The effect of stress on youth athletes

Aaron King (00:00):

Welcome back everyone to the podcast. I got coach Bob King here. I'm Aaron King. And today we're going to talk about a topic. I think a lot of us have an ex. A lot of us have experienced with, especially with the way 20, 20 went down. We're dealing with a lot more stress, so stress, I think it's something we can all agree on. It's been it's, it's snuck upon us in a lot of ways.


Coach Bob King (00:25):

I don't think anybody was prepared for the volume, there an absolute load of stress that it was put on people's shoulders. And everybody was just in shock. We S seen it everywhere, whether it's on the news, your neighbors, or in your family.


Aaron King (00:39):

Yeah. And you know, this like the last two years or so, this has become a, more of a focus for me personally, and I'll share a little bit of why it started with blood pressure. And so I, instead of having to go down the route of medications and things like that, I decided to try to bio-hack and track using blood pressure, cuff notepads, and really going back and seeing, okay, what were the differences while I tracked it down to two things, I'm gonna do a whole video on this to go into depth. But at the end of the story, it came down to really caffeine and stress. But what I found is that the caffeine was not now I'm highly sensitive, but the impact was directly related to the stress that I was under. And so that brings us to today's topic. You know, we talk about strength and conditioning, but today it's really more stress and conditioning and everyone knows diet exercise, but it's the cognitive things. It's the, what's running in the background, those, those mental aspects that can really release chemicals in your body that we're not aware of. And they will sneak up on you.


Coach Bob King (01:48):

Absolutely. that's a great way to put it stress and conditioning, because we know for a fact that conditioning is a helpful stress reliever manager and is good for you, obviously in a lot of different ways. Let me just start off by saying, we are built to handle stress. Now that doesn't mean you invite it, but we're built to handle it. So I don't want people to think that you know what, I don't know how to handle this. Maybe you don't know how to handle it, but you can learn probably the simplest way to put it is just ask any mother. Every child was born in stress and duress and distress. So it's not like it's going to go away ever. This just is the stress on steroids right now with the COVID was chemo death. Absolutely. What people don't realize is cumulative. And we've preached that forever, especially in the training area. You come in and work out and do the same routine lifting and running and doing the same thing. Every day. Stress is cumulative. You'll break emotional stress, too much. You can break, but there are answers and reasons for all of it. And we want to dive into that big-time today.


Aaron King (02:52):

Okay, let me, let me start with this then. There are things like heart disease. There are those that the way it impacts your skin folks, you can see the stress on folks, lack of sleep under your eyes. There there are the physical signs. Even, even the things that lead to depression can cause aches and pains, but let's talk about the performance. Let's, let's call it like performance-enhancing, you know, just like we talk about sleep as the ultimate performance-enhancing drug, but what is stress doing? That's the opposite. What are the chemicals? What are the impacts that stress is impacting on the performance side that you have to undo?


Coach Bob King (03:33):

Well, the problem we run into is there such a huge physiological response to stress. And let me just give the one that's most common to everybody, and that's the fight or flight, you know, when you get whatever it is, scared or surprised or something adrenaline kicks in quickly, and you're ready to either fight or flee. And so what we want to do is manage that hormones are signalers basically, I think a simple way to put it is if you have cortisol or adrenaline or any of these other hormones that are released in your system, they signal other actions to take place. Heart rate increases, blood pressure jumps eyes are dilated. Pupils are dilated rather. And so there's a response to the hormone release, which physically shuts down other systems or slows other systems to stay out of the way. And into action.


Coach Bob King (04:20):

Whether it's fight or flight pre-game kickoff, whatever it is in your sport. And that's when the body goes to another level of some type of physical activity. The problem is all the time is not good. That will wear out all the other systems. Your heart rate can't stay accelerated. Your blood pressure cannot stay safely elevated. You cannot stay at a high alert level day in and day out because, at some point, the body's going to shut down and say, we have exhausted all of our resources to maintain this pace and we're done, and that's not good. That's not sustainable. We're built


Aaron King (04:55):

To handle it, but it's not sustainable


Coach Bob King (04:57):

To handle it so we can handle it and move on just to kill a hit, hidden, you know, get the whole picture there, right?


