A healthy diet and good eating habits are essential for a young athlete's development and performance.
Nutrition, Hydration and Sleep for the Youth Athlete
Drs. Kari Kindschi and Lindsay Jones
Registered dieticians note that for athletes engaged in daily workouts, consuming carbohydrates within 30 minutes after exercise and again after two hours can help muscles reload and rebuild quicker. Many nutritional specialists cite chocolate milk as an excellent source for this energy replenishment among younger athletes.
Guidelines for fluid intake and hydration include 2-3 cups of fluid in pre-exercise mode (2-3 hours prior to exercise) and 1-2 cups approximately 15 minutes before exercise. Nutritionists also encourage enough fluid to maintain weight during the workout, and three cups of fluid for each pound lost post exercise.
Nutrition Guidelines - The Athlete's Plate
The physical demands of practices and games are different from day to day and your diet should reflect these differences. The tips below have been designed as food guides for athletes to follow based on the physical demands of the day and season.
- The Athlete's Plate
- Eating on the Road
- Fueling and Hydration
- The Basics
- The Offseason
Mary Ellen Kelly MS RD CSSD, a nutrition consultant, speaker, author and board certified sports dietitian, shares some of her favorite recipes to keep athletes on the right path to proper nutrition. Included in the book are recipes for breakfast burritos, egg & avocado toast, egg muffins, roasted bruschetta chicken, simple stir fry, and veggie lover’s pizza.
Coaching Healthy Habits
While general nutrition guidelines can benefit athletes of all ages, there are some recommendations that are most applicable for younger athletes, ages 12 and under. US Lacrosse has collaborated with Coaching Healthy Habits to develop the following resources specifically for younger players.
- 3 Plays for a Healthy Team
- 5 Ways Water Wins
- Healthy Fuel for Healthy Athletes
- Coaching Healthy Habits
Heat Illness & Dehydration
When an athlete exercises, the body's temperature is elevated and the body sweats to cool itself down. During this process, body fluid as well as critical electrolytes are lost. If the body isn't replenished with fluids and electrolytes, dehydration may occur and increase the risk of a heat illness. Heat illness is best understood in three separate degrees of severity: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and the most serious form, heat stroke.
- Warning Signs & Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness (CDC)
- Hydration Guidelines
- NATA Statement: Exertional Heat Illnesses
- NATA Statement: Fluid Replacement for the Physically Active
- Video: Preventing & Treating Heat Stroke
Playing Sun Safe
Due to extended sun exposure, lacrosse players and other outdoor athletes could be at higher risk for sunburn and melanoma. As partners with the Claire Marie Foundation, US Lacrosse strongly encourages the use of liquid sunscreen, wearing UPF 50 clothing that blocks damaging rays from reaching the skin, and getting annual screenings by a licensed dermatologist.