Fuel your athletes for success

Spring and Summer bring  basketball, baseball, softball and soccer the popular sports many kids will be participating in. Many parents hope to keep their children in tip top shape and primed for success. Here are four things that can help parents keep their athletes fueled for success.The four things that all parents should consider are body composition, hydration, food and how often they eat , and a healthy dose of encouragement. What parts to consider in each area are explored here and can be factored into your child’s successful sports endeavors.

Body composition is very important for mobility and preventions of injury.If a child has a high amount of body fat this can inhibit sports performance and confidence.Many parents dismiss “baby fat” as something many children will grow out of, however being over 20% of the normal range or in the 90% percentile for weight can be difficult to overcome with normal growth and should be monitored closely. Parents should pay attention to the “reasonable” amount of growth and be aware that food should nourish the young athlete. Speed and agility can both be hindered by excess body fat so limit the foods that can be considered “fatty”. The key to food is creating a wide variety of food choices- fruits, vegetables, lean meats and limiting foods that will have very little value when it comes to fuel for the body.Using the food pyramid for guidelines can be a helpful place to start the changes.

Hydration to children is what oil is to cars. Many times children will say they don’t like water and although they may not be willing to drink it the majority of the time try to create a 1:1 ratio. Offer water every other time and/ or negotiate drinking water more. The most important quality of a great athlete is proper hydration. A crucial element to this process is to   minimize the amount of sugary drinks. Many drinks will claim to “hydrate” but with high levels of sugar in them are not good for the body and can be counteractive. Water will always be the best choice but begin slowly and  transition into a majority water habit if children aren’t receptive in the beginning. There are some powders you can flavor drinks with in the beginning and slowly moving towards natural flavors like adding a lemon or a lime. Dehydration can be a primary cause of cramps and muscles strains, helping your child stay hydrated can make a big difference.

Food Frequency is vital to being well fueled and ready for success. Making sure your child is eating often and smaller amounts will help put fuel in the body. Some children go from school to sports activity and haven’t eaten since lunch which can be three to four hours, making an afternoon workout successful may be impossible without food. Send your young athlete with a snack to help provide fuel. Some children will benefit from having another sandwich in the afternoon, cheese sticks,peanut butter snack or even adding fruit can be helpful. Trying to workout without fuel can be a challenge just like having a car without gas. Providing a good source of fuel can help your athlete go further.

Encouragement is nourishment for the soul. Nothing can give your athlete confidence like the encouragement you provide. Be sure to talk up the positive skills they have and tread very lightly on the ones that need improvement. Children want to do well for their parents but taking on the role of coach can put you in a challenging place. Let the coach do the coaching and you do the encouraging. If they feel your support they are more likely to stay focused and really work on the concepts. Don’t try to relive your sports career and create undo stress. Greatness is in all of us with the right kind of support.

Following these simple tips may help your athlete live a major league lifestyle and help them succeed. Making small changes can have a greater impact in your child’s success.



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About Jolene Puffer

With 20 years in the wellness world Jolene Puffer continues to be passionate about helping change lives. Jolene has transformed her life through fitness starting as a fitness instructor, becoming a certified personal trainer and now working more specifically with families. For the past three years, Jolene has been working with the school systems to help teach our children to be healthier and creating ways to take that message home. She is currently heading up a summer camp for teens fighting obesity in Asheville, NC as well as growing her telephone fitness training program. Personally, Jolene is currently training and competing in Figure competitions, but finds her role as mother of two and wife to a wonderful husband very rewarding.