06 Feb 10 Benefits for Girls from Sports and an Active Lifestyle

10 Benefits for Girls from Sports and an Active Lifestyle

This week I want to focus on the girls. Sorry to the parents of boys, but this topic is important and some of the benefits also translate very well to your boys.

I was recently researching information and studies provided by the Positive Coaching Alliance. What caught my attention is the fact that the benefits I am going to share with you are created at Susquehannock each summer. The beauty of this is your daughter does not need to be an elite athlete to enjoy these benefits. Simply participating in sports for fun will create the same benefit.

What the research shows is there is a direct correlation between girls who participate in sports and “stronger educational attainment, positive health outcomes and improved adult employment results.”

Sports at school, intramural, club, other recreational programs, or a summer at Susquehannock is critical for girls to succeed. Take a look at the following facts provided by PCA and their research – they are profound!

Wide-Ranging Life-Long Health Benefits
1. Girls and women who are most physically active in adolescence and young adulthood are 20% less likely to get breast cancer later in life.

2. Girls who participate in regular exercise experience lower rates of depression.

3. Girls who participate in sports demonstrate higher self-esteem.

Myriad Educational Benefits
4. Overall, girls who play sports have higher grades and score higher on standardized tests than non-athletes.

5. Girls who participate in sports are significantly more likely to graduate compared to non-athletes. The correlation is particularly strong for Black and Latinx girls.

6. At the collegiate level, young women who receive sports scholarships graduate at higher rates than young women students generally.

Employment and Workforce Dividends
7. Executive businesswomen report engagement with sports contributed to their success by providing leadership skills, discipline, and teamwork abilities.

8. A study of 821 senior managers and executives found that 94% of women executives reportedly played organized sports after primary school.

9. Girls who played high school sports show higher levels of adult labor force participation and are correlated with earning 7% higher wages than non-athlete peers.

10. As a result of Title IX (the Federal Civil Rights law requiring gender equity), more girls playing sports and more women are entering male-dominated professions at higher rates.

As you can see, sports and an active lifestyle are so important for young girls and we foster this lifestyle at Susquehannock. Girls have the opportunity to play 10 different team sports, as well as two individual sports (Tennis and Swimming). They will also be involved in other activities including overnight camping, ziplining. climbing tower, lake activities, arts ‘n’ crafts, cabin skit nights, singing, cheering and other fun events.

The best part is: your daughter does not have to be a super athlete to benefit from a summer at Susquehannock. Girls of all athletic abilities can attend and enjoy sports.

23 Jan Relative Energy Deficiency (REDs) and Prevention Through Nutrition

Relative Energy Deficiency (REDs) and Prevention Through Nutrition

Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport – better known as REDs or RED-S – can be hard to diagnose, but essentially it happens to children/athletes when they’re consistently expending more energy than they’re taking in. For both boys and girls, this can take a serious physical toll on their bodies, resulting in decreased performance and an increased risk of illness and injury.

While under-fueling can be intentional, often REDs occurs even when athletes believe that they’re fueling and training appropriately. That means as parents, you should be paying attention to signs and symptoms of REDs, but also actively helping your athlete prevent it.

In the article below, TrueSport Expert Stephanie Miezin, MS, RD, CSSD, shares how nutrition plays an important role in the prevention of REDs for children/athletes, and how caregivers can help athletes make smart nutritional choices. Coaches, parents, and athletes can also find more information in TrueSport’s REDs Guide.

Nutrition is Within Your Control
As a parent or caregiver, you may not be able to control your athlete’s practice schedule, school calendar, or competition schedule. But you can control what they eat when they’re home, and what they bring with them to school and practice for meals and snacks. Because of this, says Miezin, nutrition is a great place to focus your attention to help prevent REDs.

Prioritize Prevention
If your athlete is not having any problem with performance, illness, or injury, it may be tempting to not think about REDs at all. However, the best way to deal with REDs is to prevent it, especially since diagnosis can be difficult. So be proactive and focus on creating smart, sustainable nutrition habits now.

