How Can Nutrition And Rest Habits Effect Your Youth Soccer Player
Most players and their parents at the youth level of soccer do not really pay great attention to the proper nutrition, rest and recovery habits, as well as their effects and consequences.
A very small detail but yet so important to the youth soccer player, is the sleeping habits and activity over load.
Therefore going to bed late cuts down on that very important rest time.
Body needs to rest to allow it to recover and grow
Mind needs to rest to take in everything and process it to memory.
Your Brain Needs Zzzzzs
Not only is sleep necessary for your body, it's important for your brain, too. Though no one is exactly sure what work the brain does when you're asleep, some scientists think that the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals, and solves problems while you snooze.
Most kids between 5 and 12 get about 9.5 hours a night, but experts agree that most need 10 or 11 hours each night. Sleep is an individual thing and some kids need more than others.
When your body doesn't have enough hours to rest, you may feel tired or cranky, or you may be unable to think clearly.
School counselors across the country are reporting that more and more students involved in extra-curricular activities are on “overload” and becoming stressed out.
Summer Activities School Year Activities
Basketball practice at 9:00am Pre-School Basketball Shoot Around
Day Camp at 11:00 School Activities 9:00-3:00
Swimming at 3:00 Piano Lesson 3:30-4:30
Soccer at 5:00 Soccer 5:00
Hip Hop at 8:00 Homework 7:30
I challenge many of the parents to take a good look at the lives of our children. We all know a kid like this: the one who gets off the school bus and goes straight to soccer practice, eats a take-out dinner in the car on the way to Scouts or chess, and gets back home just in time to fall into bed at 10PM.
Where is the downtime? The time just to hang with friends, or read for pleasure, or ride a bike? The time to play with neighborhood friends or draw on the sidewalk with chalk?
I see so many kids coming to practice tired, yawning, lucking of energy. I always ask my players to give me 100% effort when they are practicing or playing. I do not care as much about mistakes as for them to give effort. I always wonder why players although they are on the field no more than 10 minutes, or just arrived for a morning soccer match they seem to luck energy, focus and just in general do not seem that they want to be there. When asked most of the time it is
because of a late night or other activities prior to coming to practice or game.
Here are some Nutritional Guidelines and a sample out of state diet/rest plan
1. All players will be instructed by their coaches and athletic trainers concerning the importance of nutrition before each tournament.
2. Players will be required to attend all scheduled meals.
3. Teams will be responsible for following and supervising the nutritional guidelines of the club.
4. Parents/players are responsible for the availability of food/fluids for each team.
5. All teams are required to have sufficient Gatorade, water, ice, and snacks in each of the player’s rooms during the tournament.
6. All teams are required to provide sufficient Gatorade, water, ice, and snacks at each game for pre-game, in- game, and post- game nourishment.
7. Managers will be responsible for the designation of access to the aforementioned at games.
8. No sodas or carbonated drinks are allowed prior to and during the tournament. Water will be served at all meals.
9. Breakfast should be eaten daily. If your game is early a light breakfast should be consumed with plenty of fluids
10. Pre-game meals should be planned 3-4 hours prior to the beginning of each game. If not possible, nutritious snacks and plenty of fluid should be provided.
11. Post-games snacks should be available to each player at the conclusion of each game on the field or in the vans returning from the game.
Post- game nutrition should include the immediate snack/Gatorade (within one hour of the game) followed by a larger meal later after the return to the hotel.
12. Players should hydrate at all times during the tournament. Urine color should appear clear (not dark yellow) upon waking in the morning, before the game,
and before going to bed. This is a simple way of acknowledging proper hydration.
SOCCER DIET – Pre/Post Game Meals
Soccer players are continuously looking for ways to improve his or her performance,
increasing the body’s maximum potential and forcing it to achieve championship form.
Training leading up to a tournament is done with hard work and commitment on a daily basis.
With the amount of effort and time spent in training comes and equally high energy
consumption and that is where nutrition (fuel) will come in.
High energy can be obtained through a diet which is rich in carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are the main fuel and energy source of the body and the soccer player needs
loads of them. It is equally important to consume the proper carbohydrates as outlined below.
Protein is also very important to the soccer player diet as they help with recovery and muscle
growth. Fats are important and essential to a healthy diet as long as they are consumed appropriately.
A general rule is to consume 60% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 15%fat in your diet.
Fluid is very important and should be consumed before, during, and after every soccer event.
The pre- game meal should be consumed 3-4 hours prior to a soccer game.
Plenty of water/Gatorade should be available at the meal. The meal should be planned around
individual likes and dislikes, thus a variety is essential. Carbohydrates with a low Glycemic Index (GI)
should be consumed before the game to preserve energy stores and provide long lasting energy
throughout the game. High GI foods should be consumed immediately before and during the game
to provide for lost energy in during the first half of games. A list is provided below.
