Teaching Good Nutrition to Your Youth Baseball Players

Eating the proper foods is a key element of youth baseball training. When coaching youth baseball, the coach should encourage players to be well hydrated when they show up to practice and to bring snacks so they don’t get hungry during practice. You should also encourage proper nutrition while at home and emphasize to the players that this will help them play better baseball.  

When kids are young, their food choices are mostly made for them.  As they grow up and begin to make their own choices, they need to be taught about food and its impact on the body.  This way they can make better choices for themselves, to be healthier and stronger.  Parents’ nagging often falls on deaf ears.  But most players listen to their coaches!  A coach can be a great ally for parents in helping their sons eat better.

Here are some basic nutritional facts that should be taught to youth baseball players:

1. Protein provides the building blocks for muscle.  Kids must eat protein to build up their strength.
2. Carbohydrates provide quick energy.  Kids should understand the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates and be instructed to choose complex carbohydrates.
3. What types of food provide protein?  You would be surprised to find out that many kids don’t know the answer to this question!  Make sure your players can tell the difference between a protein and a carb.
4. Explain that there are bad fats and good fats.  Some fat is essential to the body’s well being.  If kids maintain a well balanced diet of healthy foods, they will most likely get the fats they need.
5. Let kids know that the less processed a food is, the healthier it is.  Fresh fruits and vegetables and unprocessed meats should be their first choices. 
6. It is becoming more widely accepted that eating more, but smaller, meals is a healthier way to eat.  Have kids try to plan to eat healthy six times a day. 
7. Breakfast.  This is the most important meal of the day and should never be skipped.  Breakfast should include a healthy protein and well as some carbohydrates.  A multivitamin is beneficial as well.

If kids understand some basic facts about nutrition, and these are emphasized by their coach, they will be more likely to follow a healthier diet.  It may not be perfect, and given they are kids it won’t be, but if they end up chosing a banana over a candy bar just a few times a week it will make a huge, long-term difference.

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