Friday, March 22, 2013

Raising an Athlete

For the past couple Saturdays I've watched Kaylee transform from my little girl to an athlete.  The moment that her cleats hit the field she is a different child.

I love the fact that my kids want to play sports.  In high school I considered playing field hockey.  I was also on the swim team for a season.  But, because I wanted to be like my sister and do what my sister did in high school, I quit the swim team and tossed the idea of playing field hockey.  Following in my sister's footsteps failed miserably for me though. 

As of right now all 3 of my girls have very different opinions in what they want to excel in athletically.  Sunny wants to be a ballerina, Mantha wants to be the next Gabby Douglas, and Kaylee wants to score the winning kick on the Olympic Soccer team.  

As a parent I'm happy Kaylee's found something that she loves.  As a future health and fitness professional it's an exciting thing.  It gives me a new area of my profession to explore.  What do I feed a future Olympian?  What extra nutrients does she need?  What types of exercises should I do with her to help her condition?

These questions would be a hell of alot easier to answer if she was atleast 4 or 5 years older.  

Let's start with nutrition. I am personally on a fat-free diet.  The rest of my family is not.  They eat the full fat version of things and I allow the to eat meat.     Fat is a nutrient that bodies need.  It is also a very important  part of a person's diet, especially children's.  It is the only way that your body can absorb vitamins A (growth and development, vision, and immune system), D (absorption of calcium and phosphate), E (muscle growth, tissue repair and brain function), and K (blood clotting, bone and cell growth).  There is no need to restrict your child's fat intake below the RDA (recommended daily allowance)  The RDA for a 9 year old is between 41-58 grams a day.

Listed below are some of the nutrients that athletes need and what foods are good sources of them.

Vitamins and Minerals -- Calcium and iron are the two most important.  Calcium helps bone strength and iron helps with blood supply.  Calcium is found, of course, in dairy products, but also in leafy greens and okra.  Iron is found in salmon, eggs, lean proteins, and dried fruits.

Protein -- Protein builds muscles.  Fish, meat, dairy products, soy products, nuts and seeds are high in protein.

Carbohydrates -- Carbs = Fuel.  You need to pick the right carbs though.  Whole grains, brown rice, beans and sweet potatoes are good carbs.

And always make sure that they stay well hydrated.

As I watch Kaylee play I notice the small things she needs to work on.  Speed, dribbling, ball control, minor things.  But how do you condition and train an (almost) 10 year old?  Definitely not like an adult, not even like a teenager.  I've decided I'm going to start out slow.  Take her outside and kick the ball around with her and give her pointers. "Tighten your dribble", "don't be afraid of the ball" {Bonus: I get a workout, too!}  After we've done that for a while I'll start working on her conditioning.  I found a few websites with drills I can use with her.  Take a look at the links:

I've talked about how I plan on helping Kaylee reach her Olympic goals.  And Mantha's Olympic dream plan will be coming in a few months.  Does your child have Olympic (or sports related) goals?  How do you help them?

Note:  Please do not tell me that I'm pushing her.  This post was only meant as informational.  I love Kaylee no matter how good (or bad) she is.  As a parent I am just doing what I can to help her reach her goals.  I know that she is still a kid.  I still treat her like one.  If she doesn't want to practice at home, fine.  I am only trying to help her reach her goals, doing something that at this moment she loves.  

{Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor or nutrition professional.  The advice and information I am giving you is based on my own experience and research.}

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