Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Five Tips for Winter Weary Spring Athletes

Forecasters predict cooler-than-normal spring for New England

Rowing Spring Season Start Delayed a Week

Frozen fields delay spring sports

These headlines from recent articles do not warm the hearts of thousands of athletes who count the days until rowing, softball, lacrosse, and track practice begin.  My town, in an effort to save the integrity of the flooded baseball and softball fields, is barring everyone from outdoor practices.  Young athletes and their coaches are vying for inside gym time with all the other boys and girls teams which means that your practice could start directly after school but it also could begin at eight at night. Ugh.

Here are five tips to help make this cold spring training time go smoothly:

1. Do your homework. 
There's nothing as stressful as coming into class when you're not prepared. Stress is the last thing you need while you train for your sport, but those teachers have no sympathy when you tell them that sports are the reason your work isn't done. So what can you do? First you need to know what's due when. Make sure you keep your assignment notebook (or digital equivalent) up to date. If you're not sure what your teacher wants when– ask. Prioritize your work by date doing the assignments that are due sooner, first. If you have a larger long-term project, break it down into smaller pieces and give yourself a due date for each smaller part. This is a method that writers use all the time. If you can get ahead of your schedule, do it. Study hall is a gift so use it wisely. If there's lag time between the end of school and practice, try going to the school library or stay in a kind teacher's room to get ahead. Make sure you bring assigned reading with you everywhere (especially your sibling's practices and events when you are otherwise sitting around but also the bathroom).  Finally, do your weekend homework when it's assigned instead of waiting until Sunday night. 

2. Get plenty of sleep.
According to this article, 9-10 hours of consistent sleep gave growth hormones a chance to stimulate muscle repair. Athletes in these studies showed improved performance and personal bests in their sports. To be your best at practice, make sure you schedule an early bedtime, 9ish or so, and try to stick with it. Turn off screens a good hour before you head to bed as the flickering pixels from backlit screens tend to make it harder to fall asleep. To relax, focus on your breath. Fill your belly first. Next make the breathing deeper and fill your belly and lungs. Finally, in three parts, fill belly, chest, and collar bone. Let the stress of the day float away like winter's snows and sleep tight!

3. Eat well.
Every day there's another diet, cleanse or testimony on Facebook or in a magazine telling us what to eat and what not to eat. It can be downright annoying. I hate when people tell me what to eat, so I won't do that. I will, however, tell you how to eat. Eat reasonable portions. Taste textures of crunchy fruits and veggies, lean or vegetable proteins, a little fat, good grains, and even high fiber low sugar carbs. Take time to help make the food you eat. Stay away from processed stuff in boxes, and wrappers. Most important, enjoy what you eat and share your meals with people you love.

4. Stay hydrated.
Drink water when you train. Drink water when you don't. Drink water when it is hot or cold outside. The Mayo Clinic states:
[W]ater flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.
Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

Eight to ten glasses of water a day are necessary for athletes who train on a regular basis so drink up!

5. Wash your hands.
I know it sounds ridiculous but if you want to be in the game, you have to stay well. That means taking care of yourself by washing your hands, using a tissue instead of picking your nose (ew...boogers), sneezing into your sleeve, etc. Being sidelined for an injury or illness is never fun. Have a great season and leave me a comment if you have any healthy tips for other athletes.

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