Coach’s Corner

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  1. What is the best thing for a teen to eat before practice and after practice, and when should he eat?
  2. What do you look for in a player?
  3. Are coaches influenced by loud boisterous parents?
  4. How can we prevent bullying in youth sports?

What is the best thing for a teen to eat before practice and after practice, and when should he eat?

Pamela Schoenfeld

We asked Nutritionist, Pamela Schoenfeld, MS RD LDN, what her thoughts were on the best thing to eat and when. She says:

"A combination of protein and carbohydrate containing foods is ideal, eaten 30 to 60 minutes before and then within 30 minutes after practice. Foods higher in fats, like peanut butter or cheese, are fine after practice, but should be limited before practice as they can slow digestion down and make the athlete feel uncomfortable.

Before practice, 30 to 50 grams of carbohydrates with 10 grams of protein is recommended.  A source of salt and potassium is also important.

I recommend a powdered whey shake (if milk is not available due to refrigeration) with a large banana and 100 calories of salty pretzels or low-fat crackers, for example.  The whey protein can be mixed with water right before drinking; a brand I like is Designs for Health Whey Cool in the chocolate flavor. This can be purchased from Amazon, or I offer at a 20% discount to my clients.

After practice, a slightly larger snack of 50 to 100 grams of carbohydrates with 20 to 30 grams of protein is recommended, unless a meal will be consumed within 1 hour. Peanut or almond butter, 2 tablespoons, on salted crackers, with a high protein Greek yogurt or a glass of milk, and another piece of fruit is a great choice. Natural cheese on crackers, 3 ounces or 3 slices, is also a good choice, along with some fruit juice.

Note that whey protein is a quick acting protein, whereas cheese, which is mostly casein, is a longer acting protein and supplies both fat and salt. Yogurt (and milk) contains both whey and casein proteins so is ideal for after practice or a game.  Some other ideas are beef or turkey jerkeys, with dried fruit and a bottled whey beverage whey the snack needs to be super quick and portable."


What do you look for in a player?

The number one thing that we look for is selflessness and coach-ability. This is best said by Geno Auriemma, Head Women's Basketball Coach, UConn: "Recruiting enthusiastic kids is harder than it has ever been. Because every kid watches TV...and what they see is people just being really cool, so they think that's how they are going act...and they are going to act like they are really good players. So recruiting kids that are like really upbeat and loving life and love the game and have this tremendous appreciation when their teammates do something well; that's hard, that's hard, that's really hard.  So on our team, me, my coaching staff, we put a huge premium on body language and if your body language is bad you will never get in the game...ever. I don't care how good you are...I'd rather lose than watch kids play the way some kids play, I'd rather lose. And they're allowed to get away with what ever. And they're always thinking of, me, me, me, me.  I didn't score so why should I be happy?  I didn't get enough minutes so why should I be happy? That's the world that we live in today, unfortunately."


Are coaches influenced by loud boisterous parents?

An article I read on talked about a 2012 study about how much a parent's behavior affects a kid's sports experience. The findings were that kids are more likely to be interested in sports if their parents enjoy them. Why?  Because our kids model our behavior. If they see you yell at games or question the coach, your kids will be more likely to behave the same way. How do you want your kids to behave?

One young athlete, 13-year-old Lauren, is quoted as saying, “The major problem is my parents. Dad’s cheering embarrasses me. Just before I shoot in soccer, he yells, ‘Pull the trigger!’ It’s so awful.”

So my question back to you is this: What would your young athlete say about you?

Cheer for the entire team. Support the coaches. Don't challenge the refs.

How can we prevent bullying in youth sports?

A great article on entitled 4 Ways to Prevent Bullying in Youth Sports breaks it down.

Educate Parents. If you suspect your child is being bullied, it's natural to want to confront other parents. But, we all know parents who completely deny their kid's behavior. Education for coaches and parents is important in preventing hurtful and harmful behavior.

Identify Negative Behavior. Bullying isn't always obvious and can be quite subtle. "A team's star player may tease a new, talented teammate. While this might be subtle at first, other children may join in, simply because they want to fit in with their peers." What began as seemingly innocent name-calling escalates into a kid being targeted by the team. Recognizing negative behavior and stopping it before it starts is key to controlling bullying.

Learn the Risk Factors. Anyone can be a bully. Anyone can be a victim. No one is immune, but studies show there are some common risk factors. Bullies tend to be negative and use aggression or intimidation to solve their problems. Did you know that bullying usually starts at home? Again we see children mimicking the behavior of their parents, as we have talked about before, and why it's critical that parents set a positive example.

Encourage Open Communication. Preventing bullying is hard, and many go along with the bully's behavior out of fear or a desire to fit in. Be proactive and put a stop to it before it gets out of hand. Kids who are bullied feel alone and may be scared or embarrassed to talk to to anyone about what's going on. So encourage open and honest communication with your kids. The more you listen, really listen, the more they are likely to talk and that's when you can teach them how to respond to bullying. Bullies need support from their peers, so it can stop before it starts if others refuse to participate. Ask your child's coach or the organization to implement zero-tolerance rules around unacceptable conduct, which can help children to stand up against bullies.

Give Kids Better Options. "Coaches who teach kids to work together by rewarding them for positive performance in group-based activities can unify teams and reduce negative incidents. Coaches and parents can help children overcome bullying by working together to discourage ongoing teasing and establishing a culture of cooperation."


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