Gatorade, Oreos and Soccer

Yeah, kind of an interesting title for my sports nutrition blog, er, I mean rant. I do apologize but I will step on my soapbox for this blog as I want to discuss an issue with youth sports and nutrition.

First off, many of you know that I coach quite a few kids, not only in triathlon (my Kids that TRI team) but also soccer. I grew up playing soccer for 18 years and have been coaching my son's soccer team for 5 years now. My son has moved up to a more competitive division and with that, I have relinquished my head coaching duties to now being an assistant coach. Completely fine with me except for the fact that my good sports nutrition message was respected when I was at the helm and now, I am in a "rebuilding" season trying to emphasize the importance of proper nutrition within the new team, coach and parents.

Case in point, my son had a soccer game this morning at 8:00am and finished at 9:00am. Halftime snacks were oranges. Great job parents! However, the post-game snacks were Gatorade and Oreos. Do you think that there may be better options for 9 year old boys at 9:00 in the morning? Ugh. I was a bit frustrated to say the least. Especially considering that this soccer club has not used my sports nutrition services to educate their coaches and teams (and I have offered to do this for free). Rather, they are using non-sport dietitians and to boot, they just had a nutrition for kids meeting this week. I did not attend but heard it was supposed to be about both daily and performance nutrition.

I just wonder what messages were sent during that meeting and if any of the parents and coaches in attendance are aware that these types of snacks are simply not necessary for kids of this age and especially at this time of the day. How about some apple slices and yogurt, 100% juice and whole grain crackers, heck even something like Clif Kid fruit twists? There are so many great options out there that can be used to supply the right fuel to kids bodies.

If you are reading this, please, I urge you to help me to educate parents and young athletes about the importance of choosing real foods first and that these high sugary snacks certainly do not belong in the post-game/workout/training window.

And no, I am not a food nazi. I do believe in balance and to allow kids the flexibility in choosing foods but I also believe in teaching them how foods can affect their performance both on and off the field.

Okay, I'll stop now. Onto planning my Kids that TRI swim practice and getting my team ready to take on IronKids Nationals next weekend.

Coach Bob