Archive for “Nutrition” Category

5 Tips to a Healthy Football Season – And Any Sports Season

Football Season is Here

The season is upon us. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s football season. The time of year where you can lose more friends than in an election year. So with that said, 2016 may be an interesting year. Let’s call 2017 the year of reconciliations.

If you are an athlete, football season can be grueling and can wear you down. If you are a coach, it can do the same thing. If you are a parent…well, parents have it easy. All you have to do is print out this article, tape it to the fridge, and your young athlete will follow all 5 tips, right?

The goal of this quick article is to give the athletes 5 tips to a healthy football season and give coaches some things to harp on with your athletes. In a loving way, of course.

5 Tips to Having a Healthy Football Season

Tip #1: Nutrition

Eating “properly” for performance is a year long struggle for the young athlete and can get even more difficult during football season. One of the hardest goals to meet is getting the calories an athlete needs to perform. With lunch around noon and practice after school, kids can go 6-7 hours without eating in the afternoon.

Pro Tip: Bringing snacks to school is important to fill those huge gaps in the day. But don’t forget, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don’t skip it.

Tip #2: Strength Train

If we work hard in the off-season, why lose all those “GAINS” during the season? Yea, I know, “I don’t have any time” or “we gotta spend that time watching film” is a common reason for skipping strength training. Time can be of the essence, but 2 days a week minimum is a must! Get into the weight room.

Pro Tip: The main goal in-season is to combat muscular imbalances that are caused by the season which CAN help prevent injuries. Oh yea, athletes CAN get stronger in-season! Don’t skip out on strength training during the season. Your off-season will thank you!

Tip #3: Sleep

You know what? I love video games too! I think it’s important to have fun with friends but don’t let it affect the season. Athletes need 8-9+ hours of sleep each night so the body can repair itself. Period.

Tip #4: Injuries

This is a big one for highly motivated athletes. Nobody likes to be hurt and miss games. But that slightly rolled ankle can quickly turn into a season ending injury if not treated correctly. There is a big difference between some bumps and bruises and an injury that can lead to something more serious.

Pro Tip: Maintain a good working relationship with ATC’s and make sure injuries are discussed.

Tip #5: Academics

Poor academics can lead to ZERO play time. Make school work a priority. Time management is one of the skills athletes will need to learn as a student athlete.

Pro Tip: Take advantage of free time. Use study hall for studying and homework (obviously), and use bus rides for the same thing. Being an athlete is work!

Have a Productive Football Season

Parents, I hope this is “fridge worthy”. Coaches, keep these tips in the front of your mind when it comes to your athletes. I hope that your football athletes will use these 5 tips to have a healthy and productive football season.

Josh Ortegon

About the Author: Josh Ortegon

Josh Ortegon - 5 Tips to a Healthy Football SeasonJoshua Ortegon is co-founder and the Director of Sports Performance Enhancement at Athlete’s Arena in Irmo, SC. Joshua earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Western Michigan University in 2000.

As an IYCA-certified High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist, speaker, and writer, Joshua has helped establish Athlete’s Arena as the premier high-performance center in South Carolina since 2005.

Joshua has worked with a wide range of athletes from youth to professionals specializing in the areas of injury prevention, return to play and performance enhancement.

Are Your Athletes Prepared to Perform this Season?

IYCA-LTAD-LM-Blog AD-V1 - 5 Tips to a Healthy Football Season

Our Biggest Job As Youth Fitness Coaches

We Must Lead By Example As Youth Fitness Coaches

Latrael Mitchell explores our biggest job as youth fitness coaches—leading by example

By Latreal M. Mitchell

As youth fitness coaches, we have a great opportunity to lead by example and empower youth to make better eating and activity choices. With technology, we now have genetically modified foods, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, and supersized soft drinks. With the emphasis on academic testing, PE is increasingly being cut from schools, and for many high school students, unless they are in an organized sport, there is no physical activity. Childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes are at an all-time high in our youth. Thankfully, many vocal proponents for change have brought about increased awareness, but information provided by the government or other entities does not necessarily bring about individual action.

Our biggest job as youth fitness coaches is to lead by example.

Moving people from consuming information to taking action is our task. How can we be a part of the solution? An important part of the solution is for us to embody the lifestyle we want children to lead. How can we tell children to exercise—and to do it properly—if we do not do such things ourselves?