Players should be provided with easily digested foods during the game and at half time.
These include crackers, grapes, oranges, watermelon, rice crispy bars, trail mix, etc...
Gatorade should be available at all games. Each player should drink 10-12 ounces 30 minutes
prior to the game, 8-10 ounces of water before kick-off, and 10 ounces of Gatorade at half time.
Water should be available to all players at anytime prior to, during, and after games.
Light colored Gatorade (Tiger, Rain, etc.) instead of darker colors should be available for players
as it is easier to digest.
Immediately following the game (within 30 min.), Gatorade/water should be available to players after games.
Light snacks should be provided if there is a game the next day or later in the day.
This should include high carbohydrate and protein foods. Trail mix, rice crispy bars, watermelon,
other fruits, crackers, and of course small sandwiches with perferably wheat or grain bread.
The post game snack should be provided immediately as this is when the player’s glycogen stores
are wide open and able to consume the most for the next match. One to two hours after this event
lessens and the player is not able to consume as much food. The post game meal should contain a
good balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Calories are important and should be consumed at the
rate of 2500/3000 per day. Older teams can consume more; younger teams may consume less depending
on the weight of the individual.
GI Foods List
LOW GI FOODS MED/HIGH GI FOODS
Peanut butter crackers
Fat Free milk
Cream of wheat
Fruit roll ups
When coaching kids soccer, one quickly realizes how it can be difficult, because young soccer players seem to always be wandering in a different direction! How can a coach keep his/her players’ attentions and keep control of their practices? By mixing up activities and using as many senses as possible, a coach can give players an outlet for their energy while still teaching them. By keeping lessons short and focused, a coach also encourages players to pay attention before being let loose.
Mix it Up In my youth coaching career I have seen coaches be all fired up and full of creativity after they first get their coaching licenses but soon they fall pray to the weekly training boredom blues. A lot of coaches show up at the field, sometimes late because of their daily routines, not properly prepared with a coaching session plan for the day. They try to wing a training session and at times forget that their key subjects are youth soccer players that they might have had a long day at school and might want a bit of release of energy in the soccer pitch. Coaching kids soccer requires one to be innovative and always engaging and mostly to be always using their creativity and imagination. Kids do not stay focused for long, so coaches must constantly invent new ideas, games and techniques for keeping their young soccer players excited about participating in soccer and learning. To do this, I personally have had plenty of wacky, creative ideas from time to time…crazy hat day, golf soccer, hula soccer, for the younger soccer players, daily player game creation and favorite exercise, or player run training session for the older ones…
Keep it Short Coaches do not have much time with youth soccer players before their minds will begin to wander. To stretch out this time and get more undivided attention from young soccer players, coaches should work to involve players by asking them questions, asking them to repeat things just said, summarizing important lessons, and making the session interactive.
Because of short attention spans, coaches should keep lessons concise and very focused. By encouraging players to pay attention to one lesson at a time, broken up by periods of physical activity and reviews of material covered earlier in the practice, coaches lengthen the amount of serious time they have with young athletes.
Increase Interactivity When Coaching Kids Soccer Youth soccer players today are not as able to sit and absorb information as previous generations because of the readily available media streams. They are now able to process multiple inputs at once and often get bored or restless if they are simply listening to someone talk at them. To reach young soccer players on their level, I incorporate videotaping of training sessions, with the aid of a parent and then email all kids that training session with comments and remarks. Kids love to watch themselves and realize much better what the coach was talking about when they see themselves participate in that particular training session. Skills that were explained or mistakes and adjustments that were discussed in a training session, all of sudden become understood by watching the video playback.
Coaches should remember that any internet usage by young players needs to be heavily monitored by responsible adults to prevent athletes from wandering to inappropriate sites or accessing unapproved material.
Those coaching kids soccer can also provide written material or charts for older athletes who can read and write. Charts could contain a list of what skills have been taught, when they were first introduced, and the coach’s assessment of how well the athletes perform that skill. For written material, coaches can pass out brief instructions about skills or a one-page review of what has been taught to that point in the season.
The use of different soccer aids that are fun and engaging is another great way to teach and improve their skills while holding their attention and always have them ask for more.
Lastly one of my least favorite methods of training is “LAPS”. I see kids running laps, either for warm up or cool down or for punishment. My philosophy is that soccer is a game or quick short sprints. Running nonstop for a prolonged period of time is called cross-country or long distance running. A soccer player’s heartbeat is different from the one of the long distance runner. Why not develop and strengthen that heartbeat with proper sport appropriate exercises. I have found some fun engaging videos of great ideas on these sites:
www.futworkz.com - www.soccertoplay.com