Try This At Home…………………………
Have your child keep a training journal and write down his workouts each day, including specifics like number of repetitions, length of time, etc. Have him write down how he felt, what he ate before hand and during, how much sleep he got the night before and what kind of recovery he did afterward. It doesn’t have to be in complete sentences, but it is helpful if he follows the same format every day. That way he can easily go back and skim it to find the information he needs. After a few weeks of keeping a journal sit down with him and look for patterns and places where he can make some improvements.
Sports make young athletes in tune with their bodies. They learn the difference between good hurt, like pushing yourself to go a little bit harder, and bad hurt, like an injury. They learn what different heart rates feel like and approximately how long they can go at that heart rate. They know what it feels like when they are dehydrated or about to bonk from lack of food, and female athletes learn how their body changes with their menstrual cycle.
Everyone’s different, and while there are some general rules, the best way for your child to learn about his body is to work out a lot and practice paying attention. Keeping a journal will help, but your child should start putting a few things together even if he isn’t paying close attention.
We’re starting potty training with our son and we have him watch Elmo Potty Time. In the video there is a little cartoon about a large gorilla that listens to what his body tells him and acts accordingly. He’s hungry so he eats, he’s thirsty so he drinks and well, he has to go to the bathroom too. It’s kind of funny, but it’s a good reminder for all of us, even if we are potty trained. As an athlete I learned to listen to my body and how to get the most out of my body. I also developed ways to proactively stave off and deal with fatigue, cramping, muscle soreness, saddle sores, etc.
Here are a few of my rules and favorite tricks that helped me perform at my best.
Eat Every Hour
If your son participates in an endurance sport or has games or tournaments that last for a prolonged period of time, he needs to eat before he gets hungry. If he’s hungry, it’s too late. He should eat something every hour; even if it is just a gel or something else small. It’s best your child try out the particular food in training so he knows if he will have an adverse reaction to it. Never have your child try anything for the first time the day of a competition.
Drink at least a bottle an hour
Just like with food, if your child is feeling thirsty, he has waited too long to drink. Staying hydrated is vital. During intense, constant exercise your child should drink approximately a water bottle an hour. (Electrolyte drinks are ideal) If the workout or competition is an hour or less, consuming less water isn’t nearly as big of a deal. Many athletes compete for an hour or less with no water; your child just needs to make sure he is hydrated when he starts out and be vigilant about replacing lost fluids afterward.
You make good gains when you train tired.
If your child is always waiting until he feels good to train hard he won’t see big gains, and training by how he feels on any given day won’t give him big gains either. Having an educated and knowledgeable coach lay out a very specific, day by day training plan and sticking to it, is how gains are made. (You may find some decent free programs on line depending on your child’s specific sport.) If your child can push through and train hard even when he is tired, he’ll make big physical gains once he’s gotten the appropriate rest.
Rest is really important
Some coaches get over zealous and drive their athletes into the ground. Every athlete is different; some need more rest than others. As noted above, your child has to learn to push through being tired, but getting good quality rest is vital to making gains as well. Rest includes, time/days off from working out, naps and a good nights sleep.
Deal with an injury right away, don’t wait.
If something is hurting or nagging your child, get it checked out and taken care of right away. If your child takes care of it quickly he may not even miss a practice, but if he waits the odds are it will become more serious and require time off. Finding a chiropractor who specializes in Active Release Technique (ART), is what kept me healthy.
Train with a heart rate monitor
It will help your child become very in tune with his body! I’ll write a post on heart rate training in the next few weeks.
Be proactive with recovery
If your child is training right, he is going to be sore. Taking an ice bath, getting regular chiropractic care from an Active Release Provider, getting or giving himself a light massage, getting proper nutrition and taking a natural anti-inflammatory like fish oil will help. I’m not going to go into great detail on any of these, because most of these are their own blog post. My pervious blog, Eating to Maximize Performance, touches on some of the nutritional aspects. I’ll talk about Active Release Technique next week, and an ice bath, is just what it sounds like.
Fill the tub with cold water and dump in some ice, quite a lot. Go ahead and sit in it or submerge you arm, shoulder etc. and stay there for fifteen to twenty minutes. The first few minutes are a bit painful, but after that you’re child will go numb and when he’s done he’ll feel much better. I love my ice baths!!!!! I used to take ice baths every night I could during my stage races. (A stage race is a multiple day bike road race.) Be aware, your child’s body temperature will drop significantly from the bath. If he is only soaking his lower body, have him wear a sweatshirt and winter hat. Drinking a warm drink afterward will also help him stop shivering.
Being in tune with his body is a great asset for your child in and out of sport. The sports and life style benefits are obvious, but it may also help him notice non sports related disease and illness early and allow him to effectively communicate all the potentially related issues or causes with you and his doctor, etc.
Try doing the journal with your child for the next few weeks. Maybe you’ll learn something new about yourself too!