As coaches, I believe it is essential for us to be in shape since, in most cases, we are one of the key influencers in children’s lives. Be specific in discussing your workouts and why it is important to be physically fit. Your appearance will be obvious, but discuss how much more energy you have when you are fit, the fun things you can do, and how being physically active helps mentally and emotionally deal with life’s challenges. If the work you do with kids is sport-specific, think about setting up a day to do corrective exercises and workouts with them. If you are overweight, start working out with kids while coaching them so they can see how hard work pays off. Be open and talk to them about why you are overweight and what you are doing about it and how they can support you.

Through leading by example, you will be empowering kids to help you make better choices. It is so easy to get caught up in our work and the love for our kids that we neglect ourselves. I’m all about living a “no excuse lifestyle,” but when I hear an excuse coming out my own mouth about why I can’t work out, I look really hard to find a solution.

Because I believe that nutrition is so important, I’m certified through Precision Nutrition and currently working on another certification from Integrative Nutrition. I realized early in my career the importance of incorporating a food component in my programs and teaching children (and adults!) to take small steps towards better health.

Our biggest job as youth fitness coaches—make information relatable for kids

As health coaches, we can incorporate a nutrition element into our programs that at the same time is fun for kids. One of the most impressionable demonstrations I do for kids is teaching them about sugar. I bring a one-pound bag of sugar with me and ask kids what their favorite drinks are. Let’s say they answer, “Gatorade.” I will have a volunteer come up and scoop out 9 teaspoons of sugar from the bag. Yep, 9 teaspoons, which means that since there are 15 calories in a single teaspoon of sugar, that the child is consuming 135 calories of sugar in a single 20 oz. sports drink. I will ask the child, “Would you eat 9 teaspoons of sugar?” and the answer is always “NOOOO!”

Then I ask, “Why would you drink it?”

By the tenth drink example, I’ve usually hammered home the importance of drinking water. There are a lot of resources available about sugar, so you don’t have to create anything; it is already done for you. I use the following resources:




I also like to demonstrate healthy snack choices to show how easy it is to eat something healthy instead of chips or candy. After a few weeks, children are drilling your messages into their parents’ heads and then we are empowering change from the bottom up!

There are so many more things we can do! Be creative and keep it fun. However, just as with new clients, we don’t overwhelm them with information.

I’m not going to overwhelm you. It all starts with “YOU” and being a better you by living with integrity, practicing what you preach, and truly embracing the career you chose: health and fitness. Our biggest job as youth fitness coaches is to lead by example, develop athletes, and inspire children to be active and healthy.

Pre-Tournament Nutrition With Dr. Chris Mohr

By Chris Mohr

Q: What foods should you eat to start your day when you are going to play in an all day tournament?

A: First, I’ll assume that you’re planning to wake up early enough to have something somewhat substantial and are not just rolling out of bed and running out the door.

When you’re preparing for several games during the day. If you read nothing else, pay attention closely to this …

Stick with what you know and don’t try new foods on the day of competition. Or even the day before competition. I once worked with a client who came to me after she had a bad day on the field hockey field. She was hungry, a coach told her carbohydrates were important and that fiber was important, so with a large bran muffin as an option, she chose that. Unfortunately for her, her body wasn’t used to that much fiber…and she had a few GI issues during that day of tournaments that kept her cramped and certainly not performing at her peak (or at all in this case).

All that being said, a few tips.

Eat something somewhat substantial 2-3 hours before your first game.

Ideally this meal will be primarily carbohydrates with some protein. Here’s an easy way to imagine this.

Tournament Nutrition

Hold out your hand. Have about 2 fistfuls of carbohydrate and 1 of protein.


1 Greek yogurt with a banana (2 parts carbs, 1 part protein). 

1 slice of whole grain toast, 1 orange, 1 egg. 

1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 apple + low fat milk. 

The closer you get to the actual workout, time wise, the less you should eat so you don’t have heavy food sitting in your stomach.

Looking for more specific information?

Check out the IYCA Nutrition Certification here:


13 Tips for Training Young Athletes

Important Differences between Training Young Athletes and Adults

By Michael Mejia

training young athletes

When training young athletes, the coach must take a different approach from one who works primarily with adults. Simply put, young athletes are different from adults and have different needs. Don’t get me wrong: Adults have their own problems, but there are a few that are much more important to keep in mind when training young athletes.

The following is a list of 13 tips that you can share with your young athletes as you prepare them for games, competitions, or simply an injury-free, athletic life. The more you can instill these principles in your athletes, the more success they will see on a regular basis.