Discuss REDs With Your Athlete
“One of the most important things you can do to help an athlete prevent REDs from being a problem is talking about it,” says Miezin. “Bring awareness to it, and help your athlete understand that if their energy expenditures are greater than their intake – whether they’re actively trying to lose weight because they think they should, or they just don’t have much of an appetite during the day – there is a good chance they may see a decline in performance and even health, especially if continued for longer periods of time.”

Then, connect the dots between REDs and nutrition. Miezin says it’s important to help your athlete understand that finding the balance between energy in and out means ensuring that they are fueling enough.

Don’t Count Calories – Focus on the Big Picture
You may assume that REDs prevention means counting calories obsessively and tracking macronutrients. However, Miezin prefers a more relaxed approach. For example, you can use TrueSport’s “athlete’s plate” illustrations to easily see what a meal should consist of, broken into quadrants on a standard sized plate.

“For most young athletes, skip using the easy day plate option,” she says. “Focus on the moderate to hard day plates for most meals that they’re going to be consuming, where carbohydrates from a variety of sources are prioritized. It’s a really easy way to know how much of each food group your athlete needs based on their activity level.”

Make it Hard to Miss a Meal or Snack
“Help your athlete avoid skipping meals and snacks,” says Miezin. “Of course, it will happen occasionally, but it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. Every time we skip a meal or a snack, we are missing an opportunity to contribute to overall daily energy needs and missing the nutrition we need.”

If your athlete is often on the go, help them stock their locker and bags with easy-to-eat snacks that are shelf-stable and tasty. Pretzels and peanut butter, trail mix, crackers, and shelf-stable cartons of chocolate milk are all easy options that your athlete can keep in a locker without risking a mold outbreak. Additionally, if you’re often driving between practices, keep a stash of snacks in your car.

Miezin recommends that athletes eat at least three times a day – ideally with some snacks around practice and competition if possible. “Athletes should be having at least three meals a day at minimum, especially if they’re young athletes who are still growing. We know it’s going to be pretty hard to meet their energy needs if they’re only having two meals or one meal in a day.”

Don’t Avoid Food Groups – Especially Carbohydrates
“Young athletes should not avoid any macronutrients or specific food groups, unless there’s an actual medical need to do so,” says Miezin. “When an athlete avoids certain food groups or nutrients, it’s even harder to meet daily energy needs.”

In particular, athletes should not shy away from carbohydrates. “There is emerging evidence around the specific role of carbohydrates as a key nutrient,” she adds. “We are seeing in the research that even if you are getting enough energy in your meals, if you don’t have enough carbohydrates, you may increase the risk of developing REDs. We know that carbohydrates are the best fuel source for performance.”

Help Your Athlete Have a Positive Relationship with Food
“Mindset is important,” says Miezin. “Help your athlete practice a positive relationship with food. We know that REDs isn’t always caused by eating disorders or disordered eating, but there is a bi-directional potential relationship between them.”

Your relationship to food is important as well: if your young athlete grows up seeing you eliminating food groups or skipping meals, they may develop an incorrect understanding of their own fueling needs. So be aware of how you speak about your eating and your food choices as well as how you talk to your athlete about their needs. Miezin also cautions parents to be aware of the food environment they create at home: Are there primarily diet snacks and drinks in the pantry? This can have a profound impact on your athlete’s relationship with food.

Pay Attention for Early REDs Signs and Symptoms
While prevention of REDs is ideal, it’s important to be on the lookout for warning signs and symptoms of REDs. “Pay attention to energy levels,” says Miezin. “If you start to notice that your athlete’s energy, mood, and performance are decreasing for several days or weeks, that can be an early warning sign. You may notice a decrease in strength, power, motivation, energy, response to training and even cognitive function.”

