TrueSport Resources

 How Parents Can Manage their Own Sport Anxiety
(9/22/2022)
 
   

How Parents Can Manage their Own Sport Anxiety


How your anxiety can impact your athlete and 5 ways to handle it in an honest, thoughtful way.

If you’re an athlete’s parent or guardian, you likely feel the same pre-competition nerves and jitters that your athlete does. You may notice that in the minute before the competition starts, your heart beats just a bit faster, or you struggle to sleep soundly the night before Nationals. That’s normal, but your anxiety can unfortunately have negative impacts on your young athlete if you don’t find ways to regulate it.

Here, TrueSport Expert  Kevin Chapman, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, explains how your anxiety can impact your athlete, and how to best handle it in an honest, thoughtful way.

Why your anxiety matters
“First and foremost, a parent needs to know that what they model and communicate to their athlete is what is important,” says Chapman. That means your anxious behaviors can make your athlete feel more anxious. “Unfortunately, children with an anxious parent are up to seven times more likely  than a child of a non-anxious parent to develop an anxiety disorder,” he adds. “But anxiety itself is not transmitted to a child genetically. Rather, the predisposition to respond to emotions in a dysregulated way is what is being modeled to that child in these formative years. That’s how the anxiety is transmitted from parent to child."

How to handle your anxiety

1. Pre-Game: Talk to your athlete
If you’re nervous about your athlete’s big game, they may be nervous as well, and that’s okay. In addition to understanding how your anxiety impacts your athlete, you can also focus on how nerves and anxiety are, in fact, completely normal feelings to have. “Successful athletes recognize that anxiety is normal,” says Chapman. “Anxiety is a normal part of competition. So it's not a matter of not being anxious when you compete. It's about normalizing the anxiety and understanding that it’s there to prepare you for the future threat, in this case, of not performing well. But there is an optimal level of anxiety that will help you, so regulating it and putting it in an optimal range is going to be what's important.”

Have a conversation with your athlete about how they’re feeling —and how you’re feeling! Let them know that it’s okay to be anxious, and that anxiety is there to help them prepare for competition. Often, that conversation helps them feel less anxious about their anxiety!

Need a quick catchphrase to give your athlete? Try telling them that the only difference between anxiety and excitement is their interpretation of the situation.

2. During the Game: Relax

It comes as no surprise that during the game, the best thing that you can do as a parent is to relax and try to stay calm and positive. Remember, as Chapman says, young people are incredibly skilled at picking up on the emotions of the people around them, especially the people who matter most to them. So if you’re on the sidelines  hiding your face, frowning, shaking your head, yelling, or looking horrified, they’re going to notice. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths to stay calm, and try to develop positive habits to keep you busy, like taking photos of the game (if that’s allowed). You can also task yourself with writing down five things your athlete does well in the game, which will force you to focus on the positive.

3. Post-Game: Don’t assume you know what your athlete is thinking
If a game didn’t go well, you might assume that your athlete is devastated, and that might make you feel anxious. But before you panic, remember that your athlete’s interpretation of the game could be completely different. Maybe you didn’t realize that he actually made a shot that he’s really proud of, or that she ran a personal best time. “Do not fall victim to catastrophizing and blowing mistakes out of proportion,” says Chapman.

“Parents need to remember that that process leads to outcomes . And if they can help their athlete recognize the process—things like learning skills, mechanics, technique, tactics, and strategy—then that's going to be the most important thing to be thinking about after a game,” he adds. "For example, my daughter was in the middle of a volleyball tournament and they lost a set. She was pretty upset about it, and as a parent, it’s easy to just try to empathize with her instead of helping her. But I told her, ‘I understand why you’re upset, but what did you learn?’ That’s a process question, and it took her out of that emotional state and back to thinking about what she needed to do to improve in the next set. She won the next match.”

4. Reward your athlete
Reinforcement is meant to increase a behavior, while punishment is meant to decrease a behavior. “Because of this, reinforcement is always more powerful than punishment  when we're looking for behavioral change,” says Chapman. “So, it's super important to reward yourself after spectacular performances. But you also need to avoid punishing your athlete for a performance that wasn’t the best.” His advice? Find something fun you can do with your athlete after every competition, like renting a new movie, and have an extra special reward for extraordinary performances, like actually going out to the movies.

