TrueSport Resources

 Stress Better: How Parents Can Help Athletes Grow from Stress

How Parents Can Help Athletes Grow from Stress

7 ways parents and coaches can teach young athletes how to process and handle stress

Stress automatically calls to mind negative moments in life: A difficult upcoming test, a fight with a friend or parent, global collective stress like the coronavirus pandemic, or even self-created stress about what others might be thinking. And yes, too much stress and too few resources to combat it can be a bad thing…but allowing kids to entirely avoid it actually does them a disservice.

Board-certified family physician and TrueSport Expert Deborah Gilboa, MD, specializes in youth development—including stress management. Her main message to parents is that children need to experience stress in order to be prepared for later life and become effective leaders. "Our job as parents is not to protect them until they're adults. It's to ready them for adulthood. And the ability to deal with stress is one of our best tools,” says Gilboa.

Here, Gilboa explains how parents and coaches can teach young athletes how to process and handle stress, rather than bulldozing it away.

Understand your response to a child's stress
“From the time kids are very small, we have to be hyper-vigilant to keep them safe: There's no more helpless creature than the human newborn,” says Gilboa. “It’s natural to try and control absolutely everything that you can, but that won’t help your child grow and lead. Parents are hardwired to pay attention to every sneeze and cough, but then by the time our kids are adults, they suddenly need to be able to do everything for themselves.”

For nervous parents, Gilboa notes that despite the scary 24-hour news cycle, in many ways, it’s never been safer to be a child in the U.S.

Consider the source of the stress
“Very few parents get kids into sport to win championships or trophies, we’re just trying to teach them life lessons and as such, we shouldn’t deprive them of chances to deal with adversity and stress,” says Gilboa. This experience is especially beneficial in the semi-controlled environment of sport.

“Those experiences of getting benched or having to run extra laps or being second string, they’re all valuable life experiences even if they cause stress. Kids have to learn to put the group ahead of themselves sometimes. They have to learn to do stuff that they don't feel like doing. They have to learn to show up when they’d rather stay home.”

Lead with empathy
Often, a child’s stress can be lessened simply by having an adult acknowledge it and believe that it exists. While it’s tempting to laugh off certain stressors for a child, you have to understand that to them, a minor stress may feel like the end of the world.

“You can’t tell young people how they should feel—it’s ineffective and disrespectful,” Gilboa says. “As parents, we sometimes think that if our kids are stressed, we have somehow failed them already, so we try to rationalize that if a child is stressed, they’re not ‘really’ stressed. So first, we need to recognize that our kids do have stress, despite what we may think about it.”

Help them understand their feelings
Often, a child will feel stressed but not be able to articulate that emotion. As adults, Gilboa notes that we can help children work through their complicated emotions and should make sure that they feel safe sharing how they’re feeling. This includes if someone is hurting them, if they’re being bullied, or if they feel uncomfortable. Ensure that your child feels he can share any emotion with you without judgement or immediate action on your part.

Use low-consequence opportunities for teaching
While you may consider an argument between your child and a teammate to be a dramatic annoyance, they might consider it a major stress. These smaller issues are great learning opportunities with low risk for your child.

Rather than trying to solve the problem for the athlete by phoning the coach or the teammate’s parent, use this as a chance for your athlete to learn about stress management. That may mean discussing how to confront the teammate, talking through some stress-relieving techniques like deep breathing, or even having your child speak directly to their coach.

Stress can get out of hand
“As with sport, overtraining with stress is certainly possible,” Gilboa admits. “It’s important to make sure you’re not pushing your child too far.”

“If a child experiences too much stress from too many directions without the right support and training, they could become damaged—just like someone who runs once a week would be injured if they suddenly tried to run a marathon. It’s our job to help support our children to make sure they have what they need to deal with stress without over-taxing themselves.”

Promote a healthy lifestyle
It’s worth noting that some stress can be brought on or made worse by how your child is taking care of themselves. Stress is exacerbated by a host of physical influences, including hormones and sleep. Even overindulging in junk food or drinking too much caffeine can interfere with healthy reactions to stress. The simple solution is generally healthy living: Make sure that your athlete is getting plenty of sleep, hydrating and fueling properly, and exercising enough.

