Junior Athletes

“Encourage junior Athletes to eat and drink well to feel great and perform at their best”

This booklet offers guidance for meeting the nutritional needs of children aged between 5 -11 who participate in athletic activities including cross country running, track and field events. Whilst most of the information in this booklet is also appropriate for older children, more specific nutrition information for adolescents is available here.

Parents and coaches frequently ask “What are the best foods and drinks for kids to have to boost athletic performance?” Just as often, in conversations between parents at sporting events, quite different opinions are expressed about what is best practice in feeding and hydrating our athletics stars of tomorrow.

Whilst the nutrition needs of children are individual and vary throughout their development, there are some important guidelines that are applicable to all juniors participating in athletics.

The foods and fluids consumed by Athletes of any age can have a big impact on their ability to train, compete and recover well. Food provides fuel to exercising muscles and nutrients for growth, recovery, cognition (ability to think well) and the immune system. It makes sense then that choosing foods and fluids that provide the optimal amounts of nutrients, can help ensure a fit, strong and healthy young Athlete.

Sports Dietitians know how challenging it can be to juggle the demands of family, work and sport, and have aimed to provide information that not only helps optimise the performance of the junior participating in athletics, but is easily incorporated into the overall active family’s lifestyle.

Establishing high performance eating habits early in life will help set junior Athletes up for a long, healthy life in their chosen sports. It’s also an approach to eating that has health benefits the whole active family will benefit from.