Don’t forget: even though this is tailored for coaches training young athletes, adults can benefit from many of these principles, too!

13 Tips for Successfully Training Young Athletes

1. Drink more water

Training Young Athletes

By now, this one should go without saying. Over 70% of your body is water, and it is the number one thing your body needs for survival-not soda or Red Bull! How can you possibly expect to perform at a high level if you’re not drinking enough? How much is enough? Check out the new BASE Resource Page to find out.

2. Form is everything!

Nothing irritates me more than watching motivated athletes throw weights around with reckless abandon. I get that these athletes are young and feel invincible. I also get that many of them will do whatever is physically necessary to realize their athletic goals. That said, slinging weights all over the place is neither necessary nor is it particularly smart. Take the time to teach the proper form for lifts like squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts and overhead presses. Once your athletes have the basic mechanics down, gradually start increasing the weight.

3. Posture is more important than you realize

Besides looking unattractive, poor posture can adversely affect your breathing, your digestion, and your risk of injury by promoting widespread muscular imbalance. This can lead to impaired performance on the field and even in the classroom!

There are a number of ways to correct poor posture. First of all, an appropriate training regimen will promote mobility and stability in the right areas, and it can strengthen key postural muscles. But by simply trying to stand and sit up a little bit straighter several times throughout the day, your athletes can help undue some of effects of all that constant texting and gaming.

4. Eat more fruits and vegetables

Here’s another area where the average kid’s diet falls woefully short. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are lacking in many of the other foods kids tend to favor. They’re also a great way to improve immune system function, lowering their risk for developing all sorts of diseases.

Having a conversation with your athletes about the importance of eating these foods is a good start. Make sure you relate the benefits to their athletic development, academic performance, and overall growth. Then ask them if they know how to get these fruits and veggies. Most of the time, young athletes have little control over what’s in their refrigerators, so involving Mom and Dad is a great next step.

5. Want to get faster? Get stronger!

This is another fundamental of proper programming. Doing endless speed and agility drills is not always the best way to get faster. If you’re not also working to increase strength through the lower body and core, as well develop good ankle and hip mobility, then those drills are of limited value.

Instead, getting faster requires imparting force into the ground through a full range of motion. This results from strength-building, lower-body (and especially posterior-chain) exercises more so than endless drills.

6. Don’t rely on supplements

Training young athletes 5

Supplements are something you add to an already sound nutritional program; they’re not some magic elixir. Unfortunately, some athletes think that something with a nice, shiny label full of ridiculous claims can make up for a steady diet of McDonald’s and easy mac and cheese.

Again, the solution here is to start the conversation with your athletes. Some of them don’t know any better and want to get that edge over the competition. If you educate them on the value of proper nutrition—and the dangers and potential future loss-of-eligibility concerns with certain supplements—they will have a better understanding of what they need to do.

7. Change your internal dialogue

A bit of a change-up from my usual advice, but lately I’ve noticed more and more athletes engaging in negative self-talk. When they constantly say things like “I stink,” or “I’m never going to (insert athletic goal here),” how do they ever expect to succeed?

If you hear your athletes saying, “I’m a lousy free throw shooter,” stop them and get them to say, “I’m getting better and better at making free throws.” Or, if you hear them say something along the lines of “I’m not fast enough,” have them focus on saying, “My speed is improving every day.” Even if it isn’t true right away, it will start getting them in the proper frame of mind to make those changes a reality.

8. If you can’t see it in the mirror, train it!

Training Young Athletes 6

Athletes love focusing on their “mirror muscles” with lots of bench presses, crunches, and biceps curls. However, the real key to athletic success (and longevity) lies in training everything on the backside of the body.

As their coach, when training young athletes, make sure you are strengthening their upper and lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves to give their bodies much more balance and stability.

9. Sweat the small stuff

Athletes who don’t make time to warm-up thoroughly, stretch, and foam roll on a regular basis are making a huge mistake. Though frequently glossed over, these three areas represent some of the best ways for athletes to improve performance and reduce injury risk. I for one consider them every bit as important (if not more) than strength training, plyomterics, and speed and agility work.

If you don’t already do so, make warming up a priority. Go beyond this and give athletes a routine they can do on their own before practices and games. The more an athlete can prepare him or herself for athletic performance, the fewer injuries they will see and the more athletic success they will enjoy.

