Healthy Habits of Successful Athletes
Student-athletes who develop healthy habits see their endurance and performance increase, with fewer potential injuries. Plus, they typically experience greater success in the classroom.
It’s essential that they are mindful of what they eat and drink before, during, and after competition. And while it may seem like a tall task to get teenagers to eat healthily, you’ll develop champions for life with these eight healthy habits of successful athletes.
1. Stay Hydrated
Proper hydration is critical to maintaining peak competitive levels. Unfortunately, most high school athletes arrive at games and practices inadequately hydrated, which can lead to cramping, heat illness, and heat stroke.
- Aim for 32 ounces of water in the 3 hours before practices/games; consume 16 ounces one hour beforehand.
- Drink 10 to 12 ounces during water breaks.
- Plan on 32 ounces within a few hours after practice, more for extra sweaty workouts.
- Sports drinks are appropriate for hard practices over 90 minutes, in extreme heat, or during competitions where athletes can’t drink enough water between games.
2. Eat Three Square Meals a Day
Good nutrition fuels great athletic performance. And some of the best advice has stood the test of time. Meals should include a variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and protein.
- Your plate should have 50% vegetables, 25% carbs, and 25% protein.
- Avoid quick (empty) carbs before early morning practices or games; add protein.
3. Pre-fuel for Success
Ensure your athletes get easily digestible food for quick energy one hour before competition, especially if they haven’t eaten since lunch or have practice after school. Real fruit, GoGo Squeez® AppleApple, carrots, pretzels, granola bars, or trail mix make great snacks.
4. Refuel for Recovery
Athletes need protein and carbs to replenish their muscles within 30 minutes of completing their workout. So, a high-protein snack in their backpack to eat on the way home is a smart idea. Refuel foods include trail mix, Kind bars, nuts and fruit, a peanut butter and banana sandwich, cheese sticks, low-sugar yogurt, and protein bars.
5. Eating during Competition
When the time between events is tight, athletes need easily digestible foods like grain, produce, and protein. Snacks like bananas, banana chips, raisins, apple squeezes, pretzels, orange slices, sandwiches with vegetables, and water (don’t forget water!). Avoid greasy and heavy concession stand foods, even though they are convenient and tempting.
6. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is critical for muscle repair, growth, and improved brain function. It leads to better reaction time, memory, mood, and grades. Truly, a win-win.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks six hours before bedtime.
- Aim for at least eight hours in a cool, dark bedroom.
- Turn off electronics an hour before going to sleep.
- Put the phone in a different room (this one is difficult for most people!).
- Plan ahead for early practices/games.
7. Prevent Injuries
Since teenagers are still growing, they are more prone to sports injuries. So, you’ll want to ensure everyone’s equipment is correctly fitted and practice stretching before any strenuous activity with an appropriate cool-down routine.
8. Manage Stress
Encourage your athletes to find balance across sports, school, and social life so they do not feel overwhelmed. Emphasize proper nutrition, sleep habits, and stress relief techniques to help develop strong coping skills. These are skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
Game One wishes you and your athletes good health and success this season. We are all about inspiring and elevating your team’s spirit, identity, and GO power.
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