries and a sprinkle of sugar. Roll and cut into bite-sized pieces. Both options also provide the carbohydrates needed as fuel. The fiber and protein also stay in the stomach longer, which ensures the energy boost lasts. Other good carbohydrate options include meals containing meat and starchy or brightly-colored vegetables. Macaroni and cheese remains an all-time favorite with children.
Half-Time Break Snacks
As time is limited, quick snacks of fresh fruit provide vitamins, minerals and an energy boost along with much-needed rehydration. Fruit juice infused water is the right combination for replacing lost fluid and electrolytes. Fresh fruit is always an ideal option and may include:
- Clementine or orange slices
- Apple and pear slices
- Halved bananas
- Melon chunks
After a practice, game or other physically demanding activity, youngsters need to rehydrate. If they perspired under the hot sun, they also need to replenish their electrolytes. A combination of carbohydrates and protein before and after activities helps replenish energy while providing muscles and connective tissues with the nutrients needed to recover and repair. Good post-activity recommendations include:
- Fresh fruit, frozen fruit pops or fruit leather
- Fig bar or oatmeal cookies
- Bagels or crackers topped with nut butter, low-fat or fat-free cream cheese and fruit slices
- Pudding cups
- String cheese
- Trail mix
About Philip Ward Seattle
From an early age, Philip Ward Seattle worked hard to provide for himself and his family. As a result, he didn’t always get the chance to just enjoy being a child. After Philip had children of his own, he vowed that they wouldn’t have the same experience as he did. Spending time with his family at their home in Seattle, Washington is very important to Philip. Although he puts a lot of time and effort into his career, he always makes time for his wife and two children.
Philip Ward believes that it’s important for children to participate in sports and activities. Participating in sports will teach children a number of important skills that they can use throughout their entire lives. Playing on a team teaches children how to get along with others, solve problems together, and it helps build confidence. Additionally, sports provide children with an outlet for their energy and help them stay in shape. During the summer when school is out, children need to engage in fun activities or else they’ll become bored and restless. Taking an activity like an art class, swimming, or playing any sport is the perfect option for keeping children busy and content during summer break.
Philip’s son is a passionate soccer player and he also enjoys music. He has played soccer from a very young age and has become a fantastic player for his age. He is on a cut team that is chosen from hundreds of kids that try out in his age group in the Seattle area. Philip Ward Seattle has truly enjoyed watching him play over the years and seeing how much he has learned over time. Also, Philip has enjoyed forming friendships with the other families that have their children on the same team. They travel to many places, which creates a strong bond not only for his son and his teammates but for the parents as well. Watching the soccer games is a great way to relax, focus on the family, and get away from life’s distractions. Soccer has gotten the entire family interested in watching professional soccer. They all enjoy watching Seattle’s MLS team, the Sounders.
His son has also played the cajón for many years. A cajón is a box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru. It is played by slapping the front or rear faces with the hands and fingers. Philip’s son has played the cajón in many shows in the Seattle school district as well as theaters in the Seattle area of Washington. This has been a great learning experience not only for his son but for the whole family since the shows are always a cultural experience. There are groups from all around the world that come to perform.
Philip Ward Seattle’s daughter has ventured and enjoyed many sports and activities such as art, horseback riding, soccer, gymnastics, yoga, piano, and track just to name a few. She has a strong mindset, and once she focuses on what she is doing she will always do her best to succeed. For her, trying new things has always led to not only learning something new but meeting new friends. She has made the majority of her friends through the many activities that she participates in.
His daughter’s interest in horseback riding has been one of Philip’s favorites activities to watch. As a young child in Puerto Rico, Philip Ward Seattle used to ride horses, and he likes to ride today as well. When he visits Puerto Rico he always makes time to get in at least one good horseback riding adventure with all of his friends that share that same passion for riding horses.