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Introducing Jack, the first professional goalkeeper to be awarded the YSN Athlete of the Month.  Jack is a professional goalkeeper for Queen of the South Football Club, who play in the Scottish Championship.

YSN caught up with Jack (JL) to dig into the tactics, techniques and mindset of a very successful youth athlete. Hopefully, he will inspire many other young athletes to pursue their dreams of rising to the top.

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YSN: When did you first hear of Youth Sport Nutrition?

JL: I first heard of YSN on twitter.

YSN: How did you get into your first sport, and how old were you?

JL: I first got into sport (especially football) at the age of 4, football is something that runs in the family and that we are all passionate about, I have tried other sports throughout my life such as tennis, but football has always been the one I have stuck with and loved.
YSN: How do you cater for your sports nutrition? 

JL: I’ve never been one to stick to a meal plan as such, I have tried but I find I am restricting myself and prefer to listen to my body. For example, if I’ve had a hard training session one day I may eat more to make up for the extra calories burned and if I have a less intense session I know not to eat as much and therefore with a meal plan I feel like it restricts me. I try and get the best variety of protein, fat and carbs in each meal so as long as they are balanced I feel satisfied that I am refuelling my body in the best way possible.

YSN: What tools, tactics or strategies do you use to combat adversity? 

JL: Always keep in mind the end goal, pain and adverse conditions are temporary and should not put you off achieving what you want. Always have a positive mental attitude and it will get you through as in sport and life there will always been times where you feel low or bad things such as injury happen, therefore you must prepare for the worst and keep pushing yourself on.
YSN: As a very successful youth athlete, how often do you train, and how has this changed depending on your sport?
JL: I train roughly 4-5 times a week with an additional 6th day being match day. Out of the 5 days: I train, I go to the gym and use one as my rest day. The further I have gone through my sporting career the more time I have had to dedicate to the gym and my physique.

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YSN: How do you stay healthy? 
JL: Everything is about balance, I am relatively strict with myself however if I am craving something like a takeaway or chocolate bar on the weekend I will allow myself it, everything in moderation works best for me and It keeps me on track. If you are strict with yourself you will find yourself binging on unhealthy food and wasting all the work you may have put in in training so therefore a tip would be to give yourself a treat here and there to keep you on track.
YSN: What does it feel like to win competitions? 
JL: As a goalkeeper winning is one of the best feelings ever, however keeping a clean sheet is just as good a feeling. On the buildup to matches the sense of pressure builds around me knowing that if I make one mistake I could cost myself and the team the game, but when we win there are feeling of relief and joy knowing that you turned up and did your job right. However, after the game it done the pressure is back on to get prepared for the next game as you are only as good as your last match.
YSN: What are your future aspirations?
JL: To play at the highest level of football possible.
YSN: What advice would you offer to Parents of youth athletes regarding their training, the pressure to perform (academic and sporting) and catering for nutrition? 
JL: Parents need to be understanding as being a young athlete juggling school and training it is hard to do well in both. Therefore if sport becomes more of a priority at one point then support it, as if you try and restrain your child, it may only cause tension and them then not doing well in either sport or school. In terms of catering for nutrition, try and read up and have general understanding of what makes a healthy diet (balance of carbs, healthy fats and protein), there are thousands of blogs, documentaries and books that will inform parents on what is best for their child. By listening to their child’s needs and what coaches are telling them, parents should be able to support their children in every aspect of their sport career.
YSN: Any tips for balancing training, academic studies, competitions/games and a social life?
JL: The balance between my social life, school and football has been hard over the years. In terms of school and football, my heart was always set on football so therefore what grades I got didn’t necessarily matter. However, I still had to do well in case I needed them to fall back on so would always set time aside to study when I wasn’t training. In terms of my social life football has been impacted that a lot, with training and matches it does become hard to go out and socialise at the weekend or see friends but when you do have that crucial time off you need to make the most of it as at the end of the day you're still human and everyone needs time to relax with their friends and have fun.

Thanks Jack! We'll be cheering you on. 


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