Young athletes are less likely to drink plenty of fluids for many reasons, such as their sense of invincibility. But this shouldn’t be as even the fittest young athlete will need water for optimum performance during practice and competitions. Otherwise, the risks of injuries and illnesses (e.g., heat stroke and exhaustion) are higher resulting in the young athletes being waylaid in their plans.
You, the parent or coach, have the responsibility of ensuring that your young athlete drinks a sufficient amount of fluid every day as well as during practice and competition. You will, after all, still be worried if your child becomes ill or injured due to insufficient fluid intake, not to mention that you will likely spend for the medical expenses. Your vigilance in getting your child to drink an energy drink, such as NOS energy, will pay off, too.
Keep a Water Bottle Handy
Of course, plain water is still the best source of hydration for athletes, young and old alike. Water is also easily available so there’s no reason to skip on it when your child is in need of hydration on and off the court or field.
For this reason, you should always ensure that your child has a water bottle handy whenever he’s away from your side. You cannot rely on the team’s water supply since it may or may not be present although you should suggest it to the coach. You must also remind your child about the importance of hydration, especially in drinking fluids before, during and after the game.
Be sure to ask about the water breaks, too. Ideally, your child should drink water every 15-20 minutes, more when the games are done in hot and humid conditions. Your child may be unable to drink water at regular intervals but you can remind him to drink water even when he doesn’t feel thirsty.
Add Fluid-Rich Foods to Their Diet
Hydration can also come from food sources, which should be added to your child’s daily diet. These foods include fluid-filled foods like watermelon, apples and pears, to name a few example, which are also rich in vitamins and minerals as well as carbohydrates and fiber. These can also be added to your child’s breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks, such as in salads, sandwiches and even healthy burgers.
Besides, fluid-rich fruits and vegetables are also essential components of a healthy diet for athletes. Your child’s body needs macronutrients and micronutrients, as well as the fiber and antioxidants, for optimum performance.
Consider Energy-Boosting Drinks
Let’s face it – young athletes can become bored with drinking water and may need an extra boost of energy. You may want to consider energy-boosting drinks but be sure to keep your child’s consumption in moderation, preferably within the manufacturer’s recommended dosage.
Keep in mind that energy drinks contain caffeine and sugar, which can have adverse effects on a young athlete’s body when consumed improperly. Too much caffeine and sugar will contribute to weight gain, anxiety including the jitters, and sudden spikes and dips in blood sugar levels.
But when consumed in the proper manner, energy drinks can have their place in your young athlete’s life. You should keep his consumption to a minimum, such as once a day only during games, and monitor his reaction to it. You have the responsibility of ensuring that he doesn’t abuse and misuse energy drinks, not least of which is in enhancing his performance.
Don’t stop with the food and water component of your young athlete’s life. You should also look into the following aspects:
- Sufficient rest and sleep should always be on the schedule. Your child’s body will recover faster from the rigors placed on it during training and games with proper and regular sleep.
- Safety measures should also be adopted. You may have to check about safety gear, as well as safe training practices like warm-ups and cool-downs, with your child and his coach just to be sure.
- Social activities should also be added to the mix. Your child’s dedication to his chosen sport is admirable but it’s in his best interest to ensure that he also has a fun social life to add balance.
In time, your child will imbibe your advice such that it becomes almost automatic, whether it is drinking water regularly or drinking energy drinks in moderation.
Young athletes are impressionable and you, the parent, can make favorable impressions on your child in terms of healthy food and drink habits. Start with proper and regular hydration and build a solid foundation from there.