While it’s natural to want to eliminate stress for your young athlete, they need to learn to manage stress to prepare for adult life, and sport provides a perfect testing ground to hone stress-management skills.

TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.

 How to Deal with Anxiety Around Return to Play

How to Deal with Anxiety Around Return to Play

Learn to recognize feelings, determine the cause, and help address anxiety.

As young athletes return to practice after being away from friends and coaches for months due to COVID-19 lockdowns, athlete anxiety will be natural. Not only are there new safety protocols in place that may seem confusing or intimidating, it’s a big shift emotionally as well.

Instead of being stressed or anxious about practices being canceled like they were three months ago, athletes are now feeling stress and anxiety around practices coming back. While the situation is similar, the ways that parents can help athletes cope with these feelings will be slightly different and TrueSport Expert Kevin Chapman, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, is here to help parents navigate an athlete’s return to play.

Let Them Feel Feelings
First and foremost, it is important to recognize your athlete’s feelings as valid. For months, he’s been told that he cannot play with his friends or go to practice without risking himself and his loved ones, but now, he’s being told to return to play. The shift in messaging may have been abrupt, as most states are reopening at a brisk pace, which doesn’t leave young athletes with much time to process feelings. “Most athletes I know are excited,” says Chapman. “But being nervous or anxious is completely understandable, and we need to normalize those feelings.” Don’t ignore your athlete’s feelings, discuss them.

Assess Where Anxiety Stems From
Before you can help your athlete figure out how to deal with anxiety around return to play, it’s important to understand what’s causing their feelings. Chapman notes that there are a few primary causes.

1. Not being "up to speed.” Even if a coach has been recommending cross-training or hosting virtual practice, your athlete may still feel like they’ve gotten behind. “Every athlete is feeling that way,” says Chapman. “It’s important to remember that everyone on the team has been in the same boat, so it’s unlikely that your athlete is far behind everyone else. But that stress is understandable."

2. Seeing friends for the first time in weeks. While adults are unlikely to feel the stress of seeing friends again, remember that friendships can be more complicated at young ages, especially in pre-teen and teen years. Your athlete may have been out of touch with teammates during this time, so it’s understandable that they might feel some nerves around seeing teammates again.

3. Worry about virus. Your athlete has been hearing about the dangers of coronavirus for months now and has learned that staying safe means staying away from people. For younger athletes in particular, it’s entirely possible that they could have developed an unhealthy amount of anxiety around germs and getting sick.

4. Absorbing parental anxiety. During the coronavirus crisis, parental stress and anxiety have been heightened, according to the American Psychological Association. “We know there's a family transmission of anxiety,” says Chapman. He explains that kids are attuned to parental emotions, meaning if you’re anxious about your athlete getting dropped off at practice, they will likely feel the same way.

Work Through Solutions
Once you understand the root of your athlete’s nerves around returning to play, you can work together to find solutions. Chapman has some suggestions for how to help ease the transition.

1. Not being "up to speed.” Remind your athlete that everyone on the team is likely having the same feeling and let them think through if there are any steps to take to ‘get caught up.’ Are there some extra drills to practice at home this week? Even spending a few minutes helping them practice in the backyard to remind them that they can still kick/toss/throw/catch might make a difference.

2. Seeing friends for the first time in weeks. If there’s time ahead of this first return to practice, encourage your athlete to set up a video hangout or group chat with a few teammates. Catching up with a couple friends may help ease the way back into a bigger social scene.

3. Worry about virus. Discuss the health practices that your athlete can take to feel safer, like using a mask or carrying hand sanitizer. If the coach hasn’t communicated any new practice etiquette around social distancing and mask use, have your athlete reach out to coach and get a list. Having tangible steps to take to increase safety may help ease your athlete’s (and your) mind.

4. Absorbing parental anxiety. While you may not be able to change your feelings of stress or anxiety, try to find a spark of excitement about your child’s return to play. Maybe this time is a chance for you to get in a workout of your own or sit quietly and read in the car. If you can come up with a few positives about practice restarting, that may help your athlete kindle feelings of excitement as well.

