6 Loaded Questions You SHOULD Be Asking Your Athletes
It’s almost that time of the year again! After the 4th of July holiday, the buzz really gets going and anticipation begins to build for the upcoming school sports season. While the brain may have been (and still is) on vacation for the past several weeks, if your athletes bodies and nutritional habits have as well…you could be in big trouble this upcoming season, no matter your sport (especially if you’re hoping to compete for championships!).
You see, there really is no offseason anymore in the field of competitive sports. Yes, even at the high school level, there needs to be an initiation of good healthy habits that start to become ingrained in your athletes NOW so that they can carry over into their lives for years and years to come (long after competition has ended for some of them).
The Summer represents a time of opportunity. Opportunity for your players to make themselves better, and opportunity for you to make yourself a better coach. If both of these things happen…when you reconvene at the start of the Fall Sports season, you’ve got a much improved team. Better performance from the players and better leadership at the top.
That said…if in your preparation to become a better coach, you’ve eluded the topic of your athlete’s nutrition then we want to help you overcome that so that you could be armed with the right questions to ask and the key information that you’ll need to get a head start on a successful season and a unified team awareness of how important nutrition will be to the success of the team this year!
So without further delay, here are 6 fully-loaded questions you should be asking your athletes on a regular basis…
1. Did you eat breakfast this morning?
If every hand doesn’t go up for this one (trust me, you’ll be lucky if half of them do!) then you need to do something about this before ANYTHING else! Breakfast not only sets the stage for all energy levels throughout the rest of the day, but it also delivers much needed nutrients to the brain to allow for better mental focus, attention, reaction time, and muscle contraction. Most of your athletes have gone over 8-10 hours without eating and the need to “Break” the “Fast” has never been greater than in the morning. For those who claim to “hate” breakfast, make them aware of what this is doing to their body and brain and find some way to convince them that even a little is enough to turn the tables on the energy roller coaster they’re about to embark on if they eat nothing at all!
2. What is the color of your pee?
Don’t laugh…and don’t be ashamed to ask? Whether we admit it or not, it’s normal to check out the color of your pee! After all, how else are we going to know when we’re entering into a severe state of dehydration. Sure, the headaches, dizziness, and nausea that comes with dehydration may give it away, but wouldn’t you like to know BEFORE that happens? After all….by the time it fully sets in it could be too late. So, rely on the old reliable and get your athletes into the habit of checking out the color of their urine throughout the day. The more clear it is, in general, the more hydrated that athlete is. The more dark or yellow…the more likely that they’re entering into dehydration (some vitamins may interfere with this rule, but for the most part it stands the test of time!). ”Keep it Clear” is the phrase you might want to use…especially with the extremely hot days! To do this, suggest that your players take in half their weight in ounces of water a day! In other words….your 200lb athlete would need to take in100 ouncesof water each day. On days where there is a lot of sweating going on….recommend an additional16 ozof water for every pound of weight lost during the hot practice just to replenish and get back to even again!
3. Are you taking creatine?
Most coaches intentionally shy away from supplement questions for lack of a good understanding of them….or worse, turn a blind eye to them as part of a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy! Either one is wrong and actually doing a disservice to your players and their health. If you’re a coach you NEED to know what your players are doing as it may change the recommendations you make to them. Case in point….creatine. Creatine monohydrate is one of the most used supplements in the world (particularly in young teens). Why? Because for the most part, long term studies have shown it to be safe AND effective at assisting a gain in weight (through increased intramuscular water and eventual new muscle growth) and increasing short term power output. That said, if your athletes are using this supplement and NOT getting adequate water replacement in to overcome the shuttling of the water INTO the muscles and OUT of the tissues surrounding the muscles…then you could be looking at a team decimated by faster dehydration and ultimately a rash of pulled muscles and injuries. Take the time to find out who is using creatine and recommend that that athlete take in an additional 20% more water than what we figured out in the last question.
