Over Training and the Youth Athlete
Have you ever seen your daughter act less than enthusiastic, moody, have a loss of focus, lack of appetite, poor sleeping habits, or always seemly tired? How about loss of strength and coordination, a higher than usual susceptibility to colds and flu, allergies and minor infections to as well?
If you have observed these and other out of character behaviors from your child athlete, you may be looking at a child that is feeling the effects of over training.
Just What is Over Training?
Over-training happens when the body is being pushed beyond its capacity physically and or emotionally, resulting in stress leading to a break down in the child’s physical and mental capacities related to their chosen sports participation.
Over training can be caused by initial over-enthusiasm on the part of the coach or athlete, lack of proper planning of training cycles, stresses on the child’s life or the ridiculous misguided belief of ‘no pain, no gain'.
A common way to determine if your child is suffering from over training is to have your athlete do a regular run or swim (or similar activity for their sport) and record the time, average and maximum heart rate, and recovery time.
If the time is slower than normal and the average or maximum heart rate higher than normal, or the rate of recovery is longer than normal, she may be over-training.
How Can You Help
If you think over training may be the cause, talk to the coach and allow a couple of days of complete rest away from the sport. Reassess the training schedule and make sure the coach and athlete have struck the right balance between hard and easy days. Talk to your child about other possible contributing factors (school, friends etc.), too.
Start with Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important components of recovery and is therefore a very important component of a training program.
The best way to help your child achieve regular sleeping patterns is to establish a routine that is doable and understandable for you and the child.
- Go to bed and get up at close to the same time regularly.
- Know your child’s necessary amount of sleep needed and ensure she gets it.
- Try to promote relaxing before time she goes to sleep.
- Try to finish training at least 3 hours before going to sleep – although this may be somewhat of a challenge for some sports that require longer workouts after school).
- Provide a quick nutritious post work out meal after training.
- Keep the bedroom of the child at a comfortable temperature.
It is very important to keep a close eye on your child’s training as well as the rationale for the training they are receiving. Doing this will help avoid unnecessary stops and starts in her training routine, and keep her healthy and happy too.