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Sometimes it's easy for kids to overlook proper nutrition, hydration and sleep, but as a parent, you have the opportunity to prevent this--and provide your young athletes with a major competitive edge. Proper nutrition, hydration, recovery, and sleep give your child what he or she needs to excel not only in sports, but also in life. Athletes should begin preparing for tomorrow's activity immediately after the conclusion of today's activity. By doing so, they will be one step ahead.

Nutrition Tips:
  • Eating well-balanced meals with food from each of the essential food groups is still the best advice.
  • Avoid excessive sauces or dressings, which can be packed with "empty" calories. Ask for them on the side to control portions.
  • Avoid fried foods. Grilled and steamed foods are healthier choices.
  • Minimize or eliminate soda pop. Drink water, milk, or chocolate milk instead.
  • Fueling your body properly will maximize the body's potential.​
Hydration Tips:
  • Studies show that people suffer a five percent decrease in cognitive function for every one percent of dehydration. DRINK MORE WATER.
  • As a recovery drink after exertion, fat-free chocolate milk can be an excellent choice.
  • Drink plenty of water BEFORE a game or practice. DO NOT drink a sports drink before performance.
  • Drinking water during your game or practice is the best choice. Each athlete should be drinking water between shifts. If the athlete starts to slow down during the third period one reason may be that they haven't fueled their body properly and are not hydrating during the game. Hydration is extremely important to maximize ability and performance.
The primary source of energy is carbohydrates that are immediately available (from recent eating) and carbohydrates that have been stored in the liver (from carbohydrate loading). A quick meal immediately before the game will barely provide enough calories for the first half of the game so carbo-loading 24-48 hours before the game becomes critical for nutritional preparation.

There are two sources of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates (such as certain candy bars, fruits, and power bars) and complex carbohydrates (potato, rice, pasta, vegetables). Simple carbohydrates are excellent for the time before the single game and between tournament games. If simple carbohydrates are eaten and no game is played, a percentage of it goes into storage for later use. Complex carbohydrates are more difficult to digest for immediate use and tend to be stored in the liver for later use. Therefore, eating pasta or carrots immediately before the game is NOT as effective as eating a power bar with a banana. The pasta and carrots are better for the process of carb-loading the day before.
The best balanced diet for active kids: 50-55% of calories from carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, rice and pasta; 10-15% from protein food like meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and nuts; and 25-30% from fats such as oils and sweets.

Read more: http://www.momsteam.com/nutrition-tips-for-active-kids-playing-sports#ixzz2wFl1wd8u

GAME DAY NUTRITION: Breakfast: pancakes, waffles, oatmeal/grain cereal, bagel, toast, fruit, juice. AVOID: sausage, bacon, milk, or food high in fat. If you have an afternoon game, lunch should be light to medium and again, high in carbohydrates: peanut butter and jelly, breads, fruits. AVOID: Fast foods and pizza ONE HOUR BEFORE THE GAME:
  • Hydration: Minimum 10 ounces of water during the hour pre-game
  • Breakfast or lunch should have been eaten before the pre-game hour
  • Fruits such as bananas, Power bars, or a Snickers bar, during this hour is okay but usually not necessary.
  • AVOID: vegetables, Gatorade or any sports drink, eating breakfast or lunch during pre-game hour
AVOID: Red Bull, and caffinated drinks which cause excessive release of stored carbohydrates resulting in the players being "up" in the first half then "down" in the second

  • Replenish and rehydrate immediately; Gatorade and/or water are ideal at this time. Chocolate Milk is great for immediately after exertion.
  • If second game is planned that day, all meals should focus on reloading carbohydrates as before, and all meals should be completed BEFORE pre-game hour.
  • AVOID: fast food, fatty foods, sugars, sodas, fried foods, pizza, etc.
Lifestyles have become increasingly busy, but for children and athletes in particular, foregoing proper sleep is acutely damaging. Not only does your body need the proper nutrition to perform well, it needs the proper amount of sleep too. This is especially true in children. Sleep is important to perform well not only in sports, but even more importantly in school and every day activities.

While coaches need to be aware of all performance factors that affect player performance, it is really the parents who are in position to monitor their child’s sleep patterns and behaviors. Sleep has a pronounced effect not just on ice performance, but on all aspects of a child’s life.

According to extensive study by doctors and scientists, children should have the following amounts of sleep for optimal health and function:
  • Ages 3-6 years old-10-12 hours of sleep a night
  • Ages 7-12 years old-10-11 hours of sleep per night
  • Ages 12-18 years old-8-9 hours of sleep per night

When people are deprived of adequate sleep, or suffer from inconsistent sleep patterns, "the brain functions on a subpar level, with slower reaction times, impaired judgement and emotional stability." --Michael Sweeney, Brain: The Complete Mind, how it develops, how it works, and how to keep it sharp."

Information gathered from An American Hockey Parent Handbook