Reset Goals and Expectations
Games and seasons might not look the same for a year or more, and for older athletes thinking about college and professional athletics, this time can be tricky and even lead to a lack of motivation. But Chapman explains that your athlete needs to understand the difference between ‘catastrophic thoughts’ and the reality of the situation. For instance, most programs around the world are paused, so colleges are aware that the 2020 season will need to use different tactics for recruiting athletes.

If your athlete is falling into catastrophic thinking, Chapman says to ask a few questions: "Am I certain that this thought is true? What's the evidence that this thought is true? Is this thought being driven by intense emotion or facts?”

“All of those questions will force the athlete to look at the evidence to support his anxiety, and then come up with a more flexible way to view the situation. The new thoughts don’t have to be positive, just more flexible."

Take Them to Practice, Regardless
You may have an athlete who simply doesn’t feel ready to return because of anxiety around being back with teammates. Chapman says that validating those feelings is important, but in this case, try to get them to the practice field.

“I've found that avoidance is going to backfire and create even more avoidance,” Chapman explains. You can tell your athlete they don’t have to get out of the car or engage with the practice, but that you’re going to go watch. Once you’re there, Chapman says, they’ll most likely remember what they love about being at practice and will jump out of the car to meet friends.

In this confusing time, it’s natural for young athletes to be anxious about returning to play. With these tips, you can learn to recognize their feelings, determine the cause, and help them address that anxiety.

TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.

 Top Nutrition Tips to Help Heal a Sports Injury

Top Nutrition Tips to Help Heal a Sports Injury

Nutrition tips to make a big impact on your injured athlete’s return to play.

When your athlete is recovering from a sports injury that’s keeping them from taking part in practice and play, proper nutrition becomes more critical than ever. Eating well during this time can speed up healing and a return to play, while overindulging in junk food can actually set recovery back. Here, TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, explains how to use nutrition to help recover from a sports injury.

Eating healthy is eating for injury
The good news is that a generally healthy, whole food-based diet is the primary defense when it comes to healing injuries, says Ziesmer. “Cut down on processed foods and focus on whole foods,” she explains. "Don’t restrict carbohydrates, but opt for whole grain versions versus white flour. Fill up on fruits and vegetables. Make your protein intake slightly higher, but only increase it by around 10 percent. And focus on good sources of fat, including nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon or tuna that contain high amounts of Omega3 fatty acids.”

This doesn’t mean your injured athlete can never have potato chips, she adds, but ultra-processed foods should be reduced. “Watch out for how many processed foods your athlete is having. Avoid processed meat like bacon or sausage, and most pre-packaged foods,” she explains. “Those processed and ultra-processed foods can raise the level of inflammation in the body and make it harder for the body to heal."

Lower sugar intake
It may be tempting to overindulge your injured athlete with ice cream and treats, but Ziesmer cautions against it. “Limit the amount of sugar that your athlete is having because that also raises the level of inflammation in the body,” she explains. "Plus, it's just excess carbohydrates that the body doesn't need when your athlete is unable to train at the same level as before, so that could turn into excess weight.”

Be careful here: While research has shown that obesity can lead to a heightened risk of injury when playing sports and it’s important to help your athlete maintain a healthy weight at this time, it's also critical to avoid creating issues around body image that may come from not being able to play their sport.

Skip supplements
Your goal should be to establish a ‘food-first mentality,’ so giving your young athlete a handful of supplements isn’t the best solution to healing an injury—nor is it the most effective. Rather than relying on supplements, look for foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamin D, C, E and A, says Ziesmer. “Taking vitamin C and A or antioxidants in supplement form can actually inhibit muscle recovery because it's too high of a dosage. So, forget about the supplements and eat healthier foods,” she says. "Dark leafy greens and citrus fruits are great. For vitamin D, just make sure your athlete gets outside for 30 minutes each day, ideally in the middle of the day. And if your athlete has a bone or joint injury, some calcium is going to help, so add a little bit more milk or yogurt to their diet."

