Student athletes face unique challenges, balancing coursework with rigorous training and game schedules. Coaches, friends, teachers, and family form the team behind the athlete, providing critical support both on and off the field. They play an important role in making sure an athlete is safe and healthy. To celebrate National Student Athlete Day, we’ve prepared a few key ways an athlete’s support system can help players both on and off the field.
- Provide well-balanced meals & hydration.
To perform their best both on the field and in the classroom, athletes need meals that provide the right energy sources and nutrients. Providing balanced meals, or helping athletes understand what best fuels them before, during, and after gameday, ensures they can train, play, and recover.
Likewise, hydration is super important to an athlete’s health. Not just on game day: prior to and after an event, bodies need water in order to stay strong and heal quickly. Make sure water is readily available before, during, and after games & practice, and build time in for hydration to keep them going strong.
2. Encourage smart choices.
We’re not just talking about avoiding drugs, alcohol, or other destructive habits. Knowing when a body needs to rest, and when an injury will be better served by sitting out a match or two: those are also smart choices. Know their limit, know when an extra push is a push too far, and remember that a smart choice can save their career down the line.
3. Be prepared for the hard topics.
Support isn’t just about cheering them on in victory; it’s also about helping them stand back up after a loss. It is not uncommon for student athletes to suffer a serious injury, be diagnosed with a mental illness, or have difficulty coping with the stresses of an athletic and academic career. Learn about those tough topics, and demonstrate to the athlete that you are willing and able to help.
NCAA has resources regarding disordered eating, mental health, interpersonal violence and sexual assault, and signs of overuse injuries or concussions. Know what red flags to look for, and learn the best methods for intervening when needed.
4. Remember: Health first, all else second.
No matter the game, and no matter the stakes, remember that the athlete is first and foremost a person. As their support system, it’s your job to make sure their health and safety are always a top priority. A game is just a game, but a serious injury can affect the athlete for the rest of their life.
Celebrating student athletes goes hand-in-hand with working together to make sure they’re at their healthiest and happiest both during and after their careers. Sideline Orthopedics is proud to serve as team physician for a number of NCAA and high school teams in our area, helping student athletes heal and recover from injuries. It’s our job to do everything we can to support them throughout their careers and after. That’s why we’re happy to help athletes of all levels, as well as anyone with orthopedic injuries or ailments. You don’t need to be scoring touchdowns in order to visit us. No matter what, we’re always on your team.