Sports schedules and school schedules – how well do they get along?
Sometimes things just work out and everything is hunky dory.
Other times, not so much!!
Meshing the two schedules can be a nightmare, especially when you realize that children involved in sports not only have to be properly nourished to perform well at their sport but also to be able to concentrate at school. Both are so important!
How to pull it all together?
Having the appropriate nourishment available at the appropriate time can be challenging even at the best of times. If you throw a school and sports schedule into the mix, the challenge level goes up a couple of notches!
Practices or games that are early in the morning or right after school used to drive me crazy until I figured things out.
The essential element is PLANNING!
One good thing that can be said about schedules that are inflexible (hello school and sports schedules!) is that you know what they are in advance and you can plan around them. There are 4 key moments around sports when eating and drinking are critical to a great performance:
- 3 to 4 hours before sports – get me a recipe, please
- 1 to 2 hours before sports – get me a recipe, please
- During a sport – get me a recipe, please
- Within 30 minutes of finishing a sport – get me a recipe, please
If you know the key moments around sports, you can count back from whatever game or practice is around the corner and figure out when eating and drinking needs to take place.
Having lived through this many times over with my four (now adult) athletes, I can give you a few tricks that I had up my sleeves!
- Write down the key moments around the game or practice
- Write down your child’s school schedule (start time, lunches, breaks, end time)
- Make a note of any conflicts (for example, if your child needs to have a snack while in the class)
- Speak to the teacher well in advance to ask if there is a possibility that your child step out of the classroom discretely for a short time to have a snack (somewhere they won’t be disturbing the class and setting a precedent). The Physical Education teacher can also help facilitate this, especially if the sporting event is school-related! Most teachers are quite accommodating if they know in advance. Like most people, they don’t like things sprung on them at the last minute!
- Send your child to school with the appropriate meal and snacks. Label them so that your child knows to when to eat what. It’s all very nice to plan for an nice energizing afternoon snack, but if your child eats it as a dessert after lunch, you are no further ahead!
- If there is going to be a physically challenging day, make sure that the hydration and nutrition start off on the right foot the night before.
- Explain to your child what you are doing and why it is important in language that they can understand. Their cooperation is essential. “Because I said so” won’t cut it as a reason. That much I have learned over the years!
I know what you are thinking and YES, the best laid plans sometimes fall apart…
…like your child eats their afternoon snack at morning recess, the teacher changed their mind about letting them leave the classroom to eat (or never gave permission in the first place!), your child decided that it was more important to trade their lunch with someone else or your child wasn’t feeling well and didn’t eat well the night before or the morning of the practice or game.
Life truly does get in the way of best intentions.
For those situations, make sure that you have easy-to-digest energizers available for the game or practice (sports drinks, fruits) to make sure that those muscles have the energy they need to compete.