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Tips To Prepare For A Busy Season

As a parent, you know that days can get long with classwork and practices back to back. Preparation means more than packing their lunches or making sure they don’t forget their soccer cleats. Preparation begins a day, days or even weeks in advance.

For parents and athletes alike, there are no such things as a short day. A lot goes into each day and it takes more than a fully packed bag to get through it. Mental, physical and emotional preparations are all part of getting your head in the game and into your work!

Six Ways To Prepare Your Young Athlete

Set Your Goals

Get a head start. Visualize what the coming week may look like and begin to prepare for it. Visualizing cases and scenarios helps reduce stress about unexpected or forgotten events. Research shows that mental practices are almost as effective as physical practice, and that doing both is more effective than either method alone. Envisioning your goal can extend far beyond the racecourse to your everyday endeavors. We suggest that your athlete focus on three goals for the week.  Three things they can accomplish that would make the week a win.  This may take some of the pressure off to get everything done.  But at the very least it will help your athlete focus on goals that are truly important.

Take Care to Energize

Eat responsibly! This is an important concept for you and your athlete. Getting a balanced diet throughout the week prepares you for the demands of the day. Proper nutrition directly affects and benefits cognitive skills, quality and quantity of sleep, energy levels, and work/academic performance. Your athlete may be the one running the field, needing extra care of their diet, but you as a parent, you have to keep up as well.  If your young athlete sees you practicing self care, they are more likely to follow suit.

Don’t forget breakfast.  It is easy for a young athlete skip breakfast when they are running late.  Preparing for this eventuality can help.  Eating a balanced, nutritious breakfast is something you should do every day, but especially the morning of a big event for a boost in mind power and heightened alertness.  What can you put in the refrigerator or on the counter that can be grabbed as they are running out the door?

Take a Time Out

Removing distractions is a benefit to our students, but it can be for parents as well. Student athletes take on schoolwork and teamwork, a combination that makes for a sometimes overwhelming schedule. Getting downtime is as important as getting the work done. Rest and recovery is an essential part of any athletes training.  Again, this is a place you as a parent can mirror the behavior you want for your child.  Taking the time to rest and rejuvenate is important.  Show your young athlete the importance by scheduling downtime for yourself as well. Mental preparation, exercise and rest are just as important as the physical.

Dress to Impress

Whether its game day, school day or a meeting at the office, dress to impress. Dressing for success has actually shown to lead to higher self-confidence, self-assurance and attitude positivity. A soccer jersey or a tie are both feel good uniforms.  Helping your child find a style that works for them, that causes them to walk straighter and with more confidence can actually help them perform better on the field and in the classroom.  More importantly, it can give them the confidence to make it through

Don’t Get Blindsided

Prepare for anything! Always be prepared. When you visualize your week, imagine possible scenarios. Don’t get caught without an extra pair of goggles for the swim meet or your spreadsheet for the meeting. Preparing takes only a few minutes but saves a lot of time down the road. 

Pre Game Rituals

Get ready for the big days! If you know you or your athlete have a big day coming up, personalize your downtime to prepare. Listening to music, movie night or a walk in the park are ways professional athletes have admitted to spending their downtime getting ready for a game. Getting your mind off the big stuff may sometimes be the best way to

Get your head in the game!

Preparation extends beyond stretching and eating well the night before a big game. Preparation is mental and physical, preparing the mind to take on classwork and the social aspects of teamwork after school. Physical activity is a strain on the body and the mind and demands preparation on part of student and parent.

These preparation habits can benefit our athletes and those of us on the sidelines, too!

High School Sports: Helping Your Son/Daughter Cope When They Don’t Make the Cut

High school athletes across the country are getting ready to try out for fall sports teams.  Whether it’s football, field hockey, soccer, or golf, the disappointment of not making a team can be traumatic.  For young athletes who have played a sport year-round from a very young age, being part of a team has become part of their identity.  Suddenly giving that up can take a little getting used to—for both the athlete and his/her parents.In decades past, earning a roster spot was much less competitive.  But in this generation of single sport specialization and elite training opportunities, high school teams have become increasingly competitive and making the roster a long shot at best, particularly for rising freshmen.  What do you do when your son/daughter gets cut?

Give them time to absorb what has happened. 

You may be ready to talk about it, but they might not be. Early on, avoid trying to tell them how they should feel or trying to talk them out of their situation. Empathize with them and appreciate their sense of disappointment, anger, sadness, hurt, and whatever else they might be feeling. Allow them to feel however they feel without passing judgment.  Let them know you’re there for them. It’s perfectly fine to tell them you’re also experiencing disappointment about the situation, and it hurts you to see them upset.  But make sure they understand you are not disappointed in them. Not being on a sports team does not make them a failure. Reinforce that they are still valuable, talented, and much loved regardless of whether they made the team or not.  Playing a sport is just something they do, not who they are.

Be “real” with your child

Don’t gloss over or deny the hurt and loss involved in being cut from the team. Really listen to your child and to try to get a sense of their experience and what they’re feeling. Don’t attempt to rush in and rescue them or minimize the disappointment and anger they’re experiencing. And please don’t blame them or other people (coaches, evaluators, trainers, other kids who DID make the team). This can create a whirlwind of conflicting emotions and just make the situation worse.

