According to Dr. Damion Martins, no matter the sport, the top three things your child athlete should do are:
Help your kids understand that they don't want to play too hard and too long while they're training because they'll be burned out and less able to perform well when game time arrives. Dr. Martins suggests kid athletes "alter [their] workouts to maximize effectiveness of the training." Make sure your kids take days off to allow for adequate recovery and to focus on nutrition to fuel their bodies. In addition, work with them to include dynamic strength exercises like squatting, pushing/pulling and core stability, and incorporate speed and agility drills such as plyometric exercises.
Hot weather or hot indoor conditions can put your child at risk for heat-related injury. Dr. Martins warns that preventing heat-related illnesses starts before game day. The best way to avoid heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, is to begin drinking enough fluids before and throughout the exercise. "Start a few days before the event and drink 16 ounces immediately before exercising," he advises. Have your kiddo drink a sports drink if the activity lasts more than 60 minutes.
Suspect heat-related illness if you see or experience the following symptoms and seek medical attention: nausea, confusion, headaches, drenching sweats, and cramps.
Talk to your kids about the importance of listening to their coaches. "Coaches should educate athletes on sport-specific and individual nutrition, hydration and calorie requirements," stresses Dr. Martins. Coaches play a vital role as mentors, educators and trained professionals. Coaches teach goal-setting to increase commitment to the sport, a healthy lifestyle, personal perseverance and dedication.
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