There are two main parts to the optimal sports performance puzzle.
- Proper nutrition.
- Proper exercise and training.
That’s why no discussion of athlete training and development is complete without considering proper nutrition – the fuel for the roaring motor that is your child. Being the cute chunk of moldable clay that they are, laying down foundational nutrition habits now will help propel them to tennis legendry in the future (also when they get to college and a normal “meal” consists of Ramen Noodles, soda, and beef jerky).
A young athlete requires a bit more than just the basics of a healthy meal and sports nutrition, like exercise. They also require an individualized approach that takes a young athlete’s age, developmental stage, calorie expenditure, body composition, and the effect of exercise on the body into consideration. Think of it as a complex, interlinked Jenga stack – one missing piece can send the whole thing crashing down.
To keep your young one’s “Jenga stack” of nutritional health from crashing to the ground, it’s best to work with a professional.
BUT, in the meantime, here are a few nutritional morsels for you to “chew” on (please don’t actually chew on your computer screen….)
A Few Basic Youth Tennis Nutrition Tips
- Eat every 2-3 hours
- Eat lean complete protein with each meal – fish, eggs, low-fat dairy
- Eat vegetables with each meal – spinach, carrots, tomatoes
- Eat fruits with each meal – apples, oranges, berries
- Eat healthy fats daily – avocado, fish oil, nuts & seeds
- Eat whole foods instead of supplements whenever possible
- Break the rules 10% of the time
- Plan ahead and prepare meals in advance
- Eat as wide a variety of good foods as possible
- Eliminate most empty calorie high sugar / high fructose corn syrup drinks – aside from Gatorade during training / competition
- Finally, one of the most important and oft ignored tennis nutrition we can impart upon you is HYDRATION
While still growing and developing, a child’s internal thermostat is less efficient than their incredibly cool parents (pun intended). Because of this, keeping the kiddies hydrated is extremely important, especially when they’re training or playing on a hot summer day. During training or a match your young ones should drink liquid with sodium chloride and carbohydrates, like Gatorade, every 15 to 20 minutes. This will help to replace fluid lost and help the body retain what they’ve just replaced.
It’s important to remember that proper training and nutrition for a youth are complex, so it’s okay to reach out for help! Hey, we only want what’s best for you and your young tennis pro! Proper guidance from a qualified individual is the question and the Elite Jr. Tennis Program is the answer!