Nothing frustrates me more than an athlete that is constantly sick.  Well, I’m sure there are things that frustrate me more, but that is up there.  Especially when it seems every two or three weeks you have an athlete that seems to always have something making them feel like blah.

Why does it bother me so much?

It bothers me because I see so many athletes pay such little regard to sickness prevention.  I live in Columbus where we do have an actual winter.  The number of kids I see walk in wearing shorts and some light jacket unzipped is astounding.

This is something I can definitely say I did not do when I was younger.  There are plenty of things I try to talk to my athletes about and avoid because they were epic fails when I did them.  Bundling up when it was cold certainly was not one of them.

That isn’t going to solve everything though.  You need to be aware of several things if you want to reduce the chances of you getting sick.  Because you can’t play at optimum levels if you are under the weather:

  • The first thing is something you should have learned when you were two – wash your hands. This is the biggest way germs get spread.  At some point, I’m going to just fist bump people when I meet them.  So don’t get offended if you say hi to me and I offer that up.
  • Cover yourself when you cough or sneeze, but not with your hands. Do it in your elbow and/or turn away and do it in your elbow.  I know there is some consideration when people sneeze into their hands, but then you want to shake my hand afterwards?  No thank you.
  • The immune system needs boosting up and one of the ways to do that would be to get a few fruits and vegetables in your system. I know sometimes that is a lot to ask a teenage athlete, but they have antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help reduce the chances of you getting affected by anything.
  • Get some sleep. The more rest you get the better your body can go through its recovery process.  Teenage kids don’t get enough sleep.  Athletes should be getting 8-9 hours a night, but that’s not happening.  And you need your sleep over the span of two days.  Meaning, sleeping 8 hours from 10pm to 6am is a lot better for your body then sleeping 8 hours from 12:30 am to 8:30 am.
  • Exercise is also important for the immune system. The better in shape you are the better your immune system will be.  Being an athlete, this shouldn’t be a problem, just watch out for being overtrained.  Competing too much, practicing too much, and not getting the proper recovery can do the opposite effect and weaken your immune system thus getting you more susceptible to colds and the like.
  • Let’s talk about proper dressing when going out in the cold. It just isn’t good for the body when you have done a game, practice, or workout and get your body temperature a little hot.  Then you go outside where the temperature is very cold.  Your body doesn’t like that sudden drop in temperature.  That is why you need to do a proper cooldown to get your temperature back to normal and cover up when you go out there.

If you do all that and you do happen to get sick, a lot of the same things still apply to reduce the longevity of the sickness.

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help flush out the nasal passages and sinuses.
  • Take some zinc.

I’m not saying you will never get sick if you do the following and yes, some people just get sick a lot.  But, you certainly won’t know if you are getting more immune if you don’t try some of these things and stick with it over a period of time.

What’s the worst that could happen?  You get more rest and have a little more energy with the fruits and veggies you been eating.  Yeah, that would really suck.