Back to school is around the corner and that also means tryout time for school and out of school sports teams.  In my family, our baseball season is coming to an end, but within the first two weeks of school we have tryouts for next years baseball and basketball teams.  This can be a period of extreme stress for some, particularly if they are trying out for a new team with kids they don't know and coaches that may be very different from coaches they have had in the past.  Are their athletic skills going to be displayed accurately in this setting?  Hopefully they will all make the teams of their choice.  The following are some tips to consider when preparing your kids for the upcoming tryout season.  

1.  Encourage physical activity of some sort everyday.  This doesn't just apply to tryout season.  Physical activity is very important to maintain muscle mass and continued development.  I am a strong believer that the child that is  involved in multiple different sports will develop a strong overall body.  This doesn't mean taking a position on 5 teams at once, but being active in several different planes of motion during a given week.  For example, walking with the family after dinner, playing on the playground equipment at the park, riding their bikes to their friends house, playing soccer in the back yard with their grandparents, sport specific training with teams, recess playground games at school, etc...

2.  Stay hydrated leading up to try out time.  Give your child an extra water bottle during the day of the tryout while at school and encourage them to drink both bottles.  During the tryout provide a Gatorade or similar salty/sweet drink to replenish electrolytes and sugar that gets burned up quickly during high performance.  When the weather is hot, fluid loss will be greater.  Keep in mind that there are several factors that influence fluid loss like age, sex, weight, metabolic rate, environment temperature, food consumption, etc..., so recommendations for fluid replacement should be individualized per athlete.  However, in general, keeping fluid levels at 400-800mL every hour of exercise, should provide adequate replacement.  Some reports suggest having plenty of fluids available and allowing athletes to drink as much as they want.  

3.  Proper warm up and stretching.  For the majority of sports, the first 15-30min should be spent on warming up and stretching.  This really means preparing the body for the work that it is about to do.  In baseball, you are not going to start throwing from a large distance right at the start.  You start close, then slowly increase the distance between throwing partners.  In sports where there is more running, running drills should be a large component of the warm up.  These drills can be more sport specific, i.e., sports with lots of stopping and starting should include sprinting to a stop and change of direction.  Most coaching staff have experience as athletes or have coaching certifications and know the importance of a proper warmup so drills like these will be provided in the tryout warmup.  If you don't see much of a warm up happening, take your child through some of these types of drills prior to the tryout starting, or on your own before you get ot the venue.  Include this step in any physical activity you do outside of tryouts also.  

4.  Rest for the mind and the body. The start of school maybe stressful in and of itself.  Now add in the stress of trying out for a team.  Having 9-11 hours of sleep is what is  recommended for kids between the age of 6- 13.  For the ages of 14-17 years of age, 8-10 hours is recommended (Recommendations as per Mental Health Canada).  

5.  Quick relief of aches and pains.  For any child athlete, having a supplies at home to care for their aches and pains is a necessity. 
Have a supply of gel ice packs that are reusable in your freezer.  If you don't have gel packs, a package of frozen vegetables works great.  If you are not sure how to care for an injury, ice first, 15min, 30min off and repeat 3 times.  Always place a barrier between the skin and the pack. 

Kinesiotape is great to have on hand.  I like Spidertech brand.  For at home use simply place the tape on clean skin where the pain is.   Professionals will use the tape more specifically for certain conditions.  For pain control, the presence of the tape on the skin, stimulates the fast conducting nerve endings to inhibit the sensation of pain.  And kids think it looks cool.  

Epsom salt.  For full body acheness, place 1-2 cups of epsom salts in a bath of warm water.  Have your young athlete soak for 15-30min.  The action of epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) helps replenish the body with magnesium which helps to restore the electrical balance of the cell, reshape damaged cell membranes and balance calcium ions.  In addition, acting as a base, it neutralizes the effects of lactic acid build up.   

Muscle creams:  These will provide a heating or cooling affect on the skin and used topically.  I keep and use Fisocreme at home and in the office.  This is a product that contains arnica, calendula, hyerculum and tea tree oil which are all great at providing relief from muscle aches and pains.  Other products I recommend are BioFreeze and Trauma care.  There are several others out there also.  

Please do make use of your local healthcare professional for assistance when your home treatment doesn't seem to be taking care of the problem.  Good luck to all during the try out season!