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Helping young athletes be successful on game day
We spoke with Amy Ramsey, employee wellness and engagement manager at TMC HealthCare and mother of six, about the top three ways to help youngsters have their best chance of success.
It’s important to lay a strong foundation of general health so children don’t have to flip a switch and change behaviors just because a game is coming up.
Establishing a routine of getting proper rest, nutrition and hydration is important in taking care of their physical health. In our house, we don’t allow sleepovers the night before games because it changes their eating and sleeping patterns, and we try to limit too much screen time beforehand as well.
They should start thinking about hydration at least two days in advance – especially living in our desert climate, you can’t make up for dehydration on game day morning. It is more important to focus on carbohydrate-dominant meals for energy on game day.
Kids – just like many adults – do not know how to naturally deal with the stress of competing. It’s a learned behavior through practice, but as they’re learning, adults can help by reframing what success looks like.
In my family, our focus goes beyond winning or losing. Afterward, I’ll ask, “Did you put in all the effort you thought you should have? Did you play with a positive attitude?” Instead of telling my kids that I hope they get two touchdowns today, I say, “I’m excited to watch you work well with your team today. Don’t forget to communicate well with your teammates and to have fun while you’re doing it.”
Kids are going to listen to your words and make conclusions about what you value. If I put my focus on their ability to get a touchdown alone, I am devaluing the other positive aspects of what they could be learning through sports.
Game day is a huge teaching moment about what leadership looks like. It’s important to stress the importance of being a positive role model, respecting what their coaches ask them to do, not getting mad at the referee for a bad call, and being polite to the other team.
When my daughter plays flag football, she doesn’t just rip the flag and throw it on the ground. She hands it back with a compliment about a nice run or a nice catch and her coaches have thanked her for teaching others about sportsmanship.
Sports can shape the beginning ideas of what leadership looks like and set the path for a healthy future physically and mentally. That’s the really good stuff you get when you put your child into an athletic program.
Amy Ramsey is a certified personal trainer and health coach and is employee wellness and engagement manager at TMC HealthCare.