Performance-Enhancing Supplements

Evidence shows that performance-enhancing supplements are being used by youth athletes, some as young as 13-14, in order to improve their performance.
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Pros and Cons of Supplementation and Ergogenic Aids

Are supplements and ergogenic aids worth the risk?
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Dear Visitor,

Welcome to the Educated Sports Parent! Here you will find information on a wide range of issues having to do with youth sports, including Readiness for Participation, Benefits of Participation, Developmentally Appropriate Program Modifications, Overuse Injuries, Supplements, and much more. This site is for parents, coaches, league administrators, or anyone who is interested in helping children to have the best youth sports experience possible.

You do not have to look far to find examples of what is wrong with youth sports. In fact, the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance gives youth sports a less than acceptable grade in its 2005 Youth Sports Report Card. The Educated Sports Parent is aimed at giving those involved with youth sports the knowledge and tools to make the youth sports experience an enjoyable one for all involved.

The most important goal of any youth sports organization should be that every single participant has a fun and enjoyable time. Making youth sports fun for kids helps turn them on to a lifetime of physical activity. The current obesity epidemic among both children and adults underscores the need for keeping kids turned on to physical activity. We cannot afford to allow youth sports to be a negative experience that leaves children with little desire to continue being active as adults. Unfortunately, for many children it is.

I challenge you to browse through this site with an open mind. Many of the concepts and ideas may be new to you. They may be the opposite of everything society seems to tell us is important about sports. It is essential that we do everything in our power to ensure that youth sports leagues are meeting the needs of our children. I challenge you to hold them accountable.

The Educated Sports Parent


Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes

Meeting the Sports Nutrition of Young Athletes As if trying to feed teenagers a nutritious diet wasn’t tough enough at times, taking care of your adolescent athlete can be even more of a challenge. Not to mention that as the parent of an athlete, you’re busy. In addition to driving your athlete to practices and games, you’re stocking up at the grocery store to try to keep up with their appetite. Proper nutrition is imperative for optimal growth and peak performance in adolescents. Unfortunately, most American youth today do not meet the minimum recommended amount of fruits, vegetables, or whole grains, and most go far beyond the recommended daily intake of sodium. On average U.S. teenagers consume more soda than milk or other healthful beverages. How is your teenager doing, and what is it they need? Carbohydrates in Sports Nutrition When most people think of a performance or sports diets they think of sports drinks and carb loading. There’s a lot more to it than that, though. Without adding sports into the equation, teenagers already require extra calories for growth (as if you haven’t noticed that your teenagers seem to be eating you out of house and home). Depending on their sport and activity level your athlete may need up to 4,000 calories/day. Yes, although your MVP can afford to eat those extra doughnuts during his two-a-days in the summer, the bottom line is that it’s not developing good habits for a future time when he’s no longer as active. It will catch up on him. Not to mention, the doughnuts aren’t providing any other sustainable nutrients. The right kinds...

Pros and Cons of Supplementation and Ergogenic Aids

Are Supplements and Ergogenic Aids Worth the Risk? What are Supplements? Supplements are a form of ergogenic aid taken because they are believed to improve or increase performance. What’s the Big Deal About Supplements? There is a drive for athletes to have every competitive advantage possible In 2001 the estimated global market of supplements was $46 billion1 The US market alone was estimated at $16.7 billion in 20001 Supplements may make whatever claims they like as long as the label contains a list of active ingredients4 Some Performance Supplements in Use Today Supplements to improve strength and power: amino acids, anabolic steroids, boron, chromium, chrysin, colostrum, creatine, hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB), omithine alphaketoglutarate, prohormones, protein, tribulus terrestris, vanadium and zinc Supplements promoting energy supply: bicarbonate, caffeine, carnitine, creatine, guarana, hornet juice, iron, magnesium, pyruvate and ribose Supplements used to burn fat caffeine, carnitine, ephedra A look at some well known supplements There are not many pros for many of the supplements, so I have broken this article down into the Facts and the Risks of using each of the following supplements: Anabolic steroids Prohormones Human Growth Hormone Creatine Amino acids Protein Caffeine Antioxidants Anabolic Steroids The Facts About Anabolic Steroids: Defined by the 1990 Anabolic Steroid Control Act as “any drug or hormonal substance chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone . . . that promotes muscle growth.”2 Developed to promote tissue growth in bed rest patients3 Increased testosterone “shown to increase protein synthesis, muscle strength, and lean body mass.” 2 Requires a prescription to possess The Risks With Anabolic Steroid: In males may cause3: Decrease in testicular function Breast development Liver dysfunction...

