Happy Tuesday, everyone! I personally love trivia, it presents opportunities to actively learn about things I otherwise may not have been interested about. I also love working with young athletes because each individual presents different challenges and learning experiences for me as a trainer. Their psychology and physiology are quite different than adults, and oftentimes as coaches and/or parents we forget how to be empathetic towards this. Here are a few questions related to you (if you are an athlete!), your athlete (if you are a parent), or an athlete you know (coach, relative)! Answers and more about the questions at the end of the quiz.
Test your Knowledge on 7 Questions about Student Athletes
No right or wrong answer here. I would love to hear more about why you think this about the answer you selected! Leave a comment and start a discussion!
If you coach young female athletes or are the parent of one, this is a important condition to know about as it is relatively common in very active athletes. If you selected the option of "infrequent periods", you weren't entirely wrong, this is a similar condition called oligomenorrhea, which you can learn more about here. Amenorrhea is more of a symptom than a condition, as it could be caused by intensive exercising, but also stress, physical illness, or extreme weight loss. It's usually not serious, but could be a reason for concern, as it may lead to a higher risk of stress fractures. It may also be a good idea to check in with how your athlete is doing handling the physical and mental stressors of practice, competition, and school! That's a lot to have on a young person's plate!
Athlete Super Foods
I kid you not, nutrition is a secret weapon in athletic performance and beets and spinach are the most powerful weapons of them all. Spinach isn't just for Popeye, it is a nutritional bad ass full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Throw it in with smoothies (the taste is almost undetectable), omelets, soups, pasta dishes, or get creative with spinach muffins and other unique eats. Beets are excellent for overall health, but also have acute effects on athletic performance. Multiple studies have proven that beets, when consumed a certain amount of time before competing, significantly reduced oxygen consumption during the event. This means that athletes could run harder and faster while using LESS oxygen. Intrigued by the benefits of beets? Check out this article I wrote a few weeks back and whip up an awesome blender red velvet beet cupcake recipe to go with it!
The 30 Million
Isn't it incredible to think of the 30 million young athletes we have across the nation that have raised the standards of competition not only nationally, but globally as well. Luckily, we have hundreds of Universities, Colleges, and Junior Colleges across the country where the cream of the crop can continue on with their careers. There is a river of cashflow within the NCAA and other athletic associations like the NAIA and NJCAA that supplies thousands of jobs between athletics administrators, coaching staffs, and athletic scholarships. But, as far as young athletes are concerned, it's how do they earn a place on a roster and get their college education paid for? Then, for a much smaller percentage of those athletes who dedicate 4 years and are about to graduate from their home of secondary education, how do they continue their playing career as a professional?
Linebacker dives for your legs on a tackle. Your chances of tearing your MCL, ACL, and/or meniscus just went up. Now, imagine you anticipated his tackle and crouched before he made contact, now you've just put your knee joint in a less vulnerable position! There are hundreds of examples from various sports that I can think of, but who has time for that right now? The moral of the story: LOWER IS STRONGER!
Banged and Bruised
I thought this was relatively interesting. Contusions (i.e. bumps and bruises) make sense, but why strains before sprains? Well, come to think about it, kids are growing at a fast rate, and the growth rate of muscles has a hard time keeping up with that of bones, causing tightness. They also sit at desks all day in school, or crash on the couch in front of a video game or TV show when they get home. Sitting, as you know if you have a desk job or drive a lot, is just one example of real life causing muscle tightness, specifically in the low back and hamstrings. To combat the muscle tightness that occurs from growth and sitting, and decrease the rate of not only strains but overuse injuries, enforce a stretching program with your team if you are a coach, or spend at least 10 minutes with your kids every night stretching. This is good for you too, mom and dad! For ideas, check out the Major Muscle Groups or Yoga Series in the Exercise Library.
I get it, you know what's best for your kid. I'm not here to give you advice on parenting, because I have no clue; however, I do know a thing or two about athlete psychology having been one, coached at the collegiate level, and now train youth basketball players regularly. I will admit I have no formal training in psychology, but can nonetheless advise the following:
I see a lot of parents take the love out the game for their child because they put so much pressure on them to meet standards or perform at a level they aren't ready for and thus can't yet meet (ego example: 'My child should be playing more/better'). Mom or dad, it's not about where you think your kiddo should be at, honestly that way of thinking is too broad for sports. Sports are too much of a journey and process to have the focus be on the big picture, it's great to have that in the back of your mind (college scholarship, winning championships, starting), but those things will be byproducts of learning from their experiences along the way. Sports are great teachers of service, teamwork, confidence, competition, commitment, discipline, hard work, sacrifice, being a role model, and so much more! Help your athlete focus on growing in these areas and their performance and long-term opportunities will be a byproduct of their understanding!
3. Help them cultivate healthy habits: getting enough sleep, hydrating, having a healthy diet, time management, and relaxation techniques are all important factors in optimizing the success of a young athlete (and human in general). Having good habits in these areas will help them be more focused and give them more energy for school, their sport, and then life after! Awesome parent, check!
ACLM, M. G. (n.d.). Whole Beets vs. Juice for Improving Athletic Performance. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from https://nutritionfacts.org/video/whole-beets-vs-juice-for-improving-athletic-performance/
Adirim, T. & Cheng, T. (2003). Overview of Injuries in the Young Athlete. Sports Medicine Journal, 33(1), 75-81.
Bailey SJ, Winyard P, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, Dimenna FJ, Wilkerson DP, Tarr J, Benjamin N, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2009 Oct;107(4):1144-55. Epub 2009 Aug 6.
Hutchinson, M., MD, & Nasser, R., MD. (n.d.). Common Sports Injuries in Children and Adolescents. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/408524_4
S. (n.d.). Sports At Any Cost. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from http://projects.huffingtonpost.com/ncaa/sports-at-any-costf