When An Athlete Gains Weight

Tauna & Kirsten
In Ask Our Experts
By Tauna & Kirsten | November 29, 2018
I notice when my 15-year-old daughter’s weight fluctuates a little higher, she doesn’t move around as well on the soccer field and can’t get to balls as quickly. I don’t want to be crazy about her weight, but she is on a high-level team and I think it’s affecting her play. What should I do?
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Raising Kids to Compete and Win

You are spot on when you point out that the extra weight can affect speed and agility but even more importantly, extra weight can cause injuries. As little as ten extra pounds can cause increased mechanical stress on feet, ankles, knees and the back. So, you’re right to be concerned. At the same time, addressing your young teenage daughter’s weight is tricky. Teen girls are very sensitive and very self-conscious about their body image and you don’t want to create extra emotional stress. Bringing it to her attention can backfire with either over-eating or not eating at all.

If the cause of your daughter’s fluctuating weight is unhealthy food choices, the easiest way to deal with that is through example. Mom – that means you have to eat right also. I understand setting up a good healthy diet can be tough when your daughter is always on the go. Try to pre-plan snacks for practices and games. Instead of grabbing some fast food, have fruit and healthy snacks out when she comes home from school. Point out how energized or how strong she looks when she eats healthy. Help her choose wisely by providing wise choices. Hopefully she’ll own it and healthy food choices will stick with her way past her sports career.

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Peak Performance Coach

How does she feel about her weight? How does she fuel her body? Does she look at food as fuel? Does she realize that eating lots of junk, which affects her weight, also affects her performance as well? 
I recommend having a discussion with her about how you make food choices (good and bad) and how that affects your performance is a good place to start. Does she have a role model? A lot of athletes who are in the limelight talk a lot about how they fuel because it is such an important component of their success. What does her role model eat? If she doesn’t have one, look for an athlete from any sport who trains at a high level. Ultimately, it won’t be about training for soccer, but healthy habits which will translate to her having an active lifestyle which she has grown to love while playing soccer. Research shows that girls who are actively playing a sport at 13 years old, are much more likely to be active when they are 23, than if they stop playing sports all together. Keep her active and show her the health benefits by modeling them as well.

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