3 tips to help prepare your child to play their best

3 tips to help prepare your child to play their best
As published by on 8/14/2013

You’ve done it. You’ve taken the leap.
After doing your research, debating the risks and benefits and checking out several leagues in your area, you’ve committed. Your child is ready to suit up and play youth football.

So, what’s next? You want your child to enjoy the experience, and you want to see him become better – and not just at football. How do you help your child get the most out of this experience? How do you keep him from getting hurt? How can you prepare him to play his best?

How do you keep him from picking his nose on the field?
During the next couple of weeks, we will tackle each one of these topics. If you missed last week’s post about helping with injuries (shame on you), you can check it out here. If you are REALLY behind and missed the post two weeks ago on getting the most out of youth football (you should really stop by more often), you can see that here. Be sure to share your ideas in the comments – we are a community here, and reader interaction is encouraged. Your experiences may help other parents who have concerns.

Without further ado, here is my top-three list for helping prepare your child to play their best. Simply put: eat, sleep and be merry!

We all know that what we eat is important – so is when we eat. How can you make sure your child has the energy he or she needs? Here are a few tips.

Most experts say that eating meals with lots of carbohydrates in the days leading up to a game is important. Carbs provide energy and can keep your child from feeling lethargic during the game. Make sure to avoid eating an hour before kickoff, but a light snack two to three hours before the game can be helpful. Give your child things that have a lot of protein, such as oatmeal, eggs, nuts, banana or an energy bar. Avoid candy as a pregame treat.

Your child needs to be properly hydrated, too. During the 24 hours before a game, make sure children drink lots of water but avoid giving them too much water in the hours right before the game (avoid making them feel waterlogged). Avoid sugary sodas – these are not a water substitute!

Ahh…. sleep. It’s what we all want more of, isn’t it? Football obviously requires quick thinking and fast reactions – and both are hard to accomplish when feeling tired! Most experts agree that children need about eight to 11 hours of sleep a night to be fully rested. Encouraging your child to make sleep a priority the night before a game will help him perform better on the field. Naps before the game aren’t a bad idea either, just don’t take one too close to game time to avoid feeling sluggish.

Sometimes, kids may have trouble sleeping before a game – especially the really big games. How can you make it easier for a child to fall asleep? Well, it depends on the child, but here are a few tips I picked up online:

Take a bath or shower. This will help relax the muscles and make it easier to fall asleep.
Don’t eat RIGHT before bed, but don’t go to bed hungry. When your child eats right before bed, his body gets to work turning that food into energy – not a good fit at bedtime. Make sure your child isn’t hungry when he goes to bed by having a snack about two to three hours before going to sleep.

No TV or video games RIGHT before bed. Movies, TV and video games can stimulate a lot of our senses (that’s why we like it so much). Try to eliminate any TV and video games at least an hour before bedtime. This will help your child’s mind prepare for sleep.

Be merry
Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Adam Vinatieri – they’ve all made names for themselves by performing their best when the pressure is high. Most people aren’t like that, and it’s likely your child won’t like performing under pressure either.

Most children want to please their parents, and the pressure of performing on the football field can sometimes lead to a worse performance. Don’t add extra pressure on your child before games. Build self-esteem and encourage. Recognize the work your child has put in leading up to the game and give him the confidence that he is as ready as he can be.

Remember, football is fun. It’s a game. Reduce the pressure your child feels and let him enjoy playing – that’s when he will perform his best.

Nick Ragsdale is a football-loving, blog-writing contributor to USA Football, an Indianapolis Colts season ticket holder and parent. He likes tacos, movies and short walks on the beach (the sand can get hot). You can get more of Nick (140 characters at a time) on Twitter at @USAFootballBlog.
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At home IMPACT drills for your student athletes!

Introducing our Team IMPACT Training Drills Series 2013 videos created to support proper athletic fundamentals’ instruction at home. Most of these drills involve very little equipment and the videos are less than one minute. We recommend cones, chalk to draw a ladder and a football for equipment. This 7-part series covers the following physical development areas:

1. Movement- Speed & agility, Rapid response/Vertical movement
2. Explosion- Explosive acceleration, Footwork
3. Core Strength- Balance & stability, Core muscle group
4. Hand-eye Coordination
5. Shifting Gears- Lateral movement, Reaction time
6. Footwork- Balance & stability, Agility
7. Advanced Circuit- 10 minute full body challenge

Try doing each exercise one time slowly to practice proper technique and then 3 repetitions at normal speed. Provide positive reinforcement to turn it into a fun experience for both parent and student athlete.

Get started by viewing our Team IMPACT Academy Drills Series 2013 by clicking here!

Pre-Game and Halftime Meals

Pre-Game and Halftime Meals

As published by USA Football

John Reynolds, ATC Fri, 10/26/2007 – 8:00am

Sports nutrition is a “hot” topic these days and one that deserves a lot of attention from athletes, coaches and parents. Food provides the body with the fuel it needs to perform at its best, so what and when an athlete eats is an important consideration. Unfortunately, athletes of all ages have their own individual preferences and it can be difficult to find food items that will appeal to a mass audience. However, there are several suggestions that can help with pre-game and halftime meals.

The number one rule is EAT! I know it sounds simple, but the body needs fuel in order to perform. Your players should eat a good meal the night before a contest. Depending on game time the following day, they may also need to eat several small meals spaced out over 3-4 hour intervals to ensure their bodies have adequate energy.

What to eat largely depends on a person’s likes and dislikes. In general, carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta, breads, rice, potatoes, fruits and vegetables should constitute the bulk of the pre-game meal. Protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and dairy should also be featured, but to a lesser extent that the carbohydrate-rich items. Choosing foods low in fat is always a good idea.

Staying hydrated is also essential before practices or competitions. Maintaining optimal hydration is an around-the-clock job and should be a priority for every athlete. Encourage your players to drink often throughout the day, even if they don’t feel thirsty or aren’t playing football. Water and sports drinks are good choices. Please encourage your players to avoid sodas and juices due to the high sugar content.

Maintaining hydration is also important during the game and your players should be encouraged to drink whenever they get the chance. Ask parents to provide a sports drink during halftime. These beverages taste good which may lead your players to drink more and they contain electrolytes which can help prevent cramping.

Snacks like bagels, fruit, granola or cereal bars are all good halftime choices. You may also find that some players are very picky about their snack or drink choices. Encourage parents to bring a couple of options if possible.

The evaluation of any athlete, whether as a part of health evaluations prior to activity or as a diagnosis of an injury as the consequence of sports activities, is specific to that individual and the history and current state of the individual presented. Advice, diagnosis and treatment is individualized according to numerous factors, including patient health and age information, medical history and symptoms. All athletes should be cleared by a physician or other appropriate medical professional before engaging in physical activities and, after injury, diagnosis and treatment, for return to play.
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IMPACT Academy
Kicks Off

Team IMPACT Academy started their Summer Camp Program off in North Phoenix. Go to JOIN IMPACT to get started. These high intensity skills athletic development camps maximize one hour sessions with student athletes by focusing 50-60% of the allotted time to strength, conditioning, speed and agility development and the remaining time for each session focused on developing basic to advanced football skills. The camps are customized to fit the developmental needs for youths age 5-13. The Youth Sports Camps concentrate on a high instructor to student athlete ratio to fully aid each child benefit from each session. Team IMPACT Academy services the North Phoenix, Scottsdale and Cave Creek areas.