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The Junior Athletes' Guide to Recovery

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The Junior Athletes' Guide to Recovery

A junior athlete's biggest weapon is their availability. If your athlete is able to consistently turn up to to trainings and games they are going to have a massive leg up on competitors. It's going to help tremendously when scouts are looking for players to select, and massively support their development. The more hours a young athlete is on the field playing their sport and developing physically, the better they are going to be long term. That sounds all good, but the question is how do you get there? And the answer is, with recovery.

If you are able to recover properly between each training or game, this will pave the way for continuous improvement. However, if you are turning up to training feeling lethargic and sore then the amount of information you can take in and process becomes less and less, and the amount of improvement you can make only diminishes. There is no improvement without recovery.

Recovery encompasses a lot of key aspects and is a major selling point by many companies promising quicker recovery times with their products. This includes compression garments, cryotherapy, massage guns and sport supplements. However, these tools only become beneficial once you have nailed down the major pillars of recovery. These are nutrition, hydration, sleep, stress management and movement.


  • Ensuring you are eating plenty of protein and high- quality foods and limiting the amount of heavily processed and sugary foods is critical. Especially after games and trainings when your body is looking for nutrients to help you recover, high sugar and processed foods cause your body to go into a state of inflammation. When you are in this state your body uses energy to try and flush out and eliminate this waste, and so your recovery time is only going to increase.
  • Eat plenty of fresh and "real" foods including fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, wholegrains etc, and avoid the middle section of the supermarket where all the heavily processed foods are.


  • Many young athletes are living in a constant state of dehydration and find themselves having to reach for their bottles and drink it all at once. There should not be stages where you are so thirsty you must down your water all at once. When you are in a state of dehydration your body will pull water away from less important areas such as muscles, ligaments, tendons or skin to help protect vital organs. Additionally water helps break down foods and carry nutrients to the appropriate sites for recovery.
  • The recommendation for most people will be around 2.5 litres of water per day. The days where you are more physically active, more will be needed.


  • Sleep is the best performance enhancing drug out there. The positive effects of a good night's sleep and the negative effects of a bad night's sleep cannot be understated. When you sleep, your body produces hormones which aid in your body's recovery. Two hormones which are product are human growth hormone and prolactin.
  • Human growth hormone helps with the healing of muscles and tissues and prolactin assist with the reduction of inflammation. If you are not sleeping enough, you are not going to recover quickly.
  • It is recommended that teenagers get between 8-10 hours of sleep a night, the current average is around 6.5 to 7.

Stress Management

  • Stress has a massive negative effect on your ability to recover. You're far less likely to be doing the correct things that aid in recovery when you are stressed such as eating healthy, socialising, exercising and sleeping, but also physiologically. When you are overly stressed your body produces a hormone called cortisol, which is useful during times of temporary low-level stresses, however when prolonged will have a negative effect on inflammation and healing. People who have higher levels and frequency of stress (anxiety, anger etc) will experience longer recovery times.


  • Movement is medicine. The more you move, the more blood flow is promoted, which brings vital nutrients to your muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. This aids in recovery times and reduces swelling.
  • Now for what type of movement...this doesn't really matter. Whether you enjoy swimming, cycling, running, walking or just running around with your dog outside, just get outside and move!

For more information on improving your sporting performance, get in touch with us!

Matt Hucul
Junior Strength Coach
Inner Athlete (AUS)


#youthathletes #youngatletes #teenathletes

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