Sports seem to be more popular than ever with many kids striving to make a high school team or earn a college scholarship. Parents spend large amounts of money to pay for their child to be a part of the best travel teams or receive individual instruction. Keeping kids healthy and performing at their best is key to their success. Here are three healthy habits to focus on to improve athletic performance:
1. Improve your sleep! Middle school and high school kids require 8-10 hours of sleep to function at their best. While at sleep, our bodies recover and rebuild. This is extremely important for athletes who are building muscle. In order to optimize sleep, a consistent schedule should be set. For example, trying to be in bed by 9:30pm and sleeping until 6:30am. Weekends or a late night of studying during the week can often throw this schedule off. Electronics before bed also can disrupt sleep.
2. Eat real food! With crazy schedules, planned meals are often an afterthought. Quick stops at the local fast food restaurant can become regular with nights full of practices and games. Work to plan ahead and have healthy alternatives available. The food we eat is what powers our bodies throughout the day. If we continue to provide our body poor nutrition, our performance will suffer.
3. Drink enough water! A good rule of thumb is drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. For a 150-pound person, this would mean drinking approximately 75 ounces of water daily. Even being slightly dehydrated during activity can impair both cognitive and physical performance! If you wait until you feel thirsty, you are already behind. It can be very easy to lose track of how much water you have consumed throughout the day. One solution can be to carry a water bottle around and mark down each time it’s empty.
While these three things may seem simple, very few middle school and high school athletes are able to consistently complete them. Completed consistently over time, these habits can fuel athletic performance improvement while also setting up great healthy habits for a lifetime.