Youth athletes experience a high amount of stress; from practice, to academics, social life, and more, balancing all of it can be a challenge.
Amy Saltzman, MD, author of A Still Quiet Place for Athletes, believes that athletes who practice mindfulness develop a more balanced approach to self-care, which ultimately helps them achieve peak performance in sport and in life.
“Being mindful means simply being aware of what is happening here and now with kindness and curiosity, so that we can choose our behaviors,” Saltzman said. She adds that young athletes who “bring kind and curious attention to all aspects of their health and well-being have an advantage in learning what works best for them during training, competition, and in life.”
Saltzman, a long-time athlete herself, shares give scientifically proved self-care habits athletes can practice to improve their physical health and maximize their ability to compete at their best.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, getting extra sleep over an extended period of time improves athletic performance, mood, and alertness. “Oftentimes in sports, young athletes are encouraged to push beyond their perceived limits to progress, but pushing too hard and too often can result in injury and physical, mental, and emotional burnout.”
Make Healthier Food Choices
It’s important for everyone to fuel their bodies with well-balanced meals, but it’s essential to the development of young athletes. In addition to preventing major health issues such as osteoporosis, diabetes, and heart disease, healthier, whole foods develop their brain function.
Drink More Water
Saltzman reports that “research shows that exercise performance is impaired when an athlete is dehydrated by as little as 2 percent of body weight. When the athlete loses an excess of 5 percent of body weight, their performance capacity is decreased by about 30 percent.” Encouraging your young athletes to properly hydrate is essential to their athletic performance and more importantly, to their overall health and well-being.
Focus on Conditioning
Youth sports offer athletes a place to improve their bodies’ overall performance and physical capacity. Not all conditioning has to be sport-specific. “Young athletes can benefit by adding age-appropriate, developmentally-paced strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, and core strength to their exercise routines. And if young athletes do these activities mindfully (being present and discerningly aware of how their bodies feel, rather than just going through the motions), they will increase their physical, mental, and emotional strength, endurance, and flexibility,” Saltzman said.
Develop Game Day Routines
Saltzman recommends athletes create routines that will help them be prepared for game day by:
This post original appeared on TrueSport. You can read the full-length, original article here: https://learn.truesport.org/5-self-care-tips-youth-athletes/