Aaron King (05:02):

And the body can turn these things on. It can say we're under stress. And if we're looking at it from a hunter-gatherer mentality, if you look historically, if you want to think of it evolutionarily, however you want to look at it, the body can turn into overdrive to survive. Correct? But that, it also will sense when the threat is gone and that's when illness comes in, sickness comes in and you find yourself


Coach Bob King (05:25):

Vulnerable. Once it shuts down, your body is open to infection. Fatigue is sleep recovery, all that has been taken away from you. Your body has no fight mechanism. And so you just, you collapse and you're, you're wiped out and we've seen this all the time. Athletes come in and the next day, it's just like, it's horrible. I mean, after a major competition is, you know, and there's that whole idea that, that people will talk about. You know, if you're a coach, as I'm a coach, you know, we know that the pregame we got about a 15 or 20-minute window when that hype will burn out, the adrenaline dump will be fizzled out. And now you're relying on preparation, skill conditioning, all the things we always talk about because it, once the adrenaline wears off, it's now just you, your preparation. And so that can, that happens to individuals all the time. So if you go into a business meeting with a big prepper, big preparation on a presentation, you walk out of that. You're collapsed because you're exhausted. Well, your body can't fight anymore and that's in any area.


Aaron King (06:25):

So if we have athletes coming in and you'll see this in a lot of different levels, middle school, you don't know what's going on at home high school. You don't know what's going on at home, even college, you don't know what people are dealing with on the side, you have athletes, different resources, supplementation amount of coaches pouring into them. What's a priority as far as getting your weights versus a class etcetera. And then of course food. But if you're dealing with athletes I guess let's start it at the youth level. Like I always do. We'll start here. You have these kids coming in and they're simply just trying to learn the sport, learn the movements. It's not major, you know, bulking or anything, but what's the stress at home. Like, how's that going to impact these youth kids? Let me give you the, from a sports standpoint,


Coach Bob King (07:12):

Let me get you the very biggest comment parent verbiage that I will, you know, just say stop right now. If then if you don't, then you won't, you know, if you don't practice a hundred hours a day, then you won't become whatever you're trying to be. And so if then is the one thing that I just, I don't like and don't tolerate, because first of all, we don't know. We don't know if the inner, what people have we'll be dealing with this and other podcasts, but they don't know, you know, that whole sports gene thing, you know, so-and-so just born with it. Well, that happens. So-And-So didn't blossom until they were 17. And then wow. Superstar, you don't know. So with the youth, we have, we have a progression that we use to try to eliminate and D and keep the stress level down.


Coach Bob King (08:02):

And we won't go into all of that now, but let me just give you a great thing that we do when we're doing training with speed, for kids that are just maybe in their first time ever 10 to 12 years old, we say, here's the drill. It does do it like this. Here's the technique play with it. In other words, we diffuse the, if I screw up, I'm going to be in trouble mentality that they come from with sports coaches. And some parents are that just play with it. If you make a mistake, recover, that's athletic. First of all, second of all, you just flush out bad technique, because if I don't know what to do, I probably am going to mess it up. So we do that, play with it, flush out bad technique. Just don't worry about messing up because you will, and we'll tell them, you go, you're going to mess this up. Don't worry about it.


Aaron King (08:48):

Yeah. And I, that brings some enjoyment. That's the important thing at the youth levels. Not burning


Coach Bob King (08:53):

Them out. It promotes success, not in an artificial way, but if you remove the fear of consequence if you remove the stress of what's going to happen if I fail, how can you fail? You know, if you don't try, you can't fail. If you don't try, you won't ever accomplish anything. So just try and we'll work it out.


