These days, high school athletes are constantly finding themselves “in-season.” This could be the combination of school and club seasons for one sport athletes, the year-round rotating seasons of multiple sport athletes, or even rotating school sports alongside club seasons. So what strategies can we utilize to minimize burn-out, prevent injuries, and keep athletes at peak performance year-round? In addition to a proper strength and conditioning base, we can implement proper soft tissue care, nutrition, and proper rest.
Motivating high school athletes to be compliant with regular Myofascial release can be difficult (to say the least). And while we would like our high school athletes to be responsible for their own nutrition, it often falls on family routines and habits. So what can we most universally hold our athletes to? Sleep.
The most common response I get from athletes when asking how they’re feeling is: “I’m tired” — understandable! Young adults physiologically need more sleep. Waking up early for school combined with late practices (or often early morning practices for those in-water sports) and heaps of homework that are all too often left for the last minute… It makes it hard to get the full-recommended 7-9 hours.
So let’s focus on quality of sleep instead. If they can only get 7 hours, let’s make sure they get a good quality 7 hours. There are multiple proven strategies to increase quality of sleep without major sacrifice. The hardest strategy for high school athletes? Putting down their phones before bed. A 2009 study by the Surrey Sleep Research Centre confirmed that the blue light emitted by electronics such as phones, televisions, and computers decreases the feeling of sleepiness and improves cognitive performance. That’s all great, unless you want to go to sleep. Through inhibition of the production of a retinal protein, exposure to blue light before bed decreases sleep duration as well as quality of sleep.
If reducing blue light exposure seems out of reach to the athlete (and often, sadly, it may), there are other strategies. As the body prepares for and enters sleep, internal body temperature drops. To prevent interference with this natural change, it is best to keep the room cool (somewhere around 65 F).
Lastly, and perhaps the most intuitive strategy: complete darkness. Again with the light – the darker the room is, the less possibility there is for interference with optimal sleep patterns.
So let’s let our athletes not only sleep, but also sleep well. And who knows, you might sleep better too!
Bachelor of Science – Biopsychology (UCSB)
Certified Personal Trainer (National Academy of Sports Medicine)
Ali grew up in Salinas, CA, where she developed a passion for volleyball at a young age. She competed year-round through middle and high school, and then signed on to play four years at UC Santa Barbara. In 2012, she started at UCSB and earned First Team All-Conference accolade, as well as serving as team captain for two years. After her athletic career came to a close, she turned to fitness and personal training as a way to stay active and healthy. She loves to help people improve and excel in their own heath journey and hopes to instill her passion for fitness and sports performance in others.