USA Martial Arts Fitness Academy Explains How to Help Your Child Succeed in Martial Arts

One of the common questions we’re asked as martial arts instructors are, “What should my child be practicing at home? And how could I help them improve?” Parents play a crucial role in their child’s martial arts development. No matter how great the child is, almost no one makes it to black belt without support. These are some ways you can enhance your child’s performance by following simple guidelines. Parents should be present during their child’s sessions, monitor their child’s diet, make sure their child is prepared for class mentally and physically, and lastly, parents must reinforce martial arts discipline.

Nowadays, parents are busy. Sitting through a martial arts class, especially after doing it for years, can become tiring. However, it is essential to watch your child practice. Your presence reinforces how important their martial arts training is, and how committed you are. In turn, the child is more serious about his or her growth as they feel supported. If you are only able to make it on occasion, be present. Watching a movie on your phone can discourage your child. Look out for moments when your child is looking back to find you in the waiting area and let them know you are there, wave, nod, or smile. I am not saying that you need to do this every day because let’s face it, sometimes parents are busy or are preoccupied. Even if on occasion, make an effort, it will be worth it in the long run.

On occasion, your child will be discouraged and will need your support. Like adults, children struggle with routine and consistency and may need some motivation. Perhaps your child will not get the trophy he wanted at the tournament or any number of things. You will need to coach your child and impart wisdom. Your awareness of such situations is what makes a black belt parent. After all, martial arts can serve as a valuable bonding tool. Remember though, in the words of my sensei,” This is a marathon, not a sprint”, and martial arts requires patience. We need you to be our MVP, our most valuable parent.

How do I tie my belt?

How you wear your uniform and tie your belt in martial arts teaches an important life skill in presentation. As adults, we understand that we dress for success, and this is an important lesson to instill in children from an early age. Adopting these positive values help the children succeed in and out of the do-Jang. Encourage your child to be in full uniform and to look their best. You will notice that how they look will help them with their performance.

What should I eat before practice?

Another significant way to help your child that is perhaps the most overlooked is monitoring your child’s diet.

Before coming to train, students should consume a meal that has carbohydrates, protein, and fat. A meal should take place 2–3 hours before you begin your work out. If the 2–3 hours range is not possible, you should still eat something containing fat, protein, and carbs. Keep in mind, the sooner the workout, the less you should consume. Eat foods that are easy for your stomach to digest. By doing so, you will prevent stomach discomfort during exercise.

Pre-Workout Meals

1. Greek yogurt along with granola and fruits on top. Have a water or orange juice on the side.

2. Oatmeal

3. Fruit bowl.

4. Salad

5. Smoothies (fruits, vegetables, protein, etc.)

Is what I eat after the work out important?

Your post-workout meal is just as important as your pre-workout meal. Having a nutritious and healthy meal will help your child grow strong and healthy.

Post-Workout Meals

1. Smoothies

2. Sweet potatoes

3. Vegetables

4. Grilled chicken

5. Brown rice

6. Nuts and seeds (unless you are allergic, please consult your doctor)

Enhance performance by hydrating properly

It is essential to keep your child hydrated during their workouts. Instructors will designate times throughout classes for water breaks. Parents should encourage the student to return to class quickly so that they do not lose momentum. A mild decrease of 5% from your child’s normal water levels will hinder your child’s performance. Also, it will increase their chances of heat exhaustion and concussion. Dehydration will increase heart rate and decrease their bodies efficiency, which leads to reduced blood pressure and subsequent dizziness.

Don’t wait for your child to say he or she is thirsty to provide them water. Thirst is not a reliable indicator for dehydration; in fact, it often results in people waiting too long. At this point, the athlete is already dehydrated. Please make sure to drink at least 2 cups of water 3- minutes before your workout. While working out, consume an average of 6 ounces of water every 20 minutes. You should also make sure your child rehydrates well post workout. Keep in mind that when you work out, you do not just sweat water. You also sweat potassium and sodium, so having sports drinks can offer the necessary nutrients during activity.

Having your child succeed in martial arts and life, in general, is a proactive process. Follow the advice mentioned here and you are on your way to producing an excellent black belt.

By: Juan Sanchez, MBA

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