For more information on supplements and the risks, check out the TrueSport Supplement Guide.

Hydrate properly
It's easy to forget about hydration when you're not in training mode, but fluids are still critical. “Water is involved in every process that goes on in your body,” Ziesmer explains. “So, it's definitely important to make sure that your athlete is getting more water because that's going to help to carry more nutrients throughout the body, which is critical for healing.” Focus on water, not sports drinks, since your athlete won’t need to replenish glycogen or electrolytes as much during their time on the bench.

But don’t just think about water: Bone broth is a great way to hydrate while providing vital nutrients to injured athletes. “Gelatin helps any type of injury of tendons or ligaments,” says Ziesmer. “Bone broth is a great way to add that to a diet.” If your athlete isn’t excited about the idea of bone broth, hide it by adding vegetables and noodles to make it a more traditional soup for lunch or dinner.

Look on the bright side
While your athlete is recovering from an injury, this might be the optimal time to help him or her get interested in nutrition and cooking. “Your athlete likely has more free time during recovery,” says Ziesmer. "This can be a great time to help them learn some basic kitchen skills and hone a few healthy recipes.”

Try to help your athlete see this as an opportunity to focus on all the healthy habits that will keep them at the top of their game after recovery. Outside of the kitchen, this could also include things like getting enough sleep, doing recommended physical therapy exercises, and practicing mental skills like visualization.

It might be hard to imagine that nutrition and recovery are connected, but these nutrition tips can make a big impact on your injured athlete’s return to play.

TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.

 5 Quick and Easy Snacks to Sustain Your Athlete's Energy

5 Quick and Easy Snacks to Sustain Your Athlete's Energy

Simple options that you can pack for your athlete

Teaching your young athlete what healthy snacks look like – and ditching that reliance on fast food or ultra-processed snacks – isn’t just important for their athletic endeavors, it also impacts their overall health. For adolescents, research has shown that snacks, even when necessary, tend to detract from overall diet quality. But that doesn’t have to be the case with nutritious, balanced snack options.

When it comes to the best type of snack to fuel your athlete for long school days and practices, lead with a protein source and add carbohydrates to create a well-rounded recovery snack. Check out these simple options that you can pack for your athlete to eat before or after practice to fuel and recharge them throughout the day.

Scrambled Egg Rice Bars
For game day or right before a hard practice, topping off your athlete’s carbohydrate stores is key. Using sticky sushi rice, these bars are carb-focused, and by adding scrambled eggs (and some optional mix-ins according to your athlete’s preferences), you can add a small amount of fat and protein for more long-term fuel without impacting digestion. Bonus: Eggs have recently been shown to aid in children’s growth and development.

• 2 cups sticky rice
• 4 eggs
• Optional: low-sodium soy sauce, chopped shallots, shredded cheese

• Use a rice cooker or cook sushi rice on stovetop according to directions
• Scramble eggs in a frying pan, adding in any additions like shallots that need to be sautéed
• Mix eggs, rice, and add-ons together in a big bowl
• Spread evenly about 1-inch thick on a baking sheet covered in wax paper
• Refrigerate
• When cool, cut blocks (around 3x3 inches) and individually wrap
• Keep refrigerated – these should be eaten within three days

Half of a PB+J Sandwich
For a harder practice, like a longer cross-country run or drill-intensive soccer session, a more substantial snack may be required to fuel your athlete through the afternoon.

Elevate the traditional PB&J by swapping peanut butter for almond butter, slicing real strawberries onto the jam to add more real fruit, and choosing a bakery-fresh whole grain bread versus the white stuff. (Most parents opt for white bread thinking kids will reject whole grain, but studies have shown kids are just as happy with whole wheat!)

Making this sandwich with high-quality ingredients provides the right blend of macronutrients for your athlete and is easy to eat quickly.

