Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Sports Program

Posted by: Jane Albin

Sports programming is a great way to meet HEPA (healthy eating and physical activity) standards in a fun and engaging way. Make the most out of practices, games and camp activities by extending active time with simple movements and offering healthy snacks and beverages to keep kids energized.

Two boys and a girl in Y soccer uniforms sitting on a bench on the side of a soccer field with a male coach sitting behind them.

Here are some tips for helping youth get the most health benefits from sports programming, both on and off the field.

Before: Use Your Resources
The YMCA’s extensive Healthy Sports Snack Toolkit is a great resource for sports directors to help kids maintain healthy lifestyles. Take some time to review and develop practices and policies on healthy snacking during sports activities.

During: Keep Kids Moving
While active play is a great way to hit those active HEPA standards, not all kids in a game are typically active at all times. If you’re playing an activity where kids have to wait their turn (like kickball) or get eliminated from the game and are waiting until the next round starts (like dodgeball), use that time to keep them moving. This can add valuable minutes to their active time. A few ideas:

  • Teach them light-intensity movements they can perform while on the sideline
  • Create mini-games for kids who are waiting their turn
  • Change the rules to allow kids to re-enter the game quickly if eliminated

After: Refuel
After the activity or during break, providing healthy snacks and drinks can keep kids fueled and ready for more. Here are some guidelines for keeping snacks HEPA-focused:

  • Make water readily available for quenching thirst. Sugary drinks, including sports drinks, are not recommended.
  • For snacks, offer fruits and vegetables. Oranges, apple slices, strawberries, sugar snap peas or pepper strips are some hearty ideas.
  • If kids have had an especially vigorous workout, having a healthy meal or snack within one hour after play can help them recover. Some options include a fruit smoothie, hummus and carrots, or yogurt with banana or granola.

Always: Model HEPA Behavior
Whether you work with kids or have kids at home, remember that adults serve as role models. Children notice what we say and mostly—what we do. During sports activities, use the opportunity to show kids what #HepaChampions behavior looks like and they’ll follow along.

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The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.