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Best Sports Mom Tips

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My Best Sports Mom Tips
By:  Rachel Harris,

As a hockey mom for 14 years, I picked up a lot of tips when it comes to good game day nutrition, overall healthy athlete habits as well as other important considerations like proper online etiquette when the child is representing a team and more.  When the Your Life Arizona producers asked me to be a part of their sports themed show, I decided to share what we learned to help our son to be the best athlete, team player and good citizen that he could be during that special time of his youth hockey years.  I am astounded at just how fast the 14 years flew by!  First some insight that I can reflect on and share after being a hockey mom for so long and then a few health tips as you find yourself a busy sports mom trying to support your athlete as best as you can.

A Look Back:  What We Did & What Our Son Gained
*We let our son lead the way when it came to his youth hockey.  He came to us at 4 years old asking to take a hockey lesson.  Little did we know, that we would spend the next 14 years in hockey rinks supporting our son!  As the journey progressed, we didn’t pressure him to try out or to not try out for a specific team.  We didn’t pressure him to score or to be better defenseman.  We didn’t ask to meet with the refs or coaches if we felt a call was unfair or that our son wasn’t getting enough ice time.  Here is what we did do – we rooted for him, we celebrated the victories and listened to him postgame when he wanted to discuss the losses.  We also listened to our son’s frustrations and talked with him about what he wanted to do about it.  If he didn’t make a team, but he didn’t want to give up, then we said yes when he asked to attend twice weekly private 6am lessons or group sessions with ice time outside of games and practices to improve his skills.  We let him lead the way and we discovered that it was a good way to do it with our boy.
*We did however, require that he keep up and do well in school.  If he met that criteria and stayed out of trouble, then we paid the hockey bills and traveled with the teams when he made travel teams.
*We reminded our son that his behavior off the ice was just as important as on the ice.  This meant that he needed to be careful on his social media pages and to absolutely avoid situations that could get him suspended from a team like getting in trouble at school or drinking at parties.  I am not saying that he was perfect and followed all the rules, but he stayed out of trouble and he always knew that he could call us if was in a troublesome situation or was considering making a troublesome decision.  Being on a team that had rules like ours helped with this for sure.
*We stayed on him to get enough sleep and to eat well.  This became even more of a priority when he started driving.  Between his academics, club travel hockey, high school hockey team and being a member of the high school golf team…that is a lot to keep up with.  Add the energy and alertness needed to drive a car and it became crucial to us that he take care of himself.  We had to nag so he wouldn’t lag due to unhealthy habits.  Being on a sports team encouraged him to want to make healthier choices, so that helped us to help him.
*We budgeted for travel hockey when his goal of making a travel team was achieved.  Sometimes we did fundraisers with our son and his team to help pay the travel bills, sometimes he went without us (as a teenager) and sometimes the hockey trip became our family’s one trip away that year.  We turned travel hockey into our family vacation at times. It was a blast for our family!
*We asked our son to work in the summer to help pay for some of his own things since we spent our fair parental share on hockey.  He did so working at Subway and then at our local golf course.
*We made sure that one of us (if not both) was at every hockey game, if possible.  We did this to support him and if he were to be injured (he did suffer a few broken bones), then one of us was there.  Some of our best family memories were at our son’s hockey games, both in state and out of state. 
*We chose to make our son’s youth sport an important focus for our family during those years.  We did this because it was important to him and he kept up his end of the deal by making good grades and staying out of trouble.  We are currently doing the same thing with our teenage daughter’s local community theatre passion right now. 
*One thing I learned is that as our son got older, he stopped looking at us at his games, but he never stopped looking for us.  That was important, both to him and to us.
And from all of this, he gained perseverance, self-confidence, a strong team player mentality, coordination, focus, goal setting skills, skills on how to manage disappointment and still root for others at the same time and a lot of heartfelt wonderful memories that we all cherish.  He also has maintained strong friendships from his hockey years. Another great benefit from those youth sports years is that he now uses many of those skills that he learned then in his current sports journalism/honors curriculum that he is working so hard on at ASU.  He also does play by play for announcing for multiple ASU sports (hockey being one of them) and balances five internships with his college academics.  I believe that his years in youth sports has contributed to the success he is experiencing so far in college as he works hard, balances a lot, sets goals and goes for it in an organized and methodical manner.
Now a few of my favorite mama tips when it came to trying to keep my boy fed well and healthy during those 14 youth sports years. 

