Great Snacks for Young Athletes

Every youth sports parents knows that you can’t show up to a soccer match or baseball game without a tub of snacks and drinks in tow. However, the unhealthy eats that tend to be on sale during sports season aren’t always the most nutritious option for an active child. When considering pre-, mid-, and post-activity snacks, avoid doling out candy, chips, crackers and other foods that are high in fats and sugars and lacking in necessary nutrients. Create snacks and quick meals that offer vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fluids. Snacks for young athletes provide necessary nutrients while still appealing to their craving for salty, sweet, and refreshing foods. Water and fresh fruit are great for half-time and after performances. However, parents can choose from a number of creative options that children will love. Remember, young athletes should always have a snack one to two hours before their activities!

Pre-Game Energy Boosters

Apple slices with nut butter offer protein, vitamins and fluid. Strawberry cheesecake roll-ups are simply low-fat or fat-free cream cheese spread on a tortilla and topped with sliced strawberries and a sprinkle of sugar. Roll and cut into bite-sized pieces. Both options also provide the carbohydrates needed as fuel. The fiber and protein also stay in the stomach longer, which ensures the energy boost lasts. Other good carbohydrate options include meals containing meat and starchy or brightly-colored vegetables. Macaroni and cheese remains an all-time favorite with children.

Half-Time Break Snacks

As time is limited, quick snacks of fresh fruit provide vitamins, minerals and an energy boost along with much-needed rehydration. Fruit juice infused water is the right combination for replacing lost fluid and electrolytes. Fresh fruit is always an ideal option and may include:

  • Clementine or orange slices
  • Apple and pear slices
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Halved bananas
  • Melon chunks

Post-game Snacks

After a practice, game or other physically demanding activity, youngsters need to rehydrate. If they perspired under the hot sun, they also need to replenish their electrolytes. A combination of carbohydrates and protein before and after activities helps replenish energy while providing muscles and connective tissues with the nutrients needed to recover and repair. Good post-activity recommendations include:

  • Fresh fruit, frozen fruit pops or fruit leather
  • Fig bar or oatmeal cookies
  • Bagels or crackers topped with nut butter, low-fat or fat-free cream cheese and fruit slices
  • Pudding cups
  • String cheese
  • Trail mix
  • Yogurt

 

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.org

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Benefits of After-School Sports

After-school sports have a lot to offer children as they grow into young adults. In addition to being great for a young person’s physical health and well-being, youth sports have a wide range of mental and social benefits; they teach children the value of teamwork, resilience, and hard work. As a parent, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits that after-school athletics can offer children, and I highly recommend that other parents consider signing their children up for a seasonal sport or extracurricular activity. Let’s take a look at how after-school activities can benefit youths.

Establish Discipline and Commitment

Committing to a sport means waking up early on a game day – even when you don’t feel like rolling out of bed. This dedication is a great lesson for children to learn in preparation for becoming a young adult. It takes time and discipline to achieve an athletic skill set; over time, the children will learn firsthand that they have to work for what they want. They will also feel proud of themselves for going on those days when putting in the effort led to their having a good time or reaching a new milestone.

Learn Emotional Management

It can be frustrating to lose a game or struggle over a new skill. Experiencing these difficulties will teach your child to better handle negative emotions and prioritize good sportsmanship over personal frustrations. This will ultimately lead to more emotional stability and helping the child better process emotionally charged situations off of the field. Learning how to win gracefully has a similarly positive impact; children can both build their confidence and learn how to celebrate with humility.

Maintain Physical Health

Participating in team sports helps your child maintain their physical health and refine their basic motor-skills. It is also an opportunity for your child to learn their limits and athletic capabilities. Knowing when to push harder and when to stop is essential, and taking part in a  sport is one of the best ways to test (and set) limits and boundaries. Parents can help push this self-care even further by showing their athletes how eating the right foods can impact their game positively or negatively. You are never too young to benefit from healthy eating habits.

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.org

5 Youth Sports Your Child Should Try

Participating in sports gives children an outlet for physical activity, and serves as a fun alternative to electronic games. The experience also gives them a chance to develop communication skills and cooperative behavior patterns. Sports offer opportunities to instill self-discipline and foster a competitive drive to achieve. By joining a team, children learn how to balance their time commitments and gain experience in vibrant interpersonal environments. With all of the possible benefits, the challenging part isn’t deciding whether or not to enroll a child in a sport, but deciding which ones may be best. Read on for some helpful information about five appealing sports options.

 

Soccer

 

This sport offers plenty of opportunities to develop fast footwork and quick-thinking skills. Players use core muscle strength to maintain balance while shifting directions and scanning the field to decide on their next move. Spending time on the field will help children develop their communication skills and push them into greater cardiovascular exercise. Boosted endurance and better-developed interpersonal skills typically follow as a result.

 

Swimming

 

Children who swim learn the importance of water safety, the value of which extends way beyond the arena of sports. They also complete exercises that tone muscles and improve lung capacity. Unlike some sports, swimming is low-impact and allows competitive participants to take part both as individuals and team members.

 

Archery

 

Children who dedicate themselves archery hone their ability to concentrate and wait patiently. Archery practice is wonderful for hand eye coordination. All this said, finding a qualified teacher may prove challenging to find in some regions.  If you are lucky, you may be able to find a formal archery learning center that offers indoor and/or outdoor experiences. However, less specialized venues such as nature centers and athletic clubs may also provide seasonal or limited classes.

 

Dance

 

Creative children often love the self-expression found in dance. This sport improves flexibility and emphasizes good posture. Students who take part in dance classes memorize various routines and positions, and learn to keep their composure in front of an audience.

 

Volleyball

 

Students who take up volleyball have many chances to practice communication skills. Hard work and social skills are big components of playing competitive volleyball. Practicing and playing volleyball is a great way to improve both physical and mental power.

 

With all of the great options available, there is really no reason not to try out a youth sport option. By enrolling their children in sports, parents help their children learn about commitment and how to balance their victories and defeats. Moreover, young athletes can find a lifelong passion take strides to develop their interpersonal and physical skills by trying out a sport. It is a well-rounded learning opportunity and worthwhile experience.

*Originally posted on PhilipWardSeattle.org