Youth Nutrition for Tennis

There are two main parts to the optimal sports performance puzzle.

1. Proper nutrition.

2. Proper exercise and training.

That’s why no discussion of athlete training and development is complete without considering proper nutrition – the fuel for the roaring motor that is your child. Being the cute chunk of moldable clay that they are, laying down foundational nutrition habits now will help propel them to tennis legendry in the future (also when they get to college and a normal “meal” consists of Ramen Noodles, soda, and beef jerky).

A young athlete requires a bit more than just the basics of a healthy meal and sports nutrition, like exercise. They also require an individualized approach that takes a young athlete’s age, developmental stage, calorie expenditure, body composition, and the effect of exercise on the body into consideration. Think of it as a complex, interlinked Jenga stack – one missing piece can send the whole thing crashing down.

To keep your young one’s “Jenga stack” of nutritional health from crashing to the ground, it’s best to work with a professional.

BUT, in the meantime, here are a few nutritional morsels for you to “chew” on (please don’t actually chew on your computer screen….)

A Few Basic Youth Tennis Nutrition Tips



  • Eat every 2-3 hours
  • Eat lean complete protein with each meal ­­– fish, eggs, low-fat dairy
  • Eat vegetables with each meal – spinach, carrots, tomatoes
  • Eat fruits with each meal – apples, oranges, berries
  • Eat healthy fats daily ­– avocado, fish oil, nuts & seeds
  • Eat whole foods instead of supplements whenever possible
  • Break the rules 10% of the time
  • Plan ahead and prepare meals in advance
  • Eat as wide a variety of good foods as possible
  • Eliminate most empty calorie high sugar / high fructose corn syrup drinks – aside from Gatorade during training / competition
  • Finally, one of the most important and oft ignored tennis nutrition we can impart upon you is HYDRATION Child_Drinking_Water

While still growing and developing, a child’s internal thermostat is less efficient than their incredibly cool parents (pun intended). Because of this, keeping the kiddies hydrated is extremely important, especially when they’re training or playing on a hot summer day. During training or a match your young ones should drink liquid with sodium chloride and carbohydrates, like Gatorade, every 15 to 20 minutes. This will help to replace fluid lost and help the body retain what they’ve just replaced.

It’s important to remember that proper training and nutrition for a youth are complex, so it’s okay to reach out for help! Hey, we only want what’s best for you and your young tennis pro! Proper guidance from a qualified individual is the question and the Elite Jr. Tennis Program is the answer! .

Youth Resistance Training: Should my child start weight training?

By Paul Alexander, Personal Training Director, Elite Sports Clubs-North Shore

Each year, a growing number of children join highly competitive sports. Three-year-olds are playing tennis. By age 8, kids are involved in select soccer. What’s next – golf for diaper dandies? With competitive sports on the rise, it seems everyone is looking for an edge. Parents are hiring performance and speed coaches and personal trainers in the hope their child will make a select team. The idea of competition is healthy, but is there a point of diminishing returns? Thankfully, there is research that suggests when children should begin serious training.

Youth Weight Training Questions

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is considered a leading authority on the science of resistance training. The organization defines it as “a specialized method of conditioning, which involves the progressive use of a wide range of resistive loads and a variety of training modalities (body weight, tubing, machine and free weights) designed to enhance health, fitness and sports performance.” NSCA’s research on youth resistance training focuses on risk factors, health and fitness benefits, and optimal procedures.

In general, children are more prone to injury while playing sports than they are while participating in resistance training. Only three minor injuries were listed in studies associated with resistance training. When followed properly, resistance training ranks lower in injury prevalence than football, soccer, wrestling and gymnastics. Resistance training injuries have often times been attributed to improper loads and/or progressions, poor lifting technique and lack of adult supervision.

There are a number of benefits to youth participating in resistance training, as long as proper protocol is followed. It allows children to build strength and improve athletic performance. When a child gains strength, he or she is more likely to perform well on such field tests as grip strength and long jump. The forces associated with properly prescribed resistance training are less than what occurs during competition itself. Other benefits of resistance training include increases in anaerobic capacity, mental health and bone quality. It also has been linked to decreasing the obesity epidemic.

The NSCA recommends all youth resistance training programs include instruction on proper lifting techniques, safety procedures and specific methods of progression. According to researchers, the ideal approach to resistance training incorporates it into a progressive conditioning program with the volume and intensity of training changing throughout the year. When coupled with individual effort and qualified instruction, strength training outcomes are generally positive. One key point: Children are adolescents – not adults. Adult exercise guidelines and training philosophies should never be imposed on youth.

General Youth Resistance Training Guidelines

There are a number of basic guidelines that should be followed to ensure proper youth resistance training. Exercise environments, for example, should always be safe and free of hazards. Training sessions should begin with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up period, followed by a series of light loads that emphasize correct exercise techniques. When a session progresses, a child can perform 1 to 3 sets of 6 to 15 repetitions of a variety of upper- and lower-body strength exercises.

A number of specific exercises should be incorporated into the program, including ones that strengthen the abdominal and lower back region and promote symmetrical muscular development and appropriate muscle balance around the joints. Cool-down exercises should emphasize static stretching and less intense calisthenics. Once a regimen is established, it can be tweaked with progressively more challenging exercises. One of the most important factors to keep in mind: support and encouragement from instructors and parents will help children maintain their interest in resistance training.

Elite Teen Health Program Ad

Teen Nutrition & Training is required for early entry into the Fitness Center (ages 10-14). Enroll your child in this special program, which teaches safety and Fitness Center etiquette, proper use of weights and cardio equipment, as well as exercise routines geared towards youth. Check out our full youth program & youth fitness at Elite.