• Natural almond butter (look for a label that just lists almonds and salt, with no added sugars)
• Jam (brands like Smuckers now offer honey-sweetened, no-sugar, and reduced-sugar options, opt for one of those over the sugar-packed generic brand)
• Whole wheat bread (fresh from the bakery, or a bread like Rudi’s Sprouted Multigrain Bread, which can be found in the freezer section)

Greek Yogurt with Dried Fruit and Honey
Protein-packed Greek yogurt gives your child the longer-term energy he or she needs, while dried fruit provides faster-burning sugars to kickstart practice time or speed recovery afterwards. Opt for a low or no-fat plain Greek yogurt: while Greek yogurt’s higher fat content isn’t a problem for a breakfast option, it can lead to some gut distress if eaten ahead of practice and it won’t help refuel post-workout. Pick plain yogurt to avoid added sugars and remember that most store-bought flavored yogurts are packed with more sugar than most nutrition guidelines recommend. Adding honey allows you to monitor how sweet the yogurt is, and fresh berries are a better flavor burst.

• 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (look for 2% fat content for higher protein with fewer harder-to-digest fats)
• 1 cup mixed berries (opt for what’s in season)
• 1-2 tablespoons honey or real maple syrup

Build Your Own Trail Mix
For a longer, less explosive effort, like a long run day for a cross-country runner or an extended practice for a hockey player – trail mix is an easy option for before, during, or after to refuel with a mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

Skip the store-bought sodium and sugar-laden trail mixes in favor of one that you make yourself. This way, you avoid added sodium and even sugars that can end up on roasted nuts (or sneak into ‘mountain trail mix’ in the form of M&Ms!). You can buy items separately in bulk, or you can even consider dehydrating fruits at home. Mix and match some of the trail mix classics and add a few new options for a unique, nutrient-dense mix.

Add more dried fruit for longer endurance efforts or keep the mix 50:50 for when shorter bursts of energy are needed and your athlete will be sitting around waiting for the bell to sound.

• Almonds – Even a few almonds a day have been shown to improve overall diet quality, possibly thanks to their high fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamin E content.
• Walnuts – Children who eat nuts are actually less likely to be overweight, studies have shown, and walnuts provide a high dose of the much needed Omega-3 fatty acids often missing in a young person's diet.
• Dried blueberries – An uncommon addition to trail mix, blueberries boost fiber, vitamins, minerals, fructose, and antioxidants.
• Dried tart cherries – Packed with antioxidants and they have even been linked to increased recovery for athletes.
• Pumpkin seeds – Get a unique blend of protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus by adding these seeds.
• Banana chips – For a more endurance-based trail mix, banana chips add a hefty dose of carbohydrates.

Hard-Boiled Eggs with Apple Slices or a Banana
For a shorter or easier effort, your athlete may not need a hefty snack, and this simple option provides healthy protein, fat, and carbohydrates without overdoing it. Eggs are an easy option, since each one boasts seven grams of satiating protein plus fats. For carbohydrates, apple slices provide natural sugars in the form of fructose for a little energy boost without overdoing it, or a banana can boost the amount of carbohydrates if you have a hungry athlete.

A Stash of Healthier Quick Options
If you don’t have time to pack homemade options for your young athlete, have a few easy choices on hand for those busy days when dinner is coming soon, but they’re hungry immediately after practice:

GoGo Squeez Organic Fruit and Vegetable pouches: These 60-calorie pouches are made up of apple, peach, and sweet potato puree, and contain two grams of fiber per serving for a quick carb boost without a cookie.

Clif Z Bar Protein: Clif’s Z bars are designed to be child-friendly portions at only 130 calories per serving, and the protein-boosted versions add five grams of protein to the whole grain bar.

Organic Valley 1% Chocolate Milk: Shelf-stable organic milk provides seven grams of protein per serving, while the chocolate brings the carbohydrate count to 20 grams. The 130-calorie serving is a quick-hit for pre or post-practice to tide an athlete over if dinner is happening soon.

Remember to keep these quick and simple healthy snacks readily available for your athlete because if they aren’t provided healthy options, children are more likely to eat unhealthy treats, even if they’re not hungry.

TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.