Help them find the silver lining. 

After validating their feelings and allowing your child time to absorb the initial shock, you can slowly progress toward discussing a few of the positive aspects of the situation.  Your child may have a difficult time finding them, but remind them that it took courage to try out for the team in the first place.  They now have an opportunity to pursue other interests—drama, music, yearbook, etc.  To help them recognize that life goes on, it is useful to direct them toward new activities and maybe even alternate sports, particularly if they still crave the team environment.  This can be a good thing.  Sometimes they find a talent they didn’t know they had—like the girl who gets cut from the soccer team only to become a cross country superstar.  And they will find they can still have an active and fulfilling life even if they aren’t on the team. They may even be pleasantly surprised by how much time and energy not having daily practices and weekly games saves them.  This is time and energy that can be used in other healthy ways—ensuring academic success, joining a club, and pursuing volunteer opportunities that will help them shine on college applications.

Use it as a teachable moment. 

Getting cut is painful, but it can lead to meaningful learning and growth. Life is filled with inevitable setbacks:  not getting accepted to your first-choice college; and not being offered the job we desire or the promotion we think we deserve. Developing the ability to handle and accept things when they don’t go our way is a necessary life skill. Learning to pick yourself up after being knocked down, creating a new plan of action, and moving forward is one of the most important life lessons we can learn.

Find them professional help if necessary.

If getting cut results in depressed behavior and social withdrawal that lasts for more than two weeks, or you see other significant personality changes, such as difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, irritability, loss of appetite or other unusual behavior, it’s important to consider making an appointment with a counselor who can help assess the situation and get your teen back on track before the problem escalates.

High School Sports: Help Your Son/Daughter Be Prepared for Tryouts

It doesn’t matter what sport it is or which school you go to, trying out for a high school sports team is stressful for the athlete and the parent alike.  With competition for a spot on the roster more ferocious than ever, here are a few ways parents can help their athletes perform their best during tryouts.

Medical Physical & Paperwork 

Be sure all of the required medical paperwork, permission forms/waivers have been completed and turned in.  Virtually all schools require some form of a pre-participation physical to be completed and signed by your child’s physician or other medical provider.  Make several copies; save one for your own files; and be sure the information is accurate and has been turned in to the correct office or school administrator.  Do this well in advance to save yourself and your child last minute stress. Over the years, more than one athlete has been prohibited from tryouts because of missing paperwork or similar snafu.

Check Their Gear

Buy properly fitting shoes/cleats with enough time to break them in.  Worn out sneakers, too-small cleats, and fresh-from-the-box shoes can mean blisters, improper support, and lead to injuries.  Get your son or daughter properly fitted for their required footwear several weeks before tryouts.  Shoes should be replaced periodically to prevent overuse injuries.  Remember, high school athletes are wearing their shoes several hours a day up to 6 days a week.  Tennis players and runners may need to replace their shoes as often as every couple of months.

Keep Them Safe

Check all safety and sports equipment.  Make sure all equipment is in good condition, fits properly, and provides the necessary protection.  That means mouthguards, helmets, and goggles.  It can mean the difference between a season-ending injury and a minor bruise.  Double check that this equipment is without cracks or defects that might put your athlete at risk.  New (unchewed) mouthguards are a must, particularly if your child wears braces.

Help your athlete to get enough sleep. 

Tired athletes don’t perform their best during tryouts.  Teenagers need nine hours of sleep a night, but most get only about seven.  Help your son/daughter develop a consistent nightly routine and bedtime that will allow them to get sufficient sleep.  TVs and devices in the bedroom are a no-no.  Between the light, video binging, and constant temptation to send or respond to late night texts, cell phones and other devices should be left to charge overnight on the kitchen counter or other location away from the bedroom.

Get and stay hydrated.  

Remember, thirst is NOT a good indicator of hydration.  Once you feel thirsty, you are already on your way to being dehydrated.  Athletes should focus on becoming well hydrated several days before tryouts.  Develop a regular schedule for drinking and make a conscious and concerted effort to increase your fluid intake.  Many athletes are already dehydrated before they even step on the field, making it extremely difficult to catch up.  Proper hydration is a must no matter what the weather is like.  Hot or cold, athletes lose a lot of fluid through sweat.  Chocolate milk is a great recovery beverage and contains all of the nutrients the body needs to recover from an intense workout.  Athletes should look to consume 8 oz. of low fat chocolate milk within 30-60 minutes of completing their workout.  Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are great for hydration and electrolyte replenishment.

Remember to re-fuel and eat smart.  

Young athletes need to make sure they are properly fueled before, during, and after tryouts.  This takes some planning, particularly if you’re in class for much of the day with limited time to eat and drink.  Pack a snack to eat an hour or so before tryouts—yogurt, fruit, nuts, or protein bar.  Post workout muscles need protein for recovery, and it’s best consumed 30-60 minutes after.  Sports nutrition bars and drinks can help bridge the critical gap before dinner time when the body requires re-fueling.


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