Staying Active in the Off Season for Young Athletes

Staying Active in the Off Season for Young Athletes - Food & Nutrition Magazine - Stone Soup
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If there ever was an off season, we are in it. No sports to be found. If you live near a basketball court, have your own pool or have enough players for a baseball team in your family, consider yourself lucky. It’s hard enough to be a kid right now and if your child is good at their sport, you are feeling their stress.

Most kids would do anything to play their sport right now and many sport-loving kids are still finding ways to be active, but it’s hard. The barriers are high and let’s face it – some of our kids are going to lose a little in performance, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still train.

Training might just look a little different for some kids. If equipment or having a team is becoming a barrier, it’s time to get creative. Even the smallest activity might have a big impact on their performance and if nothing else, it gives them confidence to keep moving.Staying Active in the Off Season for Young Athletes -

Do your research

If you are getting practice advice through a coach, you are still the one who is at home with them. A little reading up on your child’s sport can help you make sure they are doing exercise that will benefit them. For example, if your child is a basketball player, doing plyometrics and cardiovascular work will help keep them in shape and keep their legs powerful for jumping and agility.

If you feel stuck, reach out to a coach or another parent on your child’s team. Perhaps ask about a complementary sport. Don’t let the risk of injury scare you from letting your athlete try another sport. It’s may actually be good for them. You child has a higher risk of overuse injury when they specialize in one sport, than if they play more than one sport.

If you’re trying an exercise you or your child has never done before, make sure you look up how to correctly perform the exercise, otherwise it’s best to stick to the ones you already know.

Establish a routine of activity

No matter what, keep them active, but find what they like to do even if it’s going out for a bike ride or walking around the block a million times. Keep them active and make it routine. Just like brushing their teeth or making their bed, activity should become a part of their day.

Any physical activity is good activity, but it should be something they like. Certain activities, like running or jumping, are uncomfortable for some children. They must find personal enjoyment in what they do, that will keep them motivated to do it again tomorrow.

Talk to your athletes

Ultimately, it’s going to be personal motivation that keeps them active in the off-season. If they are feeling down in the dumps about not being able to do their sport right now, reassure them that the off-season is temporary and there are ways to train that can make them stronger when they start back up again.

Help them establish their own training plan and give them something to look forward to. Goal setting can be very motivating. Even if there is too much uncertainty on when your sport will start back up, set a goal anyway.

Let them be kids

This can be a tough one for parents, especially if you aren’t accustomed to having them home all day. Kids are loud, messy, and self-centered. Put on your patience pants and let them just be kids.

Kids need unstructured play, which can also double for activity. So, loosen the reigns a little and let them go explore (within reason, of course). Even exploring in the house can lead to all sorts of discoveries and ideas for more activity.

Get active with your kids

Unless you have a crowd in your house, your young athlete is missing having their friends around. That’s where you come in. It’s hard to throw around a baseball or football to yourself. Commit some time to them strictly for their athletic development. Don’t worry, parent athleticism is not required, only a desire to help your child.

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Sarah Pflugradt
Sarah Pflugradt, MS, RDN, is a freelance writer, blogger at Sarah Pflugradt Nutrition . Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.