5. Handling extreme anxiety
While avoidance is something that Chapman doesn’t typically recommend, if your presence at a game makes you anxious and that negatively affects your athlete, you may need to avoid being at the competitions. You could also consider driving separately and ensuring that you sit out of sight of your athlete. "I'm not a fan of avoidance, but if a parent is going to be so emotionally dysregulated that they're going to do themselves not only a disservice but they're also going to do the athlete a disservice, staying home might be the best thing,” Chapman says. “But ultimately, the goal should be to learn to regulate your emotions so you can be a part of your athlete’s sporting life.”

To manage these feelings of anxiety, ask yourself why you feel this way. Is it because typically, you only show up for the biggest games of the season and there’s a lot at stake? If that’s the case, consider trying to attend some practices or smaller competitions to see if lower stress settings ease your nerves. You can also seek expert help for yourself, says Chapman. Talking to a therapist about your anxiety will not only be good for your mental health, it may benefit your young athlete as well.

Takeaway
Your anxiety around your athlete’s competition and performance can translate to your athlete, so it’s important for you to address it and ensure that it doesn’t negatively impact your athlete’s performance or mental health. Nervous feelings around competition are natural, but if you do struggle with anxiety, consider sitting out of sight of your athlete during competitions and even driving separately if it’s a problem.



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.


 Healthy Recipes for Athletes with Dairy, Soy, and Gluten Restrictions
(8/25/2022)
 
   

Healthy Recipes for Athletes with Dairy, Soy, and Gluten Restrictions


Recipes for snacks and meals that are soy, dairy, and gluten-free


It can be hard to make meals that are healthy and satisfying for athletes with certain food restrictions. But with a bit of prep and pre-planning, you can easily have snacks and meals on hand that are soy, dairy, and gluten-free.

TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and the owner of Elite Nutrition and Performance, has a few easy recipes to try.

Coconut Yogurt Parfait
Layer yogurt-berries-granola-yogurt-berries-granola into a bowl or glass for breakfast, or into a container for your athlete to bring to school for a quick lunch.

Coconut yogurt is a great option for athletes who can’t eat dairy, but if your athlete isn’t restricted to dairy-free options, Greek yogurt is a great source of protein. In general, avoid yogurts that are packed with added sugars. Ideally, get a plain yogurt that’s unflavored, then add your own sweetener with a bit of honey or maple syrup and a splash of vanilla extract.

Berries: Let your athlete choose their favorite berries. Blueberries, raspberries, and sliced strawberries tend to be the heavy favorites in parfaits, but if your athlete prefers chunks of kiwi instead, go for it! An easy option for busy parents is to buy frozen mixed berries, then prep the parfait the day before, so the berries have time to defrost in the fridge. Frozen berries can actually be better because the juices tend to run more and blend the whole parfait together.

Granola: To add more satiating carbohydrates and satisfying crunch, you can buy gluten-free granola, or easily make homemade gluten-free granola with under 10 minutes of prep. If you do want to make your own, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. In a bowl, combine gluten-free oats with a drizzle of maple syrup, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a dash of salt, and any chopped nuts that your athlete enjoys. Mix together until the oats stick together with that maple syrup. Spread the mixture thinly out on parchment paper, then cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the granola is dry and can easily be pushed around the pan. After baking, you can add in any dried fruit that your athlete enjoys too. You can do this once a week and have tasty homemade granola for days!

Even easier: Forget making granola, and instead just cook up some gluten-free instant oatmeal with a splash of almond milk, a spoonful of peanut butter, a sliced-up banana, some mixed berries, and a dash of maple syrup.

Build-Your-Own Rice Bowl
For lunches, rather than trying to recreate a grilled cheese sandwich for your gluten or dairy-free athlete, why not opt for something that’s easier to meal prep once a week, and doesn’t require any substitutions? Rice bowls are perfect for parents making lunches for multiple kids, since they can be made in bulk and stored in the fridge for a few days, and they’re easy to tailor to picky tastes. They’re also a fun meal to meal-prep on a weekend, since you can get your kids involved in the process. Have them help prep the ingredients, then build their own bowls. Start with a base of brown or multigrain rice for a complex carbohydrate that will leave them feeling full throughout the day.

Add your protein: this could be beans, grilled chicken, canned salmon, or tuna—whatever protein your athlete enjoys.

Add vegetables: opt for fresh or sautéed vegetables. Peppers and onions that are quickly sautéed make a great fajita-style bowl, while spinach, arugula, and romaine can add a nice crunch. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers are also nice additions.

