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Guidance on the Use of Supplements for Young Athletes

At Sharks Development School, Swim School, Tri Club and even our Swim Shop, we are often asked if young athletes should be taking supplements to help improve their performance.

Now, none of us are doctors or health experts, but it isn’t rocket science to understand that sports supplements haven’t generally been tested on teens or children. However, studies in the US and the UK on adults show that the claims of many supplements are weak at best. In truth, most won't make you any stronger, and none will make you any faster or more skilful.

Finis have recently featured an article on this subject, entitled: “Attention Young Athletes: Is Supplementation Right for You? This article states that: “Considering young athletes do not generally require supplements to perform or maintain positive health, the risks often seem to outweigh the rewards. In a large, 10-year study, researchers looked at data from 63 hospitals. They found that on average, 23,0000 emergency room (ER) visits annually were due to the adverse effects of supplements.” Read more here.

Advertising Sports Supplements

Unfortunately, adverts for sports supplements often use persuasive before and after pictures that make it look easy to get a muscular, toned body. But the goal of supplement advertisers is to make money by selling more supplements, and many claims may be misleading.

Teens and kids may seem like an easy sell on supplements because they may feel dissatisfied or uncomfortable with their still-developing bodies, and many supplement companies try to convince teens that supplements are an easy solution.

Our advice it that you shouldn’t waste your money on expensive and dangerous supplements. Instead, try these tips for improving your physique and performance.

Dealing with Athletic Pressure and Competition

  • Take some downtime from your training: young people need more than 8 hours of sleep a night, and sleep is important for athletes. Organize time for sleep into your schedule by doing as much homework as possible on the weekend for example.
  • Relax: our school, work, and sports schedules may have you running from one activity to the next but taking a few minutes to relax can be helpful.
  • Eat well: fried, fatty, or sugary foods will interfere with your performance. Instead, choose foods such as lean meats, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products. They will also help to keep your weight in a healthy range and your performance at its best.
  • Fuel up: it can be tempting to skip breakfast or have an early lunch, then train later in the afternoon. Not getting enough food to fuel an activity can quickly wear you out and even place you at risk for injury or muscle fatigue. Be sure to eat lunch on training days and if you feel hungry before the session, pack easy-to-carry, healthy snacks in your bag, such as fruit, trail mix, or string cheese. It's important to eat well after a workout too.
  • Avoid harmful substances: smoking will diminish your lung capacity and your ability to breathe, alcohol can make you sluggish and tired, and can impair your hand-eye coordination and reduce your alertness. If you are competing in events, there is generally a no-tolerance policy for harmful substances.
  • Train harder and smarter: if you get out of breath easily during your training and you want to increase your endurance, work on improving your cardiovascular conditioning. If you think more leg or arm strength will help, consider weight training to increase your muscle strength.
  • Consult a professional: if you're concerned about your weight or whether your diet is helping your performance, talk to your doctor or coach who can evaluate your nutrition and steer you in the right direction.

Sharks Development & TriSharks Clubs

The coaches in our Sharks Development and TriSharks Triathlon Clubs, work closely with our young people to help them to get the most out of their training session with a view to improving technique and performance.

To find out more, call us on 01792 202795 or visit our websites:

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