 6 Things to Know About Electrolytes for Youth Athletes

6 Things to Know About Electrolytes for Youth Athletes

Simple tips about when and how to help your child incorporate electrolytes

Deciding when to use a sports drink, electrolyte-infused water, or plain water is important to your athlete’s performance, but it can also be confusing. Luckily, TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, has six simple tips about when and how to help your child incorporate electrolytes.

1. What your athlete needs will vary

Essentially, electrolytes are what controls your heart beating and your muscles contracting, Ziesmer explains. “If your athlete is just chugging water, they will eventually flush out their system, especially if they’re sweating out the electrolytes at the same time. Athletes need to be taking electrolytes back in so that their muscles can contract. Without a balance of electrolytes, the body just can't perform its normal functions.”

For young athletes, there are two primary determinants for deciding on water or a sports drink that contains electrolytes, says Ziesmer. First, consider practice duration. If they are training for more than an hour, even if it’s mostly easy, they will still want some electrolytes to replace those lost through sweat. Second, consider the temperature outside. Is your athlete in hot weather where they’ll be working up a sweat? If yes, they need electrolytes, though if the practice isn’t hard or long, they may not need added calories with those electrolytes.

2. Electrolytes can come in many forms

According to Ziesmer, there are three primary options when it comes to ensuring that your child has the electrolytes they need to perform at their best. A sports drink is the most common option and it will also contain sugar. The second option is electrolytes that are added to plain water, which may range from tablets that contain a range of electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium to a simple pinch of sea salt for just sodium. The final alternative is having your athlete drink plain water and eat foods that contain electrolytes, like a salty pretzel.

Your choice should depend on what kind of activity your athlete is taking part in, and how easy it will be for them to snack on a pretzel versus sip a sports drink. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, when possible, plain water combined with regular foods like pretzels is the best option for young athletes, but it will depend on what’s easy for your athlete to ingest during practice.

3. Focus on sodium

Technically, there are several different critical electrolytes, including magnesium and potassium, but Ziesmer says that for young athletes who eat a balanced, healthy diet, the primary one to focus on during play is sodium. “For an adult, you would aim for around 500 milligrams per hour,” she says. “But for a child, I would recommend starting with around 250 milligrams per hour, which is about 20 mini pretzels.” This isn’t a lot of salt, and she cautions that it is easy to go overboard, so be judicious in how much you add to water or how much you water down a pre-made sports drink to reach that level.

4. Check the label

If you’re new to the world of sports drinks, start being label-conscious and checking ingredients before grabbing what’s on the shelf at the local convenience store. Sports drinks will typically contain both carbohydrates and electrolytes.

Also, be sure to steer clear of energy drinks that are packed with caffeine and other ‘energy enhancing’ substances, and keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against children consuming energy drinks. Watch out for products that promise ‘instant energy,’ as well as electrolyte drinks that are packed with fake sugars like sorbitol, which can cause gut distress.

5. You can make your own

If you prefer to keep your athlete’s diet as natural as possible, you can simply add a bit of flavor-enhancement and natural sugar (like a splash of grape, orange, or apple juice) to regular water, along with a few shakes of salt. The fruit juice makes the water more palatable, while the sugar also helps your athlete better absorb and utilize the sodium, explains Ziesmer. Add some ice to your child’s water bottle on hot days as well: Studies have shown that young athletes cool down better with cold water than with room temperature.

Ziesmer’s favorite recipe is simple:
• 3.5 cups water
• 1/2 cup orange juice
• 2.5 tablespoons of honey
• 1/4 teaspoon of salt

6. It’s not just about the game or practice

Don’t let sports drinks take the place of drinking water most of the time, says Ziesmer. Letting your child guzzle sports drinks regularly sends a message that supplements and ultra-processed foods are the best option for performance, she warns.

Research has also shown that excessive amounts of sugar — found in most sports drinks — contributes to obesity, tooth decay, and even hyperactivity. Ultimately, a sports drink is only healthy when it’s in the context of a sweaty sporting event, not a casual afternoon at home.


Hydrating properly, which often means deciding what athletes should drink, is critical to their performance and wellbeing during sport. These tips will help you decide when and what athletes should be consuming to stay hydrated.

TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.