Add crunch, zest, and fun: Some fun topping ideas can include chopped nuts, crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices or guacamole, pickled jalapeños, and cheese or vegan cheese.

Make your side dressing: A small container with salsa or their topping of choice can be stored separately to prevent everything from becoming soggy.

A few simple dinner ideas
Sometimes, thinking about cooking gluten and dairy-free for dinner can feel overwhelming, but really, it doesn’t have to be. Most meals can easily be tweaked to avoid gluten, soy, and dairy if you’re cooking at home. In fact, a gluten-free athlete in the house can actually be a benefit because it forces you to get a bit more creative with vegetables and alternatives to bread and pasta. Ziesmer recommends:

1. Grilled chicken with plain Italian seasoning and salt and pepper with roasted broccoli and a baked potato (the potato and broccoli can be chopped, sprinkled with olive oil, and wrapped in foil, then tossed on the grill for a meal that requires almost no cleanup)

2. Gluten-free spaghetti with meat sauce (just hold the parmesan!) 

3. Breakfast for dinner with a veggie scramble. First, chop up a potato or sweet potato and put into a covered pan on medium with some olive oil and a bit of water to create steam for faster cooking. Then, chop up the veggies that are wilting away in your fridge—things like peppers, spinach, onions, zucchini—and once the potatoes have started to soften up, add the veggies to the pan. Once the vegetables are soft and wilted, crack eggs over top and scramble as needed. You don’t need milk to make a great scramble! Scoop onto plates and season with salt, pepper, and maybe a bit of chili or oregano for a small kick.

Takeaway
Rather than constantly trying to replace dairy, soy, and gluten with processed options like vegan cheese or gluten-free pasta, opt for simple whole foods and meals that skip those ingredients altogether when possible. Making your own allergen-free options, like a gluten-free granola, not only avoids added sugars and processing, it also allows you to create combinations that your athlete will love. And it doesn’t have to take much time!




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.


 Our Words Matter: How to Be an Ally in Sport
(8/11/2022)
 
   

Our Words Matter: How to Be an Ally in Sport 


Advice for how you can truly support your teammates this season


Being an ally for your teammates doesn’t just mean posting on social media in support of a cause. It means standing up for them in tough situations, even when it’s uncomfortable. In sport and in school, this can be difficult. It can feel unpopular. But it’s the right thing to do.

Here, TrueSport Experts Kevin Chapman, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, and President of Now What Facilitation, Nadia Kyba, MSW, are sharing their best advice for how you can truly support your teammates this season.

Understand what allyship means for your team
Being an ally for your teammates is part of being a good teammate. “As teammates, understand how much your words matter to the other people on the team,” says Chapman. “Not speaking up for others, letting injustices take place on your team, isn’t acceptable. It's a cancer to the culture of the team.”

Acknowledge your own bias
Everyone has biases and developing a better understanding of the ones that you have can help you be a better ally to your teammates. “It’s not easy to think about your own biases,” says Kyba. “But it’s critically important. Think about the biases you’ve been raised with." For example, often young girls are given white dolls, while boys are given white superhero action figures. This sets up the bias that girls are nurturing and caregivers, while boys are the brave, strong defenders. In addition to these gender-based biases, our unconscious bias becomes that being white is the norm.

Along with race and gender, think about other things that may have created biases in your life: your financial situation or how you were taught to think about class and money; your religion; your sexuality and gender expression; and how different disabilities may lead to certain biases. Understanding your own bias helps you become a better ally because it allows you to better understand the microaggressions and everyday biases that your teammates may encounter.

Open the conversation with the team
It shouldn’t be the role of the transgender athlete on the team to push for a conversation about gender neutral bathrooms, or for the Black athlete to have to start the conversation around systemic racism. Being a good ally doesn’t just mean calling out aggressions and issues, it means being proactive. Consider asking your coach about having a team discussion around values and allyship. You may even want to ask a counselor who’s versed in these topics to come in to speak to the team. These preemptive measures not only make your teammates feel seen, but they may lead to a better understanding for the team as a whole. “Be active up front, rather than being passive until there’s a major issue,” says Kyba.

Remember differences aren’t always obvious
Some differences are more subtle, but equally important in terms of being a good ally. You may not have realized a teammate was Muslim, for instance, and needs to pray at certain times during the day. You may not know that a fellow athlete has a cognitive disability that makes it difficult for him to concentrate during team huddles. You may not be aware that one of your teammates is a transgender woman struggling to deal with a stadium’s bathroom policy.