10. Choose whole grains whenever possible

Training Young Athletes 7

Most young athletes don’t understand the differences between refined and whole grains, so educate them on the importance of minimizing their intake of foods made with white flour such as white breads, bagels, white pasta, and even white rice. These foods bring about rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to subsequent energy crashes. Instead, encourage them to opt for whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and sweet potatoes.

11. Give “camp” the boot

Count me amongst those who are not big fans of boot camp training for young athletes. While great workouts for more experienced trainees who are looking to test the limits of their strength and endurance, boot camp workouts are seldom a good option for developing bodies. Contrary to popular belief, young athletes tend to do better with lower reps, especially when doing more technically proficient exercises like cleans, plyometrics, and other compound exercises. Boot camps tend to feature way too much volume, which only invites fatigue and increases injury risk.

12. Be prepared!

Whether it’s forgetting to bring enough water along to practice or not having any healthy snacks on hand, a lack of preparation can be the difference between success and disappointment. Remind your athletes to be prepared, and empower them to become self-sufficient at looking after themselves.

One good place to start is to encourage your athletes to take some time each evening to set up some nutritious meals and snacks for the next day. You might have to help them understand what is nutritious, but once you do, they will be fueled and ready to go for school and training.

13. There are no short cuts

Training Young Athletes 8

Although we sometimes have a hard time believing it, this process takes time. In fact, some say it lasts an entire lifetime!

That’s exactly why I’ve presented all of this to you in list fashion, so you can chunk things down and encourage gradual, consistent change in your athletes towards achieving their goals. I know all about the impatience of youth. Like it or not, though, if you really want these changes to stick in your athletes, it’s going to take some time. Have patience and work on each item one at a time until they become habits. With perseverance and a caring approach, your athletes will eventually respond positively.

There you have it: 13 tips for getting the most out of your athletes. The next time you run into a roadblock training young athletes, consult this list and see if one of these principles can help you break new ground.

If you want to take your game to the next level when it comes to training young athletes make sure that you start your IYCA Youth Fitness Certification today! The best of the best in the industry know that the IYCA is the ‘go-to’ resource for info on training young athletes. Get certified today!

Youth Fitness Training



Is Your Training Program Complete?




by Wil Fleming


The other day a track coach that I really respect called me to discuss an athlete that we both work with and right away I knew he was excited. I could hear in his voice that he was just fired up. I asked him what was going on and he responded,
"Coach Flem I have to tell you the coolest thing, Anthony has gotten 3 feet faster just training with you this summer and fall. (meaning his long jump approach had to be moved back 3 feet on the same number of approach steps) What kind of speed work have you been doing?"



Honestly, the answer was very little, outside of some very short acceleration work, this athlete’s focus had been on improving his explosive strength recently.


So what’s the point of this story?



Dietary Supplements – Hype or Hope?




Dietary Supplements

by Dr. Chris Mohr, PhD, RD


There are over 29,000 dietary supplements available.


From creatine to fat burners, whey protein to weight gain formulas. 
     What works?
     What doesn’t?
     Do you need a supplement to perform at your best?


While giving a talk recently to high school football players, I asked the team this question:


How many of you take dietary supplements?


About 95% of the athletes raised their hands.


I then asked this follow up question.


How many of you ate breakfast this morning?


3 hands out of the entire team went up. 



Children’s Health & Lucky Charms – Is This Good or Bad?




Children’s Health

Children’s Health, a new magazine as part of the "Men’s Health" brand,
will be released soon.


I’m interested.






A new and improved trend or more of the same fluff?


It’s very easy to throw stones.


In fact, one of the biggest lessons my Dad ever taught me was about
that particular issue.


"It’s easier to throw a brick at a house than it is to build one yourself"


Dad’s words have always been a staple in my professional life.


So, without opinion, criticism or negative talk, I offer you this one


It appeared in an article about the impending Children’s Healthrelease.


"… 15 pages of advertisements in the first 112-page issue. Seven
of those came from General Mills, selling children’s cereals like Lucky
Charms, with 11 grams of sugar per serving…"


So, what say you?


Respond from the gut.


Yes…. Of course I have my thoughts on the matter.


But I truly want to hear what you think.


Click below and tell me…


Youth Fitness Specialist – Level 1 Certification Course
Click Here to See to Hear What Our Graduates Have To Say

Youth Speed & Youth Nutrition Certification Information




Youth Speed Certification

Okay, the questions have been flooding in and the hype around
the industry is absolutely huge.


People want to know!


