As a swimming coach, your goal is to produce the best team and have each athlete live up to their potential. Increasing athletic performance, fostering good health, improving body composition, and developing lasting habits are all elements of your job as a coach. Affecting these four segments of a well-rounded training program is a proper nutrition plan, which aims for short-term sports improvement, as well as long-term life enhancement. Unfortunately, many coaches fail to focus on this area and it can be detrimental to the team's success since an inadequate diet impairs swimming capacity and a swimmer's ability to perform. Let's discuss how to gauge the overall health of your team and how to recommend proper nutrition for your student athletes.
The importance of getting enough
Getting the proper nutrients is critical for a few reasons. Your athletes will grow and recover faster, perform better in the pool, will not be stiff or suffer from cramps, and will also be able to handle longer training sessions and more difficult meets. But beyond the immediate benefits for you and your swimming club, proper nutrition is important for the athletes' long term health and physical growth. This overall sense of good health also allows your student-athletes to perform better in the classroom which affects their eligibility and performance requirements for keeping their grades up. A complete mix of protein, carbohydrates, veggies, and healthy fats is critical to a balanced nutritional program, as well as supplemental nutrition before bed and in between meals. A pre-bedtime meal like the Nutriboost shake, which aids in muscle recovery and supplemental nutrition, works wonders on the body while the student-athlete is sleeping and they will wake up ready to meet the day and maximize their practice sessions.
How to know if they're getting enough?
So you understand the value of getting the proper nutrition and using what you eat and drink to propel a swimmers' performance to the next level, but does your team understand it, too? It is actually pretty common for young athletes to be getting the wrong nutrition for a couple of reasons. One, swimmers are being simultaneously overfed and undernourished because of misconceptions and myths around nutrition, and two, some of them are just unfamiliar with healthy recommendations on what to eat. As a coach, you can be the trusted source on how to improve their training nutrition program. Help your athletes discover their deficiencies with these signs: not performing well in practice, they seem tired quite frequently, they are getting injured often, they complain of being constantly stiff when waking up, or they are falling asleep in class. Alternatively, your athletes who are performing well in practice, have lots of energy, rarely get sick, and are doing well in class will most likely be getting the proper nutrition at home. Encourage them to continue with these beneficial habits while, making safe recommendations about snacking and hydration to give them a competitive edge.
What can you do to ensure they are getting enough?
Your team already trusts your judgment when it comes to their performance so make recommendations about their nutrition to nurture healthy habits. Encourage them to start listening to their body and tune in to the signs of undernourished muscles and bodies. Have your athletes do the "1-10 feeling test", which basically asks them to rate how they feel when they wake up. Questions like, "Do you feel tired and sluggish?", "How do your muscles feel?" and "What was your quality of sleep?" can help discern whether they didn't get enough sleep or need more nutrition, or possibly both. Your team should aim for feeling between an 8-10 on most days, and if not, they need to take a second look at their meal plan and their overall health habits. Since many of your athletes consume lunch in a school cafeteria or restaurant, which typically provide meals unfit for high performance athletes, they will be missing nutrients and minerals that are going to give them the proper nutrition needed to perform in the pool. They may also be at social events with friends that tend to rotate around sugary drinks and fattening snacks, and sometimes alcohol, all of which can derail a student-athletes nutrition plan. Supplementing meals with the Nutriboost shake is a good idea because it is low calorie and provides all of the nutrients and minerals that athletes are missing in their regular diets. Taking it as a post-workout snack or a pre-bedtime meal is a great way to ensure they're getting the maximum nutritional benefits.
Nurturing and fostering proper nutrition habits with your team is one of the most important, yet overlooked facets of being a great coach. Set yourself, and your team, apart from the rest and get everyone on the path to excellent performance!