With this in mind, try to take a moment to consider your personal biases and how you can better meet the needs of your fellow athletes, coaches, or volunteers.

Lean into diversity
Chapman and Kyba agree that saying that you ‘don’t see color’ or you’re ‘color blind’ when it comes to race is not a good thing. You might think you’re saying the right thing when you say that color doesn’t matter, but color blindness actually discourages diversity. “When you say that everyone is the same, athletes don’t feel safe talking about their individual needs,” says Kyba. “If an athlete on the team is Muslim, that makes it hard for them to tell the coach that they need a space to pray. And to pretend that being African American is not a different experience from being White denies that there are still huge problems with systemic racism."

Don’t be afraid to speak up
“From a practical standpoint, being an ally means that if you hear something, like a racial slur or a derogatory comment about someone in a marginalized group, you stand up for them, even if they aren’t in the room,” says Chapman. "It means telling a teammate that what she said was offensive, and asking something like, 'Can you help me understand why you thought that was okay to say?’” Chapman adds that giving someone the space to express what they meant by the comment, and then providing some education about why that comment was not appropriate is the best approach. Kyba agrees, and adds that sometimes, stating back to them what they said (especially in the case of a derogatory comment) and asking them to explain it can help that person quickly see that what they said was inappropriate.

Be aware of microaggressions

While you might be reading this article and thinking that no one on your team makes blatant racial slurs or derogatory comments, microaggressions are a very real problem as well. Microaggressions are seemingly small everyday instances of racism, sexism, homophobia, or religious oppression. If someone is missing practice on Saturday because of their religion, and the coach rolls his eyes as he mentions it, that’s a microaggression. It’s a microaggression to say that you ‘don’t see color,’ or that ‘you can’t be racist because you have Black friends.’ “Don’t stand idly by if you see a microaggression,” says Chapman. “There should be a zero-tolerance policy, and calling those out is important. You may even realize that you’ve been guilty of your own microaggressions, and if that’s the case, humbly apologize, label what was wrong about it, and learn from it.”

Take it offline
Remember that posting about your allyship on social media might feel great in the moment, but it needs to be backed up in real life. “Being an ally means being actively engaged,” says Kyba. “Rather than just throwing a post on social media, you have to actually become a little bit uncomfortable, whether that means asking questions, standing up for a teammate, or having a conversation around race or gender or sexuality with your team.”

Don’t just be an ally, be an accomplice
“I like using the word accomplice rather than ally,” says Chapman. “To me, there is a difference. This example tends to resonate with people and makes it easier to understand: If you were planning to rob a bank, an ally would be someone who would keep your secret and not say anything. An accomplice would drive the getaway car. So many people say that they’re allies, but when it comes time for them to take a risk, be uncomfortable, and actually stand up for someone, they won’t say anything. They won’t take action. An accomplice takes action.”

Know when to seek help
There may be points where you need to be the one to seek outside help from a coach, counselor, or school administration. Bullying, racial slurs, and violence obviously can’t be tolerated on a team, and as an ally, you can be the one to speak up and tell someone in a leadership position what’s going on.

It’s not always easy to know when to get help, though. “It's always appropriate to say something to the perpetrator, when it’s a peer-to-peer situation,” says Chapman. “But if it’s a super flagrant issue like bullying, then you may also need to take it to a higher level—and this is especially true if multiple people are involved."

Takeaway

Being an ally means doing more than reposting content on Instagram. It means standing up for your teammates when they’re treated unfairly and making sure that you’re also working to confront your own biases and assumptions. And it means that you may need to get uncomfortable.



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.


 Coach’s Mental Health: How to Set Healthy Boundaries as a Coach
(7/28/2022)
 
   

Coach’s Mental Health: How to Set Healthy Boundaries as a Coach


Helping coaches understand how to set—and stick to—boundaries with athletes, parents, administrators, and even with themselves.


Creating strong boundaries is an important and often overlooked piece of the coaching dynamic. A lack of boundaries can not only impact a team’s success, but also lead a coach to experience burnout and negative mental health effects. Here, TrueSport Expert Kevin Chapman, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, is helping coaches understand how to set—and stick to—boundaries with athletes, parents, administrators, and even with themselves.

