Times when real athletes could achieve great results without carefully prepared complex approach are definitely gone. With so high competition around the world it is impossible to skip some areas and get to the top of the tennis world. If players want to be the best they have to take care of quality practice sessions, proper amount of competitive matches, applying specific recovery techniques, adding mental practice to their routines, improving athletic abilities as also choosing the right products to eat and drink. Unfortunately the last area is often neglected by even the most aspiring juniors.
Knowledge about proper nutritional habits is getting broader and broader but we still need more time to make players aware of this important part of tennis development. Tennis coaches understand the role of energy systems and impact healthy products have on our bodies but players don’t. We can’t blame them because they are still young human beings who don’t have enough experiences and conscious thoughts to understand the differences but we should definitely never give up on our quest to change bad habits into effective ones.
If we want to make sure that young athletes choose water over Pepsi and rice over french fries we have to understand how to incorporate this difficult change. The worst mistake that coaches can do is to just forbid unhealthy products because it is not the way that will lead to long-term change. Applying this rule will make players eat healthy only when authorities are present but when they are gone we can be sure that athletes will take potato chips, coke, and other products that hurt them a lot. Like with any change in life we shouldn’t force players to do anything – we should try to motivate them. If the motivation comes from inside our job is done and player will consciously deliver good fuel for own body. So how to do this?
The more information we provide to our students the more conscious they are about this subject. A lot of players eat unhealthy because they are not aware of negative effects of these products. They don’t get this knowledge at school so tennis court is a great place to get to know benefits of healthy eating for active people.
2. Be a role model
There is not a more powerful teaching tool than your own actions. If you show examples every day by choosing the right meals you can achieve much more than delivering hundreds of facts from Wikipedia. Remember that players look up to you so you have to be sure that you walk your talk to be a successful tennis coach.
3. Show examples
You can educate and follow healthy lifestyle but sometimes it won’t be enough for your players to make the change in own habits. That is why you should show examples of healthy eating from other successful people. Do your player have an idol in an athletic world? Then show examples how this idol eats and drinks. Little facts from the book of favorite person can have a big impact on player’s actions.
Environment and people around you are really important in creating values and shaping proper behaviors. Athletes spend a lot of time at home so it is crucial that parents take care of healthy eating habits every day. If kids see their family members drinking coke and eating at McDonald’s few times a week they perceive these actions as right actions. Coach should talk to parents and make sure they understand how big impact they have on their kids’ development.
Now you know how to motivate players to start changing wrong eating habits and deliver nutrients that are so important while being an athlete. The next step is to learn which products can give us the most and why we should use them. Knowing the benefits of particular products will have a positive impact on decisions made by players. If they know that during the match they need high-glycemic carbohydrates to get quick boost of energy they won’t pick Snickers or Mars knowing that these high-fat products are slowly digestible and they don’t help athletes.
A lot of people (young and older too) think that healthy eating means boring eating. That is not true at all. There are hundreds of options that we can use but we have to remember that most of the unhealthy products contain high doses of sugar so we will definitely see the difference in sweetness.
If players want to play their best tennis every time they have to take care of their bodies. Healthy eating gives energy that is needed to maintain offensive style of play for more than 15 minutes. Proper nutrients make sure that you recover at the quickest pace possible. Right amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats will keep your body strong and injury-free. And additional benefit of picking valuable meals is your mood. The healthier you eat the more stable your insulin level is so you don’t have mood changes like people who are addicted to sugar consumption.
My Top 20 list of products that all athletes have to eat to achieve own goals:
- Red meat
- Brown bread
- Dried fruits
- Rice waffles
- Olive oil