Game Day Nutrition
One thing I appreciated about our son playing team sports, is that he was motivated to eat right and take care of himself so that he would be fit and ready to play hockey.  Here are the nutrition guidelines we followed with him MOST of the time (we are not perfect and we ARE talking about a growing and hungry teen boy who loved to grab fast food with his buds) …
*Try to watch how much sugar your athlete is eating.  And pay attention to liquid sugar as well like sodas, juice and sports drinks.  Not good.  Water, milk and occasionally a sports drink when we felt he needed the electrolytes after a game.  Most of the time, we kept sugary drinks out of the house.
*Breakfast swaps – get rid of sugary cereal and make your athlete oatmeal with mashed up bananas, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg to sweeten it naturally.
*Good ol’ eggs are an excellent protein and the yellow part is also good.  Don’t serve just egg whites.  Pair with cut up fruit, and a good whole wheat toast.  Add a glass of milk for protein and calcium and water, too. Staying hydrated is crucial.
*Lunch swaps – make sure your kid is avoiding fatty foods like greasy pizza, fries or a giant loaded cheeseburger on game day.  A better option is a lean turkey sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread with romaine lettuce, tomatoes and mustard.  Add apple slices with peanut butter and a veggie tray.  I always put out a fruit tray instead of sugary desserts during game weekends.  Serve lunch 2 to 3 hours before game time so your child has enough time to properly digest the meal.
*Pre-game snack – The granola bars we approve of are several KIND varieties that only have 5 grams of sugar and Power Crunch, which also only has 5 grams of sugar and no alcohol sugars.  This bar is delicious as it tastes like a wafer cookie without the chalky aftertaste many other protein bars leave plus the Power Crunch bar won’t result in a sugar crash. 
Nag To Avoid Lag & Also Gradually Let Go
For lack of a better word, I did nag our son at times to be sure that he was getting enough sleep at night.  Teenagers need 9 ½ hours of sleep at night and most don’t get that.  Most of the time my son didn’t get that, but if I stayed on him, he would at least get 7 to 8 hours.  I nagged him to eat right and drink enough water.  To wash his hands a lot to try to avoid getting the flu during cold and flu season.  To keep his gear and uniform clean.  He didn’t want to miss his games, so that motivation helped.  So, I would nag to help him avoid lag on the ice, in school and to stay healthy.  I did find that as he got older, around 17, I nagged less to let him gain the independence he needed to soon leave for college.   But I never stopped checking in with him, putting out healthy snacks and giving him big supportive hugs as my reminders got gentler and less frequent. 

First Aid Kit
Always be prepared for injury and illness with an athlete.  I regularly kept Advil, Tylenol, band aids that come with Neosporin already on the band aid in our first aid kit.  We also had Vitamin C on hand and allergy relief medicine ready if allergy season was getting to him.  For sore muscles and bruising, I especially like my mother’s favorite homeopathic medicine, Boiron Arnicare Gel.  Made from Arnica Montana, a type of daisy which is has an ingredient that helps to temporarily relieve muscle pain and stiffness due to minor injuries, overexertion and falls.  In fact, this homeopathic remedy has become so popular that it is sold all over including at drug stores, Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods and more.  Another great remedy we like is Manuka honey (any organic brand).  We would give our athlete one teaspoon to eat at the sign of a cold or sore throat.  BUT VERY IMPORTANT - NEVER GIVE TO KIDS UNDER ONE YEAR OLD).
I could go on and on with tips all day after 14 years of being a busy and proud sports mom!  What are your favorite sports mom tips?  Share in the comments section and be sure to check my blog at for more parenting talk, recipes, giveaways and more.  Cherish the sports mom years.  They fly by, I promise you!

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