Student Athletes: Going for the Gold

Student Athletes: Going for the Gold

student-athlete_3Student athletes have it tough. Early morning practice, afternoon practice, weekend games, late-night studying—it never seems to end. With such a hectic daily schedule, it’s important to create a plan that balances the demands of an athlete and the necessity of living a healthy life. Juggling nutrition, hydration, sleep, school work, and practice is no easy task, but the following tips aim to help create a personalized plan that works for you and your teen.


1. Carbohydrates are very important

Ever slam dunked, made a touchdown, or sprinted toward the finish line? All of those activities require carbohydrates, so it’s important to fuel up before and after a workout. Some foods that can help you do that include:

  • whole grains
  • fruits
  • oatmeal


2. Protein builds muscle

After a tough workout, muscles need to recover. It’s important to eat protein-rich foods such as:

  • lean meat
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • eggs
  • yogurt
  • tofu
  • beans
  • lentils


3. Power snacks

A great workout requires energy! Pack snacks to help refuel throughout the day. Great snack choices include:

  • sports drink or juice box
  • trail mix
  • granola bars


Staying Hydrated

Your body needs water. Water helps shuttle nutrients and provides energy, and without enough water, you may experience muscle cramps, fatigue, or dizziness. And the fact that athletes sweat a lot while training means it’s even more important to stay well hydrated.

But how do you know how much is enough? A good rule is to drink enough water until your urine is consistently colorless or light yellow. If the color is dark yellow, it’s time to start drinking more water.

Getting Enough Sleep

The recommended amount of sleep for teenagers is 8–10 hours. Yes, let me repeat, 8–10 hours of sleep each night. As an athlete, it can be difficult to get that much sleep, but the benefits are well worth it.

Benefits of Good Sleep

  • Improves athletic and academic performance
  • Improves muscle recovery after a hard workout
  • Helps manage stress
  • Promotes better eating habits

Consequences of Insufficient Sleep

  • Leads to fatigue and lack of concentration in school
  • Decrease in athletic performance
  • Increase in athletic injuries


Sleep is important, but a teen athlete’s life is already so busy. How can one block out more time for sleep? This leads us to the next important topic of…

Balancing School and Practice

With classes, homework, projects, as well as practice, it can be challenging for an athlete to keep up with the myriad of details such as assignment due dates and practice times. One useful skill to develop is using and maintaining a planner.

Planning 101

  • Use either a spiral planner or an online scheduler
  • Record all important events, such as competitions or game days and due dates for projects and assignments
  • For daily scheduling, plan out the next day before going to sleep
    • Block out practice and class times
    • Schedule in time for completing homework assignments
    • Schedule in time for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and breaks

Striking the right balance between being an athlete and a student can be challenging. But with the right strategy in place, it’s possible to win as a student and win on game day.

If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding how to help your student athlete, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at

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