If you coach middle or long distance, you really have to watch out for eating disorders, particularly in female athletes.
There is so much pressure to be thin and light. One has look at all the successful distance runners out there, African or non-African, and their body types are all the same: stick thin. Frank Shorter was often referred as “the vertical hyphen”.
The reasons for being thin are enormous. Physiologically, you get a better VO2 Max as you have no excess weight to carry around.
Many thanks to Soccer Coach Andre Botelho for submitting this article “How To Prevent Eating Disorders”. While he references soccer players, the facts still holds true for middle and long distance runners, or any sport for that matter. Even in Life.
Coaches need to seriously look into eating disorder in athletes. Here are some of the tips that can prove valuable in preventing eating disorders in your champion players.
Recognize The Signs And Symptoms Of Eating Disorders
An expert coach knows that when the players are facing eating disorders, they often try to hide their symptoms to avoid calling attention to them. Therefore, you must be capable enough to instruct coaches and trainers to recognize the signs and symptoms of eating disorders and understand their role in helping to prevent them.
Providing Accurate Information
Providing accurate information to the players regarding weight, weight loss, body composition, nutrition and sports performance is very important and every coach should learn to do that with perfection. This will not only reduce misinformation but doing so will also challenge practices that are unhealthy and even counterproductive. Again, it is also important for the coaches to be aware of local professionals who will help educate the players.
Emphasize The Health Risks
Another important thing in this regard is that the coaches must learn to emphasize the health risks associated with low weight, especially for female players with menstrual irregularities or Amenorrhea . If you find any such case, you should refer the player for medical assessment.
Revering To A Sports Psychologist
If a player is chronically dieting or he exhibits mildly abnormal eating, it is always prudent for the coaches to refer to a sports psychologist or other therapist skilled at treating eating disorders. The likelihood of successful treatment increases if the problem is detected at an early stage. On the other hand, if the problem is left untreated, it may eventually progress to an eating disorder.
Focus On Other Areas
Most coaches do the mistake that emphasize weight by weighing athletes and by maximizing comments about weight. This is not good. Instead, the coaches should focus on other areas in which players have more control in order to improve performance, such as focus on strength and physical conditioning.
Preventing Eating Disorders is an important element in soccer fitness and no coach should overlook this issue.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andre Botelho is a recognized authority on the subject of soccer coaching. His web site, http://www.soccerdrillstips.com, provides a wealth of informative articles, resources and tips for soccer coaches, parents and players.
a niece of mine was in this very situation not long ago — pushing herself (and being pushed) way too hard, and way too thin, which we all know can lead to all kinds of unpleasant complications… she kept up with her sport (running), but started balancing things out, paying attention to what she was taking in her diet, and taking proper care to make sure she had all her nutrition. she rearranged her priorities and stopped listening to those who were pushing so much as well.
here is a site i found that goes into a bit more depth with the details of amenorrhea and changes one can make to prevent or combat it:
to me, sports are games based on physical excellence. when long term wellness is disregarded in the process though, these games cease to make sense.
Jimson Lee says
@mica – I agree, no sense winning an Olympic Gold medal, then dying 10 years later!