- Always eat breakfast. This is the initial fuel to get the day started.
- Stay Hydrated. Rehydrate based on a schedule, not thirst. Young athletes need 6 oz of fluid for every 15 minutes of activity. This DOES NOT include soda!
- Snack smarter. Choose foods such as pretzels, raisins, crackers, string cheese, or fruit to snack on for sustained energy. This will help the young athlete avoid a sugar overload and crash.
- Don’t come to practice or a meet on an empty stomach. That means a well-balanced meal 2-4 hours before practice and a healthy snack 30 minutes prior to exercise.
- Get a good post-workout recovery meal. To get the most benefit out of this meal try and eat within a 30-minute post-workout window. A small meal containing proteins, carbohydrates, and fats is best.
Before any exercise, it is important to elevate the body temperature. Activities like jumping rope, jogging and dynamic stretching are critical to get your blood flowing before any workout.
FLEXIBILITY AND RANGE OF MOTION
Sports and activities have individual flexibility requirements. When an athlete does not meet these requirements chances of injury are greatly increased. There are optimal times an athlete should stretch including post-workout/competition, or as a separate workout itself.
The core is the body’s center of gravity. A strong core will maximize extremity strength and speed as well as decrease chances for injury. Exercises geared toward strengthening the muscles surrounding the pelvic girdle, lower back, abdominals, and shoulder girdle will allow the athlete to better handle more strenuous workloads.
INTERVAL TRAINING WORKOUT
Interval training is a component of any track and field conditioning program, and it has been proven that properly spaced work to rest periods allows more work to be accomplished at higher intensities with the same or less fatigue than continuous training at the same intensity.
Strength or resistance training can also be beneficial for young athletes. The right age-appropriate program can drastically improve athletic performance as well as prepare young athletes for higher levels of competition. It is important, however, that the athlete be under the supervision of a trained professional to decrease the chance for injury.
Besides just being important for overall good health, rest is necessary for young athletes. It allows recovery after strenuous activity and prevents overuse injuries and mental burnout.