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Obesity Prevention Training for Youth Soccer Coaches

US Youth Soccer Launches First-of-its-Kind Nationwide Child

“Coaching Healthy Habits” equips coaches to teach healthy habits in addition to soccer skills

US Youth Soccer, the largest youth sports organization in the nation, is taking a stand against childhood obesity with Coaching Healthy Habits, a new training to help coaches teach youth players to make healthier decisions on and off the field.

Sugary drinks and calorie-dense snacks are commonly served to young athletes, often due to mistaken assumptions about how many calories kids burn during practice. Studies show that in a typical youth sport training session, children may be active less than half of the time. The Coaching Healthy Habits training module is the first of its kind to equip youth soccer coaches to target these risk factors for childhood obesity with three simple principles:

  • Drink Right (hydrate with water instead of sugary beverages)
  • Snack Smart (snack on fruits and vegetables)
  • Move More (increase physical activity during practice)

The Coaching Healthy Habits training is a result of a collaboration between  Massachusetts Youth Soccer, US Youth Soccer and Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition. The training was tested in a statewide pilot this year with the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association.

As a result of the pilot, all 2,000 Massachusetts Youth Soccer coaches granted licenses this year completed the Coaching Healthy Habits training. With more than 200,000 players and 10,000 licensed coaches, Massachusetts Youth Soccer is the second largest US Youth Soccer member State Association in the country. Moving forward, the training will be required for all new coaches in the state, as well as New Hampshire and Maine.

“Our coaches know that they’re not just teaching soccer skills; they’re teaching life skills that will help their players achieve success on and off the field,” said Ian Mulliner, Technical Director of Massachusetts Youth Soccer. “It’s really important to us that these behaviors become second nature at practice, so we’re including it as part of our required coursework for all new coaches.”

Healthy Kids Out of School works with leaders around the country to promote the Drink Right, Move More, and Snack Smart principles for healthy out-of-school time. The program’s Healthy Kids Hub website provides resources to support the implementation of these principles. Regional funding for the Healthy Kids Out of School initiative is provided by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, with additional support from Newman’s Own Foundation.

For additional information about Coaching Healthy Habits, go here.

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