Are You Balanced?

By Bernie Feyrer, Personal Trainer, Elite Sports Club-Mequon

Have you ever had your feet fly out from underneath you on slippery pavement? That feeling usually sends your heart into a panic! No matter who you are–an athlete, a multitasking 30 something, middle aged, or a senior–you can benefit from working on your balance. It only takes a few minutes a day to see amazing results in your reaction time, ankle strength and leg endurance.

Balance is the key to life

Here are a few exercises to do at home everyday:

  • As you brush your teeth in the morning, stand on your left foot and brush with your right hand. Do the opposite in the evening.
  • Take a few minutes and stand toes to heel. Turn your head to the right and look over your shoulder and then to the left about five times. Switch feet and repeat. To make it more challenging, close your eyes.

Here are a few more exercises you can do at the fitness center with the help of some equipment:

  • Try squats on the Bosu Balance Trainer.
    Bernie Bosu Balance Squat
  • Stand on different wobble boards or the half-foam rollers.
    Bernie Wobble Board Balance Bernie Half Foam Roller Balance
  • Stand on a platform with one leg and lower your other leg to the floor.
  • Ask a trainer for more options.

Over time your stability will improve and your reaction time will increase. Have fun and get balanced!

Do you feel like you are balanced? What exercises or classes do you use to improve your balance? Tell us in the comments!

Elite Sports Clubs offers many group exercise classes and small group training programs to help you work on your overall balance. Not sure where to start? Our fitness staff would be happy to offer you a fitness assessment to evaluate your current level of balance and determine exercises to help you improve.

Use Exercise to Reduce Stress

By Amy Hall, Group Exercise Director & Personal Trainer, Elite Sports Club-North Shore

Who among us isn’t stressed in some way or another? As we go through life we experience many situations that can lead to either short or long-term stress. I’m not about to start naming them, but I can certainly give first hand testimony to that! Raise your hand if you agree…

Exercise Relieves Stress

Okay, so how do you handle it? Exercise! It’s a proven stress-buster. Just one exercise session can generate 90-120 minutes of relaxation response. This is caused in part by the increase in production of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. They improve your mood and leave you feeling relaxed. Clinicians have actually done studies on this and have measured a post-workout decrease in the electrical activity of tensed muscle and an increase in the flow of oxygen.

Exercise can also be a very positive distraction from life’s daily struggles. Concentrating on your body’s movements can cause you to forget about whatever else may be on your mind and replace it with a new sense of calm and balance. This creates a reduction in anxiety which may continue on to other aspects of your life and even improve your quality of sleep.

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. Any form of movement will do as long as it’s something you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it and want to do it on a regular basis – that’s the key. For some exercisers an all-out sweat session is in order, while for others the focused and controlled movements of yoga or pilates are more desirable. All varieties are sure to improve your mood and body, therefore increasing your self-confidence.

Think about what works for you, your body and your daily schedule. Make it a priority and write it on your calendar. Work out alone or ask a friend to be your workout buddy. Find a personal trainer who can motivate, inspire, and encourage you to reach your goals. Make it your controlled environment, you have the power. Stop stressing and start moving!

Check out our Mind/Body calendar for a list of yoga & pilates classes. Or get started with a personal trainer (special training packages available for new members!)

What do you do to reduce the stress in your life? How does exercise affect your stress levels? Tell us in the comments!

Aquatic Exercise: Not Just For “Grandmas” Anymore!

By Jessica Heller, Aquatics Director, Elite Sports Club-Mequon

Aquatic exercises are safe, effective, and fun for all ages and athletic abilities. Water fitness programming has progressed and diversified over the past several years, seeing an increase in participation worldwide.

Elite River Glen Outdoor Pool

The benefits of aquatic exercise include:

  • Buoyancy: In the water there is less impact to the joints than on land.
  • 360 degrees of resistance: Muscles must work against resistance to become stronger and more toned. Because of its viscosity, water provides more resistance than air, and in all directions of movement. This helps to provide a more balanced workout as opposing muscles are involved in every movement, unlike on land where you typically need to select more exercises to work all the muscles.
  • Decreased heart rate: Typically, aquatic exercisers experience lower heart rates with the same oxygen consumption as exercising on land. It also allows a more efficient venous return from the extremities to the heart, and improves the exchange of oxygen with waste products in the blood.
  • Calorie burning comparable to land exercise: On land, weight bearing is a primary factor for increasing calorie consumption, but with aquatic exercise, using the water’s resistance is more of a factor. Studies estimate that around 400-500 calories are burned in a one hour aquatic exercise session. This is comparable to running or walking at 10-11 minutes per mile.

A significant part of the workout intensity is up to the individual, by varying speed, position in the water, hand positions, and by using a variety of equipment designed specifically for the water. The type of program the participant selects is also very important. Most facilities offer a variety of options for water exercise participants, just as they do for land-based group exercise. There are aquatic programs that feature kickboxing, sport specific training, intervals, and circuits. Some classes are designed for pregnant women, participants with arthritis, youth, or those with special needs. If you prefer a more individual approach, consider aquatic personal training to more specifically target your goals and needs. Get wet, and find out what aquatic exercise can do for you!

Check out our aquatics group exercise class calendar for a listing of available water aerobics classes. We also offer Aqua Logix personal training, as well as Aqua Endurance training, among many other options personalized to you and your needs!

Do you frequent the pool? What’s your preferred activity: swimming laps, classes, strength/resistance training, lounging, something else? Tell us in the comments!