by Jason Riddell MS, SCCC, CSCS, USAW
Director of Athlete Performance
It’s exam time in colleges and high schools across the country – an added layer of stress on student athletes who find practice time and travel schedules an additional burden when trying to study. Parents and coaches should realize that as the school year draws to a close these weeks could increase the chance of injury/illness.
If the athlete does these three things well during this difficult time they will be much better able to handle the academic stressors and get through injury-free, healthy and hopefully, with a good report card as well!
1) SLEEP- I joke with our athletes here at Next Level that the only worthwhile performance enhancement drug (PED) on the planet is 8 quality hours of sleep and the best part is it’s free!
(Sleep Hygiene) Put your phone or tablet on silent and leave it outside the bedroom, or at least out of arm’s reach. I encounter too many athletes that get in bed at 9 or 10pm but are on their phone until 1 or 2am and then up as early as 5:30 a.m. The math just doesn’t work and their body never gets a chance to fully repair and regrow itself.
2) NUTRITION- (Protein) Lean cuts of beef, fish, chicken, pork, or go soy if you don’t eat meat. (Carbohydrates) Fresh fruits & vegetables, minimally processed foods, watch the sweets! (Fats) Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Natural Nut Butters, Trail Mix, etc.., watch the greasy/fried foods!
Don’t look to supplements until you have your base nutrition under control. If you look to use supplements to fix your nutrition it’s like using a band aid to patch a bullet wound. It just doesn’t work.
3) HYDRATION- Water should be the drink of choice. Sports drinks can be beneficial in extremely strenuous, prolonged activities and even more relevant in hot, humid environments, but still H2O is king. Athletes should drink water throughout the day to ensure they are hydrated.