Coaches are role models, and they set the tone for the season. They also play a critical role in getting junk food and sugary drinks off the sidelines of youth sports. When I’ve taken my Snacktivism mission to the coaches of my children’s teams, I’ve been grateful that they’ve all been on board (read: “THAT Mom: The Sequel“).
I was thrilled to learn that a new training module was created for soccer coaches, to help them encourage healthy habits for practices and games (and discourage sports drinks and post-game cupcakes!). Called Coaching Healthy Habits, the training is a partnership between US Youth Soccer, the largest youth sports organization in the country, and Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition.
Coaching Healthy Habits is a simple 12-minute slideshow with three main messages:
- Drink Right (hydrate with water instead of sugary beverages)
- Snack Smart (snack on fruits and vegetables)
- Move More (increase physical activity during practice)
Here’s a handout that summarizes their messages (click HERE to save or print if you’d like to pass it along to coaches or parents):
For example, here’s the message about “Drinking Right”:
Myth: Players need the electrolytes in sports drinks to stay hydrated.
Fact: To stay hydrated, replenishing electrolytes isn’t necessary if players are eating a healthy diet and drinking water. Sticking to water also helps players avoid the added sugar in sports drinks.
Remind players to bring 1-2 full water bottles for trainings and matches. Consider a “water-only sideline” to encourage your team to drink water.
Let parents and players know that doctors recommend water, not sports drinks. Consider opportunities when you could share this message with your team.
Coaching Healthy Habits has already been tested in Massachusetts and will be required for all new licensed soccer coaches in the state, as well as in New Hampshire and Maine. But any coach or league can access the training!
If you’d like to view the training module or pass it along to your coach or local sports league director, go here to the Healthy Kids Hub (go to “Take a Training” → “Soccer Coaches” → “Get Started” ). You can also find it here through US Youth Soccer.
Healthy Kids Out of School has other resources for parents and coaches, including this fact sheet on why sports drinks aren’t necessary for most youth sports (click HERE to save or print if you’d like to pass it along to coaches or parents):