You’re your own child’s biggest cheering section – there’s no doubt about that. But when it comes to being a great sports-parent, it’s more than wearing their number, painting your face and shouting some “rah-rahs.”
Keep these tips in mind when encouraging the student athletes in your home to be safe, happy and successful.
There’s virtually no better way to avoid injury as a student athlete, or anyone for that matter, than by stretching before exercising. Going hard at a workout is many student athletes’ tendency, but don’t let them get away with skipping this key pre-exercise step or they may risk injury or strain.
Communication is key. Talk to your student athletes about his or her goals – strength, calorie-burning, game performance, workout routines – and share in helping to meet them. If you know your child’s athletic goals, your encouragement will be much more meaningful and their commitment will flourish.
When you work hard, you need fuel to keep your body going. And the most important fuel your student athlete needs is water. Lots of it. If he or she is in the midst of a hardcore training program, skip juices and sodas and maximize water intake.
It’s always a good idea to mix in moderate physical activity with strenuous activities like competitions and intense workouts. Advise your student athlete to walk or bike places throughout the day, as opposed to hopping in a car for short trips. It’ll keep them loose and stretch out their legs before heading back to the gym the next day.
Food is hugely important in keeping your student athlete going through practices, workouts and competitions. Make sure he or she is eating small, protein- and “good carb”-rich meals frequently throughout the day. (And don’t forget to fuel after a strenuous event, too – don’t wait much longer than an hour to replenish proteins!) If you’re looking for a delicious post-workout snack, many scientists suggest chocolate milk.
It’s easy to think that playing one sport will build talent and focus. However, research shows that it actually increases the likelihood that your child will experience an injury. Encourage your child to work different muscle groups, as well as learn different skills, by participating in more than one sport throughout the year.
Your kids can get gung-ho about a sport they really love, so much so that they might consider themselves “tough enough” to skip precaution all together. But athletic prowess is never an excuse to skip out on safety equipment – from helmets, to padding to proper footwear, make sure your student athlete is protecting him or herself.
Even though it might be easy to let your world totally revolve around athletics when you’re a sports-parent, don’t forget to encourage your student athlete to take breaks to enjoy other hobbies and interests. Burnout can have a negative effect on performance, both physically and mentally, so stress the importance of sport breaks.
Depending on the time of year, flu season might coincide with your student athlete’s seasonal sport of choice. Catching the flu can knock them down for the count for as long as weeks, so keep your child up to date on his or her immunizations, including the flu shot, to help them stay healthy all season long.
At the end of the day, a student athlete’s body needs rest after rigorous physical activity. Whether it’s some relaxation during daytime off-hours or a proper amount of sleep overnight, rest allows their bodies to repair and replenish themselves for the next day. (That means avoiding caffeine, electronic screens, eating immediately before bedtime.)
Knowing the right suggestions and decisions to make for your athletic child isn’t always easy – Orthopedic Institute can help you take great care of the student athletes in your life.