Aaron King (09:13):

I think it's even in lions where they the Cubs, they, they let them win. Everyone sort of feels like they're winning so that they stay engaged. Because if they're constantly losing, they'll quit trying. It's the same thing in sports. If a kid is getting defeated daily, they're going to want to give up.


Coach Bob King (09:28):

Yeah. Why go? You know, if I just, it's not taking me anywhere. Okay.


Aaron King (09:31):

Now let's advance into the high school level. So now we have puberty, some maturation, some serious talk of maybe the collegiate level the competition, the stakes are higher and we were in Texas. So we think high school football, it's next level. But what are we looking at now, now that there's that physical development kicked in? What are we doing physiologically to ourselves with stress?


Coach Bob King (09:55):

I would say there's a control issue, you know because I had that surge of hormones that surge almost seemed like endless adrenaline. And the great thing about, you know, physical activity, PE even sports of all kinds is an outlet for that. And the human organism needs to want to grow and develop. And so kids who are in sports are going to, first of all, a lot of them, and I've dealt with this in coaching before where they have self-imposed, I don't want to disappoint. And whoever it is, the coach, the parent, the school, the team, they don't want to disappoint. And so they carry an undue load because it is a team sport. You can make a mistake and you might be able to, you know, blow it so to speak, but all in all, it's going to take all members of a team to succeed or fail.


Coach Bob King (10:42):

And so kids will, I've had these guys just carry burns on her shoulders. Like, look, dude, it's a team sport. We're going to get you as ready as we can. And the outcome will be, you know, pretty much out of our hands. Once we do everything we can. So stress just is a undo. Well, here's the way it's defined in a lot of ways. And I learned it this way. Stress is an internal response to external stimuli. And so that means that stimulus is going to be there for everybody. Everybody's going to handle it differently. So how I handle it inward is what I have to deal with. And therefore with a large number of people, we have to deal with defense mechanisms or a resolution mechanism so that they can not crush themselves because what that leads to is a whole list of physical problems.


Coach Bob King (11:32):

And the biggest one, I think really is the loss of sleep because we keep talking about the great drugs sleep is. So now you have a loss of sleep and that triggers a whole different slew of problems. Whether it's mental focus, I'm not hungry, so I don't eat. So my energy's down, I'm not sharp. Then, just the spiral is, is horrible. So stress has to be managed to a big extent. You know, it's hard to say tell every parent and every coach and every teacher just be on the lookout for a stressed kid, because they all are. The way you look,  or your face is your affect. And so if they have a real flat affect, they're just like, there's nobody in there. What's going on. And so now you can start reading the face and find out, okay, what can I do to help you and just talk to me. And that's a lot of times the big thing, just talk to them.


Aaron King (12:31):

There there's a lot there that I would actually be really curious about, and this might go more into psychologic psychology. And maybe we don't have the answers here, but thinking about the stuff that kicks in, in the late twenties and thirties, that's derived from the stress, you know, in that middle school, high school level, you, you don't really see it manifest till later till that prefrontal con prefrontal cortex is developed. So those are, those are meaningful things in a, not just an athlete. I know we talked about sports, but any kid's life. And so how, how you use sports in a healthy way for it to be an outlet and a stress reliever, not as stress like an additional stressor. I think that's a very important thing and a responsibility that coaches and parents share.


Coach Bob King (13:17):

Well, I don't think there's any question. You know, in the scheme of athletic youth development, and again, another podcast is coming on this, but I like to think of it in terms of in middle school we're teaching or playing, and we're learning to decide what we like. And don't like, it's, once you get into high school, where now coaches, you might say coaches jobs are on the line, but players position, not everybody plays. Now you get to starting five 11 or whatever sport it is. And so now you have to be able to manage everybody because as a head coach, you have assistance and assistance want to coach a certain way, but you don't know what kind of impact that's gonna have on a kid who you say one thing, and that kid will remember it years down the line, and we've had that happen.