Why does a coach need to think about their boundaries?
As a coach, a lot is expected of you. But of course, you aren’t only a coach...you likely have many other responsibilities in your life. “Ultimately, coaches have lives, they have families, they have spouses, they have their own spiritual lives, and they often even have other full-time jobs outside of the sport,” says Chapman. “Like athletes need to be able to leave a bad practice or game on the field and move on, coaches need to be able to step away from the team as well. When coaches don't set healthy boundaries, that can create emotional dysregulation as well as strife within the team. And in many ways, it can create a negative relationship that affects performance.”

How to set boundaries with your team
A healthy coach-athlete relationship is one that is well-defined and has specific boundaries. Many student athletes unfortunately put their coaches in an almost parent-like role in their lives, but that can be problematic for many reasons. “Oftentimes, we have unrealistic expectations for coaches, because in many ways, people expect coaches to parent their kids. But coaches aren't responsible for that. Coaches are responsible for enhancing the development of the student athlete by teaching them discipline, camaraderie, teamwork, and communication, which are those skills that they won't learn necessarily in other settings. And that's why being an athlete is so incredibly rewarding: If you have the right coaches, you learn those things.”

However, that doesn’t mean responding to emails from athletes at 3 a.m. or talking to teachers about getting athletes extensions on papers they haven’t done. Make sure athletes know what they can expect from you, and keep those expectations the same for the entire team. No one athlete should get special treatment or extra allowances from you.

How to set boundaries with parents
This can be really hard to navigate, Chapman admits. Some parents want to be involved with a team for good reasons and with the best intentions, but it’s better to set a blanket boundary for parents rather than allowing some to participate and not others. “Draw a line in the sand about the boundaries that you will maintain throughout the season with parents as it relates to interacting with you as the coach on an individual level, as well as their interactions with players, parents, and officials,” says Chapman. Start each season by informing parents of your boundaries for them: Can they be at practice? What do you expect them to do on competition days? Should they email you about their athlete?

How to set boundaries with administration
“Coaches have a really delicate interplay with school administration, since the administration is responsible for their livelihood, but the coach might also be the mediator between the administration and a student, or administration and a parent,” says Chapman. To create boundaries and consistency, consider having all the coaches at your school or within your club get together to create a set of ideal boundaries between yourselves and the administration and present them as a united front.

For school coaches, this could include establishing your ability to bench or suspend any athlete for misconduct. This might help if, for example, you have to bench your star player for skipping too many practices, but he gets reinstated by the school administrator who wants the team to win the statewide championship. “Things like that undermine a coach’s authority and can lead to burnout or worse,” says Chapman.

How to set boundaries with your own goals
It might sound strange to set boundaries around yourself, but when it comes to goal-setting, you do need to set some healthy expectations around performance and outcomes. If you don’t create a boundary between how the team performs and your personal goals for coaching, you’ll often end up frustrated and/or putting too much pressure on yourself or the team.

“As a coach, your goals shouldn’t be focused on the team’s outcomes in competition,” Chapman says. “Instead, coaches need to set goals that show that their coaching is working and improving. This might include practical process goals like boosting percentages of shots made in a game, but it can also include things like communicating your emotions effectively as a coach and helping your players do the same. A process goal for that could be deciding that at least once in every single team meeting, you ask athletes, ‘What is an emotion you experienced today at practice? How did you respond?’” Make sure that your goals enhance team culture and help your athletes develop as both athletes and humans. It’s also beneficial to communicate these goals to others, especially administration, to ensure that your values are aligned.

Owning your mistakes

As a coach, ensuring that your athletes don’t view you as an infallible, always-perfect person is important for both their wellbeing and your own. It’s tempting to set up a boundary that blocks athletes from seeing any part of you that’s imperfect, but that kind of boundary isn’t healthy for anyone. “Know when you need to show your athletes that you’ve messed up, since that lets them see it’s okay to make mistakes and that it’s important to own those mistakes,” Chapman says. “It’s also important to know when to apologize, and when to let athletes know you’re struggling.”

Of course, this is context dependent: You likely don’t need to apologize to your kindergarten soccer team for a call you made that caused them to lose the game. But you could explain a mistake you made in designing a play to your high school football team.

The importance of sticking to your boundaries
Boundaries only work when they’re clearly defined and respected—most importantly, when they’re respected by you. It’s tempting to allow for exceptions, such as a late night call with your star athlete who’s going through a tough time, but that doesn’t do you or your team any favors in the long run.