When Dad or Mom is the Coach

Youth sports thrive on parent-coaches. One estimate finds that parents of players make up 90% of all youth sport coaches (1). Parents have a unique relationship with their own children, and when it comes to coaching your child’s team, it is not easy to separate being the parent from being the coach. The parent-coach/child-athlete relationship in youth sports is one that has not been widely studied, but given the large percentage of parent-coaches and anecdotal reports of negative circumstances associated with parent-coaches, it is important that this issue be examined more closely. Two studies to date deal with this issue. They will both be presented, revealing positive and negative aspects of the parent-coach/child-athlete relationship. Recommendations for making this relationship as harmonious as possible follow. Research has shown that parental involvement and support is a necessary and important part of a child’s participation in sports. However, there is such a thing as too much involvement, and it is possible that in the unique environment of youth sports, having dad, or mom, as coach can push parental involvement toward the over involved end of the continuum. If this is the case, it could create a negative experience for the child-athlete of the parent-coach. Barber, Sukhi and White (2) conducted a study comparing parent-coached and nonparent-coached youth recreational athletes. They hoped to discover if there was any difference between the two groups in motivations for participation or in anxiety level associated with competition. Although their study had methodological weaknesses, it revealed that the parent-coached athletes did not experience significantly higher anxiety related to competition than their nonparent-coached peers. The study also showed...

The Importance of Parental Involvement in Youth Sports

Parents, when it comes to the impact you have on your child’s sporting experience, do not underestimate your influence. Children learn from watching others and copying the behavior they see demonstrated. It is most often the parent who is the first person to introduce a child to sports, and parental involvement can affect whether a child enjoys the experience or not (1, 2, 3). Role of Parents in Youth Sports Parental involvement in sports can be looked at as a continuum from not involved at all to over-involved (3). It can range from low to high and from positive to negative. Positive involvement includes supporting your child through ways such as verbal encouragement, your presence at a game, allowing your child to make his/her own decisions about what sport to participate in, and providing financial and other resources that enable his/her participation. Negative involvement refers to directive behavior, and pressure to win or perform up to a parent’s expectations. Recent research has shed light onto the relationship between parental involvement and the type of youth sports experience a child has. Supportive Parental Involvement in Sports It is not surprising that the research overwhelmingly points to a connection between positive, supportive parental involvement and a child’s level of enjoyment and success in the sport he or she is playing. (1, 2, 3, 4). It has also been suggested that a moderate level of involvement would be the optimum level of parental involvement (1). Hellstedt (1) theorized that over-involved parents may create high levels of pressure, while under-involved parents do not provide enough support to facilitate a child’s desire to participate....

Parents: How is your Behavior?

Sean Cumming and Martha Ewing of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports warned against parents becoming over-involved emotionally.  This could mean being “excitable” or “fanatical.”  They even go as far as to say that the fanatical parent can pose a serious risk to the development of the child (1).  Take a moment to reflect on your own behavior during your child’s sporting events.  How do you compare? Characteristics of Excitable and Fanatical Sports Parents   The Excitable Parent (1) The Fanatical Parent (1) Supportive You put great amounts of pressure on your child to succeed You find yourself getting caught up in the heat of the moment Your children frequently argue with the coach or ref At games you yell out instructions to anyone and everyone on the field Your children do not put much effort into or show enjoyment of practice You rush out onto the field at the slightest hint of injury to your child You are controlling and confrontational   You are overly concerned with the outcome of the game   The reason you have your kids in sports is to win trophies   Your child will definitely make the pros   In contrast to the emotionally over-involved parent is the authoritative parent.  Research into different parenting styles has revealed that the authoritative parenting style seems to be the most successful (2).  Here are some characteristics of an authoritative sports parent. Characteristics of An Authoritative Sports Parent   The Authoritative Sports Parent (2) Encourage participation Get involved in your child’s participation by attending games and providing positive encouragement Support values of fair play and sportsmanship Set Developmentally appropriate goals for your child’s performance, as opposed to...

The Role of the Sport Parent

As parents, your job is to love your kids and try to provide the best for them.  When it comes to youth sports, however, too many parents seem to lose all notion of what is best for their kids.  It is a telling sign that virtually every youth sports league in the country has enacted some measure to curb violence and negative behavior by parents.  Some leagues have even gone so far as to not let parents utter a single word during the game, calling it Silent Saturdays. As enticing as it may seem to some league administrators, taking the parents out of youth sports is not the best solution to the problem.  Parents have an important role to play, and the role that the parent does play can impact a child’s interest and enthusiasm for sport for years to come.  Studies have shown a positive relationship between parents who are involved with their child’s sporting activities and the child’s enjoyment of the activity, participation in physical activities and continued participation in youth sports (1).  That is to say the right type of parental involvement can help a child to have a positive youth sports experience that motivates him or her to want to continue playing sports. Sean Cumming and Martha Ewing of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports say the role of the parents in youth sports is to provide support for your child, both emotionally and financially, without becoming over-involved to the point of being fanatical (1).  Providing the proper emotional support can be difficult in an adult society that emphasizes winning, or the product...