So here’s your inside track information for the Speed & Agility Specialit certification event-


Location: Prairie Stone Sports & Wellness Center, Hoffman Estates Illinois


Dates: Saturday July 18 and Sunday July 19


Times: 1 – 5pm (CST) both days


Seats Available: 50


Instructors: Lee Taft & Brian Grasso


Credentials: Speed & Agility Specialist – Level 1


Recommended Hotel: Marriott Chicago Northwest


Special Bonuses & Surprises: This is more than a one-liner….


On Saturday July 18, Lee and myself will be teaching you our brand-new
4-hour Speed & Agility Specialist Certification – Level 1.


That you already knew.


But here are the special bonuses and surprises….


What I haven’t told you yet is that you will actually be receiving TWO certifications
during our exclusive weekend.


On Sunday July 19, Dr. Chris Mohr will be offering you the newest IYCA credential –


Youth Nutrition Specialist


Two certifications, one price!



Youth Fitness: It’s Time to Change the World




Youth Fitness and the Obesity Battle

I’ve done this once before.


And I’ll never forget it.


It was a very cold and quiet winter night.


To be entirely honest, it was more like 2am.


I was sitting at the desk in my home office and
Sara was sitting at hers.


Sara, if you didn’t already know, was a co-founder
with me of the International Youth Conditioning


It was late, we were exhausted, but mostly…


… We were scared to death.


Together, we were editing the newly written IYCA
textbook for a final time.


13 months, 11 contributors and a whole lot of blood,
sweat and tears had gone into this cause.


And at 2am that night, we were about 4 hours away
from releasing it to the world.


A very scary proposition for a 29 year old visionary who
‘decided’ one day to create an organization whose
mission was to literally change the world.


Our last minute work that night was certainly necessary
to make for a polished product, but more to the point,
we knew we wouldn’t be able to sleep and so needed
something to keep ourselves busy.


And keep the butterflies in our stomachs at bay.


I’ve always been a visionary.


A risk taker.


See a cause, become passionate about it, create a
solution to fix it.


That’s me.


I’ve never been ‘average’ that way.


A 9 – 5 kind of guy.


Same old routine day in and day out.


I like excitement.


I like to inspire and incite.


I like to make people realize that they can make a
change in our world no matter how big the problems
seem to be.


And the IYCA, 5 years almost to the day after that
cold and quiet winter night, has already caused great
change in the world of youth fitness.


It’s amazing what time, space and perspective can do.


From being exhausted and brutally scared that night
5 years ago, to being the leader of a global movement
that is actually working.


Here’s what some people have said to me since I released
the IYCA as a ‘solution’ 5 years ago –



"I really felt compelled to write this letter about my experience
at the IYCA seminar last month. For a lack of better words,
it was life-changing. I mean this in all sincerity"

– Kris Massaro (California)


"If you are a P.E. teacher, personal trainer, or strength
coach and work with children, it is absolutely ESSENTIAL
to attend an IYCA event"

– Aaron Larmore (Iowa)


"I do believe that you will change youth fitness in America"

– Jeff O’Connor (Nebraska)


"I would suggest that one of the greatest decisions
that I have made in my life was to take the Youth Fitness
Certification course that you offer"

– Bob Acton (Canada)


"The IYCA is changing the way we train youth"

– Men’s Health Magazine



Sometimes I sit back and reflect.


And when I do, I can’t believe that I’ve created such
wonderful change in our society with respect to youth
fitness and sport training.


To be the catalyst for a global change has been the
greatest honor of my life…


… And now, I’m doing it again.


Youth Obesity may very well be the most concerning
problem facing our society.


And there is no real solution yet.


Kids are getting fatter and more lethargic.


Obesity rates are climbing.


Our youngest generation is at the crossroads of a
massive crisis and no one is doing anything that
has shown proof of actually stopping this trend.


And that’s why I’m calling you to action.


I’ve done this once before and it worked.


I don’t need you to do much – just read something.


I need you to read the information contained on the
link below and just think for a second.


Think about how rewarding it is to change the world.


How necessary it is for our children.


And how the guy whose asking you to help as successfully
done this once before.


After that, you can decide for yourself what to do with the
information you’re about to read.


Right now, I’m wondering where I’ll be in 5 years.


Wondering where you’ll be.


And wondering where the state of this youth fitness problem will be
once the world sees my ‘Final Solution’.


I’ve done this once before.


And it worked.


It’s time to change the youth fitness world again…


You in?


Here’s that link –