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MUSC Health Blog

Keyword: high school athlete

Guest Post by:
Brittany Darling, MS, ATC
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

This past week, high schools across the state stepped onto the football field looking to begin their season strong. Jumping into a new season can be a difficult transition for many high school aged athletes, especially at this time of the year. With the summer season come longer, hotter days of staying up late and eating unhealthy foods. This pre-season time period can make or break an athlete fighting for a starting position, and there are some simple tips to help you feel better prepared for the rough days ahead.

Rest

One of the biggest issues I see with the high school athletes is that all summer they have been staying up unreasonably late, and once football practice begins they fail to change and adjust their sleeping patterns. It is ideal to get eight to nine hours of sleep every night, and in order to accomplish this social outings may need to be put on hold for the time being. Both the body and brain require this rest to function properly, and if it is receiving significantly less then it can result in difficulty concentrating, poor decision-making, and even injury. A coach will know the difference between a well-rested and focused player versus a tired and inattentive one. Additionally, when given that rare day off- make sure you take it. A light stretch and relaxation is better to utilize than a heavy lift or hard run on your only off day of the week.

Hydrate

Hydration does not just take place during practice, but before and after it as well. Drinking water to hydrate all day long is more beneficial than chugging an entire water bottle in the middle of practice. It is actually dangerous to consume an excess of water at one time, and can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, which is a medical emergency. It is best to carry a water bottle around with you throughout the day because it will remind you to drink it. When having a meal, chose water over sweet tea or sodas, which can actually dehydrate you further. Try and limit Gatorade intake to one to two a day during activity because it also contains excess sugar, which is not needed all day long. For coaches, I like to recommend built-in water breaks at practice every 10 to15 minutes, but a player should always have water available to them if it is needed sooner. As the heat index climbs during these late August weeks, water breaks should be even more frequent and excess equipment removed when necessary per NATA standards.

Food

Food is the fuel for your body, and what you provide your body with for fuel will have a direct effect on how your body feels. Greasy, heavy food will make your body feel just that- heavy and difficult to move. Try to avoid fast food during pre-season, and make a strong attempt to get in a solid 3 meals per day with snacks in-between. Some good snack options before or during practice include pretzels, fruits and vegetables, or simple sandwiches without condiments on it. A post-practice meal should contain proteins and replenish you after a hard practice. Skipping meals or not eating enough can result in low energy at practice, and in the heat of summer possibly even lead to syncope or fainting.

Equipment Check

It is extremely important to make sure all of your equipment fits the way it is supposed to. Helmets should not be too big or too small or they can cause serious injury. Although many like smaller shoulder pads for better mobility, these must come down to cover the entire shoulder and kneepads also must be worn. Additional equipment such as a back plate or a horse collar is personal preference, but can be very useful in preventing injury. Mouth guards are another must have that at least one player always seems to be missing. If you are unsure about whether your equipment is fitting correctly, your coach and athletic trainer should be able to help you.

Guest Post by:
Lindsey Clarke, MS, ATC, CMT
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

 

It’s that time of year where it’s just about time to hang up those basketball shoes or that wrestling singlet, and grab those cleats or glove. The winter sports season is ending and spring is just around the corner. While more and more high school student athletes are specializing in one sport earlier in their careers, there are still quite a few multi-sport athletes out there. It may seem that a multi-sport student athlete’s schedule is never ending, and the schedule they keep could do more harm than good. Transitioning from one season to the next doesn’t have to be as daunting and exhausting as it might seem…and playing multiple sports just might help you.

  • Many coaches are aware of multi-sport athletes and appreciate what they can bring to their team.  Coaches understand that the timing, intensity and type of physical exertion are different from one sport to the next.  There is a certain amount of adjustment for the multi-sport athlete in the early part of the season, and coaches have to be a little more patient.  Taking a different approach, and having a different mindset about how practices are set up can benefit their athletes making a transition from one sport to the next.
  • Over 7.5 million high school students participate in interscholastic athletics each year (National Federation of State High School Associations, n.d.). Proponents of high school sport programs believe these activities contribute to the overall education of students. While it may seem like students who are multi-sport athletes may be at risk for adverse affects in their class work, studies have shown that students involved in multiple sports actually have better grades, higher attendance rates, fewer discipline problems, and are less likely to be involved in risky behaviors.
  • It may seem that moving from one sport to the next with little to no rest in between seasons would be physically detrimental to an athlete, but the opposite is actually true. According to an American Medical Society for Sports Medicine report, diversified sports training during early and middle adolescence may be more effective than specializing early in regards to the development of elite-level skills.  This diversification can provide benefits such as skill transfer, can aid with development of more muscle groups for a more well-rounded athlete, and lessens the chance for burnout because of expanded interest. Variety in the physical demands of sports training is often a good thing because it prevents overtraining, and it lessens the degree of physical and psychological exhaustion.  Children who specialize in a single sport account for 50% of overuse injuries in young athletes.  In a study of 1200 youth athletes, Dr. Neeru Jayanthi of Loyola University, found that early specialization in a single sport is one of the strongest predictors of injury. Athletes in the study who specialized were 70% to 93% more likely to be injured than children who played multiple sports!
  • Playing conditions are also something to keep in mind when transitioning from one season to the next.  There are a number of variables that may require more attention when starting your next sport: playing surface, size of playing field, increased physical demands, number of participants, weather conditions, and equipment to name a few.  If addressed accordingly, these shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.  For example, if you ask a basketball player that is accustomed to a climate-controlled, smooth court wearing rubber soled shoes how they feel the first few days of soccer season, playing on an open-air soccer field in cleats, you might hear a few gripes! The key here is to be honest with yourself and know your limitations.  If you’re hurt, communicate with your coach and your athletic trainer. As a result, any injury that presents itself during your transition will get resolved and not plague your next season.

As an athletic trainer that provides coverage at a high school where approximately 1/3 of student athletes are multi-sport, I see my athletes deal with this constant flux year after year.  One of my senior girls shared some of her thoughts on her experiences as a winter to spring sport athlete for the past four years…

“I find it easier when I am playing different sports back to back.  It helps me focus on school work since I have a very limited time for certain things…time management is key.  The cross training is a huge help too.  Coming in with my conditioning from basketball allows me to focus more on learning the plays for lacrosse instead of trying to get in shape and change sports at the same time.  It’s also really fun.  Even though there are times I know my friends are doing things, or I feel tired, I just love playing, so really the benefits far outweigh the negatives for me”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself!

 

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