As a coach, you have one of the most influential roles in the lives of your athletes – your actions, words and behaviours can literally shape lives. You are in a position to cultivate an environment conducive not only to prevention of RED-S, but recognition and treatment too. Fortunately, there is considerable overlap between those practices that keep athletes healthy and those which improve and sustain their performances - so it's a win-win for everyone.
The fact you're here is a huge help already. If you can become aware of the signs and symptoms of RED-S, you can greatly improve the chances of early identification and treatment.
It also helps to be aware of the reasons why an athlete might enter into a state of RED-S to begin with. This includes being aware of our over-achieving tendencies, if you weren't already! Us athletes are often eager to eke out every ounce of our potential and can be prone to pursuing any performance advantage - even if it means overlooking the long-term health consequences.
You can help us think long-term about our performance and mental and physical health by working with us to set realistic, individual goals that we can enjoy progressing towards over time. You can also motivate us to maximise our potential by adopting optimum nutrition, rest and training practices that facilitate a lifetime of enjoyment in sport, not just short-term success.
You can help us embrace flexibility and avoid rigidity when it comes to our training plans. Beware the athlete who sticks to a plan like glue, even if it means training through injury or illness, or missing out on important occasions.
You can try to avoid over-analysis of numbers with those of us who already display obsessive personality traits. Beware the athlete who simply has to do a 2.0 mile warm down and a 12.0 mile Sunday at 6 min mile pace.
Finally, you can encourage us to strike a healthy balance between training, other hobbies, studies, work and social lives and de-emphasise our weight and appearance (more on this below). Try to remind us now and again that, above all else, that sports should be enjoyable – no matter what our level or goals.
Wherever possible, the information and advice offered on this site is based on the leading scientific research to date. Although the aim is to provide you with some support and advice, this resource is no substitute for the diagnosis or treatment from a medical professional. Head here to find them.