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As a youth sports coach, I feel like all of my actions around my players can influence them both on and off the field. I’ve worked hard this season to instill skill building, teamwork, and sportsmanship. When you’re coaching U6 soccer it can be tough to find a balance between giving every player enough playing time, and keeping the team competitive enough to win so that they aren’t discouraged; every child needs time on the field to learn the game. I also try to teach them to be humble winners and gracious losers. Those are the most obvious skills that coaches typically try to improve upon throughout the season; sadly, sports nutrition and hydration are often an afterthought. I tried to set a precedent after the first game of the season by also being snack mom for that game (my son plays), and I researched better snack options for my players. In previous seasons I was often unpleasantly surprised by some of the snack choices.
I don’t mind if Gabe has a cookie or chips on occasion, but that’s the last thing his body needs when he’s trying to recover from a strenuous game. Our soccer team is fast paced, and soccer is a running sport in general. These tiny athletes need to rehydrate and refuel, especially during warmer weather.
So how do you plan for snacks to help keep your young athletes at the top of their game?
During our first practice/parent meeting, I begin by asking if any players have food allergies or intolerances that I might need to know about. I also volunteer to provide snacks during the first game; I do this to set a precedent so that the other parents (especially those new to the league) can see what I offer and I hope they’ll follow suit. I don’t want to be restrictive, because certain snacks might not be in the budget for some families.
Here are a few items that I consider and often purchase:
- Bottled water
- Dannon® Danimals®
- Small apples
- Small oranges
- Lower sodium crackers
- Cheese sticks
- Carrot sticks
Because I don’t offer sugary or overly salty snacks, the children quickly take the fruit and I have yet to have a child complain about the options I present. It’s easier to have a few options, and allow them to choose. Kids are people, and people always feel more satisfied when they have a choice than when they don’t.
Curious why I choose Dannon® Danimals® for my son and players? Dannon® Danimals® contains “Only the Good Stuff®.” It has no high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. Dannon® Danimals® is also a good source of both calcium and Vitamin D. I also love the small portable containers because they’re perfect for on-the-go activities. Gabe can carry them to the bus stop, to theater practice, or to sports practice, and we offer them as a snack at games.
Dannon® Danimals® are available in special collector’s edition packaging featuring different athletes. A “Golden Bongo” bottle could win a Play 60 Field Day for your child’s school. You can find more information here. We regularly purchase Dannon® Danimals® from our local Walmart.
Do you ever take snacks for your child’s teammates, after-school activities, or play dates? How do you choose what snacks to take?