April 1, 2020


By Liz Quinn, NATA Content Specialist

Supporting Athletes at Home


By Liz Quinn, NATA Content Specialist

On March 26,  At Your Own Risk provided a Facebook Live hosted by Jen Christensen, kindergarten teacher and Kansas City Mom Collective blog contributor,  and The University of Kansas Health System athletic trainer Dakota Orlando, MSEd, LAT, ATC. The two discussed how parents can help their youth athletes stay healthy and active while away from sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To watch the event in full, visit the At Your Own Risk Facebook page. It is a great resource for parents, caregivers and athletes.

During the near 22-minute event, Orlando gave advice on how student athletes can stay connected to their team, stretches they can do, unstructured play, heat illness prevention, healthy meals and how kids can prepare for the upcoming season at home.

“If you’re a soccer player, you play baseball [or] softball, put your hands on that ball, and go out there and play,” Orlando said. “Make sure you’re staying in contact with your coaches. We all feel isolated right now. Our coaches want to hear from athletes. … Make sure you stay active. Don’t just stay at home and play videogames and be on your phone.”

Coaches aren’t the only ones who student athletes should be contacting, though. Orlando recommended they call, group FaceTime or use Zoom to check in on one another.

“I know some people have been doing Just Dance and have been doing the same one and having a Just Dance party,” Orlando said. “Or they choose a workout on YouTube and start at the same time, and they are laughing and joking. The main goal is to get your heart rate up and stay active.”

Orlando discussed the importance of stretching. She said not to hold a stretch for just 10 seconds as  muscles actually need the stretch to be held for 45 seconds to two minutes in order to relax. Taking deep breaths while stretching can help go a little deeper each time, she said.

Although getting a workout in is important for student athletes, unstructured play is just as important during this time to continue their social learning.

“If they are able to play together with other kids or with parents, it’s good for them because it helps them develop social skills,” Orlando said. “If they fall, they learn to get up and realize not everything is a crisis. If one person gets tagged, the attention is on them and they may not like that. It puts them in an uncomfortable position and puts them in a situation to work through it and absorb those emotions.”

As the season moves into spring, some locations can become warm during workouts or play time. Orlando told viewers about the warning signs for heat illness.

“If your kid is heavy sweating or stops sweating, that’s a major warning sign,” Orlando said. “Tired, dizzy, fatigue, they aren’t acting like themselves are others. They get muscle cramps is one of the early signs. When you see those things, you want to move inside. Your whole goal is now what we call rapid cooling. Get them cold drinks, whether water or juice, preferably water. If you have a Gatorade or Powerade, give it to them. Have a snack, usually a salty snack. We know dark colors attract the sunlight, so if it’s going to be a hot day, wear a light T-shirt.”

The end of the Facebook Live focused on how families can continue eating healthy with limited groceries and during a more sedentary time.

“This is I think a silver lining during this pandemic,” Orlando said. “Yes, we are spending a lot of time together, but this is an opportunity for parents and all of us to come together to teach the kids how to use appliances, how to cook, what produce is. You can have them be a part of the meal making process. Give them that confidence that they are being listened to and heard. They also get excited as they are helping with the meal, and as you sit down, they will never stop talking saying, ‘I made this.’”

Orlando currently works in Kansas City, Kansas, and has been an AT for six years. She is contracted through a hospital and works out of a high school. Since the pandemic, Orlando has been called to the front lines of the hospital, where she screens the temperature and well-being of every person who comes in. Once someone passes the screening, they are given a number on their chest.

“That’s become the new normal,” Orlando said. “Athletic trainers are still using what we are known for, which is our empathy and sympathy and really just being that person to help and guide people through the process.”

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