Be Ready for the New Season
Monday, August 13, is the first official day that high school athletic teams can hold formal practices. The weather is usually hot, hazy, and humid. Coaches expect their athletes to be ready to handle vigorous practice sessions, but often the athlete is not properly prepared. The athlete can become ill from the heat, if not properly acclimated. Poor nutrition and lack of sleep can also affect the athlete’s performance. Here are some simple suggestions to help prepare the athlete for their upcoming sports season.
During the summer months student-athletes often stay up very late, often into the early morning hours. Athletes require between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Practice sessions usually begin between 7-9 A.M. This means that the athlete needs to go to bed between 10-11 P.M. to get the required 8 hours of sleep. Don’t wait until the night before practice to start this routine, begin the first week of August. Set a bedtime and a time to wake up, performing this routine for 2 weeks prior to practice will have you better prepared for August 13.
Hopefully, the athlete has been participating in some form of conditioning program over the summer. If not, the athlete should begin immediately. Start with a stretching program for 10 minutes, and then begin with jogging for 15-25 minutes, depending on your conditioning level. Jogging should be done outside between the hours of 8-10A.M. and 5-8 P.M, this will slowly acclimate the athlete to exercise in the heat. You can add drills specific to your sport as your fitness level improves.
Athletes require proper hydration and proper nutrition to perform at peak levels. Start to decrease your intake of drinks high in caffeine and sugar; i.e. coffee, tea, soda including diet soda. Increase the amount of water that you consume 6-8 glasses a day, drink milk and fresh fruit juices. Sport drinks are good to drink several hours before and after practice sessions. If you wait until you are thirsty you run the risk of dehydrating, drink plenty of water all day long.
Try to avoid the fast foods during your training periods; these foods are high in fat and empty calories. Eat lean meats like chicken and turkey, fish, and plenty of vegetables. Salads and fresh fruit have high water content and help to increase hydration.
Having a good breakfast before early morning practice sessions is extremely important. Include foods like whole grain cereals, milk and juice, oatmeal, fresh fruits, and whole grain toast with peanut butter.
Computerized concussion testing has become a part of the pre-season preparation. If your school does not provide concussion testing, contact Tony Andrejko PTA/ATC for information about testing. Tony can be contacted at 570-842-8191, ProCare physical therapy, Moscow, Pa.