4. Are you taking Nitrous Oxide Products?
If so…tell them to stop! These incredibly popular fad supplements are on their way out, but still hold fascination for many young athletes. These “vasodilaters” are unsafe and definitely not the right mix for an athlete who may already be a bit stressed (from the competition of trying to gain a spot on the varsity) and who might have a tendency to dehydrate (particularly if they are NOT watching the color of their pee and ARE taking creatine already!). Nitrous Oxide (NO) products are usually laced with high amounts of caffeine to give an intense stimulatory effect. The caffeine not only interferes with motor control (yes that means that your athletes can become jittery and prone to false steps/injuries/etc) and disrupt sleep patterns, but it can drastically change your body’s ability to absorb other important nutrients like iron. The dilation effect that this causes on the vessels in the body will not only shuttle more blood to your muscles (which is supposed to be one of it’s benefits…giving more energy) but also to your brain! This rush of blood flow to the brain has led to more than just a few documented migraines and is not the sort of chemistry you want your athletes to be fooling around with.
5. Did you eat a snack before practice?
One of the most overlooked times of the day to be fueling up is right before practice. If you think about it, the last time the majority of your athletes will have eaten is at lunch time (usually 3 hours before). Attempting to go an entire practice with no more incoming calories is like trying to drive your car cross country when you’ve only got enough gas to make it across the state lines! In order to produce a sustained effort and energy levels your body needs to be “fueled” every 3 hours AT THE LEAST! Failing to do this is not only going to take it’s toll on the performance output for that particular day or practice…but in the long haul, the ability of the body to recover and grow stronger will be compromised as well. A prepractice snack of a protein bar, a piece of fruit with skim milk, a half of a peanut butter sandwich, or even some trail mix is enough to help them to sustain some blood sugar stability heading into the next two hours of intense practice. Knowing that your athlete has “fueled” their tank can now give you confidence in knowing that they can give you all they’ve got without attempting to “run on empty!”
6. How many hours are you sleeping at night?
WHAT?!? That’s not a nutrition question! Actually, indirectly it very much is (see #4 above)! In fact, it may be the most important of all of them. Why? Because even the greatest nutrition game plan can come absolutely unglued when the body isn’t allowed to recover properly. When you are sleep deprived your body fights all day just to provide you with enough energy and focus to “zombie” your way through the day. None of the nutrients are used to build you up stronger. That would be a waste of good useable energy in a time when perceived survival is the more immediate concern. Dating all the way back to the cavemen…being alert and having enough energy to run in case you found yourself face to face with a T-REX (see above) was the prime focus of your body. Any incoming energy was directed at allowing you to survive in situations like this. Where do you think muscle growth and performance enhancement fell on that priority list?? Umm…nowhere close to survival! Same thing applies here. If you’re burning the candle at both ends and barely squeaking by on your recovery and sleep…I don’t care how good you’re eating, or how hard you’re training…none of that will be reflected in your results since your body will just be trying to keep you from sinking even further into the overtraining abyss. The phrase “playing for the tie” applies perfectly here. No continued decline, but certainly NO improvement at all (in your skills, focus, muscularity, or athleticism) if you’re not completing the “nutrition” picture with proper rest and recovery. 7.5 hours of CONSISTENT solid sleep a night will get the job done. Find out how much your athletes are getting…before their lack of zzzz’s puts them on energy empty!
So there you have it. The 6 simple but information loaded questions that you need to be asking your athletes when they hit camp weeks or in a couple months from now. Just 6 informative questions that will help you get a huge head start on not only knowing your team and what you’re bringing to the field or court this Fall…but also a giant edge on your competition who aren’t asking these questions!
And for all you basketball coaches out there, we know that open gym is well under way. Next month there’s no contact with athletes, so this month, help them get the tools they need to carry them through August without you. Our Summer Basketball Camp is coming up July 20th – 22nd. Get your kids registered today and get a team discount. But hurry, registration ends July 13th and the last remaining spots are filling up FAST.
For more information, check out the blog post here, or contact us and register today! email@example.com or 614-735-9890.
In the meantime, stay healthy & active! Greg and the rest of the Power Flex team.
July 9, 2012 - Posted by powerflex | Sport Specific Training | Basketball, caffeine, camps & clinics, Endurance, health, healthy-living, Lean Muscle Mass, metabolic rate, Nutrition, Speed & Agility, sports, supplements, training, USA Sports Academy, water intake, Wellness
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