Getting Your Student Athlete Ready For Fall Sports
It’s time to think about how the crisp crackle of campfires will soon transition to the crackle of orange and yellow leaves beneath our feet in Wyoming. This means more than the coming of hunting season—it means it is time for fall sports to start for your athlete! Training for these sports often occurs throughout the summer and gears up in August at the start of the school year. What does your athlete need to do to be prepared? Memorial Hospital of Converse County has some answers.
Make sure your athlete has an updated physical for the year, because this is almost guaranteed to be a requirement by all schools. Local Douglas High School requires a physical for students to practice their sport. Although sometimes they may seem like it, physicals are not just an extra hoop to jump through. They assess current health status, examine and detect any medical conditions that may impact athlete safety, identify current injuries, assess what treatment is necessary for current injuries, and provide education about injury prevention. Schedule your physical well ahead of the due date to avoid a booked appointment schedule that may delay your athlete’s fall sport participation.
Gradually introduce your athlete’s body to physical activity and to the sport if it is new to them. Going from zero to one hundred too fast can cause injuries and result in sitting out for part or all of the season, which is frustrating and disappointing. Gradual, graded exposure to activity is key to having a healthy season. Incorporating strength training and cross training or playing multiple sports can improve strength, stability, and control; this is advantageous for preventing injuries. Assessing an athlete’s baseline fitness level assists in creating a periodized conditioning protocol for the individual athlete so their abilities meet the needs of their sport so the athlete is prepared when the season begins.
Check your garage or shed for last season’s equipment to make sure it still fits and is safe to use. This includes shoes, helmets, padding, shin guards, socks, and uniforms. Your child may have gone up a shoe size (or two or three) or may need a new adult-sized football or soccer ball. Check with the coach, a physical therapist, or a sport equipment expert at your preferred store to find out if your equipment is “on par” with the current safety and performance norms. This can prevent injuries from worn out or inappropriate equipment and save you time later in the season when practices and games ramp up.
Sleep and Nutrition
Adequate nutrition, hydration, and sleep are crucial components of athletic performance and injury prevention. Sleep requirements for athletes vary by age. Three-to-five year-olds need ten to thirteen hours of sleep per night, while six-to-twelve year-olds need nine to twelve hours, and twelve-to-eighteen-year-olds need eight to ten hours. Athletes ages eight and above should drink 64 ounces of water daily, while those between ages one to seven should drink the same number of eight-ounce glasses of water as their age (i.e. seven glasses of eight ounces of water for a seven-year-old). A healthy, well-balanced diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and protein is necessary for your athlete, and appropriate calcium intake is also crucial for maintaining bone health. Seeing a nutritionist for your athlete’s own personal needs may be beneficial for their education, health, and performance Practice each of these habits over the summer so they continue like clockwork when the season starts.
Follow the pointers above so your athlete crosses the finish line this fall healthy and at peak performance! Visit MHCC’s website or call (307)-358-2122 if you need to schedule a physical for the fall season or if you have other questions about athlete preparation.