The International Olympic Committee has a simple infographic listing sport-specific signs of REDs here.

“Finally, for young athletes: Are they keeping up with proper growth charts or growth projections?” asks Miezin. Not sure? Ask your pediatrician.

Talk to a Doctor or Health Professional
If you suspect your athlete may be suffering from REDs, it’s important to seek professional help. Miezin recommends starting with a sports medicine physician who may be able to diagnose your athlete. Working with a registered dietitian may also help increase your and your athlete’s nutritional knowledge and make it easier to make the right decisions around fueling.

Because our understanding of REDs is evolving, it is important that you advocate for your athlete when you speak to a practitioner who may not be well versed in REDs. If you don’t have a sports medicine physician or dietitian you can speak to, Miezin recommends bringing TrueSport’s REDs Guide to the doctor’s office with you to show the practitioner. The clinical assessment tool for determining if an athlete has REDs can also be printed for your child’s doctor.

This is particularly important if you have a male athlete, Miezin notes. Before REDs was recognized, most physicians were familiar with the Female Athlete Triad for athletes, which included things like the loss of a menstrual cycle and stress fractures, and eventually became the basis for REDs. However, male athletes are susceptible to REDs as well.

In order to prevent REDs, nutrition plays a critical role. Make sure your athlete’s energy intake (the food that they eat) matches their energy expenditure (the energy used while practicing and competing). Focus on using the athlete’s plate model to prepare meals, make sure your athlete eats three meals per day plus snacks, and don’t skip the carbohydrates.

10 Jan 5 Keys to Your Child’s Mental Success in Sports and Life

5 Keys to Your Child’s Mental Success in Sports and Life

Within a sport and during the game, a player’s challenge is to clearly and intently focus their mind on the game without letting the game take over their mind. They must have the ability to calmly and instinctively recognize what needs to be done to execute the task at hand. The key is to be able to realize what needs to be done and doing it without having it enter their mind what would happen if they did not.

But what allows some players to be able to do this while others cannot? Why can some players flush the past and stay in the moment while others let the time between opportunities during the game, and the time between games, consume them with frustration and doubt? What allows some players to have a Growth Mindset to accept failure as a necessary part of progress and development while others are defeated by it?

1. You cannot become on the field or court what you are not in life.
If you pay attention to the details and the process to achieve success in school and in your personal life, you will have the best chance to do so in your sport. If you master life skills such as organization, time management and goal setting, and have an unwavering positive attitude and perseverance outside of your sport, you will have an easier time applying those essential traits in your sport.

2. A player must know that no matter the outcome, they are loved and supported by their family, friends, coaches and teammates.
It is also extremely important that youth realize very early in their lives that while they may not have been able to choose their family, they will benefit immensely by choosing friends with high character and integrity. These emotional components will provide a foundation for inner peace from which excellence in execution can be achieved.

3. Players must know success and happiness in life is not governed by the outcome of a game.
The measure of them as a person and of their team is not whether they won the game or championship; it is determined by how they reacted to winning them.

4. A player must believe their talents, skills, academic study, hobbies and life experience will prepare them for rewarding opportunities outside of their sport.
In this regard, it is critical they choose a college first as if they were not an athlete.

5. A player does not perform to the level of their talent; they perform to the level of their training.
Again, these habits begin outside of their sport. Good grades, for example, are not a true indication of a student’s achievement unless they were obtained from high standards, against elite competition, and through consistent hard work. The same can be said for the benchmarks of success in the player’s sport.

A player’s teammates must be held accountable to meet these same standards of excellence so that during the game a player can trust their preparation too. All parts and aspects of practice must include competitions so players can learn the critical lessons of learning to control what they can control and being comfortable being uncomfortable.

A player will know they are winning the mental side of the game when, regardless of whether they are playing well or not, they are excited to come back tomorrow to do it again. In other words, they are playing the game for the same reason they played it originally – because it is fun!.