It doesn’t matter what sport it is or which school you go to, trying out for a high school sports team is stressful for the athlete and the parent alike.  With competition for a spot on the roster more ferocious than ever, here are a few ways parents can help their athletes perform their best during tryouts.

Medical Physical & Paperwork 

Be sure all of the required medical paperwork, permission forms/waivers have been completed and turned in.  Virtually all schools require some form of a pre-participation physical to be completed and signed by your child’s physician or other medical provider.  Make several copies; save one for your own files; and be sure the information is accurate and has been turned in to the correct office or school administrator.  Do this well in advance to save yourself and your child last minute stress. Over the years, more than one athlete has been prohibited from tryouts because of missing paperwork or similar snafu.

Check Their Gear

Buy properly fitting shoes/cleats with enough time to break them in.  Worn out sneakers, too-small cleats, and fresh-from-the-box shoes can mean blisters, improper support, and lead to injuries.  Get your son or daughter properly fitted for their required footwear several weeks before tryouts.  Shoes should be replaced periodically to prevent overuse injuries.  Remember, high school athletes are wearing their shoes several hours a day up to 6 days a week.  Tennis players and runners may need to replace their shoes as often as every couple of months.

Keep Them Safe

Check all safety and sports equipment.  Make sure all equipment is in good condition, fits properly, and provides the necessary protection.  That means mouthguards, helmets, and goggles.  It can mean the difference between a season-ending injury and a minor bruise.  Double check that this equipment is without cracks or defects that might put your athlete at risk.  New (unchewed) mouthguards are a must, particularly if your child wears braces.

Help your athlete to get enough sleep. 

Tired athletes don’t perform their best during tryouts.  Teenagers need nine hours of sleep a night, but most get only about seven.  Help your son/daughter develop a consistent nightly routine and bedtime that will allow them to get sufficient sleep.  TVs and devices in the bedroom are a no-no.  Between the light, video binging, and constant temptation to send or respond to late night texts, cell phones and other devices should be left to charge overnight on the kitchen counter or other location away from the bedroom.

Get and stay hydrated.  

Remember, thirst is NOT a good indicator of hydration.  Once you feel thirsty, you are already on your way to being dehydrated.  Athletes should focus on becoming well hydrated several days before tryouts.  Develop a regular schedule for drinking and make a conscious and concerted effort to increase your fluid intake.  Many athletes are already dehydrated before they even step on the field, making it extremely difficult to catch up.  Proper hydration is a must no matter what the weather is like.  Hot or cold, athletes lose a lot of fluid through sweat.  Chocolate milk is a great recovery beverage and contains all of the nutrients the body needs to recover from an intense workout.  Athletes should look to consume 8 oz. of low fat chocolate milk within 30-60 minutes of completing their workout.  Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are great for hydration and electrolyte replenishment.

Remember to re-fuel and eat smart.  

Young athletes need to make sure they are properly fueled before, during, and after tryouts.  This takes some planning, particularly if you’re in class for much of the day with limited time to eat and drink.  Pack a snack to eat an hour or so before tryouts—yogurt, fruit, nuts, or protein bar.  Post workout muscles need protein for recovery, and it’s best consumed 30-60 minutes after.  Sports nutrition bars and drinks can help bridge the critical gap before dinner time when the body requires re-fueling.