Part 1: What Parents can do at home to promote proper training, nutrition, and sleep for their children

From youth through college athletics, your child lives and breathes sports. Countless hours of practices, meetings, and competitions keeps you and your child busy day-in and day-out. Like any parent, you want to support your children in any way you can to help them succeed in athletics. One of the newest trends we are seeing in athletics is burn out where the athlete not only burns out physically, but mentally as well, which leads them to hanging up the cleats prematurely. Part of it can be attributed to the amount of practices and games going on year-round and the athlete never gets a chance to have a break and unwind. Another factor I see is parents having kids doing too much in a short amount of time i.e. having your child play schools sports as well as playing in the private sector in the same season to get “exposure.” Essentially, the coaches, administration, and parents are asking too much of the athletes and they just can’t keep up with the demand, which leads to burn out and plagues of injuries because they never recover. However, there are ways to help as a parent to ensure your kids avoid burn out to continue to play at a high level and reduce the chances of getting injured. This three-part series will discuss how you as a parent can promote proper training, nutrition, and sleep habits for your children.


I put this first because I firmly believe it is the most underrated performance enhancer that’s legal. Your best workouts are the ones you fully recover from and if your child is getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night, they are doing themselves a huge disservice to their mental and physical performance and health. It seems these days we focus so hard on training, which essentially breaks your body down, and completely forget that a part of that training is recovering, to build you back up, so you can attack the next workout at 100%. Let me show a visual to help you get an idea of what I’m talking about.

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If you look on the chart, I want you to imagine this taking course over a week as an example. Point A is our baseline in performance (let’s say this is Sunday), point B (Monday) is the training stimulus or, simply, a workout. Point C (Tuesday) is the fatigue that accumulated from that workout which will decrease your performance because your body is sore. However, if allowed enough time, we can reach to point “D” (Wednesday) which is your recovery phase. If you recover properly and be patient, we can reach point “E” (Thursday) or supercompensation that now raises your baseline performance. If training isn’t continued, however, you may lose that adaption and come back to your original baseline, which is point “F” (Friday) which is fitting because you essentially failed that training week to actually utilize that new adaptation and continue to increase that baseline every week. Remember that this an example and everyone recovers and adapts at different rates. For example, weight room novices adapts must faster compared to someone whose been training in the weight room consistently for multiple years, which is why having a training program designed specifically for you can help you utilize your potential.

With proper training, nutrition, and sleep your stimulus, recovery, adaption (SRA) curve will look something like this over time. This can apply for muscle size or any measurable performance data (i.e. 40yd dash, squat 1RM, vertical jump, ect).

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The following example shows what it would look like with lack of sleep, improper nutrition, and too frequent training sessions as well as training too infrequently.

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A part of improving is simply trying to recover from the previous workout and, unfortunately, that’s where we fall short as athletes, coaches, administration, and parents. Sleep can easily be the biggest factor in your performance because an athletes training could be a rock-solid program, but the training program is only as good as the athletes can recover from it. Making sure your kids get enough sleep at night can easily help them gain an advantage over their peers and the competition. Here’s some tips to help you and your child athletes have consistent quality sleep.

  1. Turn off the electronics: Turning off or setting down the phone 30 minutes before bed can help the brain relax so you and your child don’t feel wired and struggle to immediately want to go to bed. Phones and computers have you looking at a lot of information in a short amount of time and that makes the brain be very active trying to process all of it at once.
  2. Set a consistent bedtime: Having a consistent bedtime can help your body get in the habit of wanting to go to bed around the same time every night. Consistency is key. You as a parent need to set the guidelines for your child of when they go to bed.
  3. Perform a few belly breathing exercises: I’m eventually going to make another blog about the power of breathing when it comes to performance and recovery, but I’ll keep it simple for now. Laying in bed and taking 3-5 long deep breaths through your belly can help slow your heart rate and let you fall asleep faster. Teach this to your children as way to help them relax before bed.
  4. Track your sleep data: Most fitness watches like Fitbit and other brands now have the ability to track your sleep habits throughout the night and can give you an idea of the quality of sleep you are getting, which can be used to determine how recovered you really are. You as a parent can show this to your child, which can help hold them accountable to avoid them staying up all night.
  5. Avoid energy drinks or caffeinated beverages close to bedtime: This seems like a no brainer, but sometimes people forget that having a caffeinated soda close to bedtime can be factor of why they can’t fall asleep at night. Water is always a great option! Try to set a time when your child should start avoiding soda or energy drinks and have them drink water instead if they get thirsty when it’s close to bedtime.
  6. Aim for 7-8 of sleep a night: Science tells us that 7-8 hours is the range that provides proper recovery and improves your mental and physical performance compared to people who average less than 7 hours of sleep.

Young athletes probably don’t realize the importance of sleep and how that can affect their performance. You as a parent can set the standard and make a huge impact in their athletic development! Of course, when I was growing up, I hated having a bedtime as I’m sure many kids and parents can attest to that. I know having kids immediately following these guidelines are easier said then done so I would suggest starting with 1 or 2 guidelines that seem easy to achieve and slowly add in the other guidelines at a later time. There will be days where you or your child’s schedule won’t be able to get 7-8 hours of sleep, but just remember that some sleep is better than no sleep. When life happens and you or your child won’t be getting enough sleep, taking short naps (~10-30 minutes) when possible can be a way to help get you through the day without feeling the affects of a lack of sleep. I hope this will be useful to you and your kids to see how sleep affects your recovery and overall performance!

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