It is first important to understand that every athlete is different. No athlete is the same and develops and performs at different levels. In order to properly prevent sports injuries, it is pertinent to understand where your "weaknesses" are. Key components to pay attention to during athletic performances are:
- Proper Equipment
- Appropriate protective gear, and foot gear are the most important and basic ways to help prevent injury.
- Have your protective gear checked for durability and efficiency.
- Does the gear fit properly?
- Is there any wear and tear to have fixed?
- Is it appropriate for the sport?
- Make sure your footwear is providing the proper amount of support for YOUR foot. Everybody's feet are designed differently and may require specific support to prevent impact injuries in the foot, ankle, knee, hip, or even the back.
- Proper Warm-up
- Performing a proper warm up can help reduce risk of injury by allowing better blood flow into your muscles which also helps increase oxygen delivery to your muscles and ultimately creates a looser and more exercise ready muscle. There are different techniques used for a warm up, but it is proper practice to choose the type of warm-up based on the exercise to be performed
- Be aware of muscle soreness that lasts more than a couple days, this could be a sign of inadequate warm-up and stretching
- Stretching can significantly decrease your chances of injury by doing this before and after exercise
- By stretching your muscles, you are elongating the muscle and allowing more blood flow with oxygen, as well as the muscle to function better
- Be aware of any feelings of instability during exercise
- is important to ensure that muscles are reacting quick enough to help protect abnormal joint movements and strains
- You may have some imbalance if you are unable to perform proper mechanics during exercise
- Balance is created by a multitude of things: eyesight, muscle conditioning, and even your hearing
- Let your coach or athletic trainer know if you feel as though your balance is off
- Muscular Endurance
- Easily fatigued
- Unable to perform to your max capacity even with stable cardiovascular performance
- Core Stability
- Do you notice your hips/pelvis rotated toward the front of your body?
- This can significantly decrease chances of low back pain and instability
- Can help improve balance and agility
- May help improve breathing techniques, and allow better oxygen intake
- Taking part in a proper "warm-down" and allowing your muscles to gain proper blood flow for inactivity.
- After the warm-down is the proper time for a good stretch
- Strength: Things to be aware of
- Does one muscle feel weaker than its opposite component?
- Are your muscles easily fatigued while exercising?
- Be sure not to lift more weight than you are safely able to lift
- Get with your coach or strength coach to help with any conditioning or muscle imbalance correction
Nutrition For the Young Athlete Pre and Post Competition
PRE-GAME meal is the most important meal of the day for a competitive athlete!
A pre-game meal should emphasize carbohydrates as they are easy to digest. Foods that contain large amounts of fat, protein, and fiber should be avoided prior to an activity. These foods take longer to digest and slow down stomach emptying.
Timing is important!
Don’t expect your body to perform well without providing it with the nutrients and fuel it needs to do its job. Muscles rely on glycogen storage to have the energy they need to keep going. Don’t come to your game without eating a good breakfast. Eat before you compete!
Good Pre-Event Meal
• Ideally Meal should be consumed 2 to 4 hours before the event.
• Meal should be high in carbohydrate content with small amounts of fat and protein. Carbohydrate loading is not necessary !
• Generally, foods should be somewhat bland. Spicy, gas-producing, and other irritating foods should be avoided.
• The meal should be low in dietary fiber.
• The meal should be small in size—less than 1,000 calories.
• Dilute, non-caffeinated drinks should be consumed.
Toast and jelly Spaghetti with tomato sauce Bread Macaroni Low fat yogurt
Sherbet Skim milk Pancakes Bagels Low fiber cereals
Rice Baked potato Canned fruit Puddings Applesauce
Bananas Grits Waffles Cream of wheat English muffins
Hot dogs Pop/Soda French Fries Donuts
Hamburgers Chocolate Bars Potato Chips
In Between Snacks
Plan to have a snack like a protein bar, granola bar or fruit prior to competition if you will be competing a couple hours after breakfast or lunch. Keep meals and snacks simple. If your competition is later in the day, eat a good meal a couple hours before your game.
Oatmeal raisin cookies Fig/Apple/Strawberry Newtons Canned Peaches Poptarts Graham crackers Saltine crackers Low Fat Puddings Pretzels
Vanilla Wafers Animal crackers Raisins Bread Lowfat yogurt Bananas Applesauce
An athlete’s body will be rebuilding muscle tissue and restoring carbohydrates and ﬂuids for up to 24 hours after the game. Combination of carbohydrate-protein snack within 30 minutes of the completion of a practice/game plus a full meal within 2 hours is ideal. Carbohydrates are the most efficient source of energy for muscles and they should make up approximately 50-55% of an athlete's diet. Poor choices after games result in a sluggish performance in future competitions.
Chocolate Milk (Chocolate Soy Milk provides the same benefits) Granola, energy or breakfast bars
Rice Cakes or Bagels with peanut butter (whole grain) Sub sandwiches (whole grain buns)
Crackers and cheese (whole grain) Trail Mix
Fresh fruit: apples, bananas, oranges, grapes Carrots and celery
Fruit smoothies (prepackaged)
Fluid replacement is a key part of a winning sports nutrition plan. Unlike adults, young athletes have a harder time cooling their body during activity. They have a greater chance of becoming dehydrated. Dehydration can affect muscle strength, endurance, coordination, and can lead to muscle cramps, exhaustion and heat stroke. Thirst is not a good cue of how much water the body needs. By the time thirst is felt, an athlete is already becoming dehydrated.
• Athletes should carry their own water bottle. It’s a healthy reminder to drink up!
• Water is the best source of ﬂuid as the body absorbs it quickly.
• Beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, energy drinks and cola, should be avoided. Caffeine increases the chances of dehydration.
• Before activity: Athletes should drink 16-20oz of ﬂuid to be fully hydrated.
• During activity: Athletes should drink 4-8oz of ﬂuid every 15-20 minutes.
• After activity: Athletes should drink plenty of ﬂuid to replace water lost from sweating.
Sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, are NOT NEEDED for many minor sports activities.
Water is the best drink for athletes at minor sports practices and games. Instead of a sports
drink, try water and a carbohydrate-rich snack.