obesity with Coaching Healthy Habits, a new training to help coaches teach youth players to make healthier decisions on and off the field.
Sugary drinks and calorie-dense snacks are commonly served to young athletes, often due to mistaken assumptions about how many calories kids burn during practice. Studies show that in a typical youth sport training session, children may be active less than half of the time. The Coaching Healthy Habits training module is the first of its kind to equip youth soccer coaches to target these risk factors for childhood obesity with three simple principles:
• Drink Right (hydrate with water instead of sugary beverages)
• Snack Smart (snack on fruits and vegetables)
• Move More (increase physical activity during practice)
“As we celebrate Youth Soccer Month and the start of the fall season, this healthy habits training program expands on the fundamental lessons we’ve always taught,” said US Youth Soccer Executive Director Jim Cosgrove. “We see Coaching Healthy Habits as another tool our coaches can use to help players live their healthiest lives and enjoy the game for even longer.”
The Coaching Healthy Habits training is a result of a collaboration between Massachusetts Youth Soccer, US Youth Soccer and Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition. The training was tested in a statewide pilot this year with the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association.
“Coaching Healthy Habits draws on a combination of research and hands-on experience, and we know it will help kids gain even greater health benefits from youth sports,” said Dr. Christina Economos, Vice Chair & Director of ChildObesity180. “But we can't stop here. We need to teach and reinforce healthy habits throughout our children’s days, and I hope that more organizations will follow in US Youth Soccer’s footsteps to implement these simple changes and reverse the trend of childhood obesity.”
As a result of the pilot, all 2,000 Massachusetts Youth Soccer coaches granted licenses this year completed the Coaching Healthy Habits training. With more than 200,000 players and 10,000 licensed coaches, Massachusetts Youth Soccer is the second largest US Youth Soccer member State Association in the country. Moving forward, the training will be required for all new coaches in the state, as well as New Hampshire and Maine.
“Our coaches know that they’re not just teaching soccer skills; they’re teaching life skills that will help their players achieve success on and off the field,” said Ian Mulliner, Technical Director of Massachusetts Youth Soccer. “It’s really important to us that these behaviors become second nature at practice, so we’re including it as part of our required coursework for all new coaches.”
Healthy Kids Out of School works with leaders around the country to promote the Drink Right, Move More, and Snack Smart principles for healthy out-of-school time. The program’s Healthy Kids Hub website (www.HealthyKidsHub.org) provides resources to support the implementation of these principles. Regional funding for the Healthy Kids Out of School initiative is provided by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, with additional support from Newman’s Own Foundation.
For additional information about Coaching Healthy Habits, visit this link
About US Youth Soccer: US Youth Soccer - "The Game for ALL Kids!®" is the largest youth sports organization in the country and largest member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of soccer in the United States. US Youth Soccer registers more than 3 million players annually, ages 5 to 19, and over 900,000 administrators, coaches and volunteers in 55 member State Associations. US Youth Soccer programs provide a fun, safe and healthy environment for players at every level of the game. For more information, visit www.USYouthSoccer.org .