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  • Writer's pictureStefanie Rock

Player development for teen athletes

It's incredible to FINALLY see hockey camps, spring programs, and summer skates back on the calendar. During this "off-season" time, focus typically shifts to player development and building strength, speed, and endurance in the gym and on the ice. Except, too many of these programs are still missing the crucial element for increasing strength, speed, and endurance... nutrition.

Without the foundation level of fuel, hydration, and quality sleep, a player's development is limited.

Understanding how and when the body utilizes carbohydrates, fats, and protein for game, growth, and recovery is essential (spoiler alert: protein isn't the greatest necessity!) for optimal performance and recovery.

Proper refueling during the "glycogen window" reduces muscle fatigue, soreness, increases energy, and supports immunity.

Unfortunately, too many athletes are relying on sports nutrition information handed down from the pros or influencers. Not only does this increase their risk of injury, it puts them at risk for potential future health issues. The nutritional needs for youth and teen athletes are different than those for an adult.

Not only does the type and level of activity factor into their needs, but considerations for growth are essential too (yes, including those 20-22 year old athletes). Just as each athlete- even within the same age group- is at varying stages of puberty, their body's nutritional needs vary as well.

Many athletes and parents hear coaches and trainers suggest that they "eat healthy." Yet, every family has a different definition of what constitutes "healthy." Without a true foundation for fueling, hydration, and quality sleep, youth/teen athletes are at greater risk for injury, illness, lack of focus, energy waves, and compromised "player development."

What are some signs that an athlete would benefit from nutrition guidance?

  • lack of focus

  • frequent injuries

  • slow recovery

  • frequent colds/illnesses

  • particular eater

  • food sensitivities/food allergies

  • use of supplement powders/shakes

  • poor quality of sleep

  • difficulty gaining/losing/maintaining weight

  • frequent use of ice baths/recovery "protocols"

  • energy waves

  • skipping breakfast before morning practices/games

  • use of energy drinks

  • insatiable/poor appetite

  • desire to build strength, speed, endurance

It's never too early or too late to introduce nutrition education to youth/teen athletes. While their focus may be fueling their game, parents and coaches know it's also supporting life-long better health.

Whether it's gaining kitchen confidence, preparing for billeting/college, understanding how food/water/sleep affect their game and growth, or transitioning to nutrient-dense fuel, nutrition is the necessary foundation for all player development.

Wondering if your athlete would benefit from nutrition education? Want to eliminate the stress of what and when to fuel your athlete? Contact me HERE or at


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