Tips for Parents and Student Athletes

This section offers helpful hints and recommendations for parents of student athletes and the athletes themselves.  Some of the information will be about running track i.e. teamwork, preparation, training while other topics will be about life skills.  Sports participation should prepare the athlete to be a better student and eventually adult who knows what it is like to work hard and be successful.  It should also help them understand that working hard does not guarantee success, but it puts them in a place where the opportunity to be successful is within reach.


Dealing with the Sun and Hydration-  June 2013



When student athletes participate in track meets they need to be protected against the damage that the sun can have on their bodies.  Parents also need to be protected too even if you are sitting in the stands, under an umbrella or tent.


  • “For most of us 80% of sun damage occurs before the age of 18,“ says Bruce Robinson, M. D. Member of the American Society for Dermatological Surgery.

    This means all our student athletes regardless of skin color (yes, we African-Americans and Hispanics can get skin cancer too!) need to have suntan lotion on them BEFORE they start practicing; preferably a brand that does not sweat off when they start training or participating in a meet.  Make sure you take care of those ears and nose.  A loose-fitting ball cap should be considered and even on overcast days the suntan lotion should be used.  Don’t forget about the neck, shoulders, legs and other exposed areas.  Skin cancer can take years to develop so let’s make sure we are not putting our  youth in a position to develop cancer down the road!


  •  While most people are pros at lathering on the SPF, proper eye care can often fall to the wayside. Ultraviolet rays are just as likely to damage your baby blues (and browns, greens, and hazels) as your skin. But with a few preventive measures, you can drastically reduce the risk of long-term eye damage according to Jacqueline Griffiths, an ophthalmologist at the New View Eye Center in Reston Virginia.  A lot of times you’ll see parents lathering on the sunscreen, but their kids are running around without sunglasses.  Many of us will have 80 percent of our UV exposure by the time we’re 18 because of all that exposure as children.


 Hydration (Are you drinking enough water?)

As a Naval Officer in the Medical Service Corps we were tasked with providing the Marine Corps and Navy with their medical treatment.  I often trained with the Marines at their desert warfare training center in 29 Palms, California. It is in the Mohave Desert where temperatures can easily reach 120 degrees in the shade.  Here are some tips from those experiences for parents and student athletes.


  • Hydrate before your activities. That means you should be drinking some water or liquid before arriving at practice or the track meet.  Not so much that you feel bloated, but you should not feel thirsty. The Cleveland clinic recommends drinking at least 16 to 20 ounces of fluid 1 to 2 hours before outdoor activity.  After that you should continue to drink 6 to 12 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 min. you are outside.


  • I’m feeling thirsty so now I should be drinking.  Actually when you start feeling thirsty or your mouth is dry you already have too little water in your system.  That is your body’s way of telling you that you are already starting to become dehydrated.  If you have enough water in your system you should never feel those types of symptoms unless you have other illnesses or medications.  Another signal that you are not hydrated is dark-colored urine; if it is clear, pale or straw-colored you’re okay.  We knew that marines who had dark-colored urine during maneuvers would be the first ones to succumb to the heat so they were constantly encouraged to drink . Do the same for your student athlete and Mom and Dad check yourselves too!