Student Athlete Performance

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Next month, I will be leading a workshop for a girls’ hockey prep school/college showcase at Breakaway Ice Center in Tewksbury. The topic is “Improve your health, Improve your performance”.

You might not think this is a necessary conversation but truly it is.

Do you know how many times I see student athletes walking into practice or a game with a Dunkin Donuts Koolatta or some other nutrient-lacking, chemical-laden fast food? All the time! You would be amazed at how many student athletes are overweight, go to their sport hung over, or struggling to control stress and anxiety during high pressure moments.

This demographic is not immune to the same temptations and health concerns of every one else.  Although they exercise and are usually physically fit, they do not always have balanced fitness routine, they are not necessarily mentally or emotionally fit, nor are they eating foods that support the body’s need for nutrition and energy. In time, these bad habits will catch up to them.  And for now, I guarantee, they are not playing as well as they could.

There was a recent article on the benefits of pilates for hockey players. From In Goal Magazine, “Hockey Players and Pilates Reformers“. It briefly discusses how pilates and yoga can help bring the body in balance.

“Hockey players spend most of their time in a crouched over position. Because of this, their bodies are extremely imbalanced.”

Physical fitness should not be the only focus of the student athlete. Mindfulness is becoming increasingly more popular among professional athletes says “The Mindful Athlete: Can Preventative Mental Health Improve Performance, Too?” on Vice Sports. Our brains cannot function when they are stressed and anxious. A calm, centered mind is more creative and capable of functioning in the most stressful environments.

As a parent, I know how hard it can be to provide healthy meals and a balanced enviroment while running from rink to rink, game to game. Sometimes you do what you have to do and, from this, we helped to establish these bad habits.  But teens can take control over their own behaviors and work with their parents and coaches to determine the best choices for them.

Health and wellness coaches, like myself, are available to work one-on-one with student athletes to determine what habits are holding them back and how they can take charge and perform at their preferred level of performance. Not all student athletes WANT to function at their optimal level and that is okay. For those that do, how they treat their mind and body should be as important as going to practice.

 

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