Coach Bob King (14:03):

Oh. And in many instances, and you know, I can remember even at my age, that I can remember high school comments, a coach would make, it's like, dude, I can't believe you said that, and  it's not always just water off a Duck's back to just make a random comment because kids are just sitting there and they're going to eat up everything you say, you know, if you say you suck then into the tank, if you say, man, I love your effort. I love the way you're working. I love what you're doing. Just keep pushing forward. Then you're going to get a lot more out of them. And I'm not talking about ignoring mistakes. I'm not talking about ignoring like coach King was you know, Saturday morning films were not always Pat you on the back. Don't worry. We'll get them next time. It's like, no, dude, you know, we're not doing this. Let's layer. One more thing on top


Aaron King (14:52):

Of it. And this will be the last, I think the point for the youth part when this is when I say youth, this is really going into the high school level, at least generally, or I would hope so supplements like creatine. And when these kids are trying to bulk and you just, you know, it's so hard to gain weight in high school for a lot of kids who just burn calories. It's easier later in life to gain that weight. But when they're, when they're layering on all these things supplements and you have stressors and all those, where does that fit into it? Is it add stress? Does it take away the stress? Is it,


Coach Bob King (15:29):

Well, I think your best answer is going to be neutral to add it. It won't take away the stress, but here's the deal. If I take XYZ supplements, I have an expected outcome. I don't get that outcome. What am I going to do? I'm stressed. It didn't work well, you know, in some, and I've because we built with these in rare cases, they go off in an Inn, down the wrong path to look for those improvements. And that's a whole nother set of problems. You don't want to get into that at all, but you know, you have to be able to take and I'm pro supplement, but you have to have a good okay, here are the disclaimers on it. It's going to help you in your daily. Let's say performance in terms of training and activity. You may, you recover better.


Coach Bob King (16:12):

You'll have a, a, a good impact as far as your strength gains. But I can't say, you know, when I always had parents and other coaches were coming in, we need to put 10, 15 pounds on his kid. Well, we don't because I can't do anything about that. And so that's where you redefine what you're doing so that if I make you stronger and faster then you will play bigger. And so we try to offset all these things that we can't control with the things we can control stronger, faster, played bigger. If you have a growth spurt and you do get that 10 or 15 pounds, that's just a bonus. The other side of the equation for kids is you don't want to put on more weight than you can carry. You know, that's a big thing. We've had kids in the past.


Coach Bob King (16:57):

I had a boy, I had a very sad story about a high school kid who blew a knee to make a fast comeback. He went down the drug path, he got into a little steroid habit. Now he's got a stress fracture cause he maxed out his body and he went, you know, he literally exceeded the limits of his body and he had a stress fracture in his ankle. And so forget the knee problem. Cause now the ankle is a problem. And it just, these things are very unfortunate, very not common, but not unusual to happen either.


Aaron King (17:28):

Yeah, right now we're, we're talking about situations. I know not everyone that listens to our podcasts or uses the platform there are folks from all over the world that might not understand really the nuances of the pressure of youth athletics here in Texas and in America, in general, we have listeners from all over the world. And so you, I want to make sure that we're, we at least acknowledge that for folks that we're, we're talking kind of about a specific subset, but we hope that folks can get some value out of that. And also some folks don't have the privilege of playing organized sports and have your uphill battle is just getting somewhere in the community where you can get involved. And so anything we can do to help folks have more access to performance training, sports training if they want it.


Aaron King (18:13):

And another disclaimer is the more that we study with the different receptors hormones and the science that really is out there. I don't want to, we're trying to simplify everything. You know, we're trying to, that's huge. We're trying to take everything down into layman's terms. So the terms so that folks can have something that they can apply now. And everything's science-backed, but we're trying not to go too deep into the science cause that's some other experts areas, but we're going to do this whole series on stress. And I hope you all can get a lot of value. If you want to visit King sports,, we have all the content training programs available, and then you can follow Coach King @CoachBobKing on Twitter, Instagram, and we're going to get us YouTube going. And then I'm @deepsnap on Instagram and YouTube. That's all we got for this time. We'll talk to you next week. Next time



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