Takeaway
As a coach, it may feel like you struggle to find the right boundaries, and to maintain them. But by setting clear boundaries and expectations early, you’re not only helping yourself and your mental health, you’re helping your team members, parents, and school administration.



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 Healthy Snacks to Keep in Your Sport Locker
(7/14/2022)
 
   

6 Healthy Snacks to Keep in Your Sport Locker


Here are six snacks options that are shelf-stable, energy-packed, and tastebud-approved.


As an athlete, it’s recommended that you eat every three hours throughout the day, so it’s important to find snacks that travel easily, offer the right nutrients, and actually taste good, too. When it comes to nutrition, the goal is to find snacks that fill you up and keep you energized through an optimal blend of mostly carbohydrates, plus some protein and fat to help you feel satisfied for longer.

Here are six snacks options that are shelf-stable, energy-packed, and tastebud-approved.

1. Trail Mix
Trail mix is the easiest shelf-stable snack that can hit all the right notes: sweet and salty, plus a great macro and micro-nutrient nutritional profile for a busy athlete. Even better, it can be easily stored, transported, and eaten anywhere.

Here are a few of our favorite ingredients to include to maximize satiety and taste:

● Protein/Fat: Nuts and seeds are your best friends for protein and fat, and will help you feel full for longer. Walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and almonds are all great options here. The more varieties you include, the better, since each nut and seed has a slightly different micronutrient profile.
● Carbohydrate: Depending on what you prefer, add carb-based options like raisins, dried goji berries, dried cranberries, banana chips, chocolate chips, Chex mix, and pretzels. You don’t need to add M&Ms to make a trail mix that contains carbs, though there’s nothing wrong with sprinkling a few in!

2. Granola Bars (done right)
Granola bars are obviously the easiest shelf-stable and locker-friendly go-to, but be careful when choosing one. Some granola bars actually have more sugar than a candy bar! Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian, suggests checking the nutrition facts label and looking for granola bars that have less than 10 grams of ADDED sugar (listed below the total carbohydrate/sugar count on the label). This will help you avoid bars that are packed with cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup, while still containing plenty of carbohydrates like oats and dried fruit for energy. Carbohydrates are never your enemy!

3. DIY Energy Balls
If you eat your locker snacks on a daily basis, you can have slightly less shelf-stable options like DIY energy balls. Your energy balls can be made with just a few ingredients and a food processor: no baking required! In a food processor, Ziesmer suggests blending dates or raisins with your favorite nut (like cashews) along with shredded coconut, rolled oats, a bit of salt, and even a pinch of cocoa powder. Blend until they’re smooth, adding more dry ingredients (the nuts, oats, and coconut) until the consistency is thick enough to be rolled into small balls. Put them in the fridge to set, and then store in an airtight plastic bag or container in your locker for up to a week.

4. Pretzels and Shelf-Stable Hummus
If you prefer a saltier snack, a combination of hummus and pretzels is a great way to get carbohydrates, fat, and protein in a fast, easy-to-eat snack. Look for individual packs of whole grain pretzels or buy a bigger bag and divide it into single servings. The pretzels give you some quick energy thanks to their carbohydrate content, while the hummus provides a bit of fat and protein to make the snack more satisfying. Obviously, most hummus needs to be refrigerated, so make sure to look for shelf-stable single-serve containers of hummus. Once opened, don’t return the packages to your locker!

5. Shelf-Stable Chocolate Milk
For a fast hit of carbohydrates, protein, and a bit of fat, it’s hard to beat shelf-stable chocolate milk. There are a few brands that make shelf-stable packs of chocolate milk with organic dairy , or you can opt for almond milk versions if you don’t like regular dairy milk. It’s easy to keep a few of these in your locker for those days you’re running late and don’t have time to actually eat a snack.

6. Coconut Water
If you’re a fan of sports drinks, Ziesmer suggests trying the more natural coconut water, which is available in single-serve shelf-stable packs. It offers electrolytes and enough carbohydrates that make it similar in nutrition profile to a standard sports drink, but the water comes directly from a coconut. Often, you can find coconut water infused with pineapple or mango, if you’re looking for something with more carbohydrates.

Takeaways
Fueling throughout the day with healthy meals and snacks is critical for student athletes. These six snack options will travel easily, taste good, and offer natural carbohydrates from fruit and grains, as well as small amounts of protein and fat.


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.